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Mandryk: Moe needed to send a stronger message to anti-vax convoy

Leader Post logo Leader Post 2022-01-26 Murray Mandryk
Premier Scott Moe needed to be more assertive on the anti-vaccination message that the truck convoy is hauling. © Michelle Berg Premier Scott Moe needed to be more assertive on the anti-vaccination message that the truck convoy is hauling.
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For a brief moment at his press conference Monday morning, Premier Scott Moe might have seemed like a deer caught in an anti-vax trucker’s headlights.

But as he has always done, he scrambled out of the way of the potential calamity barrelling down upon him by making the day’s issue all about the federal policy of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Roadkill? Hardly … although the Saskatchewan premier had to be a bit fleet of foot.

When initially asked by the Leader-Post’s Jeremy Simes on Monday if he supported the convoy, which is protesting cross-border vaccine rules for truckers, Moe initially sidestepped the question to talk about easy access to vaccines. But when the question was essentially re-asked by Global’s Ryan Kessler some 45 minutes later (yes, it sometimes takes a while to get answers at these rambling events), Moe had become significantly more emboldened.

“That is a great question for the Prime Minister of Canada and his government,” Moe said when asked if he felt the trucker convoy was an appropriate form of protest. “This is their policy that is being reacted to.”

Encouraging the “transport providers” to ensure they follow all of the laws and the regulations that are in place, Moe certainly sounded supportive.

“Is this policy in any way going to produce any tangible results or is it just going to essentially have a negative result in us not being able to access the goods and services that truckers bring to our community each and every day?” he said.

It is that clip that went up on the Saskatchewan Party premier’s social media feeds to the delight of his most ardent followers.

But this constant need to toss red meat to the crowd — as opposed to at least occasionally taking a non-partisan approach that sends the message that most issues are complex, requiring some nuanced thought — may yet be Moe’s undoing.

Admittedly, there is an element of nuance to the convoy story … even if those behind the convoy are the least nuanced people you are likely to meet.

The reality in this cold northern climate is we insist on having not only fresh produce all winter but just about every other modern convenience at our fingers at every moment. Fewer truckers on the road means more problems.

And like the approach to move away from the carbon-based economy, Trudeau’s Liberals don’t exactly get the less-than-subtle reality of our current existence, either.

Unfortunately, the Saskatchewan premier showed he isn’t inclined to be contemplative for too long. On this day, those trucker headlights are just a little too mesmerizing.

However, as much as Moe or any other conservative might be tempted to simply hop aboard the caravan and toot a truck horn, the reality is this is another thinly veiled anti-vaccination exercise that simply flies in the face of the solution that gets us out of this pandemic.

While there are serious economic and even social concerns around the impact of federal border vaccination requirement for truckers, all politicians should be equally concerned about this becoming another issue hijacked by the anti-vaxxers who very much have their own political agenda.

Surely by now Moe must recognize this. The exact same thing almost happened to him three years ago when the yellow vest movement tried to hijack the anti-carbon tax protests with their intolerant and, frankly, bizarre world views.

It shouldn’t be hard for Moe to say he simply can’t endorse any movement whose raison d’etre is to get in the way of vaccinations. But as he did with Unified Grassroots, Moe largely ignored what this group is really about because of its parallel anti-federal government agenda.

Like federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole who has danced around condemning the anti-vax message , Moe, too, ducked the issue of what’s really driving this convoy.

That’s not what a leader should be doing. The job has got to be more than playing politics and hoping you don’t get run over.

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

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