In total, there are 24 pledges in the package. The sum total, if passed, would ruin the finances of the country and cause war with the provinces, whose exclusive jurisdiction is to be invaded.
As France crumbled in the face of Germany’s blitzkrieg in World War II, the British government offered joint citizenship between the two countries if France remained in the war. The offer was dismissed as nothing better than a “merge with a corpse”.
Last week’s agreement between the federal Liberal and New Democratic parties, which we will discuss in a moment, promises to be, at the very least, a fusion between two corpses. The Liberal part of the deal binds Justin Trudeau’s government to promises that cannot be, or are unlikely to be, kept.
Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile, erased any reason to vote NDP in the next election. In nearly every major area of public policy, his party is now joined by a government he cannot control. History has not been kind to junior partners in these one-sided arrangements.
So what does this agreement contain? First, in exchange for a series of new programs, the NDP promised to keep the Liberals in power until 2024.
Note to Singh: In 2017, John Horgan signed a similar deal with BC’s Green Party to maintain his minority administration, then reversed his decision when the moment pleased him. The Greens were all but wiped out in the subsequent election.
And these new initiatives?
First, a dental program. The details are hazy, but the Parliamentary Budget Officer has put such a program at around $20 billion if fully implemented.
Second, the “movement” toward universal national pharmacare.
Note to Trudeau: None of these initiatives fall under the constitutional authority of the federal government.
Third, “introduce” long-term care security legislation that will “ensure seniors get the care they deserve.”
It’s pure banter. Ottawa has no way, legal or otherwise, to enforce such assurance. It is perhaps for this reason that the law will only be tabled, not adopted.
I could go on. In total, there are 24 commitments in this package, none of which have been approved by the House of Commons. The sum total, if passed, would ruin the finances of the country and cause war with the provinces, whose exclusive jurisdiction is to be invaded.
It is also deeply divisive. Nearly 90% of right-wing voters oppose it, while about 80% of left-leaning Canadians support it. This is no way to unite an already troubled country.
A final comment on the details. The preamble promises that “both parties agree on the importance of parliamentary oversight and the work of [parliamentary] committees”.
Yet, in the same paragraph, we get this: “Both parties agree to communicate on any matter that may impede the government’s ability to function or cause unnecessary obstruction to the review of legislation, studies and work plans. committees.”
For “unnecessary obstructions,” read “ideas we don’t support.” Instead of “agree to communicate”, read “agree to silence any opposition”.
It is not the People’s Parliament.
What should Trudeau and Singh have agreed on? Save Medicare. That’s it.
Here in British Columbia, one in three health care workers say they want to quit within the next two years.
Needless to mention the critical shortage of family doctors or the long wait times for surgery.
To claim that we can afford a new dental program or a national pharmacare plan, when we cannot afford the basics of a decent health care program, is obscene.
Every penny Ottawa intends to spend on this agreement should be sent to the provinces in the form of transfer payments, in exchange for the assurance that the money will be spent exclusively on health care services.
It is a moment of transformation. The Prime Minister and his NDP colleague emasculated Parliament and agreed on a wish list that sells the country short.