An international polling firm recently asked citizens of each of the G7 countries to identify their most reliable source of information about the novel coronavirus outbreak. In France, Germany, Italy and Japan, the top choice was “TV news,” while the largest number of Americans chose their doctors and health care providers.
In Canada, a plurality — 30 per cent — said their most trusted source was “government/politicians,” a figure rivalled only by the 28 per cent of British citizens who said the same about their political leaders. In the United States, just 10 per cent identified government and politicians as their preferred source of information.
Whatever goodwill Canadian officials have won over the last two months could become all the more valuable now as the country moves into a new phase of the crisis. But that trust and unity also might become much harder for governments to maintain — particularly if we’re already seeing the start of the first real political divisions of the pandemic.
The recent uptick in support and approval for elected leaders doesn’t necessarily mark a reversal of the long-term trend toward declining levels of trust in Western societies. “When we’re anxious,” one American political scientist said recently, “we need to put our trust in someone to protect us.”
How governments earn trust
But it does at least suggest we’re still capable of trusting political leaders. And there are also probably some good reasons for this warming trend in public trust.
Non-partisan health officials — people with real expertise — have been put front and centre by Canadian governments to explain what is happening and what needs to be done. Federal and provincial political leaders have repeated consistent messages that echo the experts’ advice. Citizens have been asked to make significant sacrifices, but governments have cushioned that hardship with extra support that has, for the most part, been delivered expeditiously.
Each of those pieces reinforces the other to build trust and hold things together. A sense of common cause — “stronger together” — might one day be remembered as the defining feeling of the first two months of the pandemic in Canada.
But what if shutting down most of the economy and largely confining people to their homes was the easy part?
How safe do you feel, Canada?
Maintaining public trust will be even more vital now. Though the premiers and the federal government have started to lay out plans and principles for “reopening” society, the resumption of economic activity is going to depend on people feeling it’s safe enough to go into stores, restaurants and schools.
As British Columbia Premier John Horgan pointed out this week, “all of the businesses that have been shuttered could open tomorrow and if the public, the consuming public, is not confident in their personal well-being, they’re not going to enter those establishments.”
To that end, the Ontario government has released a series of new guidelines for businesses and has promised that provincial inspectors will enforce those standards.
Still, the potential for new outbreaks remains; federal modelling continues to assume that there will be periodic bumps in the infection rate throughout the fall and winter. Enhanced testing and contact tracing may limit the impact of those outbreaks, but Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said this week that his province’s plan will be subject to change and, in some cases, restrictions may have to be re-imposed.
We’re sharing the costs — but not the risks
While provinces aligned their approaches to shutting down schools and businesses fairly quickly, there is a risk now that provincial approaches could start to diverge — as exemplified by Quebec’s relatively aggressive plan to reopen schools in May.
Just as the virus has exposed vulnerabilities in the health care system, particularly for elderly Canadians in long-term care centres, the reopening could also expose inequalities in work and life — between those who have access to child care and those who don’t, those who can afford to stay home and those who can’t, and those whose jobs put them at greater risk and those who are relatively safe. Already, there have been serious outbreaks in a meat processing plant in Alberta and among migrant workers at a farm in Ontario.
“I think there will be an emerging divide between people who can choose when and how much to change their social distancing and those who can’t,” said Jennifer Robson, a professor and policy analyst at Carleton university and one of a number of academics to be consulted by the federal government.
Political tensions start to rise
There’s also a political split opening up over the possibility that government aid to the unemployed might be discouraging people from returning to work.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said this week that his province is “fighting against a federal program that is actually paying people to stay out of the workforce right now” — an apparent reference to the federal supports that provide up to $2,000 per month to those who are out of work because of COVID-19.
In fact, for most Canadians, the most powerful incentive to stay home probably will continue to be a highly contagious and deadly virus. But if a significant number of businesses aren’t able to find people willing to work, the role and design of government aid could become a significant point of contention.
The tools that have served governments well so far — transparency, regular updates, readily available financial supports and actions based on an abundance of caution — might continue to be useful in the weeks ahead. Opinion polling also suggests that Canadians are in no great rush to reopen the economy.
But the longer this virus is with us, the more things will emerge with the potential to grind away at public trust and break things apart.
Can’t Argue Politics at Thanksgiving? Argue About the Food – Bloomberg
This is Bloomberg Opinion Today, a Thanksgiving dinner of Bloomberg Opinion’s opinions. Sign up here.
Thought for Food, Thanksgiving Edition
One upside of this year’s downsized Thanksgiving is you’re less likely to get into political arguments with relatives. Better luck next year, Racist Uncle Ned. Unfortunately, this also leaves you with less to discuss at the table. Fortunately, you’ll have some pretty interesting conversation pieces sitting on the plate in front of you.
For example, did you know there’s a good chance your turkey came from Minnesota, your cranberries from Wisconsin and your sweet potatoes from North Carolina? Justin Fox knows this now, because of researching it, along with many other interesting facts about which political swing states produce the food that will have you “swinging” to the couch for a long nap.
And you might think this weird holiday season would be good news for turkeys and bad news for the farms that slaughter them for people to eat. In fact, David Fickling writes, one of the weird ways Americans have coped with coronavirus lockdowns is to re-create Thanksgiving dinners again and again, spending their many spare hours brining, spatchcocking, stuffing and roasting. This pandemic can’t end soon enough, for humans or for turkeys. Also, zombie minks. Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!
Trump’s Power to Make Mischief
President Donald Trump just can’t seem to help himself. Even with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition now in full swing, and even after Pennsylvania certified Biden as winning its electoral votes, Trump had planned to travel to Gettysburg today with his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to complain more about voter fraud in that state.
Trump bailed on the trip, possibly depriving America of another much-needed Four Seasons Total Landscaping moment. But he’s obviously not ready to leave the stage gracefully. In fact, every move he has made since the election that hasn’t involved either claiming robbery or pardoning turkeys has been to make trouble for Biden and, by extension, the country, writes Tim O’Brien. And he still has two months in which to make mischief. Of course, there is a non-zero chance he’ll simply flee to Mar-a-Lago before his term is up. But even then, Bill Barr and other highly placed loyalists can quietly pour sugar in the gas tank of the government just before handing it off to Biden.
Of the many Chernobyl-sized messes Trump is leaving Biden, the relationship with China is one that hasn’t gotten much attention lately. But maybe it should, considering how these two nuclear-armed countries could someday end up at war. Trump has simply stopped communicating with China, leaving the two sides exchanging only menacing gestures at this point, writes Bloomberg’s editorial board. That won’t end well. Biden doesn’t have to be much less hawkish about China, but he should at least get the two sides talking again.
As we’ve mentioned a bunch in this newsletter, weird pandemic habits such as our whole-turkey craze have been an unexpected windfall to many lucky companies. One of these is Deere, notes Brooke Sutherland, which makes the tractors that produce the food that we have spent many extra hours preparing and eating. And the prospect of slightly warmer relations with China under Biden make the future look even brighter for Deere, raising the potential for more food demand, more farming and more tractors.
Tech companies — and Deere’s modern space-age tractors almost make it one of those — have also thrived in the pandemic as we all shop and surf and binge on our couches. The payment company Stripe has been one beneficiary, so much so that it’s raising new private funding at what could be a $100 billion valuation, which has more than doubled since just April, writes Alex Webb. But with great valuation comes greater expectations and pressures.
Argentine football diety Diego Maradona died. Bobby Ghosh makes the case Maradona was the greatest player of all time, better than Ronaldo or Messi because he had to do everything basically alone. He was Jordan without a Pippen. He had many incredible goals, but his best may have been the one that sealed England’s fate in the 1986 World Cup. Here’s how that play-by-play translates into English:
Many African economies, which are increasingly dominated by tech companies, have also thrived in this pandemic, writes Matthew Winkler. It doesn’t hurt that these countries have handled the virus relatively well.
Why not do an Operation Warp Speed for green energy? Because that’s far more complicated than vaccines. — Tyler Cowen
France and Germany say different things about the U.S. relationship but have similar goals: more European self-sufficiency. — Andreas Kluth
It’s clear Biden will need new tactics to remove Nicolas Maduro from power, including possibly cutting a deal. — Mac Margolis
Trump pardoned Michael Flynn.
Amazon is starting to experience shipping delays.
New Jersey’s $5 billion mall needs a Black Friday miracle.
Kominers’s Conundrums Hint
If you can’t figure out how to unscramble the answer letters in our country music Conundrum, don’t forget to look to Dolly Parton for a bit of help. You might find there’s less unscrambling to be done than sorting.
A laser fusion reactor is nearing a “burning plasma” moment.
An amateur astronomer may have found the source of the “Wow!” signal.
Brussels sprouts really used to be nastier than they are today.
Note: There will be no newsletter on Thursday or Friday.
Please send Brussels sprouts and complaints to Mark Gongloff at email@example.com.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Brooke Sample at firstname.lastname@example.org
A break from politics | The Blade – Toledo Blade
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Should Politics Be On The Discussion Menu On Thanksgiving? Experts Weigh In – CBS New York
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Getting ready to gather virtually with family on Thanksgiving?
How will you navigate inevitable conversations about the still-contentious election?
Is politics simply to be avoided? Can it be?
Those were the days, remembered Sheri Baker of Old Westbury. Thanksgiving will look very different this year with a giant family Zoom chat, but there are some things that won’t be different.
“We have learned sort of the hard way that there are some topics when it comes to politics that are better left unsaid in order to keep the holidays happy,” Baker told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff on Wednesday.
Emotions are still running high following the the election, splitting not only the country, but families.
“I think our country is more divided than ever.
“It’s terrible,” another person said.
And as we gather, even virtually, should politics be banned from Thanksgiving?
“What I do recommend is speaking to family in advance and having a plan,” said Dr. Amanda Fialk, chief of clinical services at the DORM, a treatment community in New York City for young adults.
Fialk said to set parameters ahead of time to either avoid politics or limit when it may be discussed.
“I think it’s useful to ask questions of them rather than to speak at them and make statements,” Fialk said.
And take a timeout when you’re simply not hearing one another.
“When it’s no longer productive, end it. And that doesn’t mean end it forever. That just means end it for right now,” Fialk said.
Or take a cue from couples therapy techniques to help heal relationships with those on the other side of the political divide.
“We are an American family. We sit a the same table and if we expel people from the table because of their political views we will lose our ability to function as a country,” said family therapist Bill Doherty, co-founder of Braver Angels.
“I think everybody’s aim is to try to do their part, to keep healthy, keep safe, protect our friends and family and strangers, so we can get through this,” Baker added.
Baker said she plans to focus on being thankful, to count our blessings, not our differences.
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