Saturday September 19, 2020
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 19, 2020
Bold plans of federal Liberals grounded by resurgent COVID-19
The high-flying trial balloons the federal Liberals launched just a month ago, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament, have all but disappeared amid the ominous clouds of rising COVID-19 numbers across central and western Canada.
It bears noting that the bold and ambitious new agenda team Trudeau was foreshadowing just a few weeks back has been overshadowed by the renewed urgency in Ottawa and provinces to our west to deal with the resurgent health crisis and the prospects for additional economic misery that come with it.
Most folks will recall that soon after pulling Parliament’s plug on Aug. 18, Trudeau and his newly minted Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland were bullish, not only about a post-pandemic recovery, but about a green recovery. There were also musings from within the federal government about lasting changes to Canada’s employment insurance and income assistance safety nets.
But back then the curve was flat. In mid-August, Canada was posting about 350 new COVID-19 cases daily.
Beginning in late August and accelerating through September, the number of new cases identified daily has spiked back up to over 1,000 — levels not experienced in Canada since late May or early June. The majority of those are in Quebec and Ontario, although the West is also experiencing a resurgence.
The rise in case numbers and the fear that they portend a second wave of the virus, has tempered or delayed the government’s longer-term ambitions and refocused the Trudeau Liberals on immediate measures that are required to respond to the health emergency and its economic toll.
The government’s longterm vision of transformational change to a green economy and a more robust and enduring income support program has given way to the reality that Canada remains in the grip of the coronavirus.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the trial balloons about a bold and ambitious new agenda were intended, not so much as a preview of the upcoming Throne Speech, as a distraction from the controversy that surrounded the government when Parliament was prorogued.
Prorogation meant that several parliamentary committees examining the controversy around an aborted billion-dollar federal contract to the WE charity went into hiatus. The prime minister and former finance minister Bill Morneau had close ties to the charity.
That controversy seems a long time ago now, although when Parliament resumes following Gov. Gen. Julie Payette’s reading of the speech Wednesday, those committees are likely to resurrect their inquiries. (Chronicle-Herald)