As you might recall from my last blog (if you read it), I arrived on an Air Canada flight early Thursday a.m. and headed off to the Marriott Airport Hotel in Toronto for my "up to three day quarantine." I took my Covid test on Thursay morning at about 6:00 a.m. or so. After that, I headed off to the hotel on the Hotel Shuttle Bus - which was about a half hour wait. I was put on a "Covid floor" at the Marriott - where you are not supposed to leave your room - and meals are delivered three times a day. Thankfully the internet service was decent.
|Urban Kosher Lunch|
I had ordered Kosher food and the meals were supplied by Urban Kosher, which is part of L'Chaim Catering. The food was fine. Breakfast both days was an omelet, grilled tomatoes, hashbrowns, a fruit cup and a muffin (one day blueberry, one day cranberry, in case you are wondering...). The fruit cup was quite good with fresh berries, pineapple, dragonfruit, and some other fresh fruit. Lunch on thursday was two sandwiches - one of cold grilled chicken, the other of cold roast beef. It also came with a big chocolate cup cake, some celery and some carrots. The lunch was, perhaps, the "weak link." Dinner on Thursday was a grilled chicken breast in a terryaki sauce with mashed potatoes and a giant piece of chocolate cake along with a Caesar salad (pareve of course). I appreciate that the Marriott arranged these meals without any additional cost (unlike some of the other hotels that I called) and the food quality was fine, better than an airplane meal for sure. My only criticism is that the caterer is apparently a meat and pareve caterer - so there are no dairy meals. I would have prefered them to use a dairy caterer for the breakfast so that they could provide yogurt, cheese etc., But for a relatively short stay, that is not a huge complaint. Breakfast and dinner were served warm and the food was tasty. Kol Hakavod to Urban Kosher.
The Marriott provides some coupons for some cappucinos. So I was able to call room service and order cappucinos. I asked them to use the coupons to cover the cost of the coffees and they were happy to do so. The coffee was pretty good - Illy coffee - so I had two nice cappucinos with breakfast each day.
By 10:30 a.m. on Friday, I received my results, negative of course (since I have been vaccinated twice), and I was free to leave. I still had a work meeting so I couldn't leave until about 1 p.m. But at the time I received the test results, I also received a message from the ArriveCan app asking me to confirm that I was "leaving the Hotel" and to confirm "where I would be spending the rest of my quarantine."
|Chocolate Layer Cake|
In other words - these three are working together - ArriveCan, Switchhealth.ca and the hotels. They want to get you the results within one day - and then ensure that you leave the hotel asap. They know, in advance, that is how things will work but still insist that you buy a three day, pre-paid, non refundable hotel stay. I tried asking at the hotel desk if there was anything they could do - but they were resolute and hid behind the Canadian government ("the Canadian government insists that it be a three day non-refundable rate - we can't do anything about it."). I have heard that some of the hotels are offering some refund if you leave early - but I'm not sure which. I wanted to ensure that I had the Kosher food - so I didn't find any of these hotels that were offering a partial refund. Perhaps I will write to the Marriott as well but I doubt I will get anywhere.
It seems to me that a class action lawsuit against the government of Canada would probably succeed. Under the Canadian Constitution - the Charter - the government could probably show that there was a "pressing and substanial need" due to the pandamic - to override the rights of Canadians. That is fine. But under section 1 of the Charter, the government is also required to show that it infringed on people's rights to the minimum extent possible. Here, I think they would have a big problem. Given that people could drive across the border and not go to these hotels - it makes no sense to insist that only air travellers have to pay $1,200 extra or so to buy a "three day prepaid non-refundable" stay whereas those who fly to the U.S. and take a cab back to Canada can circumvent the process. Especially since the government knows and expects that in 95% of the cases, travellers will test negative and will be able to leave within 24 hours. They could have made it a 24 hour stay - and pushed to get the results within that time frame. Or they could have insisted that everyone - land travellers and air travellers - stay the full three days. This would have been drastic - but it would have been equal and fair to everyone. There are probably many other possible solutions as well. The point here is that a three day mandatory, non-refundable, stay is a significant overreach and is not likely to meet a proportionality test, in my view. Then again, I'm only an employment lawyer, so what do I know?
I expect that in the coming weeks, this policy will be abandoned and the government will start recognizing vaccination certificates. I don't plan on bringing the class action lawsuit myself - but I'm quite sure that a properly framed suit would have a very good chance of success. Maybe someone else will decide to take this on.
Israeli Political Update
Bennett spoke first. I actually thought it was quite a good speech. He appealed to Israelis from across the political spectrum to make some compromises, form a stable government and avoid a 5th election. He noted that he had made extensive efforts to form a purely right wing government with Netanyahu but they were short of the votes - and it wasn't going to happen. He stated that his government would not be a "left" government - but one made up of left and right wing politicians and that it would involve compromises. He said that some of its members would be "more right wing" than those in the current Netanyahu government. He prommised that he was going to make every effort over the coming 48 hours to form such a government - even though his second in command - Ayelet Shaked was not beside him and has not yet fully committed to this plan. Bennett did not take any questions. He will spend the next 48 hours - until Lapid's mandate ends - trying everything he can to finalize arrangements and take over the government from Netanyahu.
After a short TV break, Netanyahu spoke from a different location. He was disturbed and unhinged. He levelled every kind of personal insult at Bennett and repeatedly called Bennett a liar, a flip-flopper and someone who was forming a left wing government despite the overwhelming support that he enjoyed from the country as the preferred choice for Prime Minister. He attacked, in personal terms, the leaders and members of the left and centre parties that would make up the potential government - including Lapid, Michaeli, Horowitz and Zandberg. He warned that this "change" government would be a danger to national security, to the army, to Israel's interests worldwide. He compared Bennett's plan to take over - to the way governments are run in Syria, Iran and Turkey - governments that are formed, in his view, against the overwhelming national will and electoral preferences. He said Bennett was putting himself above the national interest - and endangering everyone so that he could become the Prime Minister. Isn't all this quite rich for someone who has dragged the country into four consecutive elections becauses of his personal legal troubles? The language was Trump-esque - "only I can be the Prime Minister and ensure national security." This despite the fact that if Bennett succeeds in forming a government, it will be one that is made up of more than 50% support of the Israeli voting public.
Netanyahu's speech was aimed at members of the Yamina party, especially Shaked, who may not be happy about joining a compromise government. It was also aimed at Gideon Saar's "New Hope" party - in an effort to try to get some of that party's members to cross the aisle. As well, it was aimed at Netanyahu's base - and was a call to action for protests, name calling, threats and whatever else over the coming 48 hours.
It is unclear what will happen. I don't think we can rule out the possibility that Netanyahu will somehow suceed in blocking this change government by doing something drastic over the next 48 hours. He is pulling out all the stops and exerting the maximum pressure that he can on as many people as possible. Some of his supporters are calling Bennett and Saar "traitors" and using very extreme language and rhetoric to attack their opponents. For Netanyahu, if he cannot block the transfer of power, it will a devastating loss with significant personal ramifactions since he will now have no effective way of slowing, stopping or manipulating his ongoing corruption trial.
It will be really interesting to see if Bennett and Shaked can withstand all of this pressure and form a change government. The next 48 hours may be one of the most fascinating time periods in Israeli political history. Hopefully, however things work out, it will all be done peacefully.