Monday, February 22, 2021

Blame for Canada's vaccine rollout problems largely partisan in nature

It's interesting how Canadians are perceiving our undeniably stuttering vaccine rollout, and where the blame is being laid. Because, make no mistake, pretty much everyone wants to blame someone, even though, personally, I don't think it's been that disastrous (sure, more and faster would be nice, but this is a marathon not a sprint, and most of the problems have not been of our own making anyway and will be made up).

A Léger poll for the Institute for Canadian Studies shows that, overall, 39% blame the Liberal government's procurement practices, 33% blame the pharmaceutical manufacturers, 12% blame the USA and Europe, 12% blame a lack of infrastructure, and 4% blame "other" ( which I'm guessing might include Health Canada for not approving new vaccines quickly enough).

But the breakdown of respondents by political affiliation is telling. Among Conservative voters, 55% blame government procurement, 19% pharmaceutical manufacturers, 12% the US and Europe, 11% the lack of infrastructure, and 2% other. Compare this with Liberal voters: 21% blame government procurement, 49% pharmaceutical manufacturers, 15% the US and Europe, 11% the lack of infrastructure, and 3% other. Voters for other parties typically, and perhaps predictably, land somewhere between these two extremes, with he NDP and the Bloc Québecois both leaning more towards blaming the Liberals than the vaccine manufacturers for the non-delivery of promises doses, even though this has been largely out of their hands.

So, it seems to me that this poll is, more than anything else, a poll on how partisan the different political parties are, with the Conservatives finding themselves way out in front in terms of partisanship. It's interesting that the Green Party, whose members I trust to be more thoughtful and objective than most others, are allied much more closely with the Liberals on this, with 36% blaming pharmaceutical manufacturers and just 27% blaming the Liberals' procurement. And the Greens are not doing this out of a desire to protect their chosen party's reputation - they are as critical of the Liberals as any party - so this is probably closer to where the blame should actually lie.

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