Bryan Adams: Popular singer opens the kimono - not a pretty picture; racism never is .

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

May 15th, 2020



“f….g bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy bastards.” ”My message to them other than ‘thanks a f…g lot’ is go vegan.” (Bryan Adams – Instagram)

Brsian adams

Bryan Adams: It will take decades to live down the rant.

Nobody is denying that Bryan Adams’ rant was stupid and pointless. He has apologized for offending anyone and taken down his post. We define racism as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race, based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. So was Adams being racist?

Of course not and those accusing him should be ashamed of themselves for playing the racist card. What do we call those people so consumed by their own ethnicity that see everything through a racial lens? Adams, a 30 year vegan, claims his rant was only about the consumption of meat, and wild animals in particular.

Besides being an outstanding musician and song writer, Adam’s philanthropic work to improve education around the world has earned him the Order of BC and the Order of Canada. None of his harshest critics, including a vocal MLA from BC, or the head of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, Amy Go, can hold a candle to that kind of humanity. Ms. Go suggested that his Order of Canada be forfeited because of the rant.

wet market - meat

Chinese wet market

Wet markets still exist in a number of developing nations and bats and bat meat is  sold at some of them. Bats have been consumed throughout Asia, in Africa and even in early Australia for eons. In the Wuhan market the South China Morning Post reported that 120 wildlife animals across 75 species had been for sale before the Chinese government finally shut down the market and announced that wild animals would no longer be sold for consumption in China.

It used to be when we wanted to condemn someone we’d just call them Hitler. Both the British government and Hillary Clinton once compared Russian leader Vlad Putin to the Nazi dictator after he had invaded Ukraine. But that is so passé these days. Besides, if you have to invoke Hitler you’ve already lost the argument. Today the term is ‘racist’.


Derek Sloan: rookie Conservative MP

The rookie Conservative MP and leadership candidate Derek Sloan questioned the loyalty and patriotism of Dr. Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer, by asking whether she was working for Canada or China. And suddenly there was this spontaneous chorus calling out… racism. Sloan presented no evidence of disloyalty so his insensitive question was… just an insult. And that dumb move has likely disqualified him, at least in the voters eyes, from winning the Tory leadership.

Sloan just needed to look at Tam’s record as chief medical officer to see she could never have been working for China. After all, China had almost completely eliminated its outbreak. But Canada, with less that 3% of the China’s population, has almost as many COVID 19 cases and more deaths than China, if we can believe their numbers.

Had Tam been working for China, or any of the neighbouring Asian nations, she might have thought to close our borders earlier, as the authorities in Hong Kong, where she was born, had done. Instead she advised keeping the borders open while thousands of Chinese, including some from disease ridden Wuhan, arrived by the plane load. That was followed by travellers from disease plagued Iran and then Europe and the United States bringing their disease here until the virus had become embedded in our community.

Theresa Tam 1

Dr. Theresa Tam

And If Tam had been working for China she would have mandated that all Canadians wear face coverings in public, the way they are required in South Korea, China, or her native Hong Kong. The seniors in long term care, who make up 80% of Canada’s fatalities from COVID 19, contracted the virus only from staff or visitors – few or none of whom were wearing masks when the care centres became infected.

After all, Dr. Tam had advised non-symptomatic people against wearing masks in public, suggesting they would be prone to wear them improperly and actually increase exposure. After the US government advised all Americans to wear a mask in public she had to backtrack a little. Still, Canada is one of the few countries which has still not mandated the use of face coverings in public.

Canadians are confused by this policy vacuum on protective coverings. How does one otherwise protect themselves, and others, on subways, narrow sidewalks and in grocery stores? Aren’t masks the key to being able to reopen the economy? In the end businesses like the Longo grocery chain have had to fill the policy gap by requiring all staff and customers to wear a mask inside the store. They’ll even give you one to wear.

Theresa Tam 2

Dr. Theresa Tam: doing an impossible job under impossible conditions

Dr. Tam is a paediatric infectious disease specialist and a former assistant deputy minister of the infectious disease prevention and control branch of Public Health Canada. She co-chaired Canada’s handbook on pandemic preparedness, following the SARS outbreak in 2006. Those are brilliant credentials and hard earned qualifications. So why haven’t the outcomes been more consistent with the potential of the person giving advice.

Derek Sloan is a social conservative and he has been soliciting support from socially conservative Canadians of Chinese origin who are deeply opposed to China’s current government. He even has a Chinese-language section on his website. That hardly sounds like a Sinophobe, or an anti-Asian racist.

According to a recent poll only 14% of Canadians rate China positively today. That is just slightly ahead of how we feel about Saudi Arabia (10%) and far lower than how we felt back in 2005 (58%). 85% feel China has been dishonest about the impact of COVID 19 and over three quarters want the government to have nothing to do with Chinese electronics giant Huawei.

But attitudes are also shifting in China. Many people in Wuhan apparently are still unsure of how the virus started there. They have been told by their government that it was introduced there by the US army. And the Chinese people are angry over why Canada is still keeping Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou under house arrest.

China, perhaps sensing widespread international resentment over the pandemic is turning inwards with a new five year plan focussed on domestic priorities. It knows that it has been all too successful as the world’s factory for everything, and that is almost certain to change.

Everybody wants to get back to normal, a time when we could go to a sit-down restaurant or hug our children and friends without worrying about the rising body count. We believe we are the victims of some dystopian scenario not of our own creation. And while we could have managed things better on our end, we are pretty sure where this horrible and relentless virus came from.

So it is not unremarkable that even we mild mannered and generally tolerant Canadians are beginning to see senseless acts of hatred and violence among us, as we have recently in Vancouver. And this kind of hatred is generally directed towards people who had nothing to do with wet markets in Wuhan, if that was even the birthplace of this pandemic.


The message doesn’t always get through.

And those who falsely cry out racist, like the fabled creatures crying out wolf, just confuse and numb us. And that makes it easier to avoid confronting the real racism out there driven, as always, by ignorance – the absence of truth. And people want to know the truth.

Without the truth we are left with conspiracy theories like Mr. Sloan musing that Canada’s chief medical officer might really be working for China. But that wasn’t even the right question. Instead of national loyalty he should have directly challenged Dr. Tam’s professional judgement in her role as Canada’s chief medical officer of health. Though he’d probably still be accused of racism for that.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Bryan Adams Rant –   Bryan Adams –  Chinese Xenophobia

Wet markets –   Longo Masks –   Derek Sloan

Dr. Tam –   Attitudes –    Canada-China

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5 comments to Bryan Adams: Popular singer opens the kimono – not a pretty picture; racism never is .

  • Perryb

    Side note. On paper, Canada has almost as many COVID cases as China. Of course the Chinese government is lying through its teeth. China also has 1,000,000 times as many citizens in concentration camps as Canada does.

  • g.fraser

    I’m not sure how you go from a personal & ludicrous tirade via Bryan Adams to Dr. Tam but circumferentially you seem to connect the dots.

    “Had Tam been working for China, or any of the neighbouring Asian nations, she might have thought to close our borders earlier”………….I have no idea where you are going with this, but the opposing logic would be if she was working for China she might have wanted the borders to be open so the Canadian people would get infected.

    What is true, is that Canada followed, without deviation or questions, the WHO recommendations. Other countries like Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore took the advice of the WHO in conjunction with their own Epidemiologist(s)’ input & experience to modify the WHO recommendations and flatten the curve before a curve ever appeared. No one shouted racism at these countries for wanting to protect their multinational population.

    Only after PM Trudeau’s wife came back from travelling to the UK (participating in the ‘WE Day’ event) and was suspected of having COVID 19 did her husband close the borders (March 16/20). Coincidence???

    What is true, as you stated, is that MP Sloan “should have directly challenged Dr. Tam’s professional judgement in her role as Canada’s chief medical officer of health.” The innuendo of Sloan’s comments have the underlying current of a xenophobe. Proven or not, it should not have been said nor tolerated.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but when this is over we need a transparent World wide and Country wide inquiring into this pandemic. The countries that learned from SARS, are the ones indicated above and these countries should all sit on a new ‘apolitical WHO’ adversary committee. NO one individual nation should have a veto right to remove or refuse WHO membership. It is the experience of these countries, that I wish to listen too and learn from. Together, in conjunction with a new apolitical WHO and our own Country’s Epidemiologist, we WILL be ready for the next World wide event.

    For all our righteousness, our pandemic handbooks, etc., Canada fell far on this pandemic. From mismanagement of our PPE stockpiles, tardiness in securing our borders, Role models traveling to their cottages on Easter, to a Gov’t that lacks foresight and follows without question.

    What I am extremely grateful and proud of, is the Municipal Gov’t of Burlington and a proactive & preventative Healthcare facility willing to have a pandemic unit built on site for worse case scenario.

    To all citizens of this great Country, I wish to say Thank you.


  • Thanks for the excellent article, Ray. The racism charge is all too easily made, especially by those unable to understand the concepts of ethnicity and subculture. But, with the educational emphasis on making money we have little or no time to devote to making understanding.

  • Hans Jacobs

    Ray, Thank you for a brilliant article. There are too few “deep thinkers” these days; I am grateful that the Gazette has you.

  • Mister Bean

    Brian Adams is upset because he can’t perform his act at Royal Albert Hall. Oh pitty the poor privileged boy. That is all his rant was about. Him. It was all about him missing out on Royal Albert Hall. Toss in some racism and vaganism. Time for Brian Adams to finally grow up and stop being immature with regards to anything he doesn’t agree with.