Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Call for emergency powers a dick move by Trudeau

Justin Trudeau has handled the whole COVID-19 thing reasonably well, I think, certainly compared to some Western leaders (who will remain nameless, but they know who they are, and so do you).
Making earnest pronouncements, in a schoolma'am-ish but entirely necessary way - with just the occasional, finely-controlled temper flare - he has been a pretty steady and reliable presence in a crisis where things could so easily have gone completely off the rails.
But he has blotted his copybook a bit with his latest demand for sweeping unregulated emergency powers. He tried to combine a bill proposing much-needed fiscal relief measures to deal with the economic and social fall-out from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic - which would almost certainly have been passed with a minimum of fuss, especially given the official opposition's pledge to pursue a more conciliatory path in the face of the national crisis - with another which would grant the minority government sweeping powers to spend, borrow and tax without parliamentary oversight until December 2021.
Trudeau insists that the powers are needed in order act quickly and decisively in a crisis situation where speed may be of the essence. But this is disingenuous and unnecessary, and it may, in the process, have just wiped out any opposition goodwill that may have existed.
The Conservative opposition and the NDP are both insisting that the two issues be separated into two separate bills, and to concentrate on the much more important and urgent fiscal rescue package. In the interests of expediency, that is entirely the right thing to do.
There are indications that Trudeau may be walking back the poorly thought-out and badly-timed proposal, with a terse tweet that "The legislation will be tabled without clause 2". But what a dick move at a crucial time!

In my defence, I wrote this before reading almost the exact same words in today's Globe and Mail editorial.

And that is in fact what happened. The bill to approve $82 billion in emergency spending and tax deferrals to deal with the coronavirus chaos was passed in the early hours of the morning. One (unnecessary) crisis averted.

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