Author: Richard Starr

Democracy in Nova Scotia: Still Closed Until Further Notice

The theme of recent COVID-19 updates in Nova Scotia has been “opening up.” Opening up the economy and opening up society have been on the agenda. But opening up democracy – not so much. Indeed, the past week provided more evidence, if more is needed, of Premier McNeil’s disdain for the views of others. Sadly but not surprisingly, the Premier held firm in his opposition to a public inquiry into last month’s mass shooting, despite calls from both opposition parties in the legislature and a host of civil society groups. Ditto to a public inquiry into long-term care homes....

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McNeil moves to new crisis, taking attitude with him

There was an interesting piece in Saturday’s Globe and Mail dealing with autocrats and the pandemic. Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev, authors of The Light that Failed: A Reckoning found a correlation between populist autocrats and galloping rates of COVID-19. There is compelling circumstantial evidence citing Trump and Putin, as well as Bolsonaro of Brazil, Lukashenko of Belarus and Ortega of Nicaragua, members of what’s been called the Ostrich Alliance. They are all sticking heads in the sand, and like Trump, meeting the current pandemic with “magical thinking, cowardly blame shifting and a weirdly dazed immobility.” The authors contend...

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Diary of a plague week: Gifts and Grifts

Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth but I couldn’t help being conflicted on hearing that we seniors are about to get a tax-free $300-$500 pandemic pension top-up. No doubt those who’ve endured financial stress as a result of COVID-19 will welcome the modest windfall. The fortunate ones who feel they don’t need the cash are free to give it away. What really struck me about the gift to seniors was the estimated cost – $2.5 billion. Although a relatively modest addition to the more than $150 billion in pandemic-related program spending already announced, the pension...

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April Update: Canada’s COVID-19 deaths exceed projections, fiscal hole deepens

My entry in mid-April 11 put forward the proposition that the following couple of weeks would tell us a lot about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Canada, and the Trudeau government’s handling of the crisis, On the latter issue, the jury’s still out on the performance of the government and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and will likely remain so for a long time. But the political unity that characterized the first weeks of the country’s response has been eroded by criticism of the government’s reluctance to denounce China for its initial response to the pandemic. (Political...

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Is ageism colouring the response to care home deaths?

After taking a three-day break the premier and Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer presided over another COVID-19 media update on Tuesday. Since the last such briefing on April 24 the number of deaths in the province from the disease had increased by 70 per cent, going from 16 to 27. Ten of those deaths were at Northwood’s Halifax long-term care home where, over the same period, the number of confirmed cases among residents went up 42 per cent and the number of infected staff grew from 57 to 71. Given those troubling numbers, I eavesdropped on the webcast of...

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Richard Starr, The man behind the Point

About Richard

RICHARD STARR has had careers as a journalist, public servant, broadcaster, political staffer and freelance policy adviser. He is author of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, a former radio and TV producer and weekly newspaper editor, and the author of three non-fiction books. Starr has lived in Dartmouth for more than 30 years.

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