Back in February, when staff at The Uniter chose “2020: A Decade in Review” as the theme for our annual Urban Issue, none of us could have predicted how different the world would be by April. An issue that was initially pitched as a look back at how things changed in the 2010s suddenly looks like an exploration of how quaint those changes look in the wake of what we’ve experienced in 2020.
What was that old Lenin quote? “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” Loathe as I am to invoke the former Soviet leader (as part of the Ukrainian diaspora, the relationship is a little prickly), even I have to admit that his maxim hits the nail on the head.
But perhaps this period of isolation is an ideal time to reflect on change, both past and future. Much of The Uniter’s reporting over the past decade has focused on the ways our municipal, provincial and federal governments have been failing to address issues of economic inequality, access to affordable housing, food insecurity, the climate crisis and social justice. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid those inadequacies bare in a way that no impartial observer can deny.
Homelessness is no longer something that can be addressed by pushing out downtown residents when folks from the suburbs flock in for a Jets game. Renovictions and exploitation of renters isn’t something that can be callously written off as whining from “entitled millennials.” Police and governments violently suppressing land protectors to serve the interests of oil and gas companies isn’t a law-and-order response to, as Brian Pallister called them, “people who believe that they have the right to stop everything, all of the time.”
These issues have ceased to be ideological. They are public health crises. They are literally life and death.
On that incredibly light note: this is our last issue of the publishing year! Stay tuned to uniter.ca for updates throughout the summer. And remember: you can’t spell “quarantine” without U, N, I, T, E and R!
Published in Volume 74, Number 24 of The Uniter (April 2, 2020)