….a friend of mine lives in Montreal. He called the other night. Amongst other things, we talked about how hard Quebec has been hit by Covid-19. “Geez, man, what is it about Quebec that attracts viruses?”
My friend is Jewish. He said, “Well, the Quebec situation is very much a ‘perfect storm’ kinda thing for a pandemic. In Montreal and other areas, there are lot of Hasidic Jews. Hasidic Jews are usually closely interconnected with other Hasidic Jews. The Montreal group and the closer villages are very connected to the Hasidim in New York. There is a regular co-mingling back and forth all through the year. New York got hit bad. The Hasidim got hit really badly and the timing was such that a lot of inter-travel also happened. Boom! The outbreak in New York became the outbreak in Montreal.
“But it gets worse. There were a lot of Haitians that took refuge after the earthquake in 2010 and fled like refugees to the US. But when Trump started his anti-immigration position, they became afraid that they would be deported back to Haiti so many of them fled to Canada and especially to Quebec because most Haitians speak French. Northern Montreal is an old, crowded neighbourhood and has many, many Haitians. That community is poor and ill-educated and so they took low paying jobs in the service sector. Many of those jobs are in senior’s care homes. There are a lot of Jewish senior’s care homes. The Haitians and the Jews were in close contact. A lot. Added into that mix was the calendar. Quebec took an earlier Spring Break. The timing, the virus, the co-mingling of American and Canadian Hasidim, the poverty of the Haitians and then the intense closeness of the two groups and you get the Mother of all Virus outbreaks. It’s terrible.”
Of course there are all sorts of tragic stories of desperate migrants coming to the poor sections of wealthier cities and the disruptions that occur from that including, no doubt, major health problems. But this one is different. This one is a concentration of disease amongst the vulnerable, the poor, the old, the politically reviled and it broke the system that barely works for the well-off (of which there are fewer and fewer).
In a sense, their situation could be the dystopian nightmare of tomorrow.
Bear with me…..
Since 2000 we have experienced the hottest temperatures on record. Climate change is real and part of that is heat, droughts, stronger hurricanes, flooding, rising sea levels and the like. That all points to more and more people from hot, poor countries trying to go to places more liveable. Migration is a growing phenomena. With that kind of desperate migration comes weak populations putting themselves in even more stressful situations. Disease is common.
Trump won’t help fund the World Health Organization anymore, ignores America’s CDC and wants to get rid of even Tony Fauci, his lead medical advisor. Harper took a similar approach to science when he was the Prime Minister of Canada. So have other ‘leaders’ like Brazil’s Bolsonoro. “We don’ need no stinkin’ science!”
And….they may be right. It may be too late for the Tony Faucis to make a difference after all. Maybe a wall, a big wall, a really beautiful wall, the most beautiful wall ever built is what is needed – because, you see, everything is related. Climate change, migration, politics, poverty, contagions…it all came together in Montreal and it is not a rosy gathering.
Maybe we have to abandon some people? I am not serious about that. But it is an example of how some people think. I was having a conversation with someone who thought we should abandon people on cruuse ships to their fate for the sake of biosecurity. The escalation of climate change impacts is going to make that sort of thinking more common. Maybe this is not just about a lack of interest in science, but more about scrabbling to be one of the survivors.
The Montreal situation sounds terrible, a real tragedy. Entirely predictable.
I am NOT serious about a wall, either. I was just doing a spoof on the Orange idiot. But THAT does seem to be his and his GOP party thinking – “put ’em in cages and jails, build walls, deport ’em, don’t let ’em in!” These fools even go dressed to the Michigan State building with ‘open-carry’ assault rifles! The message is ‘freedom’ and ‘don’t tread on me’ but the implied message is: “If you disagree, we’ll kill you.” That has to be pure, unadulterated, gun-totin’ fear writ large. If not, why not make your protest unarmed?
Our boy-minister, Trudeau, closed the borders with the US. That felt a smidge unreasonable, too – especially for the western provinces/ states border. But, if just temporary, no biggy. But closing the border between Quebec and Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont has proven to be clearly correct – BUT TOO DAMN LATE!!!
(I confess I thought it was the Detroit/Windsor border that prompted it.)
The ‘mingling’ communities of the east coast was clearly known pre-Covid. Vancouver and Seattle do not generally co-mingle. We cross and shop a bit and there is normal tourism and commerce but we do not have a million or so of one community split in two like the Hasidim of the East coast. Maybe….hmmm….we do have a similar situation with our mutual indigenous peoples but that is on a much smaller scale.
I think Trudeau closed the US border to legal travellers only. Roxham Road, I am quite sure, remains wide open for anyone looking to enter unlawfully. Catering to illegals remains a loftier goal than protecting the health of Canadians, n’est-ce pas?
I have several friends in Quebec I have visited regularly over the years. Some in Montreal, Some in Quebec city. Some in farming communities.
What no one talks about is ….the average age of Quebec is older than the rest of Canada.
If Quebec was a sovereign nation it would have the 8th oldest population on Earth
Then consider that most of the elderly were born during or after the second world war when Quebec was still a very catholic society.
My Quebec friends, almost to a person came from families of 10, 12, 14 kids. Crazy.
Then the 1960’s & 70’s ‘Quiet revolution”.
Quebecer’s turned their backs on the church and the state.
Marriages and families with multiple children plummeted.
A rapidly aging population with little or no kids to look after them and mostly govt subsidized long term care facilities where there are 4 to a room…….looked after by underpaid cleaners with little or no medical experience.
The perfect environment for Covid.
One such facility had 31 deaths! 31 Dead! and when authorities went there most of the staff had fled because they were scared of getting the disease.
Bedridden patients hadn’t been fed, bathed or had a drink of water for days….
Revolting doesnt even begin to describe it.
We treat animals with more dignity than that….
Due to Quebec’s older population and the plethora of long term care facilities there…..I wasnt surprised at their death rate.
Wow, that’s bad! Shouldn’t happen in a country like Canada, you could expect this kind of situations in a few countries that come to my mind…but Canada was not 1 of them! But I agree, this situation initially brings out the best in people, there was quite some solidarity over here as well with the outbreak. But now, the aftermath starts, people start losing their jobs at a fast rate, so the “system” will plummet, they can NOT continue to hand out helicopter money without jeopardizing our kid’s generation. And in a few months, there will be little or no solidarity left, it will be saving their own skins, jobs, what little they have left. So I’m not too optimistic about the 1st world’s future (wasn’t even before the outbreak