It’s now getting a bit ridiculous to have to wait with not-so bated breath to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emerge from his Ottawa gopher hole, also known as Rideau cottage, for his daily pandemic briefings to Canada’s bailed out and groveling media.
Yesterday – April 18, 2020, the above screen grab showed a disheveled and unkempt Trudeau at his lectern, bobbing and weaving on China, his appearing in Parliament along with other topics, while his media sycophants lobbed softball questions at him with most huddled together under a canopy, not “socially distancing” themselves from each other. It’s a case of “one rule for me, but not for thee” of which Trudeau lectures to Canadians to “keep their distance.”
What kind of leadership is this that Trudeau is showing? Is this latest re-location by Trudeau self-isolation or just plain hiding? Trudeau’s wife Sophie, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 back in March, is long recovered from her illness and yet, Trudeau is still self-isolating in his retreat,in spite of him not being tested for the virus.
He has been accused of hiding out prior to the pandemic crisis with his inaction over the blockades that brought Canada to a standstill. Combine that with his lack of presence in Canada over the downing of the Ukrainian jet liner in Iran that killed 58 Canadians and you have a part time Prime Minister that has absolutely no interest in governing.
Back in January, 2020, after the blockade mess, Canadian icon Rex Murphy described Trudeau’s second mandate – owing to these messes – this way: “We don’t have a government in Ottawa; we have an Instagram page with executive authority.”
Across Canada we have Premier Doug Ford and Jason Kenney coming out with cohesive briefings and in the US, we have Donald Trump’s briefings – albeit, with a hostile media but his government officials are behaving like leaders. Trump has not retreated to his Mar-a-Lago retreat to ride out the crisis, he is actually in Washington, DC where he belongs throughout the crisis, surrounded – at a safe distance – by staff.
All around the world from Japan to Germany to France and Spain, their leaders are where they should be, giving updates as leaders should. The only one who gets a pass for in-person updates is UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is currently recovering from a nasty bout of COVID-19.
And what of these musings?
Aside from pandering to China and the World Health Organization in spite of their culpability in covering up China’s role in the pandemic, Trudeau’s biggest fear seems to be having to appear in Parliament to be held accountable by the Official opposition. That is the Opposition’s job and other than dragging Trudeau kicking and screaming back to Ottawa to pass the wage subsidy bill, Trudeau seems to like this “virtual Parliament” setup where he can remain at an anti-social distance and not face the opposition.
It’s ironic that he has no problem with construction workers still working on Parliament Hill while he wants to hide out, letting the opposition play “whack a mole” to pin him down on appearing in Parliament.
Conservative Pierre Poilievre says it best when Trudeau’s reluctance to appear in person has everything to do with accountability.
At today’s briefing, the Liberals – along with their friends in the Bloc Quebecois and NDP – “reached a “tentative agreement” about the conditions under which Parliament will reconvene this week — “a deal the Conservatives rejected Sunday.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer got it right when he rejected this agreement where the House of Commons “will hold one day of in-person meetings per week, with a small group of MPs in the chamber”. “As well, there will be additional virtual sessions with a small number of MPs from across the country,” the statement reads.
His response says it all for Trudeau and the Liberals: “Physical distancing means staying two metres apart, not staying away from Parliament.” Exactly, Mr. Scheer.
Scheer is calling for a smaller number of MPs to attend the sittings, allocating about two hours per day for question period. The Liberals initially offered only one in-person sitting a week.
“Parliament is an essential service,” Scheer wrote in a Postmedia op-ed Saturday. “Representatives in Japan, Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Finland and the European Parliament are continuing to meet during these trying times. Our democracy should be no different.”
Andrew Scheer is absolutely right. What makes Justin Trudeau so special that he can hole up in Rideau cottage, only coming out daily for briefings and think he is doing his job?
“Two huge political questions need public debate in the House. The first is when and how to relaunch the economy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers agree that governments must be guided by the advice of public-health authorities. Opposition parties at both the federal and provincial level concur.
But as the economic wreckage worsens, and tempers wear thin, people will begin to resist. Those who argue that schools and some non-essential businesses should soon reopen need to be heard. How and when to reboot the economy will increasingly become a political question, as well as a question of public health.
While provincial governments will have the final say, Ottawa plays an important role as well. Conservatives and Liberals are bound to differ on how to restore economic life in Canada. The floor of the Commons is the best place to debate those differences.
Second, Canada needs to reconsider its relations with China. There is growing evidence the government in Beijing suppressed information on the virulence of the coronavirus. If so, all of us have paid the price, some with their lives.
Political leaders in Washington, London and Paris have openly criticized China’s secrecy. But on Friday, Mr. Trudeau dodged repeated questions from reporters on China, as he has in the past. The national parties must debate how Canada will deal with China going forward.”
Andrew Scheer, John Ibbitson and others who are calling for Parliament to reconvene are right to say so. We need our elected MP’s, the current government and the opposition back in Ottawa to debate these important questions. Regardless of circumstances, the government must get down to the business of the day – and that includes the Prime Minister being in Question Period, being part of cabinet meetings, doing the job he was elected to do, which is lead Canada, especially during a crisis.
We don’t need a leader popping his head out once a day, answering questions and then, heading back inside when the heat gets too much for him.
Parliament IS an essential service to Canada and Trudeau, whether he likes it or not, he is part of that Parliament.