In professional wrestling parlance, it’s called a heel turn.
For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s the moment when the good guy goes bad, and for Premier John Horgan, March 29 may have been when he had his Shawn Michaels’ moment and kicked Marty Jannetty – who, in this stretched-out old metaphor, represents the province’s young adults – right through the barbershop window.
Ironically, that 1992 WWF reference is probably lost on most people under the age of 30, but I’m going to stick with it.
The merits of what Horgan said about the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically laying the blame for the recent surge in positive cases at the feet of those under 40, have already been debated for the past week, mostly on social media where us young ’uns hang out.
Yes, I am including myself in that group.
I may often wake up feeling 100 years old, but in reality, I am still in the target demo of 20 to 39 years old that was, well, targeted by our premier.
I turn 40 on Friday, though, so I have to get my thoughts down on paper quick, before I am no longer qualified to speak for a generation that is trying its best with limited government support. Next week, I’ll move into a different age bracket, at which time I guess I’ll start complaining about ‘kids these days’ while taking up lawn maintenance as a serious hobby, lest any of these young punks dare step on it.
My pop culture references will remain as dated as ever, however.
Speaking of aging poorly, Horgan’s ill-timed remarks – which he defended a day later – were almost immediately met with sideways glances at best, outright anger at worst.
Because here’s the thing – you can’t rely on the province’s youngest workers to staff your grocery stores and Starbucks counters, your banks and your gas stations, your drive-thrus and your department stores, while simultaneously admonishing them for not staying safe.
These people are getting sick because they don’t have the option to stay home; they have to work. They have rent to pay, since the government did little to nothing in the way of substantial extended rent relief.
These same people are also last in line to be vaccinated, which feels like it’s worth noting.
Now, are some of them breaking rules? Most definitely. But every group has rule-breakers, and any insinuation to the contrary is just gas-lighting.
I, as the self-appointed Spokesperson For Young People (in this space at least), can say with 100 per cent confidence that most of us are doing our best.
I have followed every single rule and suggestion that’s been put in place. I wear a mask. I work (mostly) from home. I stay six feet away from people, and I monitor my health constantly.
To bastardize a quote from Ned Flanders (he’s a cartoon character, for you actual young people): I’ve done everything the government says – even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff. What more can I do?
That question, however, should perhaps be put to our leaders themselves, which is something others – media members and the general public alike – have already noted.
Whether it’s obtaining more vaccines, implementing safety protocols and restrictions that actually work long-term, or at least speeding up the vaccine rollout, it would be nice if the grown-ups in the room acknowledged that they, too, could do just a little bit more, instead of coming off the top rope on this province’s young people.
Time’s running out, too, if they hope to live up to that earlier promise of having everyone in B.C. vaccinated in time for us to enjoy the summer.
C’mon, John, get moving. Don’t ruin this for us.
Nick Greenizan is a reporter with the Peace Arch News.