The Trudeau Liberals were granted their dream scenario, last week, by the NDP: A suspension of Parliament.
In exchange for adopting an NDP policy, to provide 10 days of paid sick leave, New Democrats voted in favour of a Liberal motion to limit the debate over COVID-19 spending to four hours and then suspend Parliament until the fall.
To put that in perspective, the House would typically spend days or even weeks debating a normal budget, with spending increases of no more than $20 billion. Limiting the debate over spending an unprecedented $150 billion (which takes the Liberal budget deficit to somewhere in the region of $250 billion) to a mere four hours shows just how little the Liberals and NDP care about democracy.
To that end, the motion also eliminates the possibility of calling a confidence vote in the Liberal government.
Since he was first elected, Justin Trudeau has dodged parliamentary accountability. He habitually refuses to answer even the most mundane questions, and that’s when he actually shows up to work.
As a result, since the beginning of COVID-19, Justin Trudeau has enjoyed making announcement after announcement about new government programs and new spending, far from the scrutiny of the House of Commons.
Many readers will remember back in March when the Liberals tried to use COVID-19 to give themselves sweeping emergency spending powers without parliamentary oversight. Unlike the NDP, Canada’s Conservatives didn’t roll over and sell out. We said, “no”.
Conservatives recognize that COVID-19 has affected different regions of Canada in very different ways. As has the Liberal Government’s one-size-fits-all response. Canadians of all regions and all political stripes deserve to have their voices heard, expressed by their elected representatives in Parliament.
While work in our constituencies will go on and the House of Commons special committee on COVID-19 will continue to provide limited opportunities to question government actions, it does not provide the full scope of powers MPs normally enjoy. Under the current arrangement, MPs cannot introduce or debate private member’s bills or post order paper questions – written questions the government is obligated to respond to within 45 days. Opposition Days – days on the parliamentary calendar where opposition parties can set the agenda – are also postponed until September.
These are vital tools that MPs use on a regular basis to get results for their constituents.
Canadians expect their elected representatives to ask the tough questions, provide oversight, and keep one another accountable. The best forum for this is Parliament. That’s why, from the beginning, Canada’s Conservatives have maintained that Parliament is an essential service.
Sadly, the Liberals and NDP do not think so, and as a result, Justin Trudeau can continue to dodge the tough questions. This is a dream scenario for Justin Trudeau, because he clearly has no answers.