by Ken MacDougall
If you have no idea as to who Victor Thunderchild is, or was, and unfamiliar with his accomplishments as a teacher and advisor to Indigenous youth, you might be thinking right now that in responding to the news of his death, I’m feeling unusually “sorry” for our premier having to face so much criticism for his handling of this pandemic. I’m afraid, however, that it’s quite the contrary; it is in times such as these that I’m still sufficiently self-analytical to be able to realize that as a teacher having the same concerns as had Mr. Thunderchild when he tweeted Mr. Moe from his hospital bed begging – demanding – pleading to start treating teachers as essential workers and have them receiving a COVID-related vaccine before returning to class, I am GLAD at not having a Twitter account at the moment.
Victor Thunderchild died on Friday, April 16th from complications due to COVID-19. As COVID-19 continues to take its toll in lives in Saskatchewan, Scott Moe is probably relieved that Mr. Thunderchild’s “tweets” are just one more criticism to which he will never have to respond.
Feel free to speculate as to the “why” of that reasoning…
Ever since the October election’s leadership debate between Scott Moe and NDP leader Ryan Meili, our obtuse premier has repeatedly demonstrated his incapacity to differentiate between making health-based decisions whose purpose is to contain the spread of COVID-19 versus appealing tomembers of his flock who are anti-vax, anti-COVID, anti-carbon tax and anti-Science. In effect, he has vacated his leadership responsibilities to buffoons sufficiently empowered by his expressed sentiments that they feel free to humiliate us all by taking up a megaphone in front of the Legislature and waxing xenophobically and profanely upon Canada’s immigration policies – and insult the premier’s alleged friend, the chief medical officer for the province, Dr. Shahab, in the process.
One would think that a government, upon receiving Mr. Thunderchild’s death-bed plea to prioritize the COVID vaccinating of teachers, then followed so closely by his own death, one would like to believe that a compassionate Saskatchewan government would have given considered thought to acknowledging his words; instead, on Tuesday it announced that the one-dose AstraZeneca vaccine would now be given to those 40 years of age or over – but not until at least April 28th, approximately six weeks before school ending.
At this point in the province’s war against the pandemic, it’s almost impossible to understand the rationale being used by the Descendants of Devine as they lurch from crisis to crisis.
Mind you, Premier Moe isn’t exactly receiving any help from the Bombast Brothers of provincial politics, Jason Kenney and Doug Ford, parties to whom he regularly seeks guidance. Alberta’s hospital beds continue to fill with COVID-related cases, even as Kenney attempts to deflect public opinion from even thinking about increasing caseloads by pursuing a plan to decapitate a few Foothills just a few kilometers west of Calgary so as to “diversify” the province’s economy in welcoming back 19th century coal-producing markets. Ford, on the other hand, having by now realized that his own approach in allowing economic forces to be prioritized over health concerns is an abject failure, is simply looking around, shouting “Help me, please,” to no avail.
In all three provinces, the plan of action has become all too obvious; it’s “Every man for himself.”
Six months after the leadership debate, it still rankles me when I think of the moderator, CTV’s Molly Thomas, interjecting herself and her possible personal opinions into the debate by repeating a question to Dr. Meili, previously asked by Premier Moe, “How do you plan to pay for those 1,000 teachers (the NDP was recommending in order to reduce class sizes across the province); where does that money come from?”, and for which Dr. Meili was preparing an answer.
Now, I know that politicians who live on the “conservative” side of reality see the answer to that in fairly black-white images – increased taxation – the buzzwords often spoken by unlamented and unmissed former premier Brad Wall. However, let me again quote “The Walrus” contributor Roger Miller, who in the mid-1990’s was already saying that our propensity to disinvest in our educational budgets has “destroyed a historical competitive advantage [in education] in the space of a decade”, making us “dangerously unprepared to prosper” in a modernized economic environment.
Simply put, Scott Moe and his SARM reeve friends have already had more than 20 years in dragging our educational standards, not to mention our expectations, into the chaos-filled state in which we find ourselves today. The Saskatchewan Party doesn’t believe in education; it merely wishes only to grease the economic wheel so the squeaking won’t keep us awake at night. Its leaders, won’t accept the eality of change, namely, that ours is now a technological world in which education must now play a huge role in infrastructural development, even as our farming communities must now look to government to provide them with high speed Internet so that they can remain competitive.
Sooner or later, this government has to invest in a future where our children can create the conditions for economic salvation that the Descendants of Devine pretend are only the pipe dreams of the very young. Instead, they waste your time pretending that contingencies, whether it’s in the hiring of 1,000 new teachers or restricting social movement so as to contain a virulent medical enemy, are just too bloody expensive for us to have right now.
And so, we turn ourselves back to the ravages of COVID, and the lives of many good Saskatchewanians, including Mr. Thunderchild, and we should be now asking ourselves, “Just what is it going to take before Scott Moe actually listens to the people who actually know what disease is, and the costs society must be prepared in order to finally allow us to think of a better future?”
Doesn’t it gall you that mouth-breathers such as Megaphone Man in Regina, unmasked and still attempting to intimidate us into believing that his “rights” are being infringed upon by our request for everyone to wear a mask, when there are entire nations in the south-eastern portion of Asia that faced the reality of COVID-riddance, controlled their nation’s social behaviours and movements – and since mid-summer last year have not had to worry about where they can do, and with whom, while Scott Moe it telling tavern owners to close at 11:00 PM and don’t take your drink with you whenever you go to play the slots?
It does me – because if he’d actually acted on the public’s behalf, I wouldn’t be lamenting the loss of a fellow teacher whose educational efforts gave new hope and meaning to the kids he counselled.