The Delta variant of COVID-19 – a variant which at least one physician I know has identified as no more exotic than a typical flu virus – has succeeded to prolong what for many was the anticipated recovery from the pandemic. We’re still having to wear masks; the border remains closed for non-essential travel; and the suitability of existing vaccines is once again under analysis. Meanwhile in the more popular sphere the scrimmage continues between what politicians – depending on their bent to the right or to the left – have labelled a philippic of constitutional rights on the one hand and socialism on the other. In either case the only reasonable motive behind these extreme and outlandish postures is to capture electoral votes. The conventionalists oppose regulatory government generally; the liberals mouth the daemonic version of the pandemic while refusing (for fear of estranging the voters) to mandate public vaccination or the imposition of Vaccine Certificates for purposes of travel and public convention. Mockingly people openly travel a mari usque ad mare without a shred of concern expressed by any government. The coin toss has descended to a controversy between (reckless) free market or (anarchist) social imperatives. It appears that nothing short of removal of the politicians from the arena will enable a more pragmatic and evidentiary progress. The crux of the removal is the expiry of election campaigning; that is, the upcoming US presidential primary elections and caucuses or the federal and provincial elections in Canada. How the bulk of society chooses to assess its leaders – as either restrictive or freewheeling – will determine the code of conduct to be adopted or imposed. Until then North American society will have to develop its own assessment of infection and the scheme for return to normal.
The motto was first officially used in 1906 on the head of the mace of the new Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. This phrase was suggested for a national motto by Joseph Pope, then-Under Secretary of State, when the Canadian coat of arms was redesigned in 1921. Pope was a member of the four-person committee appointed by the federal government to redesign the coat of arms (the other members were Thomas Mulvey, A.G. Doughty and Major-General W.G. Gwatkin). No motto had been included in the original design. Major-General W.G. Gwatkin proposed “In memoriam in spem” (“In memory, in hope”) as a motto, but Pope’s proposal garnered more support. The draft design was approved by Order in Council on April 21, 1921, and by the Royal Proclamation of King George V on November 21, 1921.
There is some strength in this duality in that neither is based strictly upon science but rather upon popular opinion which the politicians manifestly intend to milk for their own independent advantage. Whether it is Trump heralding the impending disaster of immigrants; or, politicians of both stripes promoting different theses of contagion and immunology, the simplest reflection discloses that both might be wrong and that neither has proven themselves right. Underlying this possibly moot consternation is the more compelling resolve of nationals of whatever persuasion to get on with life and living.
We’ve lately disengaged ourselves from this relentless and I don’t mind saying all consuming anxiety – not unlike foreigners in Casablanca resignedly awaiting “letters of transit” – by capitalizing upon the most recent removal of closure of outdoor dining. In addition to breakfast on the patio at the golf club and luncheon on the deck at the Ivy Lea Club, we’ve had the privilege at last to realign our social link with a dear friend, his son (and vicariously through them his daughter, son-in-law and newborn grandchild from Australia) at the family’s nearby country estate for a thoroughly welcome swim and incomparable poolside dinner.
Exceeding expectations, Casablanca went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, while Curtiz was selected as Best Director and the Epsteins and Koch were honored for writing the Best Adapted Screenplay. Its reputation has gradually grown, to the point that its lead characters, memorable lines, and pervasive theme song have all become iconic, and it consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films in history. In 1989, the United States Library of Congress selected the film as one of the first for preservation in the National Film Registry.
None of these spirited events has yet afforded the stimulus for opening the border. The politicians persist to ornament their mandates as driven by protective public safety measures – though the ambition is clearly to remove transportation and travel restrictions “without squandering its hard earned protection”. This perpetual conflict between immunity and vaccination – and specifically whether either is worthwhile – preserves an unsettled basis for the lingering conflab.
Our friends, the father and son, with whom we dined last evening are both exceedingly well traveled. In spite of the father’s luxuriant account of a recent “hiking” trip to British Columbia (entailing having to be flown by helicopter to an exclusive mountain-top lodge), they both agreed without a moment’s hesitation that when talking about Jasper, Rome, Buenos Aires or Caracas “it’s just another city“. It is I presume an edgeless metaphor to reflect that in the end the spark which ignites beneath our daily endeavours of no matter what scope is that which emerges from our hearts, minds and soul. What makes this quite mundane recognition especially topical is the currency of wistful longing for travel. Similarly it is this frank rather deflating observation which serves as a reminder that “there ain’t no ship to take you away from yourself” and that we “travel the suburbs of our own mind“. In other words the reflection is a dilution of exuberance aimed at beyond; and a buoyancy of matters at hand.
Yet as axiomatic as the admissions may be, we for our part maintain a mooring with seafaring adventure. Juxtaposed to the intellectual fervour of logic is the irresistible allure of new territory. I am further animated in this enterprise by the equal asseveration that time is running out and I have no intention to save it for the funeral. We are thus poised precipitously upon the edge of release from the pandemic. It seems we’ve gained some ground.