Important message to our readers

We are social creatures, forced to live apart from friends and family. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reach out to each other, even in these difficult times. How are you coping in the age of social distancing and self-isolation? What is it like living in this strange new world? Why not share your story with our readers. You can email your personal account to the North Shore News And Views website, where we will publish it for other Islanders to read. Please send your story to peijim@hotmail.com. We can get through this together.

 

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Seeking a brighter future in the Resort Municipality while a pandemic rages

The building blocks for a new strategic plan are being lifted into position for the Resort Municipality of Cavendish, even as a COVID-19 pall descends over much of the world.

Reading through the 70-plus pages of the draft strategic plan (which will be discussed at a public meeting on Aug 18, from 6-8 pm at the North Rustico Lion’s Club) I was immediately struck by how dated much of it seemed, given all that has happened over the past six months.

The pandemic has changed migration and tourism patterns. Even if a vaccine is discovered tomorrow that is effective and safe the world will not return to what it was for a long time, if ever, and neither will the Resort Municipality.

Air travel has collapsed by more than 90 per cent and several airlines are close to folding. Cruise ships, which disgorged tens of thousands of visitors to PEI’s shores over the past several years, are unlikely to return. They have been exposed as floating petri dishes of infection and death.

Tourist operators in the Resort Municipality and much of PEI were lucky to get 30 per cent of last year’s bookings. Imagine how dire things would have been without the Atlantic bubble?

Against this grim backdrop comes a strategic plan for the Resort Municipality and its 328 permanent residents, a plan that looks 20 years into a future that was once predictable and for which all previous bets are now off.

We can no longer count on continued growth in tourism and in aquaculture to protect and improve our quality of life. We need to learn to live in a world with shrinking horizons.

Here are some of the close to 30 recommendations, to be implemented over the short, medium and long term. A great deal of these goals are practical and achievable, but some will have to be revisited.

  • Encourage a variety of housing options.
  • Support energy independence.
  • Review waterways and aquaculture regulations.
  • Re-examine recreational vehicle regulations
  • Encourage home businesses.
  • Improve cycling conditions within the municipality.
  • Improve cycling connections to nearby trails and destinations.
  • Prioritize the provision of healthcare and social services.
  • Protect and enhance shoreline access.
  • Co-ordinate an extended tourism season.
  • Protect municipal land from flooding and erosion.
  • Encourage the protection of agricultural land.
  • Foster community involvement.
  • Encourage economic diversity.
  • Work with all levels of government to expand rural internet.
  • Explore areas for an off-leash dog park.

One area that desperately needs to be addressed is health care delivery in the region. From the draft strategic plan: “Access to health and emergency services is…of particular concern, and with no ambulance stationed in the area residents worry about safety during peak tourist season.”

Cyclists on the Homestead Trail in Cavendish

A pandemic certainly shouldn’t get in the way of boosting active transportation opportunities, such as cycling.

According to the draft strategic plan, “Current cycling opportunities are limited to those along the Route 6 paved shoulder and within the (PEI) National Park. The local boardwalk system serves as a wooden sidewalk, though access is only provided on one side of the road and they are not maintained in the winter…safety and inconsistent infrastructure are a concern along Routes 6 and 13.”

And it’s right that the Resort Municipality’s planners are looking at the on-rushing catastrophe that is climate change, which could raise local sea levels by as much as a metre by 2100.

But do we need to be thinking about building infrastructure and accommodations to support hundreds of thousands of visitors?

Do we need more cottage developments when tourism has fallen off sharply? Perhaps we should consider narrowing the focus for the foreseeable future to staycations and the Atlantic bubble.

The impact of the coronavirus has been incorporated into the draft plan, with its writers admitting projections could be thrown off.

“Restricted travel and a national recession effectively cancelled tourism seasons across the world, and put heightened pressure on agriculture and food production…With an economy built on tourism, businesses within the Resort Municipality were particularly hard-hit. At the time of this plan’s writing, the duration and full extent of the impacts are still unknown.

“While the COVID-19 crisis will eventually pass, it has highlighted vulnerabilities within communities and economies. In planning for the future, the key question then is, “how can we establish systems, services, and businesses that can weather major disruptions?”

PEI’s outstanding success keeping the coronavirus from getting a beach-head here could make our province a desired destination for people around the world seeking a sanctuary from this and future pandemics. Housing prices have held steady or even increased since March when global economies were shut down everywhere. On many days Canada has less than 10 coronavirus deaths compared to several hundred and more recently as many as 1,500 a day in the US.

Our schools are opening on the Island and the same can’t be said in much of the United States or many countries around the world.

Perhaps we need a shift in thinking to consider what a growing influx of permanent residents from around the country and the world could mean to our Island life.


 
We need more white elephants in the age of the pandemic
Story and photos by Jim Brown

It’s truly astonishing how a global pandemic will free up tax dollars for white elephants.

Two new arenas, in North Rustico and Tyne Valley (replacing a building lost to fire), both costing upwards of $10 million, have been announced in the blazing heat of early July. All three levels of government are sharing the cost.

In the case of North Rustico the new arena will replace the 50-year-old North Star Arena. The new arena will feature an Olympic sized rink surface in a community with a population of barely 600 souls, according to the 2016 census. There are, of course, hundreds of other potential users from neighboring communities, but it still doesn’t seem like enough people to make this ambitious project practical.

But what if there is something else we can take from this? What if, instead of criticizing governments for this huge cash outlay on two small communities, we instead look at what the investment represents – a return to some semblance of normalcy.

What price do we place on restoring Canadians’ faith in our institutions and our resilience in the face of a darkening shadow that is engulfing the civilized world?

Twenty million dollars is a small rounding error in an unimaginably large federal deficit of $345 billion, nearly six times the size of the largest to date.

Many Canadians, even those blessed to live on this enchanted island province where less than 40 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded, are burdened with the crushing realization that things will never return to golden age that preceded the pandemic.

Will our children ever go back to school for six or seven hours a day and not be confronted by educators and others wearing face masks? Will we be able to walk into restaurants and grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other businesses without seeing signs to separate ourselves at least six feet from others, or clerks barricaded behind plexiglass barriers?

It seems so quaint now to think of a time when kids practiced 20 aside in small town rinks, fired shots off the boards, rushed the length of the ice to score on a breakaway.

There is a gnawing fear gripping the land, even in a country with less than four per cent of the cases of that giant behemoth to the south. Canada is becoming smaller before our eyes, shrinking to the size of a community or even a neighborhood. Many of us have greeted anyone travelling to PEI from outside the province with a wary suspicion. ‘Plate shaming’ has become a thing as we try to protect ourselves against sources of possible infection.

Why is a new rink so important: an arena with an Olympic-sized ice surface? Why do we need more arenas when there are already 3,000 across the country and participation was falling in ice hockey even before the pandemic?

Of course the new North Rustico arena isn’t just about hockey. A new fitness centre and walking track is planned as well as other bells and whistles and environmentally friendly features. It will be fully accessible and there will be lots of space available for large gatherings of all kinds, when and if they become safe again.

Many of us feel as if we are trapped in a science-fiction writer’s nightmare dystopian vision and we need hope that it will all end eventually. We need to be building things, to be dreaming of something larger than ourselves.

Even if they turn out to be white elephants.


Cavendish tourist operators suffering
By Jim Brown

It is almost impossible to contemplate the level of misery of Cavendish area business operators – cut off from their lifeblood of tourists during the pandemic.

Unless the bridge opens soon and some sense of normalcy is returned to the business community, the situation could get very dire, warned the Resort Municipality’s mayor, Matthew Jelley, at the June 15 monthly council meeting.

“If that bridge doesn’t open soon there are going to be businesses that are already open that are going to have closings, because results are going to be quite low. There is (also) the possibility that public health could pull the rug out from under us any day, which is part of where the stress is coming from and businesses would have to close for two weeks again or longer after just getting ready to open.”

Councillor Linda Lowther, who is helping to coordinate the Island Walk, aimed at drawing more Islanders to struggling tourist operators, says she’s heard from hundreds of business owners from North Cape to East Point and “it’s a pretty depressing picture. Every second or third day people who thought they would be interested are calling and saying ‘I’m not opening this year.’ It’s really, really, bad. I don’t think people understand how bad it is.”

Linda, whose family makes an effort every week to dine at Cavendish area eateries, urged other Islanders to get out and support local restaurants and other businesses.

The Cavendish community is probably the most tourism reliant municipality in all of Atlantic Canada, said another councillor.
Mayor Jelley said he is working on a Mayor’s Tourism Roundtable, which would provide desperately needed resources, advice and mentoring to struggling local operators.

Tourism dependent businesses run by newcomers have been hard hit by the pandemic, as have everyone else in the area, but there are owners who don’t know about government programs that provide subsidies to cover employees’ wages, making it easier to reopen during difficult economic times, said councillors.

They expressed a desire to reach out to those operators whose first language isn’t English and who may still be out of province and unable to return.

Festivals are a big part of the tourist season in the resort municipality, but the business community has been reeling after the cancellation of many major events such as Cavendish Beach Music Festival (CBMF). Negotiations are underway to bring a scaled down version of Anne of Green Gables from the Confederation Centre to CBMF grounds and with the event held outdoors and restrictions placed on attendance and strong physical distancing regulations in place, the risk of coronavirus transmission is greatly reduced.

Mayor Jelley said the Anne of Green Gables opportunity and others may “start to turn the tide and we might see some positive announcements.”

But it’s been a terrible run of bad news lately for Island operators.

Over the previous week “We’ve seen the postponement or cancellation of The Festival of Spirits, the International Shellfish Festival and the Fall Flavours,” said Mayor Jelley.


There is no excuse for ignorance or racism
By Zane Affa

Zane Affa is an Island artist working in North Granville.

It’s odd that when I explain to my white friends or acquaintances examples of discrimination I have gone through in my life they are downplayed or negated. They see it as my perception being off.

The subtlety of racism is that it can be interpreted differently depending on your life experiences. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hear what is being said by someone who’s suffered from it.

My experiences with racism have been so subverted that it’s led me to distrust my own feelings. Just because someone says something that doesn’t cross the line into hate speech, doesn’t mean it should be dismissed.

When I was in elementary school I was singled out for punishment even though white kids did the same thing with no repercussions

I remember my father telling me that when he first came to Canada in the 1950’s to go to university and was looking for a room to rent, he was often told the room was gone, even though the ‘For Rent’ sign was still in view. He told them to take the sign down.

In the 1960’s, when I was in elementary school, I was singled out for punishment even though white kids did the same thing with no repercussions.

In the 1970’s my parents joined a golf club where at one time our family was referred to as the “black” Websters. Whereas the other family was never called the “white” Websters.

In the 1980’s my mother went shopping during a grocery worker strike and when she crossed the line she was told to go back to where she came from. She told them to go back to where they came from.

I’m followed in stores, have to listen silently while family members of all colours make racist comments or jokes

As a privileged person of colour I’ve had less interaction with the police than most people of colour and that interaction had been positive. I’ve lived in mostly white neighborhoods where there is less of a police presence. That doesn’t mean that I don’t fear what could happen to me when I speak up for my rights or see examples of what could happen to someone like me when faced with someone who hates the colour of my skin.

I’m followed in stores, have to listen silently while family members of all colours make racist comments or jokes regarding marginalized people, including their own.

I usually just kept my mouth shut and my head down in order not to be targeted

When I worked with white people who never or rarely spoke to me and something happened to do with black people doing something they didn’t like, instead of educating themselves on why they felt this way, I was automatically singled out in order to reinforce their white view of the world. Not only did I have to do my job well, I also had to be the person who was responsible for making their white experience safer. I usually just kept my mouth shut and my head down in order not to be targeted.

Was it racism or just ignorance? There is no excuse for ignorance any more than there is an excuse for racism.

When you are a person of colour in society ruled by the race of another, colour is ALWAYS an issue.

These last couple of weeks has taught me a lot – like most people, I am still a work in progress and still learning. I’ve come to realize that I am also part of the problem, in my past re-telling of racist, sexist and gay jokes. No matter how harmless they may seem, they make a whole group of people the “other”.

As human beings we can choose to behave morally or not. All of us.

Peace and justice for all!

Some of Zane’s views of the world can be found at AffasViews.ca.


Is it selfish to want to hug someone?
By Michelle M Arsenault

Michelle M Arsenault is a prolific Cape Wolfe writer of erotic thrillers with edgy, political overtones. Her 13th book, She was his Angel, has just been published.

I’m sure people will get mad at me for saying it but this latest catchphrase of ‘the new reality’ reminds me of the brainwashing techniques used in the book 1984. People are repeating it as if it’s a certainty when in fact we really don’t know what our future looks like. We’ve had many experts tell us many things over the past few weeks and let’s face it, not all of them have been right.

And hey, I’m not saying it isn’t true either. Maybe this time next year we’ll all be wearing a mask, avoiding each other as if we have the plague and hiding in our houses until we die; it’s just a little soon to be making that prediction.

Personally, I don’t know how I feel about living in a world where we aren’t allowed to hug, can’t socialize and have to wear a mask all the time. And before you start telling me how selfish I am, I will confirm with you that I am selfish, so you can feel justified in being right and I can finish explaining myself.

The reality is that life without social contact isn’t a life at all. It’s an existence. We are social animals. Talking on Zoom isn’t real socializing. It’s merely a ‘better than nothing’ solution. It gives me no comfort. Hiding in your house in case you get sick isn’t realistic. At least, it’s not for me. Having Big Brother watching our every move and tracking our phones in case we run into someone with Covid-19 isn’t something I’m comfortable with. And the idea of sitting on our hands until Big Pharma gives up a vaccine (note; not cure, because you can’t make as much money off a cure) doesn’t sit well with me either.

These are all unpopular views and for that reason, I’ve felt very isolated since this pandemic started. I don’t feel that many people understand my feelings or agree with them. I don’t even feel like people want to hear them because I’m not saying what I’m supposed to say. There is an automatic tension that says ‘Shut up, Michelle’ and I do. And then I kind of get depressed because I’m scared like everyone else. But I also want to live my life.

It may be unpopular but I’d rather take the chance of getting sick and dying than hiding from my life.



 
 

We must get past our anger at allowing seasonal owners to return
By Alesia Napier
Mermaid, PEI

On May 20 Premier Dennis King, with PEI’s Chief Public Health Officer Heather Morrison sitting next to him (two metres apart), announced as of June 1 Prince Edward Island would allow property owners who live elsewhere part of the year to return to their Island homes.

As much as I thought there would be resistance to this idea of letting “Come From Aways” cross the Confederation Bridge, I have to admit I am stunned by the response of most Islanders. There seems to be a tsunami of rage at this decision. On May 19, you couldn’t find a person on PEI who wasn’t proud of Dr. Morrison and Premier King’s guidance and leadership, and by the afternoon of May 20, you’d be hard pressed to find many who would continue to proclaim their admiration.

“We aren’t COVID-19 free and we will never be”

It is often stated anger is a secondary emotion. The primary emotion is often short-lived and rarely examined and therefore presents as anger or even rage. In this case it’s easy to see the vitriolic response is based on fear; and rightly so. Dr. Morrison and Premier King instilled into all of us a primal fear of the virus. They needed to in order to get the vast majority of Islanders to comply with orders to stay at home and be physically distant to one another.

We were asked to report those who didn’t follow the orders and many of us did, because we wanted to protect ourselves, our families and those amongst us who are most vulnerable. We complied with the province’s public health directives and did such an amazing job we were flooded with the relief of thinking we were “COVID-19 free”.

Here’s the deal though. We aren’t COVID-19 free, and we will never be. We have had 27 cases. There have been reported “resolved” cases that became active again. Will we quarantine all persons who at one time had the misfortune of contracting this vile illness? Of course we won’t.

We have essential workers, that for the survival of every islander, risk their health and well-being by leaving the island and coming back on a regular basis. Do you expect these individuals to self-isolate for the rest of their lives? Of course you don’t.

In the middle of March we had no protocols in place, no systems in place and the medical and scientific communities knew nada about this virus that was rapidly spreading throughout the world. It made sense to close the bridge and issue stay at home orders.

“Even if the cottagers don’t come, life on PEI is not going back to pre-Covid-19”

We are in a different space now. We have cough and fever clinics and anyone that needs a test gets a test as PEI now has the capacity to test 2,800 cases a week. We have protocols in place to protect our infirmed. We have guidelines to safely open businesses with reduced traffic, enhanced cleaning and physical distancing as our armour. Every individual knows to keep their distance, wear a mask and wash your hands like your life depends on it. Because it does. We are geared up to test, quarantine appropriately and deploy a task force to contact trace when it becomes needed.

Here’s the part that the vast majority of islanders are missing; even if we don’t let cottagers come, we don’t get to go back to the way it was before. That time is over. Even if the cottagers don’t come, life on PEI is not going to go back to pre-COVID-19. It won’t until the scientific community either produces a vaccine or data becomes apparent the vast majority of people develop long term immunity after contracting COVID-19. Scientists all over the world are scrambling to solve the vaccine solution. They don’t know if they will ever find a vaccine, and even if they do, development and safe clinical trials can take years. Expecting a vaccine to be ready in the expected timeline of 18-24 months will only happen if huge amounts of training, expertise and funding are backed up by an exponential dose of luck. The jury is still out if a person develops immunity to COVID once they’ve had the illness and recovered and again, science will need time and data to figure out the specifics of immunity.

“This virus is literally forcing us to rethink every aspect of our day to day lives”

So, we must learn to live with COVID-19 for much longer than we originally thought. That means always keeping physically distant. It means wearing masks to protect one another, it means washing our hands over and over again. It means finding new ways to entertain ourselves. It means finding new ways to socialize. It may mean finding new ways to educate our children and young adults entering universities. And yes, it means it will be a struggle to be as physically close to our aged parents and relatives as they hibernate in nursing homes. This virus is literally forcing us to rethink every aspect of our day to day lives.

“We have no choice but to adapt and move forward”

Premier King stated there are about 3,500 homes on PEI owned by people who only live here part of the year. Twelve hundred are international, and of those about 150 are owned by Americans. The other 2,500 are Canadian owned. Dr. Morrison has stated before anyone is cleared to come to PEI they must prove property ownership and provide their 14-day quarantine plan. This isn’t about someone wealthy enough to own a property on PEI as much as it’s about their ability to quarantine themselves without risking others.

Dr. Morrison has emphasized that her team will not allow all these people to come at once but will schedule arrivals so that her team can continue to track individuals on quarantine to ensure they continue to be healthy and are following isolation protocols. Her team will also inquire if they need help.

Though I have not heard either Dr. Morrison or Premier King state this, I’m certain the pre arrival screening will include health conditions. If someone has a fever or cough, or arrives with a fever or cough they’ve developed during travel, they’ll be postponed or potentially rerouted.

With or without cottagers coming to PEI, the risk of another COVID case via essential worker travel is always going to be with us. With or without cottagers, we could face an outbreak that would force our Chief Public Health Officer to issue a stay at home order. Our lives are NOT going to go back to pre-COVID days. We have no choice but to adapt and move forward.

This time, I’m not letting my fear present as anger. This time, I’m going to use my fear to motivate me to help my fellow Canadians. They have invested in our communities and from what I’ve witnessed the vast majority have our well-being at heart. They want PEI to stay “COVID free” because they too want a safe haven.

I’ve met one via Twitter who wants to leave Ontario, self-quarantine on PEI and then stay here and ride out COVID away from the madness. I’ve volunteered to be of assistance during their quarantine. It’s the humane thing to do and more importantly, it’s the Island thing to do.


Stanley Bridge wharf, a day before setting day
Photos by Jim Brown

The rhythms of life continued in ports across PEI, even in the midst of a devastating pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives around the globe and has stilled the engines of commerce nearly everywhere. The coronavirus outbreak delayed the spring lobster fishery’s start date by two weeks, to May 15. On May 14 the Stanley Bridge wharf stirred to life with workers cutting bait and lobster fishermen loading traps onto their vessels in preparation for the 6 am launch time.


Cavendish Tourist Mart could open as soon as May 15
Owner would be happy if he only lost $100,000
By Jim Brown

A favoured haunt of tourists and area residents alike, the Cavendish Tourist Mart, could be open as soon as May 15 if everything falls into place.

Owner Brian Ellis, who has run the popular store for decades, says if he can get through this season with only a $100,000 loss he will consider it a success.

“We’re shooting for that date…but we don’t have any stock in just yet,” he said on May 6.

Of course the coronavirus has thrown a wrench into his usual opening plans – since he will have to operate with fewer staff and on reduced hours. Fortunately, there are federal wage subsidies to help out and he believes he can shave thousands off electricity and other bills. For instance, he won’t need as much refrigeration.

The important thing is to provide his core staff with work opportunities and make it possible for them to collect employment insurance benefits in the fall if jobs fail to materialize in a COVID-19 ravaged economy.

Mr Ellis said he will focus on groceries with fewer T-shirts, souvenirs and novelty items, as well as camping supplies.
Of course if demand were to pick up he could add them later in the season.

It will be a much different operating season this summer, with few, if any, tourists. Many Cavendish area businesses will likely not open.

Mr Ellis said there was another good reason to open this season, even if doesn’t make a profit. His core employees have been with him for years and are very good at their jobs. If they aren’t retained this summer they may drift away to other work and he won’t be able to call them back for next summer when things could return to normal.

Another reason for opening, with the province’s approval, is to give the business community a boost – to revive local commerce.
A community without the noise “of hammers and saws” is an empty, haunted community, he said.

The PEI Liquor outlet attached to the store will also be open.


The mystery of the hole at a Cavendish cemetery
By Jim Brown

It was something Elwin Wyand had never seen before in all the years he had worked as a volunteer at the Cavendish Community Cemetery, helping to straighten and raise stones, plant grass seed and generally tidy up the property after harsh winters.

The mystery hole, next to a grave marker.

A couple of weeks ago while he was visiting the cemetery, made famous around the world because it is the final resting place of Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery, he saw a large, ragged trench dug next to a gravestone.

“See the crowbar marks?” he said.

Were they pulling something out? a reporter asked. Elwin let that question hang in the air.

“Not sure,” he said.

Why was it dug? Elwin isn’t the only person asking that question. So was an RCMP officer, who investigated the act of vandalism, or maybe something more.

Elwin Wyand inspects the gravestone of an infant child. The hundred year old gravestone was one of many such stones in the cemetery.

“He just said it was a mystery. They were going to look into it,” said Elwin, who is the president of the nine director cemetery association, which looks after the beautifully landscaped, much-visited graveyard.

There were tracks leading from the hole, which looked like they were made by a “two wheel rig used to push propane tanks around,” said Elwin.

Was the rig used to move something heavy from the hole?

The tracks have since disappeared, fading away under fast growing grass.

“You never know what the heck it could be…I’m not going to speculate…but I’d like to know where it went,” said Elwin.

Update to story

Another media outlet, the CBC, has reported the object pried from the hole several weeks ago was a gravestone, dated 1939. RCMP are still investigating the incident.


Improved internet service coming to North Granville Community Hall, residents

Chris MacFarlane, owner of Red Sands Internet, has been a very busy man in early April.

Workers drill a hole for a 45 foot power pole.

On April 7 a 45-foot power pole was erected by workers employed by Owen Simpson next to the recently renovated Stanley Bridge Centre (SBC) building. The building sits on property owned by the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society, the SBC’s operator.

Chris said the pole “will allow me to extend my service to a tower that will be erected in North Granville. That pole should also enable me to reach a number of homes in the Stanley Bridge area as long as they can see the pole.”

He went on to say: “I plan to begin working on the pole over the (Easter) weekend and hopefully have it ready to provide service to subscribers within two weeks. I will also be providing WiFi service to the Stanley Bridge Centre.”

Don Maynard of Granville Ridge Consulting had approached Chris about providing improved internet service to his company and ultimately for the North Granville area.

The power pole, after installation.

 
“It is difficult to nail down a timeline but we are hoping to have the tower ready for service within a month or so of having the pole in Stanley Bridge go live,” said Chris.

“Then I plan to extend my service to the North Granville Community Hall, once there is service available at the tower. It is expected that I should be able to reach the majority of homes on Taylor Road as well as a few on the Rattenbury Road in the North Granville area. Any home within a five km radius of the tower should be able to subscribe to my service as long as they have a clear line of sight to the tower.”


Gun-toting vigilantes and the Decline of the American Empire
By Richard Deaton, Stanley Bridge

This past weekend was an historical turning point. Only historians such as Gibbon and Toynbee would have the sweep and insight to fully appreciate the Decline of the American Empire in the Time of the Coronavirus. And as medical historian William H. McNeil has argued there is an intersection between epidemics and historical political events. But Sinclair Lewis and Philip Roth were right, It Can Happen Here. Fascism through the ballot box.

This past weekend those watching the social media were treated to the sight of right-wing goons wearing black military outfits and armed with assault rifles occupying and blocking the entrance to the state capital buildings in at least six American states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Many of these states have Democratic governors.

However, in any constitutional democracy there is always a limit to the exercise of political rights. No right is unfettered. The right to free speech, as US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, does not give one the right to yell fire in a crowded theatre. There are legitimate constraints on every political right. And public health measures are a necessary limitation on certain rights.

It is no exaggeration to say that these self-appointed vigilantes, who are allegedly protesting the COVID-19 shut down and “stay at home orders” in the name of “opening up the economy” do so by asserting their First and Second Amendment rights to public assembly and to bear arms. Toys for boys. These actions are grounded in the paramilitary- survivalist movement called Minutemen, created by Republican Senator Barry Goldwater when he ran for president against Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Make no mistake about it, these are anti-government nihilists – red necks and crackers – parading as patriots, wrapped in the American flag. These are weaponized good ole’ boys and deplorables. In today’s political environment they are the modern day version of the Hitler’s brownshirts, the SA, who were his private army of street fighting goons who intimidated and beat up political opponents.

Most disturbingly we must ask: Where are the police? Where is the state National Guard? Where are the Democrats, and where is Joe Biden speaking out to preserve political democracy and social order? And outlining a rational exit strategy from COVID-19? America has become a Third World banana republic, with the president serving as the cheerleader-in-chief agreeing with and pandering to the lawlessness of his base. He has done this from the very first days of his administration. Are we now waiting for our Reichstag moment?

What is appalling is the silence emanating from Democratic Party leaders and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. Some have commented on his recent incoherence and poor performance at the lectern; rumour has it that his handlers are limiting his exposure to 15 mins. Is he well? Is he up to the task? Should the DNC look to Cuomo as the Democratic nominee?

We live in dangerous times and must Stand on Guard for Thee.


  
Seven Day Weather Forecast For Stanley Bridge, Prince Edward Island, Canada
STANLEY BRIDGE WEATHER

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