Effort to manage COVID-19 results in welcome unity

Agriculture is one of the businesses that must keep operating if the world is to carry on. Canadians and their various levels of government seem to finally be agreeing on that point. It’s a ray of hope because political agreement in Canada is ordinarily not that common.

In recent weeks a few of the cracks in our society have become chasms, but at the same time, some of the previously existing chasms have been sealed over.

Trucking is an example. The industry has long sustained our society, operating right in front of us but largely taken for granted. Though farmers and a few other sectors are keenly aware of trucking’s importance, many other factions ignore it unless the trucks stop moving or a tragic accident occurs.

Truckers, the people who operate this lifeblood of supply and commerce, are often relegated to the edges of our consciousness and in some cases society as a whole.

As our world closes up shop, we need to provide as much assistance as possible to those in the trucking industry. They continue to put themselves at risk to deliver goods, including much needed health supplies, yet stories abound about failure to afford truckers the dignity and respect they deserve. In some cases, basics such as easy access to food, washrooms and showers are denied them.

Nothing is easy about COVID-19, except for closing a door. In the case of our trucking community, it’s no time for easy.

As Canadians, we all share the risks so we must find ways to ensure we provide for all. That doesn’t mean we can’t be careful while we care.

Our premiers and prime minister have all put a common voice to this issue and several others, while setting aside some things that seemed so important mere weeks ago. The leader-speak about minority rights or port access or restrictions on religious head-coverings is muted.

Conservatives who previously suggested Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could do no good have recently praised him. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said last week that he “would never break ranks” with the prime minister, a statement many would never have imagined.

Flowing the other way, deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland referred to Ford as her “therapist” and Ford has praised her repeatedly for her actions on trade and COVID-19 management.

Premiers of all stripes have joined the prime minister in their condemnation of the American administration’s threat to halt shipments of masks and other health-care items to Canada and elsewhere. They instead support an international response and approach to the crisis.

Only the federal Conservative party has been critical of Canada’s approach to shipments of health-care equipment to other countries and the handling of America’s approach to other nations during the pandemic.

While it is in the provinces’ best interests to remain on the good side of the federal government and benefit from its fiscal capacities and national responsibilities to assist with unemployment and economic loss, they might be sharing more than self-interest.

It seems like only yesterday that premiers Scott Moe, Brian Pallister, Jason Kenney and Doug Ford gathered behind federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer on the cover of Maclean’s magazine under the headline “The resistance” and rallied against Liberal government policies.

Even last week’s increase in the federal carbon tax isn’t part of their daily chant despite their objections to it.

The détente exhibited by the premiers will doubtless wear off at some point. Dare we hope that when it does, they will better understand each other?

Perhaps the convoy of political goodwill can continue along with the convoy of truckers that are keeping all of us supplied in a tumultuous time.

Karen Briere, Bruce Dyck, Barb Glen and Michael Raine collaborate in the writing of Western Producer editorials.

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