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Heroes and hoarders

For some Canadians – like Bob Price – sudden flight cancellations mean being stranded abroad.
No toilet paper shortage in Mexico. (Bob Price)

After nearly 45 years behind a radio news microphone, I thought I’d seen and heard it all. The events of the past few weeks have proved me so very, very wrong.

The spread of the dreaded Coronavirus has come as a grim reminder of just how fragile our existence truly is. Now declared a Provincial Health Emergency in British Columbia, COVID-19 is the reality most of us never thought we would witness in our lifetime. After all, pandemics only occurred during a less advanced era. Right? Wrong!

In less than three months, Coronavirus has dramatically changed our way of life, ravaged our economy and for some has stripped their hopes and dreams for an early retirement. While wreaking widespread havoc on Canadian’s economic security, COVID-19 has spared few. Virtually every aspect of BC’s economic foundation has been shaken; the path ahead is one of certain uncertainty.

From a second home in Manzanillo, Mexico, I have observed Canadian’s reaction to Coronavirus from a unique vantage point. From the land of “manana,” one couldn’t help but be disgusted by the selfish actions of some, and profoundly proud of the selflessness of others.

From the shocking greed of hoarders who could only think of themselves by clearing out an entire meat department, to first responders across the province who have willingly, knowingly, and repeatedly put themselves at risk.

While Mexicans are also well aware of the clear and present danger that comes with a pandemic, their reaction to COVID-19 has been markedly different. I have yet to witness a single example of hoarding or panic buying. Toilet paper for all!

However, Canadians should be generally proud of our nation’s response to this pandemic. While far from perfect, it’s clear to most that Canada’s counter has been highly impressive compared to the United States. Not once has Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Premier John Horgan downplayed the Coronavirus threat or suggested it was a “hoax” created by political opponents. Canada’s testing for the virus has also far outweighed the US. It has been especially refreshing to witness political cooperation and respect in the BC legislature as Health Minister Adrian Dix and BC Liberal health critic Norm Letnick work together for the common good.

Regrettably, Canada’s airlines have been criticized for their response to COVID-19. Thousands of vacationers (present company included) have been left to fend for themselves after WestJet cancelled dozens of flights with little warning, and without providing those impacted with an alternative means to return home. Sadly, my wife and I will depend on a U.S. carrier (Alaska) to fly to Vancouver.

Clearly, with Coronavirus, we haven’t seen it all. The worst is likely still ahead.

As always, I welcome your comments and criticism on Twitter @kammornanchor and email [email protected].

Bob Price is a veteran B.C. broadcaster who anchored the morning news on CHNL radio in Kamloops for the past 30 years. Bob is also a past Webster Award winner whose previous stops included Vancouver and Calgary.