Josh is the main author of Northern Currents. Josh is an electrician of 10 years and has been interested in radical politics for even longer. Follow me on Twitter at @josh_nc.
The so-called “Re-open Canada” protests around Canada are much smaller than the protests south of our border, but they are no less freakish. In Vancouver, the protest was organized by neo-nazis, transphobes, and conspiracy theorists under the protection of the Vancouver Police. The nearby residents watching the protest had a different view however, as various videos on Twitter captured the residents ridiculing the protesters and even throwing eggs into the crowds.
Canadians generally pride themselves in being progressive and polite, but it seems that Trumpist politics have made their way north. Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party, is now calling for the economy to reopen albeit in less brazen terms.
Today Andrew Scheer criticized the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, saying that it could potentially “derail” provinces efforts to reopen businesses. “At a time when our economy needs stimulus, Justin Trudeau has given it a tranquilizer and risks creating labour shortages across the country. This failure must be reversed before it is too late. Canada’s economic recovery depends on it,” Scheer said.
There are 2 main problems with this, however. It is true that employees have the right to refuse unsafe work, but if an employer has implemented a safe-work program for ensuring physical distance and workplace cleanliness, a worker who refuses to come into work faces a chance of being fired without compensation. It is not up to the employee when they go back to work in many cases.
The other obvious problem with Scheer’s statement is that in many places, it is still too early to restart the economy. Although Canada has done a relatively good job at flattening its curve, scientists are warning about losing all of our progress so far and the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19 cases in the fall.
Scheer’s comments echo Trumpist “Re-open America” rhetoric, and express a narrative common to far-right, pro-big business pundits and politicians. We can only hope that Canadians can see these comments for what they really are: wreckless, and putting profit over people.