With 708,619 cases and 18,014 deaths at the time of writing, the country is constantly teetering between an economic catastrophe and an explosive spread of the virus which remains impervious to the ever stricter measures of confinement.
The popular Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has reached an impasse, constantly printing money to distribute to the unemployed and shuttered businesses, with seemingly no plans to revive the economy and an inability to promptly secure a vaccine for its 38 million inhabitants. The government plans to spend $322.3 billion on business and population relief of which, according to the national broadcaster, CBC, it had already dispersed $240 billion as of the end of November.
To complicate matters, in the midst of the crisis, Justin Trudeau was implicated in the infamous “WE” scandal when his government approved a $900 million contract to the aforementioned NGO whose co-presidents were personal friends of the Prime Minister and had paid large sums to his mother Margaret for public speaking engagements.
Trudeau’s Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, was forced to resign as a result of the scandal as he partook in approving the contract while having accepted free travel from the organization, contrary to Canada’s code of conduct.
Currently, another scandal is haunting the internationally popular prime minister given that his government decided to order vaccines from China—orders that have been neither approved nor fulfilled—leaving behind potential supplies from major U.S. and European manufacturers.
To date, the country has vaccinated only 1.55% of the population, far behind other western countries, leaving frontline doctors and hospital staff indignant and nursing homes taking court action over the delay.
Regardless, the Prime Minister continues to reassure the population that all is well and that all those who want a vaccine will get one by the end of September.
In the meantime, Canada is teetering on the limits of the absurd. Its borders have been closed since March with all non-Canadians barred from entering the country. Returning citizens are still leaving its airports without their temperature being taken nor being subjected to any rapid testing for the diagnosis of the virus. A strict 14-day quarantine continues to be imposed on those entering the country regardless of their condition while the land border with the U.S. has remained closed since last April.
Passport renewal offices as well as the issuance of diplomatic visas at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remain dormant resulting in citizens without valid passports having to wait until the end of the crisis before being able to travel.
All restaurants and retail have been locked down in Ontario and Quebec, Canada's most populous provinces. Only grocery stores, pharmacies and banks remain open. Indoor gatherings are strictly forbidden with only one visitor allowed in houses with only one resident.
At the same time, huge queues form outside the government-run monopolies that sell alcohol and cannabis. Citizens are outraged that retail shops suffer while young people are permitted to buy booze and hash that are consumed in secret parties that are major sources of transmission of the virus.
The chaos is worsening with Justin Trudeau now threatening to ban all flights leaving Canada. The country’s main carriers, Air Canada and WestJet, continue to protest, pointing out that the government’s policies are “incoherent and inconsistent” to no avail. Left with little choice, they continue to lay off thousands.
Restaurants, a large majority of which are Greek-owned, are dying with modelling showing that 30% may never re-open once public money stops flowing.
And all this chaotic, untenable dependence on public money has created an environment that has Justin Trudeau smiling smugly, anxiously waiting for the earliest opportunity to call a snap election and improve his government’s standing to a majority.