When sick pigs fly?

GTA boy dies.

Mass panic for vaccine.

Short supply.

And now the Canadian government is on the defensive, reaching for Stractical Points. And after all the media reports of grannies turned away from vaccine clinics after lining up for hours, Ottawa is in tough as the architect of Canada’s pandemic strategy.

The government needs a two-pronged approach in reaction but so far, we’ve only seen one:

1) The “we’re not wrong, we’re right” approach. Effectiveness: Tactical.

A difficult thing to prove in the blusterous court of public opinion, especially when it comes to a public health issue.


A federal official said with 6-million doses of the vaccine already in circulation, Canada is ahead of the rest of the world on a per-capita basis.

“There is no shortage,” the federal official said.

What the official meant, I interpret, is that there will be no shortage — folks who want the vaccine will get it… eventually. But in the media/public vortex, the “shortage” means what’s available now. Normally, full points for using a comparison (Canada vs. the world) but in the context of public health, this declaration reads disjointed compared to the story being created around flu concerns.

But they help their case by backing it up with numbers:  Ottawa is releasing data saying over a million doses have been distributed already nationally. A lesson in the effect and simplicity of a statistic to capture a point which carried this “we’re right” approach from gut-reactive to tactical.

2) The “what we’re doing to make things even better” approach. Effectiveness: Stractical.

While approach 1 hinges on defence, approach 2 is how you put points on the board (so many apologies to Touchdowns & Fumbles for co-opting football metaphors) To do so, the Ottawa needs to communicate what happens next. What’s the timeline? What should people expect? But the government still appears hesitant to commit to comment on when vaccines will be available for everyone who wants one or why most of us aren’t in dire need of the vaccine this week.

And they probably have good reason to avoid this area: they just don’t know and are afraid to say. But until the Canadian government can bridge approach 1 to approach 2, only half a Stractical point is all they collect.

Now, anyone for bacon?

Swine Flu


Ways to, and ways not to Harp

The arrests of the ship captains of the anti-seal hunting vessel, the Farley Mowat has brought increased media coverage to controversial practice.

Let’s examine statements from both Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson and Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn.

First Watson, who in framing the context of the seizing of the vessel with the ultimate fate of the seal hunt says:

“We haven’t seen any evidence of a humane hunt here,” Mr. Watson said. “We’re presenting this evidence to the European Parliament. They are going to pass a bill to ban seal products. That will end the Canadian seal hunt. We’re looking at the end of days for the seal hunt.”

The statement pushes back the story away from the seizure and the arrest (ie the anti-seal hunters acting illegally) and re-frames the concept of the hunt as an archaic, soon to be obsolete practice. The last line is a little more inflammatory than an advocating statement should be, but groups that protest like unions, social or environmental agencies can get away with fiery language.

Now, let’s look at Minister Hearn’s statement. First, he denies that the government is blocking observers:

“We have issued over 75 permits this year for people to come visit within 30 feet of the hunt,” Mr. Hearn said. “If you have a permit, you can do that. … The boat did not have a permit.”

This appeal is to policy which may not be exceptionally compelling but is acceptable, especially from large organizations and governments — as long as the policy is reasonable, or at least, procedural. But then, inexplicably, the Minister gets cute:

Mr. Hearn said the incident has garnered international exposure, exposing Mr. Watson’s group as one that flouts the rules with little regard for international law.

“Observe is one thing, obstruct is something else,” he said. “It’s like the old days in Dodge before Wyatt Earp. This is the new Dodge, Mr. Watson. Welcome to Canada and welcome to the new Dodge City.”

Now Minister Hearn leaves the comfort of a policy defence by making allusions to the Wild West and martial law. The statement is overly aggressive and suggests an overzealous threat against seal hunting opponents. Analogies in media statements should act to simplify a complex position. This analogy only aggrandizes the perception of the government as an out-of-touch bully.

4 Stractical points for Mr. Watson and we’ll take away a Colt .45 from Minister Hearn in honour of his self-proclamation as Canada’s Wyatt Earp.

seal hunt