Political opinion on public health is 2020’s ongoing unnatural disaster

It was obvious in the U.S. but Canadian media took a little longer to offer their platforms to pundits desperate to add their two cents to public health decisions. And why not? It’s working so well below the 49th parallel to have an array of uneducated opinion spotlighted for public consumption that it must have been an actual no-brainer to follow the pack.

Apparently the idea of leaving public health advice to professionals, many of whom have dedicated their entire careers, and lives, trying to solve problems that affect human health, was too far out of the box for editorial boards in Canada.

When you have every Karen and Daryl snatching likes from the lowest common denominator on Facebook for free, you can hardly blame the country’s mac and cheese-powered “thought leaders” for trying to recover their place as the chosen few who provide vocabulary lessons to thousands across the country.

And I don’t blame them.

After all, the competition for most damaging garbage take has increased exponentially since the invention of social media, and during a pandemic that saw millions of people with way more time on their hands, joining the race to the bottom was obviously far too good to pass up.

No, I don’t hold the full-time pundits responsible for their participation – they’re just trying to stay relevant by reclaiming the attention from actual professionals who were shoved into the limelight and expected to know everything about a virus none of them had ever seen before.

Ostensibly, if educated professionals couldn’t answer the questions people wanted, then it seems our nation’s editorial boards must have asked themselves how publishing the advice of someone who willingly took the medical opinion of a reality TV host with no medical experience could possibly be worse.

Do we need to look much further than the recently documented rise in daily infections? Hospitalizations? Deaths?

If the general public cannot discern the difference between medical opinion and a twit who knows someone who can get their opinions into the public discourse, then our news publications are failing every Canadian.

The pool of “thought leaders” in this country cannot be so inexplicably small that only those who seem determined to undermine the safety of Canadians manage to get their hot takes in print.

Statistically speaking, there must be at least six articulated, knowledgeable – even witty – professionals in Canada who would be a better choice to share their opinions on public health than those whose claim to fame is that they founded one of the most noxious opinion outlets in the country.

Allow the usual suspects their space to motivate undecided voters with their partisan screed and manufactured outrage but – for the love of our grandparents and our economy – leave the health and safety of Canadian citizens to the health experts.

Our news publishers have a responsibility to all Canadians and they shouldn’t be allowed to forget that.

This post is an opinion that didn’t take a position on public health. See how easy that was?

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Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is an Alberta-based political analyst who got into this biz to challenge nonsensical partisan rhetoric.