As a general proposition, the upper levels of the federal and provincial governments in this country are well stocked with informed, capable people – cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and heads of major boards and agencies. They don’t have to be rocket scientists – we had one of those at Rideau Hall and how did that turn out? – but for the most part, they are smart, responsible people, sensitive to the policies and priorities of their governments.
The Democrats on Capitol Hill had three objectives in their dramatic, at times chilling, prosecution of Donald Trump in his impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate last week.
Two of the three objectives were obvious. First, alert the American people to the fragility of their democracy and warn them that another rogue president might well bring their system of government crashing down. Second, disqualify Trump from ever again seeking high office. Historians will judge whether first objective was achieved; the second was not.
Do you remember?
Four months ago, on Sept. 23, when Parliament resumed following its summer hiatus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went on television and made a promise to the nation: “We will start working as of today with the provinces and territories in order to establish new national standards for long-term care.”
In a remarkable week when he had to ask for the resignation of the Governor General, when a new COVID-19 variation took hold while the original strain continued to rage out of control, and when a supply interruption disrupted the distribution of vaccine, there was one bright note for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Two days to go – two days until Joe Biden is in and Donald Trump is out.
There was a time, not eons ago, when earthlings wondered if there might be intelligent life on Mars. A more pertinent concern for Ontario earthlings in 2021 might be if there is intelligent life in their government at Queen’s Park.
There is a middling chance that Ontario voters will be going to the polls twice in 2021.
The more likely one is a federal election. As suggested in last week’s column, Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government will soon be living on borrowed time.
Minority governments are relatively common in Canada, with 14 of them at the federal level since Confederation, but most don’t hang around long – an average of 479 days. Today is the current government’s 434th day. If it lasts until Oct. 21, it will join just five others that made it to the two-year mark.
Once again, it is the season when hoary journalism tradition dictates that the columnist pause, review the year about to end and peer through his or her foggy glasses at the one that lies ahead.
If COVID-19 has taught us nothing else, it is that deadly pandemics cannot be fought successfully on a piecemeal basis with each province or local authority going its own way, imposing its own control measures, or none at all.
The federal government announced last week it will give the provinces and territories an additional $1-billion to help them keep their long-term care residents safe during this wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
One billion is a lot of loonies, even in these inflated times, but there was no scramble among the 13 premiers to express their gratitude to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Minister of Just About Everything, Chrystia Freeland, for their generosity with the public purse. That’s not way it works in federalism, Canadian style.