I am amazed at the compliance of the people of our great province with the policies related to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. (Let’s not call it a pandemic… I teach history. This is not a pandemic).
Pre-European settlement, our province had a wide variety of determined and independent indigenous tribes who still proudly call British Columbia home. And this despite true pandemics wherein massive portions of their populations were killed by disease.
The peoples of European heritage who did settle here were all looking for freedom to make their own way economically and spiritually in the world. My own family origin story as British Columbians follows this pattern as my Mennonite ancestors were under religious persecution in their homelands, and found safe haven to be themselves and pursue their economic and spiritual interests with the tacit blessing of a government that understood the power of giving its people those freedoms.
B.C. has historically been independent-minded and freedom-seeking. What has happened to us?
Until this year, B.C. has continued to be a draw for people from all around the world who want a chance to make a better life under the protection of a government that allows citizens to operate freely in society and has enshrined our rights to associate, do business, and self-express within our constitution.
It’s a great place.
I love being a British Columbian.
I am very tired, though, of seeing us as British Columbians (and more broadly as Canadians) acquiesce to policies that have been forced upon us by unelected officials. They should not be setting policy. They should limit themselves to an advisory capacity and our elected officials should have the boldness and long-term view to take the advice, but not just punt the decision-making process over to these unelected officials.
I have found the policies put forth in our province by Dr. Henry, and nationally by Dr. Tam to be quite myopic in their scope. And rightly so!
Their job during a time of viral outbreak is to try to understand the outbreak and consider it from an epidemiological perspective, and make suggestions based on hard data and attempts to contain the spread.
However, I’ve not seen either one of them admit that the actual public health concerns go beyond merely thinking about the virus.
Long-term, we do not know the extent of the damage that has already been done to people’s lives and livelihoods by the shut down that we had and the new shut down that they have ordered. Furthermore, we’ve seen upticks around North America, where we already had an ongoing crisis around narcotic overdoses, especially with opiates, in deaths due to overdose. I
have to believe that some of the people we’ve lost to overdose over these last months would have had a better chance if their routines and support networks had not been so damaged by the draconian shut downs.
I also know, from within my own family, that many of the elderly in our society have seen their quality of life, quality that revolves around visiting family and enjoying those relationships in person, greatly damaged by shutdowns and lockdowns and so forth.
Surveys of people in homes show that they broadly prefer being allowed to see their families and take their chances with the virus over being locked away, but possibly being spared a fight with the virus.
I do not call for non-compliance with this new government mandate, but I do call on us as British Columbians to take our heritage of freedom and independent-thinking more seriously.
Do we need to put a brake on electing governments that seem too comfortable grabbing more power to themselves?
Ought we not to elect parties and officials that will actually seek to uphold our cherished Canadian freedoms instead of whatever this has been over the last eight-plus months?
Or have we become a people who are okay with a slow creep of well-intentioned tyranny?
Tyler Friesen, Maple Ridge
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