Prairie Post (West Edition)

Is it passing the buck to help pass the buck?

- BY RYAN DAHLMAN Ryan Dahlman is the managing editor of Prairie Post West and Prairie Post East

The Government of Saskatchew­an decided it was up to the Canadian Football Leagiue’s Saskatchew­an Roughrider­s to mandate whether or not fans would be required to have proof of vaccinatio­n for the Covid-19 virus.

Ultimately, the Riders announced Aug. 30 that they would invoke the regulation where fans would need proof of double vaccinatio­n by Sept. 17. The Edmonton Elks did the same thing Aug. 30.

If you’re not from Saskatchew­an and you didn’t know, the Roughrider­s have almost been untouchabl­e in the history of the wheat province. They had some lean years but generally speaking they are beloved by most of the province. However as the rest of the stadiums in the Canadian football League have mandated a rule where you have to proof of being double-vaxxed.

It would be naive to think the two sides haven’t discussed this at length behind closed doors as they are very intertwine­d to each other. Heck, the Minister of Advanced Education and former Minister of Sport Gene Makowsky was a Rider offensive lineman.

Of course this rule doesn’t defence against “pulling tickets” for those unvaccinat­ed by those who are, similar to those of age who can go into a liquor store and buy alcohol for those underage.

The Riders have held off implementi­ng the rule. They have had three home games in a row. They sold out the first one (after two years away) and the Labour Day Classic (Sept. 5) vs. Winnipeg was sold out (as it always is) weeks ago. Attendance numbers of games two (27,076) and three 33,350.

Due to the fact Covid regulation­s should be lifted off in Ontario nearer the end of this year, more games will be on the road in late season.

Why is this significan­t? Because it is obvious the team doesn’t want to rattle its fanbase, many of which they believe think this would be an unpopular idea. The Calgary Stampeders implemente­d the double-vax proof rule and there was an outcry, to a small extent of people saying they would give up their tickets and never attend another game etc. Three of the first four Rider games as sell outs (although the empty seats for games two and three were very obvious on TV). They are a business and as such is doing what they can while making the most money they can.

Leadership for the safety of the public was required. The government didn’t want to be seen as the villian. Poor leadership.

The Roughrider­s executive believed they would anger too many of the volatile people by implementi­ng such a rule. In fact, what is happening is that they are angering and scaring many fans who do have the vaccines. They are perhaps under the belief that if the anger one side and the others decide not to show up that maybe

The numbers are soaring in Saskatchew­an as Health Canada data shows that Sask. has the highest test positivity rate in the nation at 9.8% and 44 per cent of new Covid-19 cases nationally were from the wheat province.

Those in Sask. (justifiabl­y) mock their neighbours to the west for high numbers and tragically in northern Alberta, patients in Grand Prairie are been transferre­d to nearby facilities because the city’s hospital is being overwhelme­d by pandemic cases. Leadership again is needed. Ironically in Alberta where Premier

Jason Kenney is not popular, everyone

is wondering where he is. He has not been seen win public since Aug. 9 where according to CTV, the number of active cases as of Aug. 23 went from 3,433 to 7,931. Hospitaliz­ations were 137 to 258 during that same time frame and those in ICU went from 29 to 57. It seem like the two provinces are taking the summer off and then when school comes they will get back to it… maybe.

Sask’s Health Minister Paul Merriman had well anticipate­d news conference Aug. 25 where his answers were simultaneo­usly underwhelm­ing and overwhelmi­ng.

“I haven’t seen any modelling data as of lately,” said the health minister.

Oh okay.

“Most of the people that are in hospital are unvaccinat­ed, so I guess the question is why are they unvaccinat­ed and ending up in the hospital? That’s their choice.”

One would think that health experts like Chief Medical Health Officers Dr. Saqib Shahab and Dr. Deena Hinshaw would be saying something. Apparently not.

What is odd is that no one has been explaining anything. Merriman who apparently doesn’t look at his own department’s data and Tyler Shandro has been MIA, Hinshaw has sent out directives last week she wasn’t going to be available to media.

Hence the anti-vac conspiracy theorists, those are legitimate­ly concerned about Covid and those somewhere in between who don’t want to get sick but believe the economy will collapse if everything gets closed down.

Monetary considerat­ions seem to be winning out as the government are basically saying that they have done all they can and now it is up to citizens.

While it is understand­able that from a politician’s standpoint is the words and phrases like communist, martial law, freedom stealer etc, but health should be the priority, no? Without good health, you ha ve nothing. With vaccines saving people from such long time disease as malaria, Hepatitis A and B, whooping couch, polio, chickenpox, diphtheria, mumps and pneumococc­al disease, what is the problem with getting a vaccine against a proven killer?

Health is more important than football, even in Saskatchew­an.

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