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  • Matt Harrison

Civic-mindedness? Yah right.

Imagine what the roads might be like if we stopped enforcing traffic laws. Wild West meets Mad Max. Total carnage. We enforce traffic rules for the common good, even if that means curtailing the ‘freedom’ of the individual to drive fast and reckless.

(You know where I’m going with this.)

If we’re okay with traffic enforcement, why aren’t we okay with enforcement of pandemic restrictions that save lives?

In spite of the ‘stay-at-home’ order by Doug Ford, Ontarians continue to cross the interprovincial bridges en masse to visit Gatineau Park, ski hills, and their cottages. In response, Mayor and Warden of the MRC des Collines Caryl Green said she is relying on the public to make responsible choices; an NCC spokeswoman also commented, saying she’s relying on people’s “civic-mindedness and sense of responsibility” to stay away if you’re from Ontario or out of region.

To which I roll my eyes.

This appeal to “civic-mindedness” is based on the fallacy that people will put others before themselves. Many will; some won’t. And when you’re dealing with a pandemic where it only takes one or two spreaders to infect the many, and where already two million have died worldwide, this kind of appeal is naive and irresponsible.

As I pointed out, if we applied this same civic-mindedness to traffic the result would be chaos. You’d have thought that, when it came to traffic safety, things like seatbelts would be a no-brainer. But when they were first introduced, few wore them and, predictably, injuries and deaths continued to soar.

In 1974, with only one in six Canadians wearing seatbelts, there were 624,000 automobile accidents and nearly 7,000 killed, according to CBC archives, “