Toronto Blue Jays “national interest exemption” latest COVID hypocrisy

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Last Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays played their unofficial home opener, in that they actually got to play a home game in Hogtown as opposed to Florida or Buffalo.

As the team’s website triumphantly notes: “After nearly two years away, the Toronto Blue Jays are finally coming home to Canada beginning July 30. The club was granted a National Interest Exemption by the federal government that will allow Major League Baseball games to be played at Rogers Centre, with robust health and safety protocols in place.”

Who knew that America’s favourite pastime was so important in Canada that it would qualify for a “national interest exemption”?

And, say, what is a “national interest exemption” in the first place?

Well, according to the federal government, such an order exempts “a foreign national whose presence in Canada, in the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, is in the national interest. National interest considerations used to overcome the travel restrictions pertain to why the person should exceptionally and immediately be allowed to board a flight bound for Canada or enter Canada. For example, business visitors travelling to contribute to Canada’s critical infrastructure may be considered to be in the national interest.”

And, um, professional baseball players…

So, in other words, money talks and B.S. walks.

If you are a multimillionaire baseball player playing ball for a multi-billion dollar conglomerate such as Rogers Communications Inc., those COVID quarantine hotel rules do not apply. But if you’re just a regular tax-paying citizen who has the temerity to cross the border, make sure you pony up some big bucks in order to stay at the local Motel Hell upon landing back in Canada.

Then again, as Karl Malden used to say in those old American Express commercials: “Membership has its privileges.” And if you are an elite pro athlete, you are amongst the most privileged on the planet. Which reminds us of another chestnut, this one from George Orwell’s Animal Farm: 'All animals are created equal but some animals (for example, Blue Jays) are more equal than others.'

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