In February, I wrote a column urging new B.C. Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon to challenge the NDP government over its handling of the pandemic.
I even suggested that by focusing on airborne COVID, Falcon could become B.C.'s next premier.
Nearly two months later, he and the B.C. Liberal caucus have utterly failed to do that.
This stands in sharp contrast to B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau, who continues pressing Health Minister Adrian Dix on this in the legislature.
Falcon's crew did not speak up for some of the most vulnerable people in the province—the immunocompromised, those with comorbidities, and seniors—after the B.C. government scrapped a provincewide indoor mask mandate.
Falcon's B.C. Liberals remained silent even after Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender pointed out that this will leave thousands of British Columbians behind "because of their age, disability, or other protected characteristic under B.C.'s Human Rights Code".
The end of mask mandates in BC. is particularly dangerous for those who face higher risk of serious COVID—including kids with type 1 diabetes and asthma, as well as those born premature.
Falcon's MLAs didn't even mention in the legislature that a massive NIH-funded study showed that mandatory school mask mandates cut the spread of in-school COVID-19 transmissions by 72 percent over districts that gave students the option of wearing masks.
That study, which involved 1.1 million students, was conducted during the surge of the Delta variant, which was less contagious than the current BA.2 variant.
Falcon appears to believe that he can revive the B.C. economy like it's 2019.
The B.C. Liberal leader and his caucus are not promoting policies in response to the fundamental reality that most COVID-19 cases are being contracted by the airborne route.
Ask yourself this question: does anyone seriously believe that we can have genuine economic revival if people are going to continue to be reinfected with COVID-19?
Does Falcon truly want to wish away the existence of Long COVID, COVID as a vascular disease, and COVID's links to brain damage by not talking about these things?
Does Falcon think that this laissez-faire approach to the virus is going to avoid the need for future lockdowns when hospitals become clogged with COVID-19 cases, disability costs rise, and health-care workers burn out and leave their professions? Or is he going to be like People's Party of Canada Leader Max Bernier, and just let the market resolve this?
In this regard, Falcon actually has a lot in common with Premier John Horgan.
Both of their parties are essentially advancing the scientifically discredited concept of herd immunity and the ableist Great Barrington Declaration. As this New York Times article demonstrates, the virus still has tremendous capacity to evolve in ways that enable it to circumvent vaccines.
Vaccines cannot be our only defence, no matter what Health Minister Adrian Dix might say at his next Tuesday (April 5) briefing.
Falcon and Horgan appear to believe that if the government does the same thing all over again—i.e. promote vaccination and avoid the issue of telecommuting—airborne COVID-19 will somehow be brought under control.
And this magic will be accomplished in the absence of people following a government directive to take the relatively simple measure of wearing a mask indoors and governments refusing to permit HEPA filters and carbon-dioxide monitors in classrooms.
It's not only nonsensical, it's deadly and unethical.
Let's not forget that more than 40 percent of B.C. kids from 5 to 11 remain unvaccinated. More than 60 percent have not received two doses.
Classrooms are incubators for COVID-19. Let's show some compassion not only to the kids with immunocompromised people in their homes, but also to the teachers who might have diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or some other chronic disease that puts them at higher risk.
Driving down the B.C. Liberal vote
Now, Falcon wants the votes of Vancouver-Quilchena residents in a by-election scheduled for April 30.
All the political analysts expect him to win because it's one of the safest B.C. Liberal seats in the province. But it's still possible to send him a strong message about his party's pathetic approach to COVID-19.
If the by-election is closer than expected—or if the turnout is so low that Falcon wakes up to the political risks of enabling let 'er rip COVID—it will embarrass the B.C. Liberals. And the leader will take notice if he recognizes that his COVID-19 policies are causing a decline in donations to the party.
The constituency of Vancouver-Quilchena runs from the west of Granville Street from West 16th to West 57th, where it buttonhooks over to West Boulevard down to the Fraser River. It includes Musqueam Indian Reservation #2, Dunbar-Southlands, Arbutus Ridge, Kerrisdale, and parts of Shaughnessy and Marpole.
If you're a British Columbian who's disgusted by the willingness of B.C. NDP and B.C. Liberal politicians to trample on the human rights of our most vulnerable citizens and let them die in higher numbers, here are 10 things you can do:
1. Educate any resident of Vancouver-Quilchena whom you know about the failure of B.C. Liberal and NDP politicians to protect clinically vulnerable kids and teachers in public schools.
2. Convey these concerns to parent advisory councils of Vancouver-Quilchena schools.
3. Don't donate to the B.C. Liberal party until it demonstrates more willingness to protect the lives of seniors, kids with weakened immunity, and the massive number of British Columbians with chronic diseases, who are all more vulnerable to disability and death from COVID-19.
4. Speak to influential members of Musqueam about the potential impact of Falcon's approach to COVID-19 on Indigenous people, who are more at risk for severe COVID due to higher rates of diabetes and other chronic conditions.
5. If you have the time, hand out leaflets educating people about airborne COVID in popular shopping areas on weekends in Vancouver-Quilchena, including Dunbar, Kerrisdale, and Marpole. Make these leaflets bilingual, even if you have to use Google translate, by including text in traditional Chinese script, which is read by people from Taiwan and Hong Kong. If there's room on the leaflet, also include simplified Chinese script, which is read by people from mainland China.
6. Register as a provincial third-party advertising sponsor with Elections B.C. if you plan on spending any money campaigning against Falcon. For example, if you personalize the campaign against the B.C. Liberal leader by inserting Falcon's photo in leaflets or on posters, make sure you're following the rules.
7. Phone in your concerns about COVID-19 policies to talk shows in English, Cantonese, or Mandarin, especially if Falcon is a guest.
8. Educate Cantonese- and Mandarin-language media commentators about how far off the mark the B.C. Liberals and the NDP have been in response to COVID-19. Some immigrants from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong rightly take pride in wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 well before this was recommended by the provincial government. They were deeply disenchanted with the tepid response, as demonstrated by this April 12, 2020 article by community leaders Guo Ding and Kenny Zhang.
9. Take a month off bashing Dr. Bonnie Henry on Twitter and instead, aim your criticism at Falcon. This man wants to be B.C.'s next premier. Henry is a mere employee doing the B.C. NDP government's bidding. If she weren't doing what Premier John Horgan wants, she would be replaced in a jiffy. Falcon, on the other hand, is in a position to bring about real change.
10. Hold a demonstration outside Falcon's campaign office on Saturday (April 23), which is the second day of advance voting. Notify the media in advance.