2020-04-28

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday April 28, 2020

Conservatives are struggling to make their mark in the midst of a crisis

It’s been a rough six or seven weeks for most Canadians. Politically, it’s been especially tough time for the Conservative Party and its outgoing leader, Andrew Scheer.

While the House of Commons has been shuttered for weeks due to the pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been holding daily press conferences, as have some of his most important cabinet ministers. While the House has resumed reduced operations — a once-weekly in-person sitting and two virtual sittings — the stage is not nearly as large as it was before.

That hasn’t kept Scheer from taking to the airwaves. Unlike most provincial opposition leaders across the country (Alberta’s Rachel Notley being one notable exception), the Conservative leader has been holding regular press conferences of his own.

While Scheer has tried to use that platform to lay out his criticisms of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has at times been knocked off-message — for example, by questions about comments made by Derek Sloan, a Conservative MP and candidate for the leadership of the party, regarding the loyalty of Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief public health officer.

Most provincial opposition leaders have kept relatively low profiles, with adjourned legislatures limiting them to press releases, email and social media to get their messages out.

Those efforts are unlikely to boost their popularity — particularly in the face of polling that suggests provincial governments have widespread support for their efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

But it doesn’t seem that Scheer’s more active approach is doing him or his party any favours, either. (CBC) https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/conservatives-polls-covid19-1.5548237

Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford called anti-lockdown protesters at Queen’s Park on Saturday “a bunch of yahoos” and said they were being “selfish” and “irresponsible” for demonstrating against provincial emergency orders in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Scores of people gathered on the Ontario legislative grounds on Saturday afternoon to call for an end to the shutdown of many services, businesses, activities and public spaces across the province amid the pandemic. At its peak, the protest drew about 200 people.

Ontario has been under a state of emergency for 40 days and much is closed as the number of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and cases continues to rise.

Ford, when asked by a reporter at a news conference about the protesters, blasted their actions.

“These people that are absolutely irresponsible, it’s reckless to do what they’re doing. Personally, I think it’s selfish,” Ford said. (CBC) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-shutdown-protesters-queens-park-yahoos-1.5545253

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre took aim at the Liberals’ coronavirus stimulus programs on Sunday, saying that while his party supports compensating Canadians amid the pandemic, the measures are not working as intended.

“These massive programs will be like a gigantic experiment in freakonomics because in many cases they are having the opposite of their intended effect,” he told reporters. (Global) https://globalnews.ca/news/6870332/coronavirus-freakonomics-conservative/

Meanwhile, President Trump’s public statements about using disinfectants to potentially treat the coronavirus have put him in the company of pseudoscientists and purveyors of phony elixirs who promote and sell industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for autism, malaria and a long list of medical conditions.

The president’s comments, at a White House briefing last week, have already prompted widespread incredulity, warnings from health experts and a spike in calls to poison control centers around the country. The makers of Clorox and Lysol urged Americans not to inject or ingest their products. (New York Times) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/27/health/coronavirus-disinfectant-bleach-trump.html

Ontario, Pandemic, coronavirus, COVID-19, Donald Trump, Dereck Sloan, Pierre Poilievre, Jason Kenney, Peter MacKay, Andrew Scheer