OPINION: Au Château abdicated to bullies



During my time on West Nipissing Council, the thing that stood out and still does is the pandemic, and the requirement for Council to swiftly respond. I am in no uncertain terms proud of that response. Despite being forever marred by the fact that I was a member of the worst Council in the history of West Nipissing, and possibly the planet, we acted quickly and with a united front. Every time that this topic came up on the agenda, without fail, there was consultation with the region’s Health Authority. We got the best advice available at any given time, and come hell or high water, we moved and voted to implement those suggestions.

It is a sad commentary on the state of society that we, early in the pandemic, came to the conclusion that we would not disclose the fact that we had consulted with Doctors. Imagine that. There was so much misinformation, and incomplete information, and the medical community was under such immense pressure, we simply didn’t want to scapegoat our decisions on Health professionals. We didn’t want attacks forwarded to them. Wow, the hate mail was epic.

The underlying argument in these attack emails was, “you are stupid and don’t understand, here are the facts…,” but the “facts” were always a disparate set of points pulled from a variety of sources without context; on the surface you could almost give them credence, yet, they were simply wrong. These reactionary opinions were well-constructed, I’ll give them that; snake oil, nonetheless.

I remained very conservative on this issue for the whole term, not doing so would have been tantamount to murder. It wasn’t an issue where I felt I could shrug my shoulders and say, oh well, I got that one wrong. Even if I thought measures were draconian, it didn’t matter as long as no one pointed to the deaths and long-Covid symptoms of fellow citizens and said, “You should have done more.”

This brings me to the rescindment of the vaccine policy at Au Chateau. Where has the duty of care gone? In tort law, a ‘Duty of Care’ is a legal obligation that is imposed requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. I think we can all agree that it is time to start lifting restrictions, but in the context of a home for the aged, surely a measured and gradual approach would be the way to go – what the medical community, professional staff, and advocacy groups for the elderly also surely endorse.

A full consultation with all the residents and their families would have been in order instead of abdicating to the bullying of a few. The Mayor was the sole voice of reason, in the words of the Arbitrator on the topic of Vaccine Policies in a long-term care setting: “The Employer had a positive legal obligation to impose a three-dose mandatory vaccination policy due to the Employer’s obligations regarding the health and safety of its employees and residents”.

As I write this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has extended its global emergency, as did the United States last week. As Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Head of WHO, said, “Do not underestimate this virus. It has and will continue to surprise us, and it will continue to kill unless we do more to get health tools to people that need them and to comprehensively tackle misinformation.”

Basing public policy on the fact that you don’t want to engage with protestors is incredibly bad form.

Chris Fisher

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