It was just earlier this week that I pointed to the shenanigans being played between the Liberals and the Conservatives when it comes to Bill C-19, the governments proposed temporary changes to an election during COVID. Given that we have a minority Parliament in Ottawa, we know that it’s possible that an election could fall in this period of time and given that we honestly don’t know when COVID will pass altogether, it makes sense to assume that whenever the next election comes, COVID will still be with us. And given all the crap we saw to our South around trust around elections, there is an extra imperative to get this legislation done.
So today, finally, after a long amount of delay C-19 came back to the House of Commons for debate. Finally we were going to hear the arguments for and against and see where this all lead us. Given all of their attempts to slow this bill down, I was especially curious to hear what the Conservatives might have to say about this. I was particularly interested in hearing to what degree real legit concerns were going to be raise versus how much usual partisan BS there would be. No bill is perfect, so there is always something to legitimately point to when it comes to improving a bill.
So where would the blue team go? Well I caught a few speeches but one in particular caught my eye because it encapsulated the Conservatives manic, contradictory position on this bill. Conservative MP for Calgary-Skyview Jag Sahota is the one who delivered said speech and I’m going to break down the first few minutes of it here, because it literally had my head spinning. First, here is the start of her speech with the opening premise:
Sahota comes right out of the box with some high heat, basically saying that “by bringing forward C-19, the Liberals want to force Canadians to an election”. Yes, she’s so disappointed that the Liberals would think about an election during a pandemic because bringing forward this bill, in her opinion, automatically equates to wanting an election and trying to force one on us. She leans in on the point that this has been introduced “during a pandemic”, as if there was something nefarious behind doing this now. But I’ll come back to that later. Here’s what she followed that up with:
Next up she points to science, stating that trying to run an election during COVID presents risks. Just look at what happened in Newfoundland she points out, where COVID threw that election into chaos. And she’s right, because the province was poorly prepared for that COVID election (which had to happen within 6 months of then anyway), things did go off the rails. So you’d think that the lesson to take from that would be that “hey, maybe we should be prepared in case an election does happen during COVID?”. In that piece, she basically says that the Liberals are ignoring science…. by introducing a bill that would ensure that the next election follows the science and public health protocols. Or hey, maybe that’s just my view. Next up:
This is where my head spins picked up to the level of an elite Olympic gymnast because it was mind blowing to me. On one hand, she is going after the government for “ramming through” this legislation, as if there was no need for doing this now. But a breath later, she points out the more salient point about the need for this legislation; we’re in a minority Parliament. The average minority Parliament lasts about 18 months. This Parliament has been around for…. about 18 months. So yes, in normal times if this government fell now, it would be totally normal. And yes, COVID should push that time out, as I’ve said many times in public that we won’t likely see an election until the Fall. But even if all the stars align, and COVID is receding, and we’re getting back closer to normal come the Fall, any election held at that time will still require these measures. That’s doubly true because Elections Canada needs time to prepare for that election. They can’t just “flip a switch” and have everything in place, this actually takes some time and planning to, you know, ensure that people are confident in our electoral system. That might seem like a good reason to move quickly, right? Onto the next part:
Sahota points to the report from the House Committee on Procedure and House Affairs on this topic, where it was recommended that the PM not unliterally call an election, only doing so if they lose a confidence vote. She said that very exception herself, basically admitting that if the government fell on a confidence vote during COVID, that it would be totally reasonable to having a COVID election. And given that she and her Conservative colleagues have been doing their level best to create that potential failed confidence vote for the past months, you’d think that she would want Elections Canada to be able to ensure that election she would help to cause would be a safe one, right? Nope, she’s more concerned about calling this some kind of arrogant political mastermindery on the behalf of this Prime Minister in some selfish grasp at something. But it’s the last clip on this that was really the cherry on the sundae, the true chef’s kiss to finish off this whole thing:
Ah yes, it’s not she and her party who are being inconsistent with their inconsistent messaging, it’s the government that’s being inconsistent here. That just made me laugh out loud when I heard it because after that confusing, circular diatribe, it only seemed fitting that she accused others of being what she was just being. So at this point, we can summarize the Conservative position on C-19 as the following:
- “By bringing forward C-19, the Liberals want to force Canadians to an election!”
- “Minority governments are unstable and usually don’t last 4 years. We need to be ready!”
- “Poorly prepared COVID elections are dangerous, look at what happened in Newfoundland! We don’t want that to happen again!”
- “A once-in-a-century pandemic is not the time to change the Elections Act for an election that might take place in this once-in-a-century pandemic!”
- “I’m not confusing, you’re the one who’s confusing!”
Good Lord man that was bad. Seriously, there are things in this bill that can be improved and as I pointed out earlier in the week, the Liberals hands are not clean on this. They have screwed up by taking so long to bring this forward and they own that. But is this all the Conservatives are offering as an “opposition” to this bill? Is this seriously all they have to bring to the table? If you want an example of what really ails the Conservatives right now and why their sinking in the polls, those clips show it. Instead of putting together a coherent other position, they are leaning into crazed insinuation and inuendo. There are nefarious motives everywhere and there’s just no way that this should be done because science, just as the science calls for this.
Maybe it’s COVID but my patience for this BS is simply gone. Is it really too much to ask for this party to bring some real ideas to the table? Do they really have to lean so hard into this rhetorical crap? Because you know what, it’s extremely confusing messaging to say that “we can’t have an election because COVID, we should be ready for a COVID election but if you dare to prepare, you want an election”. You seriously can’t have it all these ways at the same time. Pick a damn lane Blue Team because if you really want to govern, this kind of crap proves that you’re not ready for it. If you can’t put aside your hate and rage at the other side to make a coherent argument, you can’t win the next election, let alone govern. We’ll see what it takes for that lesson to sink in because as this morning showed, it hasn’t sunk in yet.