Paul Wells: How the misguided fuelling of an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality gave us chaos and a hot tub on Parliament Hill
And now here we are, and I wonder whether the vaccine mandates have been worth it. Canada’s vaccination effort was going well before Trudeau’s change of heart. It’s gone well since. We’re still short of universal vaccination; maybe it’s time to admit we always will be. And to count the social cost of trying too hard.
This virus was always going to be a tricky test of our solidarity, precisely because it’s so contagious but not life-threatening to most who get it. That makes it more devious than a full-bore killer like Ebola, and actually more dangerous, because it requires care and forbearance from entire populations to protect relatively few. Different people were always going to decide differently how far they wanted to take that effort of solidarity, or how far they could. It was never as easy for people who couldn’t work from home, or who’ve always lived far from government services but somehow never far from government orders. People who hardly ever hear from Ottawa except to learn what they’re required or forbidden to do next.
I think as a society we’re starting to learn fresh and urgent lessons about the limits of designating an “us” and a “them” and attempting, by force of law, to require that they act like us. In the case at hand, I think we’re learning that no government can long compensate for its flaws by commanding allegiance or obedience. Laws are necessary and sometimes coercion too, but let’s not kid ourselves that we can use them without cost. As a sometimes wise man said on one of his wise days, it’s much better to hear the fears and the disagreements and the concerns that Canadians have by listening to each other. Before we discover we’ve all forgotten how.
We’re the survivors, you and I, after two years of disaster. We need to figure out how to live together.
Read the entire Paul Wells article at MACLEAN’S