I’m not usually at a loss for words. But as we pass through the second anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, I feel myself struggling to find the right words.
This isn’t because there aren’t a million great words that could be used for this occasion. There are creative, illustrative ways in which to curse people in power or describe this moment, and hundreds of pithy fuck yous possible, all of which could be easily employed right now. No, I’m struggling to find the right words because I’ve used so many already that I have nothing left to say.
What can you say when you look at the state of COVID-19 politics in Canada and see that this is a country run by politicians who don’t give a rat’s ass about people getting sick and dying, so long as Loblaw, Rogers, and RBC all make their annual revenue goals?
What can you say when you look at how far we’ve come since March 2020, and think of all we’ve learned about the virus, and then realize that there’s still no political will to help people survive this pandemic?
What can you say when you know that war is the most expedient way out of a global financial crisis, and you hear the sounds of war drums beating for months and months, and when it finally comes, you watch Canadian politicians try to suppress the smiles on their faces now that oil and commodity prices are surging, and that our own war industries can be kicked into higher gear so that we can deliver the Ukrainians the hand grenades and rocket launchers we’ve promised?
What can you say when you’ve literally written the book about the past two years, and yet Canada’s media establishment still refuses to engage with these sorts of criticisms, instead rediscovering things over and over, for a readership that is assumed to be as sharp as a school of goldfish?
Nothing. There’s nothing to say.
There’s no point in saying COVID-19 is airborne, masks are safe and effective, or that we need PCR testing, because they already know these things.
There’s no point in reminding people that restrictions aren’t all or nothing, and that there are huge spaces between all and nothing that we could live within, comfortably, and with as much safety as possible. They know this very well, but it’s politically beneficial for them to pretend that there are only two states: open and closed.
There’s no point in referencing the fact that the poorest Canadians weren’t really given anything at all to help them survive this pandemic, because they already know that too.
There’s especially no point in saying these things if you hope that the result will be a change in heart for Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford, slightly less suckage from Saskatchewan’s Premier, Scott Moe, or actual social democracy from British Columbia’s Premier, John Horgan. Don’t dare criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the man most stymied by Canadian federalism in the country — these men are all doing their best. Some will never change. Others, meanwhile, would say, ‘Well, Nora, you have no idea how complicated it is to be the leader of the province and oh boy would I love to see you try.’
There’s no point in saying these things because if you do say them, you start to feel like throwing yourself into the gears of the machine in a futile attempt to stop it from grinding on, as if it hasn’t chewed up better and more important corpses than yours (mine?) already.
The government has recorded more than 37,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Canada, with who knows how many having gone unreported. As a final insult to these people, Canada has turned to them as they suffered, trying to breathe, choking on their own with failing lungs, and said coolly: your deaths have been in vain. Because Canada — our politicians specifically, but our ruling class in general — decided profits were more important to save than their lives.
And really, that’s all this comes down to, which there’s no point in saying either, because the evidence is clear and abundant, and, for some of these ghouls, even a source of pride.
Two years ago, the brakes were slammed on my life so fast that I was launched into the atmosphere. It took months for me to find my way back down to solid ground. The same thing probably happened to your life, too. The collective trauma of this moment will define the coming decades. It also really could have justified a national, two-week paid holiday for everyone.
But there’s barely a point in even saying that, because words have failed to make any change whatsoever. Words are cheap, as freelancers know. And we’re well beyond the time of words, just in time for there to be nothing left to say.