Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at the COVID briefing, April 22, 2021

We deserve answers. And we demand consequences.

Nova Scotians are rightly furious that the success we sacrificed to build in the fight against COVID 19 has been scuttled by a handful of uncaring narcissists who decided the rules don’t apply to them. And we are properly incensed that the perpetrators face neither charge nor fine. Not even a proper scolding.

The Halifax region is under lockdown, thanks to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. The apparent root of this rise in the deadly virus was a social gathering involving travelers who refused to quarantine. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, struggled at Thursday’s news briefing to avoid being bolted down on the matter.

“There was an event that triggered much of this,” Strang said vaguely. “But there’ve been multiple layers of transmission now that we now have spread within community – within significant parts of HRM – which is then resulting in cases in schools, cases in long term care facilities, cases in workplaces.”

Read that as one blatantly selfish act putting children and seniors at risk. Pressed on why no one associated with the gathering has been charged with violating public health orders, Strang again said enough to answer the question, without being sufficiently specific to provide clarity.

“We know there was an event where people (were) from out of province,” he said. “Now we haven’t been able to follow up with those people to confirm that they were infected, but that’s the likely scenario. We don’t have definitive information… that we could actually go to police with something, so nobody’s been fined.”

Later, speaking to CBC’s Tom Murphy, Strang was more definitive, confirming the gathering was “a significant contributor.”

He went on to say the blame didn’t belong solely with the visitors who refused to quarantine.

“With this event there were people, Nova Scotians, who made the decision to go and socialize with these people,” Strang said.

Piecing together Strang’s verbal dance of the seven veils, our visiting COVID spreaders came, partied and left. Their Nova Scotian abettors got sick and/or tested positive, but not until after further spreading the virus. Public Health has been able to confirm the cases among the Nova Scotians, but not among the visitors, because they happily took their viruses back home. 

Meanwhile, the virus has continued to spread. And as a result, Halifax Regional Municipality and surrounding communities have been placed on lockdown. More than 400,000 people are now having their freedom of movement and association severely restricted, and businesses are incurring financial losses, because of the actions of an ignorant few – for whom the consequences are ZERO.

Restaurants and bars: closed.

Indoor fitness facilities, gyms and yoga studios: closed.

Museum and libraries: closed.

Want to visit your ailing parent or grandparent at their nursing home? Not allowed.

Got a kid in pre-Primary? Best teach them to wear a mask.

Want to invite your friends over for dinner? Five people max.

Ready to open up your cottage? Unless it’s within the lockdown zone, you’re gonna have to wait four weeks.

While Public Health legitimately needs to focus on understanding the spread of COVID within Nova Scotia, rather than reporting quarantine violators for police, there has to be a tipping point at which there is some punitive action. 

We wore masks. We kept six feet apart. We followed arrows on the floor. Business owners installed acres of plexiglass. Restaurants shut down tables. They sanitized everything, over and over.

We did everything we were supposed to. We played by the rules. We made Nova Scotia the envy of most of the world.

Little wonder that, as Premier Iain Rankin announced the lockdown, social media blew up with Nova Scotians looking for blood. Rankin was woefully out of tune with the hearts of the people.

Where former premier Stephen McNeil admonished Nova Scotians to “Stay the blazes home,” the only emotion his heir to the throne could muster was regret over the cancellation of the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships.  

“I’m a hockey fan,” Rankin confided. “I’m not happy with the decision, but we have to put public safety first.”

We’ve gone from a premier who was angry at everyone to a premier whose temper isn’t piqued by scofflaws who would infect his citizens and hobble his economy.

“Make no mistake, there is a lot at stake here,” Rankin read from a script Thursday.

Yes. And part of what is at stake right now is the faith of Nova Scotians, and our continued adherence to COVID restrictions. 

Rankin and Strang need to understand that, before it’s too late.

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  1. Yes. All the sometimes subtle lead ups to vigilante justice…the need to know, to name, to condemn, to punish, to seek revenge, “them and us”, etc.etc.etc.

  2. I subscribe to the Examiner because I anticipated fair and unbiased journalism; some news I can rely on to be accurate and unbiased. This article, particularly the by-line, is inflammatory and suggests that vigilante retribution is always an option. So disappointed.

    As others here have noted, I will be reconsidering my subscription.

  3. I’ve been a longtime subscriber but I’m shocked that this is published. Even as Commentary, diagnosing people as narcissists is something we shouldn’t entertain. I’ll have to reconsider my subscription.

  4. Without naming names, does anyone know what this event of infection was and where it took place?

  5. Kind of appalled that the Examiner even ran this piece. Isn’t this supposed to be the place for level heads? Sure, whoever the people are who had this gathering suck, but when has public shaming and get-the-torches outrage ever fixed anything? Let the authorities handle it. The public emphatically does NOT need names or “answers.” What’s done is done. Let’s move on and work together towards getting back to zero.

    1. Honestly, I’m fine with demanding laws or fines or something as a future deterrent, but I agree, this piece reads like it’s begging for vigilante justice. Just gross.

    2. I agree with you completely. The framing of this seems to have caused division and an acute resurgence of the horrid “come from away” attitude. Yes, what those visitors did was terrible. From my reading, Dr. Strang said this was not the whole story. I seem to be the only one who has noticed that this outbreak began precisely 10 days after Easter Sunday, and I don’t believe this is a coincidence. Regardless, the public does not need more details, with the exception of exposure locations identified through contact tracing.

  6. Curious as to what we have to gain by assuming “the event” was a party, other than the emotional satisfaction of anger.

  7. Just pointing out that Derek Chauvin was found – per Minnesota law – to be a “significant contributor” in the death of George Floyd.

  8. I’m glad to see that you’ve come out to play, David. I miss your musings from the Daily News days.

  9. All Strang had to do was say something like “we believe this current spread was from a gathering of some type. We are investigating it and there will be consequences if rules were broken” and leave it at that. Where is the deterrent to other such gatherings if there are at least not a threat of consequences?

  10. For me, this all comes down what I’ve believed from day one of the pandemic – until we’re all safe, no-one is safe. And it’s constantly disappointing to realize how many people think, “but that doesn’t apply to me…unless I get caught.” In advance of the gathering rules changing to only five people at 8:00 a.m. today, and, because the virus would wait until then (?), students continued to party on a Thursday night in the south end last night. Same attitude.

  11. Maybe we can’t know who the originators are, but do THEY know who they are? Are they fearful of their names being found out? Remorseful? Blissfully unaware, or blissfully unrepentant?

    This is what I wish I knew.

  12. More policing of people who are supposed to be in quarantine, please. Check up on them in person, not just requiring them to respond to an email or text or cell phone call. If they’re not in isolation, fine them and move them into a supervised isolation facility.

    1. When my brother was doing his 2-week self-isolation, the police randomly showed up at his door to check that he was there. So they are at least spot-checking.

  13. Remember Dr, Jean-Robert Ngola in Campbellton the alleged “patient zero” of that outbreak? Several months later he was cleared but his reputation was in tatters. Far to often people are quick to judge before both sides are or can be known to the public.

  14. It is sad that names of these CFA’s & locals cannot be found .. then maybe some business who are losing $$$ could sue them for their losses .. at least we could name/shame them

  15. Public Health, by necessity, has to walk a fine line. Even outside of Covid they frequently need to be able to talk to people and get necessary information that otherwise may incriminate the person in having done something wrong or illegal. If you want good contact tracing, there are going to be downsides that come along with that. Public Health can’t and shouldn’t be police. I absolutely wish these folks would face consequences as well, but there are things more important than retributive justice.
    Of course some more stern anger wouldn’t hurt