As someone who has long been a big believer in the role of our Parliament & the responsibilities that those who serve there have to everyone in this country, this week has been tough to take. It’s been so because it’s been hard to watch an institution that I so believe in fail so miserably to rise to the needs of the moment. I pointed to this on Tuesday, as all of the parties in the House spoke to the protests that are happening across the country. But instead of getting better, things have just gotten worse as we’ve seen this happen from the Opposition:
We’ve got the soon-to-be former Conservative leader stirring up emotions, saying he wants to direct the police to move in, which is counter to law and practice. We have someone who wants to replace him, doing the same thing more forcefully and trying to use this issue to advance his own political career. And then we have the NDP Leader offering some constructive ideas (like suggesting Sen. Murray Sinclair be a mediator), but then completely undermining them by doing the same thing as the Conservatives except from the other side, wanting to direct the police to back down. I’d point out that all of these suggestions around directly police surely aren’t the actions of anyone who ever thinks they’ll be Prime Minister because if they were thinking about that, they’d take the separation between police and politics seriously. Then if things weren’t crappy enough, the Conservatives decided to bring this as an opposition day motion:
Well crap on a biscuit, this is about the last thing that is need. I say about, because that would have been a confidence motion, like the one the Conservatives did table but backed off on when they were called out on that garbage. But next in the line of “real bad ideas in a national crisis” would be this torqued, hyper-partisan Opposition Day motion that will do absolutely nothing at all to resolve this situation. In fact, it will likely make it all worse, as we’ll see a full day of MPs giving televised speeches that will likely tap dance all over every sore spot in this entire episode, while completely exposing the total lack of knowledge, empathy or both of many MPS in the process. This has the potential to be Parliament at it’s absolute worst and if the Conservatives were serious about trying to resolve this situation, this is something they wouldn’t do. But if you were looking to score the cheapest of political points out there, this would be it. I’ll leave it to you do decide which this is.
But outside the uselessness coming out of the West Block on this matter this week, we’ve gotten an injection of clarity, sanity and facts to this discussion, one that many MPs seem to be hellbent on ignoring. The source of these sage words? Former Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police Chris Lewis, who wrote an insightful piece for CP24.com on why police are acting the way they are now which everyone should read. But I’ll quote a couple important pieces here for everyone:
“Mass arrests of this sort, knowing that there is often “some” bad people among the protesters, some with access to firearms, police have to be prepared to take lives, lose lives and bring the entire nation to a complete standstill for months or years to come. These are difficult enough decisions for police commanders that had no part in creating this situation to begin with. They don’t need opposition members in parliament of any political stripe demanding that police make arrests or chiding the sitting government to order same. No elected politician can direct a police leader when to make arrests or when not to – at least not in Canada.”https://www.cp24.com/news/analysis-indigenous-protests-why-don-t-police-just-do-their-job-1.4817448?fbclid=IwAR3pOnUWQjLtmqaKnLGwg7bVrO3_7Ew0cnDT1WgCethg3CgjSZ09oS8HBus
“It’s not that police “AREN’T doing their job” in Tyendinaga or in cities and other remote sites across Canada. Police ARE doing their job, but they are doing it in a way that doesn’t unnecessarily jeopardize lives. Marching tactical officers onto a piece of disputed land to evict Indigenous protesters and taking a life in 1995 didn’t work so well. It would be a complete disaster in 2020.
The federal government must negotiate a political solution if this situation is ever going to end, not the police. The police are simply the meat in a no-win sandwich. I certainly don’t know the answer, but I do know that it’s so much bigger than law enforcement and it’s far from simple.”https://www.cp24.com/news/analysis-indigenous-protests-why-don-t-police-just-do-their-job-1.4817448?fbclid=IwAR3pOnUWQjLtmqaKnLGwg7bVrO3_7Ew0cnDT1WgCethg3CgjSZ09oS8HBus
I’d like to think that it wouldn’t take someone of the stature of former Commissioner Lewis to have to come out and state such simple, direct and plain things, yet thanks to the total failure of our political leaders it’s needed. Lewis is completely right when he says we “don’t need opposition members in parliament of any political stripe demanding that police make arrests or chiding the sitting government to order same.” We don’t, it’s that’s simple. Any suggestions, demands or whatever that involve giving a direction to any police force isn’t helping a bloody thing. Period. The fact is that we’re starting to see movement from the RCMP on this matter, of their own accord. Having politicians trying to give orders doesn’t help their efforts and i’d hope that they’d understand that.
It may feel great to say, make for a “strong” clip on social media or raise you lots of money for the party coffers, but it doesn’t less than nothing to help actually solve the problem. If your focus isn’t on solving the bloody problem like a serious adult, if you are focused on fundraising numbers and “energizing the base” instead, then you’re not a part of the solution. You’re a part of the problem. We elect MPs and parties to help solve the problems of our nation, not to create more or exploit the ones that have been there for centuries. In moments like these, there is one basic test of leadership that we should expect all leaders to follow; put your partisan interest aside and do what’s best for the country. In this case that would mean cutting the rhetoric, lowering the temperature and trying to offer actual solutions. While the Prime Minister may not have the solutions here and may not find them, that is not an excuse for how these other party leaders are responding. These are the moments when leaders have a chance to show what kinds of states people they can be and if they should ever be given the chance to be Prime Minister. On that measure, all the Opposition leaders, current or wannabe, who claim to want to be Prime Minister someday, have failed miserably on that count. Yes, a pox on all their houses until they grow up and get real. If a tense, fraught and difficult moment like this can’t sober them up enough to rise to this challenge, then they can’t do it. I pray and hope that they finally do step up but as this week comes to an end, I don’t think I’ve ever had as little faith that they will. And that is as stark a comment as any I can offer today.