The past two weeks in our politics has been a watershed moment for sure, especially when you consider everything that’s happened. It took a while, but eventually all of our parties managed to put any bitter partisanship aside and come together to fight the biggest challenge we’ve faced in generations, Covid-19. We’ve seen this same thing happen through most of the provinces, where we’ve seen some premiers rise to this moment too, showing personal growth that many would have thought was impossible if we depended on past history.
Over these days the parties have gotten the public sentiment for the most part, that now wasn’t time for partisanship, and it was the time to put those things aside. They also seemed to understand that anyone straying from that maxim in this moment would be downright stupid to do so. That has been the lens I’ve bee look at all of this through and it seemed like that was rock-solid logic. And that was how I looked at its last night when this piece of news came out, on the eve of Parliament returning to pass emergency legislation to start addressing Covid-19:
Upon seeing that news many on political Twitter got up in arms, and under most circumstances that would be rightfully so. Giving the Minister of Finance, or any minister of the crown for that matter, the kind of power to unilaterally control such a massive power as taxation and spending without so much as a peep from Parliament is beyond unprecedented. It’s the kind of move that might be unconstitutional, but it is surely undemocratic, the kind of thing you see in banana republics. So under normal circumstances, the reaction out there would be warranted. And, oh yeah, they wanted this power until December 2021, which is a very long timeline that raises a lot of questions on its own.
But these aren’t normal circumstances right now, and given that the government, in a minority, has likely been talking with the opposition parties about how they would proceed, my reaction was different. My thought was that at least one opposition party had to know about this because this move is so massive, so controversial and so difficult to get people to buy into if necessary that you just wouldn’t spring this on people or try to slip it by Parliament. Given all the sharing of information and seeming transparency that we’ve seen in this two-week period of relative non-partisanship peace, it would be hard to believe that the government wouldn’t have this out there. It would be so bad to do this I said on Twitter last night in the moment that to do that would be “the dumbest kind of dumb that ever dumbed.” Well later in the next we heard of another move by the government, one that answered that open question:
Wow, they really did try to do the dumb thing, they really did. It’s gob smacking how bad that is, in such a serious moment like this. Thankfully they’re backing down but why in the Hell even try that in the first place? In this time when people need to have trust in what their governments are doing, when governments need people to trust them, this government tried to pull one of the biggest power grabs in Canadian history via hoping that the Opposition would have it’s guard down in this moment. In this moment when we are seeing to the south of us the stark impacts on a government’s response when trust in government is eroded, now is the absolute last time to pull a stunt like this. Yet, they did it. It’s clear they did it, and wow, I’m seriously stunned by the sheer stupidity of it.
I will be watching to see how Canadians and the other parties react to this government going forward because if the events of the last two weeks before this episode had shown us anything, it was that there was good will towards governments of all stripes building as we came together to tackle Covid-19. We just saw polling yesterday that showed this, with a strong majority of Canadians approving of the Liberal governments’ response to date. And folks, if anything has the power to blow all of that up to Hell in this serious moment, that attempt at gross overreach could surely be it. When Parliament gets together at noon today, we’ll see how everyone reacts but what promised to be a relatively calm and productive quick session of Parliament before last night might degenerate into something totally different, as the Opposition reacts to such a gross violation of good will. This was a serious mistake by this government, one that they will need to answer for at some point. But in this moment, they need to do some serious clean up work and try to quickly mend fences with the Opposition because we can’t afford to spend time and energy on much other than Covid-19. I will be looking forward to hearing how the Prime Minister responds to questions on this later because how he does will have a big say on how our members of Parliament are able to work together after they actually tried to do the dumbest kind of dumb that ever dumbed.