Don Martin: The prime minister talks turkey in a political address to the nation – CTV News
What. Was. THAT??
A prime minister calling for time across Canadian airwaves is a BIG DEAL and thus very rarely done.
It’s not allowed to be political posturing. It’s supposed to be a five-alarm siren on a matter of national significance from a prime minister who believes urgent information must be fed directly into Canadian ears.
So what does Justin Trudeau do when his demand for 15 minutes of unedited access to the airwaves was granted under the assumption it NOT be political?
In that weird breathlessness he saves for his most dramatic conversations, Trudeau warned Canadians their Thanksgiving turkey is likely cooked by the coronavirus and they might as well cancel the family feast now. Then he dangled the faint hope of Christmas salvation IF we wear masks, download the government COVID-19 tracking app and get a flu shot.
That glum scenario hardly qualifies as news-bulletin material being released by a leader with unique insights to share. It barely rates as a news story, being the parroting of what public health officials have already said about the second wave being upon many of us.
And then Trudeau dived into an overtly-partisan listing of government actions already taken and those to come, provided the throne speech gets passed by Parliament.
It was political grandstanding masked as a public service message, a transparent and shallow attempt to paste Trudeau’s face over the throne speech highlight reel instead of leaving all the television clips to a disinterested reading by scandal-tainted Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.
Not to be outdone with this flexing of prime ministerial power, Trudeau’s opposition rivals jumped on the free political advertising bandwagon with highly partisan televised reactions of their own.
Clearly the last week or two have given Canadians an ominous preview of COVID cases building into a tsunami-sized wave on case projection charts.
It’s an emerging emergency which could’ve justified a national address, provided Trudeau’s 6,000-word action plan had not been read to rapture-level media coverage just four hours earlier.
All he did in the prime-time address was echo the throne speech’s pandemic as priority one and repeat the ways his government will help millions of Canadians through the approaching winter of self-isolation discontent.
To be fair, the government did launch a flotilla of lifeboats aimed at keeping COVID-displaced Canadian workers, ravaged retailers, vulnerable seniors, disadvantaged women and daycare-dependent families afloat in the second wave. (The resulting deficits which will confront post-pandemic taxpayers are going to be truly staggering).
But to flesh it out with a hodgepodge of less-urgent, undelivered or oft-repeated priorities dilutes an agenda which should be almost solely fixated on the medical and economic trauma this country is facing.
For example, it’s a safe bet Canada will be two billion trees shy of the two billion trees this government again promised to plant in the Wednesday speech by the time we head to the polls. That and most of the other non-pandemic initiatives will be quickly moved to the back-burner.
But, getting back to the address, for Trudeau to graft his message onto the throne speech was blatant duplication for purely political purposes.
Trudeau and the other party leaders will get their opportunity for an official Hansard-recorded reaction to the throne speech in the House of Commons on Thursday.
What more Trudeau can say after his urgent national address the day before is hard to imagine, unless he’s about to scare off Hallowe’en as well.
Here’s hoping the next time Trudeau demands access to the nation’s airwaves, the networks will say his turkey was cooked in 2020 when he deemed a threat to Thanksgiving worthy of a national broadcast alert.
Then they should tell Trudeau they’ll wait and air his Christmas greeting instead.
That’s the bottom line.
Trump Says FDA Is Playing Politics With COVID-19 Vaccine – NPR
President Trump on Wednesday decried reported health agency efforts to issue stricter guidelines for evaluating a vaccine against COVID-19, accusing the Food and Drug Administration of playing politics.
Trump was apparently reacting to a Tuesday report in the New York Times that said the agency will soon move to tighten requirements for emergency authorization of any coronavirus vaccine to better ensure its safety and effectiveness.
“That has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it. That sounds like a political move,” Trump said during a press briefing at the White House.
“I think that was a political move more than anything else,” he said.
The timing of a vaccine has been an issue of contention between the president and health experts.
Trump has directly contradicted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield on an estimate for widespread release of a vaccine, saying that such distribution of a vaccine would happen before the end of the year. Trump has also said that “every American” will have access to a vaccine by April.
Redfield has testified to Congress that a vaccine would likely not be widely available until next spring or summer.
Multiple potential vaccines are undergoing testing. Top health officials vowed in a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday that a COVID-19 vaccine would not be approved until it met “vigorous expectations” for safety and effectiveness.
Good Vaccine Progress, Bad Politics – The Wall Street Journal
Johnson & Johnson
announced Wednesday that its vaccine candidate for Covid-19 will enter Phase 3 trials, the fourth to do so. The speed of vaccine development is remarkable, and credit goes to scientific advances and some smart government decisions.
The shame is that this good news has been swamped by the politicization of vaccines, like everything else about Covid-19. Democrats say the Trump Administration is compromising safety by rushing out a vaccine before the election, while Mr. Trump is playing into their hands by overpromising and trolling regulators. “Big news. Numerous great companies are seeing fantastic results. @FDA must move quickly!” he tweeted Wednesday.
There’s no evidence the Food and Drug Administration or vaccine makers are cutting corners in clinical trials, and they have no incentive to do so. But by sowing distrust in the process, politicians may make it harder to convince Americans to get inoculated once a vaccine proves to be safe and effective.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield last week wisely tamped down hope that a vaccine could be available next month.
has said it could seek regulatory approval for its vaccine as soon as October if early data from its Phase 3 trial are strong.
But initial doses would likely be reserved for health-care workers, nursing-home residents and high-risk individuals. The FDA is also planning to issue guidance this week that manufacturers should track participants in Phase 3 trials for at least two months after their second shot before seeking emergency authorization. This makes it unlikely that a vaccine would be approved before Election Day.
Phase 3 trials test for efficacy and safety in some 30,000 people and are crucial because vaccines must generate antibodies that prevent illness in the real world. Rare side effects can also appear in larger populations, though these usually occur within 40 or so days of inoculation.
Politics aside, the Covid vaccine project looks so far like a private-public success story. Vaccines typically take a decade to develop, and the Covid-19 genome was deciphered only nine months ago. Companies are benefiting from years of investment in vaccine platforms for other diseases and advances in genetic sequencing. The FDA has helped by providing regular, nearly real time, feedback on their protocols and data analysis.
But manufacturers and the FDA aren’t sacrificing safety for speed. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn has promised to allow an outside panel of experts to review trial results. While companies are understandably reluctant to disclose their protocols for competitive reasons, Pfizer, Moderna and
have done so—which still hasn’t pleased the
carpers who fear Mr. Trump might get some credit if a vaccine is approved before the election.
AstraZeneca this month halted its trial enrollment when a healthy 37-year-old volunteer developed transverse myelitis, a rare disease that causes spinal inflammation. The patient is recovering and the company has resumed enrollment in the U.K. after determining the disorder was not likely caused by the vaccine.
Other side effects may occur as trials continue. An estimated 10 individuals per million who received the swine flu vaccine in 1976 developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the immune system attacks nerves. But about 80 to 160 new Guillain-Barré cases occur each week in the U.S., and the disorder has been linked to viruses including the flu.
If severe reactions emerge in trials, the public will have to keep perspective. Covid has also been found to cause long-term damage in previously healthy individuals, and regulators will have to weigh the overall public-health risks and benefits.
The good news is that Health and Human Services has invested in a portfolio of six vaccine candidates, lest some fail or prove less effective. It has also signed contracts with companies to produce hundreds of millions of doses in advance so they can be rolled out quickly upon FDA approval. This is a financial risk well worth taking.
The Administration is coordinating with
retail pharmacies and others to distribute vaccines. If one or more vaccines are approved this year, they could be widely available to most Americans in the spring. If that happens, the credit will go to drug-company innovation combined with government cash and coordination.
Wonder Land: Today we call Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork back from 1987 as witness to what has happened to American politics, and why we’re going to war over Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement. Image: AP/AFP via Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly
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