Column like I see 'em - Brian Pallister’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month


By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

November has not been very kind to Manitoba premier Brian Pallister, but then again, it hasn’t really been all that kind to any of us, has it?

The most obvious example of this escalating awfulness for all Manitobans can be found within our province’s active COVID-19 case count. By the end of November, the active  numbers were almost three times higher than they had been at the start of the month: (Nov. 1 - 3,255 cases;  Nov. 30 - 9,172 cases).

In that same time span, the number of deaths connected to COVID has also taken a very sad upward trajectory: (Nov. 1 - 75 dead;  Nov. 30 - 312 dead).

Too soft, too hard on COVID-19

We also appear to be a very fractured province, in terms of how we view the government’s and, by proxy, Pallister’s response to COVID.

One side has been critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic ever since the spring and early summer. They’ve suggested that launch of the #RestartMB campaign, unveiled back in  late April, was premature and a contributing factor in Manitoba being in the current state that it finds itself in.

The other side, meanwhile, has only recently become irritated by the Pallister government’s actions, but has been very vocal about that displeasure quite quickly. This collective argues that recent provincial restrictions against mass gatherings and access to non-essential retail items is a clear violation of their fundamental and constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.

The only thing these two sides seem to agree on is that the whole management of this has been terrible and they need somebody to blame, and Brian, that’s where you enter the discussion. With all that negativity out there right now, it’s no wonder that Pallister has the lowest approval rating among all Canadian premiers. According to a poll from the Angus Reid Institute, released on Dec. 1,  Brian’s approval is at 32 per cent. That’s lower than both Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Ontario’s Doug Ford. Heck, even COVID itself might somehow have a better approval rating than Pallister right now. Those heady days, way back at the start of all this, where it seemed as though Pallister could do no wrong are most certainly long gone. But don’t worry Brian, I’m here to help.

Man with a plan

This portion of the op-ed is specifically geared just for Premier Brian Pallister, because I really want to help him out here.

Now Brian, if these words ever do pass across your desk, I’m sure the first thing you’d ask yourself is “Why should I, the tallest and therefore most powerful man in Manitoba, take any type of suggestions from a small town and small time reporter and op-ed columnist?” Well if I can be so bold Brian, I just figured that since Rosemary Barton of the CBC turned down your request to come up with a single idea to make your plan work better, that it opened up the flood gates for other media types to chime in.

So here are my suggestions to help get the province back on track, and more importantly, get you back in the good graces of the voters. First off:

• Allow smaller retailers to reopen, but place capacity restrictions on all the big box stores. It’s a better approach to fighting COVID-19 if your goal is to actually to ensure control of  physical distancing and less time in large groups. Plus, it would be a nice change of pace to let small retailers have a turn at making money.

• Take all of the cash that’s been brought in from levying fines to businesses and scofflaw Covidiots and put it into the construction of personal care homes, like the one your government cancelled for Lac du Bonnet in 2017. Sure, there is not enough in there to build it just yet, but give it time. You can’t fix stupid, but you can fine it heavily.

• Cut the economic impact on people as we head into the winter. You could start by reversing the 2.9 per cent Manitoba Hydro increase that went into effect on Dec. 1. SaskPower just cut its rates on Tuesday by 10 per cent! I can’t believe I’m about to suggest this, but....We need to follow Saskatchewan’s example.

• If all else fails Brian, there is no shame in admitting that the task is simply too great for you. Perhaps   an early retirement. And besides, I hear that Costa Rica is lovely this time of year.

Disclaimer: Column like I see ‘em is a monthly opinion column for the Neepawa Banner & Press. The views expressed are the writer’s and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press.