Saturday , July 24 2021

Run!

Brent H. Cameron is a Senior Advisor with Concierge Strategies, and a local councillor in Ontario, Canada. The second edition of his 2005 book, “The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade: Options for a new globalization” is available on Amazon worldwide – both in paperback and in Kindle e-book formats.

Recently, the Daily Globe undertook a new series of podcasts, of which I have the privilege to be a part of. In one of the already released episodes, we discussed the ongoing COVID situation and what the impact of the vaccine rollouts would be.

My contention was that when Mrs. Keenan of Enniskillen, Northern Ireland received her needle, it marked the firing of the starter’s pistol in a massive race. She, of course, was the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer / BioNTech drug – the first of any drug for that matter.

The race is analogous to the London or Boston Marathon, with hundreds of runners lined up to go. Imagine, though, that it is not a 26-kilometer race, but a 70 kilometer one, with each kilometer representing one percentage point.

The MD Anderson Center of the University of Texas estimated that 70 percent was the number where an identified “community” would achieve the level of “herd immunity” for COVID – that point where so many people have immunity to the virus that it would be largely disarmed. It would not be eliminated entirely, but it would be sufficiently diminished as to allow people to resume normal lives and party like its 2019.

“Community” is a loosely defined term, but if you consider it as a defined group of people that you can keep in a defined space, then using national boundaries is a useful tool.

70 percent means different levels to different jurisdictions. If you’re British, it means 46.6 million. If you’re a Canadian like me, it’s more like 26.5 million people. Regardless, if 70 percent is the mark where people can safely come out of house arrest, see their families, go to work, and attend weddings and funerals, then it matters significantly.

If you’re a politician, something else matters – and that is crossing the finish line first, or at least in the lead pack.

The Prime Minister or President who declares victory in this race to 70 percent gets to hold the press conference where they tell their citizens that life can begin anew, that they can breathe easy, that their sacrifices were not in vain, and that the rebuilding of lives and livelihoods can start post-haste. 

Global news gathering organizations will broadcast the speech and, in the coming days, they will show crowds of unmasked people gathered in the streets singing and hugging one another as though their team won the World Cup or the Super Bowl. It will be the most important news story of the week.

It will also be momentous news to those people still required to wear masks, stay home and social distance while their leaders give their umpteenth presser assuring their citizens that they are still “on track” and “the end is in sight.”

Go a week longer and there will be forgiveness, and maybe even two weeks past the milestone. Make it a month, and people will become frustrated. Make it 4-6 months and politicians sitting in government benches might as well start updating their CV’s and try lining up gigs as public policy fellows or news channel pundits, because the party will be over.

Of course, there is no guarantee that any sitting government anywhere (save for China or Russia) is safe from voter backlash even if they run a good race, but their chances are next to nil if they don’t make the podium or finish out of the points or cash prizes. If you’re a G20 country and you come in 50th, you are done like dinner.

And so, as the parade of politicians give their daily affirmations that there is light at the end of the tunnel, we tune it out. It has become like the drone of an air conditioning unit – bothersome at first, but eventually not noticeable in the least. We know it’s bad and adding more detail and nuance to the scale and scope of the badness has just become tiresome and pedantic.

People want good news, and the good news they want is an end to this pandemic nightmare. Be the first to declare victory, and the world is your oyster. Be near the back of the pack and your world will more resemble the dumpster behind the seafood restaurant where those oysters are being served.

About Brent Cameron

A writer and commentator on Commonwealth trade issues, Brent Cameron is the author of 'The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade' (2004, 2018) and numerous essays and articles. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Commonwealth Exchange, a London, UK-based research group. Cameron worked as Telecommunications Coordinator for the Federal Ministry of Labour in Ottawa, Canada before joining SES Canada Research (now Nanos Research) as a Research Associate. He also worked as an assistant to former Ontario MPP Harry Danford, Member for Hastings-Peterborough and Parliamentary Assistant to Ontario's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Cameron was a member of the Advance Team for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney during the 1988 Canadian federal general election. During the 2007 Ontario Referendum on Electoral Reform, he acted as Coordinator for the 'No MMP' campaign for eastern Ontario (excluding Ottawa). Cameron has also served as a member and contributing columnist on the Community Editorial Board of the Kingston (ON) Whig-Standard newspaper. He holds an honours degree in politics from Queen's University and a Certificate in Municipal Administration from St. Lawrence College (Kingston, ON). In 2014, Brent Cameron was elected to the municipal council for the Township of Central Frontenac, in southeastern Ontario, Canada, and serving as Deputy Mayor in 2017.

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