Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix look on as Premier John Horgan discusses reopening the province’s economy in phases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a press conference in the rotunda at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday May 6, 2020. (Chad Hipolito - The Canadian Press)

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix look on as Premier John Horgan discusses reopening the province’s economy in phases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a press conference in the rotunda at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday May 6, 2020. (Chad Hipolito - The Canadian Press)

Mitchell’s Musings: Leading the way through a pandemic

Columnist Glenn Mitchell sings Dr. Bonnie Henry’s praises in his latest Musings

As we slowly leave our coronavirus cocoons and re-enter the real world once again, or at least a portion of it, it’s almost like we have to relearn to trust again.

Certainly most of us are eager to get back to wing night at the bar and patronize our favourite restaurant once again after three months of social hibernation.

We may even want to try our hand at golf or tennis again, two sports that lend themselves quite well to physical distancing.

It’s funny as we not-so-patiently wait for phase three and expand our horizons even further, but still within the province apparently, we begin to think of a more normal life, as in pre-pandemic. However, we also know there’s a long way to go before “normal,” or if even that’s possible.

READ MORE: B.C. records 14 new cases, one death as province eyes Phase Three in restart plan

It seems like only yesterday we were panic buying toilet paper and sanitizers and yeast before we mostly trusted the essential service we used to call the grocery store.

But we always seemed to trust Dr. Bonnie Henry, MD, MPH, FRCPC, British Columbia’s provincial health officer.

From the beginning her calm demeanour, reassuring voice and gentle coaxing have guided the way, on a daily basis, to a successful outcome for this province, especially when compared with Ontario and Quebec and even more, our neighbours to the south.

“Be kind, be calm, be safe,” indeed. And we did feel like we were all in this together, just like she told us we were. A glowing New York Times article called her “one of the most effective public health officials in the world.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan have also been effective as Dr. Bonnie’s backup singers but she’s running the show with humility and grace and we are all the better for it.

Look at jurisdictions where it’s the politician leading the way.

I think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is at least attempting to lead and reassure a country going through uncharted and turbulent waters but sometimes I wonder if he has his boater’s license let alone his captain’s papers.

READ MORE: Trudeau unveils details of grant to help post secondary students, grads work this summer

As the daily pressers usually result in more millions of dollars being handed out, dollars that I’m pretty sure we don’t have and who knows when we’ll start paying taxes again, I begin to think it might be better if he, well, shut up for a little while in both official languages. At least don’t make it a daily thing. We can’t afford it.

In Ontario, it’s Premier Doug Ford as front man and although he’s done better than most people thought he would, resulting in improved poll numbers, I still feel like I’m being sold a used car, that’s been contaminated.

Everyone’s favourite conman, Donald Trump, tried his hand at daily briefings in the United States for awhile, flanked by his medical experts and noted coronavirus guru and vice-president Mike Pence. But eventually, it was too much bull and bleach that was later walked back by the medical experts at virtually every turn to reveal a rudderless ship, so why pretend otherwise?

In fact, there’s still a lot of pretending going on at the White House, as usual, as the president claims the virus is “fading away” even while cases are spiking in nearly half of the 50 states.

It makes you worry about the future of the planet and mankind, but at least we’re doing pretty well here in B.C. We hope, we pray, we trust in Dr. Bonnie (not to put too much pressure on her, ha).

Of course there’s no guarantees, that’s one thing we’ve learned out of this pandemic, but as we regain our mojo, our trust in each other and our faith in our future, we’re beginning to feel like things will be okay, eventually. Certainly in a world where we think it’s high-risk behaviour to leave home without our cellphones, we’ve got trust issues and obstacles to overcome to achieve a new normal.

But Dr. Bonnie thinks we can do it, as long as we keep washing our hands – so be kind, be calm, be safe. And it will happen.

Glenn Mitchell is a columnist and former editor of the Morning Star.

mitchchap1@outlook.com.

READ MORE: MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Vinyl is back and even cooler


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