As We Enter Another Year of COVID, Regaining Eroded Freedoms Must Be Our Focus

December 27, 2021 Updated: December 27, 2021

Commentary

Anyone who still insists the COVID pandemic isn’t serious is being deliberately mischievous, obtuse, or needs to check in on their issues.

As of Dec. 23, the World Health Organization put global deaths from COVID-19 at 5.3 million people dating back to Dec. 30, 2019. To put that in a fathomable context, it’s equivalent to 12,780 crashes of fully loaded 747s in which all 416 passengers are killed.

Over the course of the pandemic’s two years, that works out to 17 such catastrophes a day. Even if we accept that, say, half the deaths said to be from COVID are really with COVID—i.e., the person died from other causes and just happened to be COVID-positive—that still equals a horrifying number of bodies coming down from the sky.

So… not serious? Seriously, it’s serious. It has been from the get-go. And some of the severest damage from disputing COVID’s seriousness comes from the debate’s distracting effects. It takes our attention off the shuddering incompetence of vast swathes of our political leadership, and diverts focus from their appalling panic-driven—and panic-driving—policy choices they’ve imposed, from devastating lockdowns to the trivialization of health care as pointless public theatre.

Worse, it masks the authoritarian creep of State intrusion into every aspect of our lives. As much as they are a focal point of opposition for many, case counts and death statistics, conspiracies, and malfeasance, even vaccine status and vaccine passports, are sideshows. The main event is imposition, and infinitely more importantly the naturalization, of social control.

The expansion of control that lies behind us, virtually unchecked for the past two years, has been frightful. What lies ahead makes sclerotic, scholastic-era argument about the severity of the virus a form of unwitting enabling from which worse will come—and come to be seen as just the way things have always been.

Epoch Times Photo
A woman walks through a plaza as strings of lights are hung overhead in Vancouver on Dec. 23, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

We now live in a state—and a State—where jumped-up public health panjandrums, their political ventriloquist dummies, and particular media hysterics overrun our lives and our fundamental freedoms on the authorization of transient pandemic emergency. But wait. Propaganda around the so-called Omicron variant is already being deployed to ready us for transition to endemic from pandemic status. The coming phase presumes permanent acceptance of COVID conditions. We’ll just have to get used to it, we’re told.

The question, of course, is: What is the “it” in question? If “it” is a return to the sane understanding that disease is an environmental given for every form of organic life, and that overwrought efforts to defeat a given malady violate evolutionary as well as ecological principles, then all to the good. But if “it”—i.e., reflexive acquiescence before all things COVID—is a pretext for stop-and-go extension of the great surveillance State ever-deeper into our lives, then we are in for dark times indeed. If the end game is projecting upon us gnostic fantasies of what’s good for us, then we are in clear and present danger as free people.

By free, I don’t mean lawyerly quibbling over the meaning of clauses in Canada’s Charter of Rights or the American Constitution. I mean our fundamental existence as citizens of liberal democracies. I mean our birthright as human beings.

Without wishing to further hype the apocalyptic atmospherics, the signs already point far more toward the negative than the positive as far as the recovery of inherent freedom is concerned.  One such sign is the revelation that the Public Health Agency of Canada has not only been monitoring our cellphones to track our whereabouts during the COVID pandemic, it intends to continue doing so as COVID wanes to control against potential future health hazards.

Before even getting to the issue of who in the name of Ra Ra Rasputin authorized epidemiological snoops to monitor the free association and movement of Canadians, there’s the underlying question of why it took the two-person news crew at Ottawa-based Blacklock’s Reporter to ferret out this information. In a healthy, freedom-first media climate, such a grotesque affront to citizen privacy would have been splashed across front pages of major newspaper and subject to hounding investigative inquiry by the CBC.

But no. The Toronto Star was instead too busy writing last week’s editorial arguing for mandatory vaccination of Canadians. Imagine. Mandatory vaccination! The criminalization of the human body! Further ostracization of the unvaccinated from pariah status to felons for their conscientious refusal to have a specific State-sanctioned substance in their veins. This from the country’s erstwhile media oracle of liberal and Liberal ideals.

Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail was editorializing that hope Omicron might prove a less virulent variant was “not a strategy” for dealing with it. Instead, it urged heeding Steini Brown, head of the Ontario science table, on his insistence that waiting for more information would only “eliminate the opportunity for action.” Just so, the Globe agreed: “We can’t just stand around until we see how much more of the house catches on fire.”

Brown’s demand and the Globe’s metaphor are neither science nor strategy. They are panic. And as Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, quoted in a National Post commentary by former Canadian ambassador Vivian Bercovici, recently put it: “The most dangerous virus in the world is not corona, it’s hysteria.”

Entering this third year of hair-on-fire running around in ever diminishing circles, we no more need further alarmism than we need angels-on-pinhead divination about COVID’s serious reality. We must, rather, put our full focus on regaining suspended freedoms even as the virus settles in to stay.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Peter Stockland is a former editor-in-chief of the Montreal Gazette and co-founder of Convivium magazine under the auspices of the think tank Cardus. He is also head of strategic communications for Ottawa’s Acacia Law Group.