The day started on a poor note for the Liberals. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has been on the defensive for more than two weeks now over her hosting of an intimate and private fundraising event at a Toronto law firm, and Conservative MP Michael Cooper moved that the House of Commons debate why Wilson-Raybould wasn’t following her own Prime Minister’s guidelines to avoid actual and potential conflicts of interest. The entire day was filled with Liberal MPs and ministers apologizing for and defending the minister. Mere months ago, these then-candidates were elected under the banner of hope and transparency and “better is always possible.” But on this day, what the Justice Minister did was apparently good enough.
But the debate went even lower when the Democratic Institutions Minister spoke. Maryam Monsef boldly complained that those mean Conservatives were really debating this issue because the Justice Minister is a successful aboriginal woman. She implied, several times, that the Justice Minister’s race was true reason for the day’s debate. It was something else to watch an MP who was elected just six months ago on a positive message come so close to complaining of racism in the House of Commons – no less the MP who is also in charge of Canada’s democratic institutions.
The day only continued to get worse for the Liberals.
Speaker Geoff Regan, a Liberal MP, ruled that the Liberals had potentially committed a prima facie breach of privilege by leaking advance copies of the assisted suicide bill to members of the media before that bill was tabled in the House of Commons. “There was a direct contravention of the House’s right to first access,” Regan concluded before sending the matter to a parliamentary committee for investigation.
This is not a small matter: the Liberals brought down the Conservative minority government in 2011 over a question of privilege. According to their logic at the time, Parliament had been so deeply disrespected by that breach that the only remedy was to call an election.
Shortly after the Speaker’s ruling, Liberal House leader Dominic Leblanc tabled a notice of time allocation for a government bill dealing with Air Canada. Time allocation, you might recall, “is undemocratic and a type of abuse, as a rule, of the House of Commons of Canada” according to Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux, “undemocratic” according to Liberal MP Arnold Chan, and not only “prevent[s] business and debate” in the House of Commons, but “hurt[s] the ability of committees to do their work” according to Liberal MP Wayne Easter. At least it was when the Conservatives were the ones who did it, lest the Liberals be exposed as hypocrites. Even the Liberal platform specifically promised “We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny” and yet the Liberals moved their motion for time allocation anyway – because hypocrisy should be no barrier to governing.
Keep in mind that this all happened in the course of just one day in Canada’s Parliament – no less on the six month anniversary of the Liberals being elected to office to supposedly do things better, differently, and more transparently.
Of course, the following day was April 20, or “4:20,” where people across the world smoke marijuana in defiance of the current drug laws. Despite promising to legalize marijuana, the Trudeau government has made zero headway on the matter. They did conveniently announce that Canada would begin the process of legalizing marijuana in spring 2017, but that still means that anyone who indulged in the 4:20 festivities was still breaking the law.
How quickly hope and change have given way to governing as hypocrites.
Daniel Dickin is the author of Liars: The McGuinty-Wynne Record, available in e-book and paper copy through Amazon or direct from the publisher.