There’s no room for swine flu updates on the home page of the Government of Canada’s all new, happy-happy, all-Conservative-all-the-time Web site.
Links to the bad news – if indeed it actually is bad news – about Montezuma’s latest revenge were pretty well crowded out of the government site’s front page this morning by happy talk about Stephen Harper’s successes summiting with other Americans and shoring up institutions to loan money to other Americans. Indeed, early this morning, what links there were weren’t working at all, presumably because of the level of traffic from panicked Canadians facing of the prospect of seeing their Mexican holiday tickets go south while they continue to shiver up here in the still-frozen north. Then again, maybe the government Web site had … a virus! (Mercifully, the pages reappeared later in the day.)
In fact, all signs to date suggest the strain of influenza we’re contemplating quarantining the entire world to contain is about as serious as a bad cold. Colds are pandemic, too, of course. It’s just that we don’t have the World Health Organization, which presumably has budget issues of its own, screaming bloody apocalypse every time someone sneezes in Sumatra because they’ve come down with a viral cold. Wait for a bulletin from the WHO, though, now that I’ve made the suggestion.
Regardless, the federal government obviously wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass to score a few political points by letting you know, Canada, that they stand on guard for thee. Since we’re in the middle of an international influenza freak-out, they got their two bits worth of swine flu hysteria in with a warning to us all to stay the heck away from Mexico, whether or not we bought flight insurance.
With the Government of Canada Web site on the blink, Canadians were forced to go to the mainstream media for the latest swine flu booga-booga. It hardly mattered. These days (unlike the bad old businesslike days when Paul Martin’s Liberals were in power), Ottawa’s on-line effort looks and sounds pretty much like a CanWest newspaper site – without the contests just yet, of course. This is no surprise, actually, as the moribund neocon newspaper chain and the flagging neocon Harper government represent pretty much the same special interests.
Using a typical media report, if you wanted to know what the government really thought, you needed to scroll all the way to the bottom. For example, consider the Globe and Mail’s lengthy story this morning about how we’re all gonna die: “The Mexican seasonal worker program, which brings farm labourers to Canada, is to go ahead, but those workers will be subject to a pre-departure medical exam,” the Globe correspondent added as a mere afterthought.
Oh, wait. I get it. We’d better not go to Mexico lest we contract the avian-human-swine bug and bring it home, but poor Mexican workers are welcome here because … well, because the farmers want ’em, and with Canadian Conservatives, what farmers want, farmers always get!
Health threat from Mexico? No problemo, unless it happens to be carrying a Canadian passport!
Think about it, if the hype were right about the swine flu and infected foreign workers (there are certain to be some who are infected) send the germ on its way to thousands or even millions of Canadians, you could be sure quite a few folks would die. On the other hand, if Canucks were hired to work in Canadian fields, even with a recession on, the next thing you know they’d be demanding decent pay, safe working conditions and, God forbid, unions! What next?
Well, if a few Canadians have to die to keep the unions out, so be it. If the swine flu flap was anything more than pure hysteria, I’d put that down to the Harper government’s core position. Come to think of it…
But with sick Mexicans happily toiling in Canadian strawberry fields, the government can get back to concentrating on what’s really important. To wit: busting Canadian autoworkers’ butts for having the cheek to have stupid bosses. Maybe Finance Minister Jim Flaherty should demand another 15 per cent off the autoworkers paycheques because of the swine flu threat. Gotta be competitive, dontcha know! Those Third World autoworkers don’t even get sick time!
Anyway, the Globe-Government assures us, we needn’t bother our pretty little heads, because foreign workers flying north to Canadian fields are going to have to fill in a pre-departure medical questionnaire. It’ll be exhaustive, I’m sure. And impoverished workers from south of the Rio Grande will be certain to check off the appropriate boxes if they’ve got the sniffles or a sore throat.