TORONTO - The public seems to be ever more accepting of the concept of “rule by decree” as a replacement for “responsible government”. No longer does a day go by when we are not treated to yet another visual of some provincial premier and the Prime Minister (with a follow-up by Ministers to reinforce the message) who tell us what will happen in the war against Covid-19. “No if, ands or buts”.
It’s a bonanza for the National Broadcaster, CBC, in two official languages. It doesn’t have much more to do than tap into the press conference location and live stream whatever on the national airwaves or digital platforms. Twenty two percent (22%) of the population (census 2016) that operates in a third language can read the Corriere Canadese and be better informed.
Or they can try to make sense of things by following “amicable chatter among the representatives of the strategic consulting groups” whose commitment to parsing initiatives in those pressers may be mitigated by the desire not to offend their employer.
In our Parliamentary system, the Executive (Cabinet) proposes/initiates, and the House of Commons (including the Opposition) disposes – after a due process involving debate and votes.
In other words, due process; one that involves interpretation by a functioning and independent Judiciary. Too bad that the Courts have been shut down (suspended temporarily) because of an abundance of caution, lest any Court sta risk contagion. Grocery store clerks and sta continue to operate by following risk mitigation guidelines. So do Bank personnel, public transportation workers and so on. A cynic wondered whether there is a conspiracy in the making.
The Political System continues to meander along (I am trying to be polite). There is no Opposition to challenge anything government leadership says or does. Got to have faith, say Southern preachers. In whom? To whom does the public turn when apparent earnestness crosses the line to obfuscation or outright deception?
The Prime Minister emerges once a day to report on the situation regarding Covid-19. He asserts that he is working from a model and that he speaks to other world leaders on next steps (mostly to deal with economic measures) but declines to oer up which model on health issues and which leaders on any other. Someone must insist. Until yesterday, it seemed that the Conservative Party in Canada had either been shell-shocked by its own internal warfare or gone into hibernation until a presumptive Leader would emerge from a convention in June. The convention has now been postponed indefinitely. The front-runner, Peter Mac Kay, savaged by his own people, is watching as his asset value plummets like the TSX index.
The “maybe former”, now interim, Leader – Andrew Scheer – appears to have finally decided to fulfill his obligations as the Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition by asking some pertinent questions publicly. Maybe the Party should just ask him to stay on. The other two parties aren’t blessed with national status, regardless of their individual merits. There is no one else holding the government’s “feet to the fire”.
On the Provincial front, circumstances are just as bleak. In a press conference yesterday, Premier Ford admitted his government has a model to track and predict the behavior of the Coronavirus; but, he won’t release it because it can "change drastically" and the government would "create panic” if it were to overestimate "the number of cases and deaths”. No opposition Party members emerged to call him out and to ask who designed the model; the data input; the breadth and scope of that data; how current it might be; whether the Province acquired it from elsewhere or for how long it has relied on it.
If it was not generated internally, where did he get the model? From the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University? From Doctors Fauci and Birx at the White House or directly from Italy?
Does that model present more of a “panic generator” than his decision to shut down all non-essential services? Does he think that, if Ontarians see the model, they will be more panicked than when he shut down schools for at least another month. Maybe Ontarians weren’t frightened enough when he thundered that “if you’re over 70, don’t leave the house’’.
The Opposition Parties are MIA. Its not their fault that the Legislature is conveniently not in session. Or maybe they also would rather not know. Yet, anyone who listens to Fauci & Birx, follows CSSE or Corriere Canadese’s reporting on what is going on in Italy and Europe already does know what is in the models Messrs. Trudeau and Ford think will send us all into fits of despair.
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