Dispatches from the last days of our so-called civilization

News | Stephen Whitworth | Sept. 9, 2021

It’s a new month with a new season dead ahead so we’re dusting off What Just Happened? (now with fresh new Fall Flavour!) (it’s not pumpkin spice) (okay it’s pumpkin spice). This column selectively diarises shiny news tidbits infused with a crisp citrus bitterness reminiscent of your favourite IPA. Does that sound like something you’d like? Yes? Great! Here we go!

TUESDAY, AUG. 31 Saskatchewan’s most popular politician with two first names pushed back against the resurgent pandemic by boldly rejecting government action to fight the rapidly-spiralling-out-of-control death-plague rampaging through our population. Mandatory indoor masks? Nope! Vaccination for public workers? Nope! Frick all? Ding ding ding! “Our health care capacity has always been the driving factor behind the decision making that we have made as a government,” proclaimed Scott Moe during today’s video press conference. “That being said, we do need to learn to live with Covid.”

By the end of August 2021, 603 Saskatchewanians had failed to live with Covid.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 1 A new month dawns! Sticking with provincial news, Saskatchewan children pranced and frolicked back to school today while their parents — especially parents of children too young to be vaccinated — shat their dungarees worrying their darlings will catch Delta-Force Covid and end up waiting for a bed in an overcrowded ICU. Did I say overcrowded? Province-wide, there were 134 Covid patients in hospital today, 34 of them in intensive care.

Those already-alarming numbers would end up looking like sunshine-sparkled jellybeans within a week.

The big story today, however, was news out of Texas that abortion — an ethical and safe medical procedure that gives women control over their bodies and lives — would effectively be banned by rabid Republican politicians led by a governor who apparently thinks Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a blueprint for society. The oleaginous law was designed to slither around Roe v. Wade by allowing stalkers, religious zealots, abusive ex-partners and profiteering misogynists sue abortion patients, providers and anyone involved in an abortion occurring after approximately six weeks (note: most women don’t realize they’re pregnant at six weeks) for $10,000 plus legal fees. Critics have described it as putting a bounty on abortion. Anyway, the gimmick worked as the Republican-stacked U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, refused to so much as put it on hold pending inevitable challenges.

The law might be in Texas but it has implications for Saskatchewan, says Tanya Turner, chair of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union’s Women’s Committee.

“We can’t assume in Saskatchewan that the services and legislation we have now are going to remain forever,” says Turner. “What happened in Texas this week is proof that things can change, and we can’t allow that to happen in Saskatchewan or Canada.

“We need to be vigilant,” says Turner. “We need to make sure that the laws in Saskatchewan maintain that right to choose. We need to know what politicians’ stances are on abortion. We need to be able to talk to our friends about [its] importance.

“I think we also need to ensure that sexual health education and resources are out there for young people, and then additionally, for women and people who decide to continue with their pregnancy, we need to ensure that there are supports for [them] and their new babies as well,” she says.

Incidentally, every single Conservative Saskatchewan Member of Parliament voted in favour of restricting abortion this past spring. Bill C-233, introduced by Yorkton–Melville Member of Parliament Cathay Wagantall, was defeated 248–82 with Liberal, New Democrat, Green and Bloc MPs unanimously voting against it.

Just a friendly reminder for the next time someone tells you Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives are moderates.

FINALLY, staggeringly unpopular Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister stepped down today. Pallister should’ve pursued his political career in Saskatchewan. Conservative politicians can get away with just about anything here these days.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 5 All that pretty much blew my word count so let’s skip ahead a few days. After getting a free ride from mainstream Canadian media over the campaign’s first few weeks, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole finally shot himself in the foot loudly enough for reporters and pundits to notice. O’Toole was forced to declare a Conservative government would NOT repeal a 2020 Liberal ban on assault-style weapons, despite the promise appearing in the Conservative party’s platform. He instead promised a public review of firearm classifications.

Meanwhile in COVID news, Saskatchewan saw 389 new cases with a horrific seven-day average of 318 new cases. Oh, and 33,000 people watched the Roughriders lose 23–8 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Mosaic Stadium, which quite generously welcomed unvaccinated CFL fans. Everyone is quite confident this will not result in a horrific spike in infections.

MONDAY SEPT. 6 Oh goody. Saskatchewan — a province whose only Covid plan is “get vaccinated”, had 393 new COVID-19 cases today, 153 in Saskatoon. Worse, we hit an all-time seven-day new cases average high of 346. Yes. All time. (This record was immediately broken on Sept. 7.)

In ultra-heartbreakingcelebrity news, beloved actor Michael K. Williams was found dead at his New York apartment today. He was 54. On The Wire, Williams famously played charismatic queer stick-up artist Omar Little, a ferociously unique character ranking among the absolute best ever seen on television. Williams appeared in many other shows and movies, including Boardwalk Empire, 12 Years A Slave, Motherless Brooklyn and Community. He will be missed and deeply mourned.