Trust can be elusive when it comes to politics

Sask Bulletin
Column: 
September 15, 2020

Quite honestly, in this case it doesn’t matter one bit whether you are wearing a mask or not. Either way your head might be spinning as if on a swivel.

Editorial

The days blur, but the unmasked reality is that even when it comes to something as monumental in scope as the COVID-19 global pandemic, there’s always room for politics.

Recall, if you will, the first salvo when it was announced by the Government of Saskatchewan that students and teachers would be returning to school for face-to-face learning sans the masks that have been mandated elsewhere.

Well, it took three days until there was a significant role reversal when Education Minister Gord Wyant proudly proclaimed that the government has procured six million disposable masks for schools in the province at an investment of $2.3 million.

Less than a week later we have Premier Scott Moe sitting in the big chair to champion the fact that $40 million from the $200 million COVID-19 contingency is going to be available to help ensure a safe return to schools. Oh yeah, maybe it was also in response to heat from the general public.

Now, you can choose whichever theory you want–that the hue and cry from an incredulous populace was enough to send the Saskatchewan Party folks into what ALMOST was a complete turnaround. Or, my own thought was that the first announcement was ostensibly a trial balloon to gauge the reaction.

When watching the first announcement with Wyant flanked by Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, I felt that if you read between the lines, they had come up with a previously unknown four-phased approach. The more the two gentlemen spoke, the clearer it became that they were all but ready to proceed to the second phase, including the recommendation of considering a mandatory mask policy. 

You see, in my cynical world this was akin to the Saskatchewan Party showing just how earnestly they are listening to the public and whatever the cost, they are going to make this harrowing scenario as safe as possible for students, teachers and staff members in the province’s schools.

Then we have the Premier tossing $40 million into the equation. Isn’t that just so heroic–if not somewhat unexpected. Understand that I am apolitical in every sense. My distrust for politicians of any stripe is based on four decades in this game and everyone plays it, albeit under some nuances in terms of the rules.

To be sure, I have met politicians along the trail whom I have grown to quite like and respect, but trust is decidedly more elusive. All too often, the scenario plays out the same whether you’re in the position of power or the Opposition. It’s a shared trait that whatever public announcement comes out, you can’t help but think the next step has already been carefully plotted. In the majority of cases it’s commonplace to wait until the other shoe is going to drop when it best suits their needs.

Having something like this clinging to your party is not good news when you consider that there is going to be a provincial election, in all likelihood it will far precede any approved vaccination for COVID-19. You might say that this reversal is the best way for the government to try to wash their hands of the situation that they somewhat unwittingly created themselves.