The wise words of FDR

April 22, 2021   ·   0 Comments

“Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.”  US President Franklin D. Roosevelt

I really like this quote and not just for its eloquence.  It reveals perfectly the essential differences between progressives and conservatives when implementing much public policy.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in Canada today. 

Given the current state of the Covid pandemic, Canadians are in real trouble.  Physicians, epidemiologists, nurses, and others in the health care sector have been warning us for quite some time about the public health disaster that is now unfolding.  Perhaps the most obscene element of the current crisis is that it was so predictable and avoidable.  As case counts rose, and more deadly variants became the common strains, the provincial governments across Canada opened the economy for reasons only fully understood by themselves. 

Was it blind faith that the vaccines would save the day?  Did many premiers across Canada question the efficacy of the projection models presented by the health professionals?  Given our own MPP Sylvia Jones’ recent comments about seeing whether the modelling projections would actually show up in the hospitals, this appears to have played some part in Ford’s thinking.

I think the real problem is the lack of fiscal commitment by the provinces to do their part to provide the financial assistance people need to stay home and stop the spread of Covid-19.   Canadians have enjoyed tremendous support from the federal government.  Whether you like Justin Trudeau or not, his Liberal government has been responsible for 94% of all direct financial support for Ontarians during this Covid crisis.  Sure, there have been missteps and maybe some people took money they did not deserve, since they never lost their job and could work from home.  Yet as the FDR quote illuminates, this “occasional fault” was the result of a government trying to help Canadians as quickly as they could. 

By contrast, In Ontario, the Ford government has been much slower to provide income support to people.  Public health professionals have pressed the government that the spread of Covid could have been significantly reduced if the province instituted at least 5 paid sick days.  Premier Ford refuses, telling Ontarians to utilize the federal government program!  Rather than work in partnership with the other level of government to provide needed support while slowing the spread of Covid, the Ford government chose not to make a similar effort, no doubt because it would cost a lot of money to the province.

Of course, it would.  FDR made the above point to explain his massive government aid to help Americans during the Great Depression.  It worked quite well, helping millions of Americans through a very dark period.  Conservative leaders like Ford prefer to let people make their own decisions on public health matters.  His logic of, “we opened the malls, but we really hope you don’t go!” does not work well during a global pandemic.  The results speak for themselves. 

When election time comes, let us remember the wise words of FDR, the man who helped save the US from the depression, and perhaps saved democracy itself.

Mark Hauck


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