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Thursday , 1 October 2020

EDITORIAL: The next shortage you can’t import: morale

There is a shortage of personal protective equipment, N95 masks, ventilators, respirators, acute care beds, ICU beds, medical gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.

There is a shortage of money too: laid-off workers, businesses of all sizes going belly-up, others kicking the can of rent, utility, and mortgage bills down the road to a later, greater day.

So, let’s hope the next shortage in this country isn’t morale. 

Signs were pointing that were already in short supply.

The comparisons to World War II by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Jason Kenney have called on our sense of duty as Canadians in this time of crisis: to stay home during the pandemic.

Or keep calm and carry on.

But the key ingredient that binds a nation–people–together in great uncertainty is national morale, it is the spirit of embrace and readiness to the challenge that lies ahead.

Coincidentally, it’s another Canadian stock that has dropped in recent years.

This country has been long suffering from a prolonged identity crisis, dividing people further into groups and political factions.

On March 8th, we were talking about how the majority of Canadians when polled said rail blockades in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs against the Coastal GasLink gas pipeline was “unacceptable,” a move that stopped rail traffic.

A Postmedia poll completed March 16, revealed that in all four western provinces, 58 per cent of people don’t feel Ottawa represents their interests.

How about the Fair Deal Panel? Alberta Pension Plan?

What to do about the climate?

What about the continuing decline of the local economy? More businesses for sale, more buildings available to buy in Bonnyville, etc. etc.

All was not well between us.

Nevermind that it’s hard enough anyway to feel the morale and sense of something greater with your neighbour in a global crisis like this, because frankly, it’s not a situation like a war, a unified effort that everyone is actively involved in.

It’s an invisible, mysterious virus we’re fighting that has taken tens of thousands of lives.

While our struggle is easier in comparison to our forefathers, it grows more anxiety with having little to do.

It’s like how the goaltender’s mother is the more nervous person in the rink, yet the goalie is the calmest.

We just passed the 103rd anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and much more smarter and knowledgeable people than I say this is the day Canada became a nation, including our national encyclopedia.

Ten thousand Canadians descended onto the beaches of Normandy in 1944.

That built national morale because it was an active effort.

Our role in this current problem is passive: to lock ourselves in and wait and hope that things will get better–our communal experience the debauchery of Joe Exotic.

We look out the window and see two people walking on the street not six feet apart. Sure, they live in the same house, we assume, but it’s weird. Why don’t they just stay home?

I’m not saying that staying at home and practicing physical distancing is a bad idea, people should practice these measures – it’s important you do because that should help.

Doctors, nurses, frontline staff, heck, truck drivers are the heroes of this day and I salute their work.

But when most people’s effort in this is to fill your boots with Grey’s Anatomy and take your daily dose of required information on everything COVID, that doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything.

That does not kindle our spirit or boost morale.

Although these are all the comparisons we have, coronavirus is a new challenge for a new day.

While this is by its nature a unifying experience for a country, I fear it won’t see the same type of resolve as our grandparents and great grandparents did from the World Wars or even from the Depression.

Especially with the politicking that will come after the pandemic, when the topic of economic strife becomes the top issue, and things like billion-dollar projects become more of the national interest– will we feel united? On the same page?

If not, the next national shortage will be the weakening Canadian morale and this you can’t replenish in a factory overseas.

Michael Menzies, editor.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.