Roundup: Unleashing the two-year markers

With it being the two-year mark since the 2015 election, we’re going to start seeing a wave of thinkpieces and columns over the next few days (I suspect there will be a glut of weekend columns of dubious quality on the topic), but Paul Wells got things off to a good start yesterday with his piece on the matter. And he makes some pretty good points about how the complaints that this government hasn’t done anything are off the mark, because I do believe there are a number of things that we forget with our short attention spans, but there are also things that we don’t see obvious signs of, where the government has reformed a lot of the processes by which things get done – and this is a particularly big issue when it comes to trying to move the various Indigenous files forward. While it looks like there has been halting progress, people ignore that many of the problems are capacity-related, so if the government is moving to address those fundamental issues, it leads to better outcomes later than simply throwing money at problems only to make them worse in the long run – which happens all too often.

But Wells also acknowledges the bad, and just like with any government, there’s a lot of that too – the appointments process is a notable example, and Wells points to the bottleneck in the PMO, which goes along with the glut of rookie ministers (unavoidable with so few experienced MPs in caucus), and the problem with messaging. As I wrote about earlier this week, there is a real problem with the way this government shovels pabulum at everyone, but I’m not sure it’s any worse than under the previous government, when you were treated to non sequiturs rather than vague answers that resembled the topics you were asking about. And it’s this inability to have forthright communications that created much of this tax mess as well (but I will also lay some blame on bad and lazy reporting that was too quick to lean on opposition talking points as examples of accountability rather than reaching out to experts and then using that to push back against the tidal wave of misinformation that came out). And most especially the fact that this government was unwilling to actually fight back against the misinformation is why this mess of their own making has been compounded even more so.

“But it’s hard to be entirely saddened by Trudeau’s current discomfort, which if nothing else might shake his team out of the towering sanctimony that characterizes too much of its action and rhetoric,” Wells writes, and I fully agree. In fact, it’s the moments in the past couple of weeks where Trudeau and his ministers have dropped their pabulum-like talking points and been punchier and more authentic in their fighting back against their attackers that I’ve seen a spike in public responses to my own reporting of those instances. Hopefully they’re seeing that too, and it’ll prompt them to take more risks and to stop being so gods damned scripted. But this is also politics in 2017, and we’ve killed off spontaneity or the ability to debate, so I fear that my hopes for honest communications are doomed.

Good reads:

  • While Justin Trudeau has been critical of Quebec’s new law banning face coverings, he also says it’s not the federal government’s role to challenge it.
  • As stated earlier, Bill Morneau is placing his shares in a blind trust as a prelude to selling them off.
  • The last of the government’s revised tax proposals was rolled out today, which was basically walking back on the capital gains pledge that would penalize family farms.
  • Some expert commentary says that if the Americans rip up NAFTA that we can’t automatically revert to the previous free trade agreement.
  • The fall fiscal update will be released on Tuesday.
  • The government signalled its willingness to amend the Access to Information reform bill – and if they don’t in the Commons, I know Senators are chomping at the bit to.
  • CSE is releasing open-source malware detection software both to help protect companies and organizatons, and to help reform their own image.
  • CATSA will stop calling the police every time they are alerted to medical marijuana at the airport. You think?
  • There is great concern that selling marijuana online could make it easier for youth to access it. Err, except that’s how medical marijuana is sold right now.
  • The Liberals have rejected amendments to their political fundraising bill that reflected suggestions made during witness testimony.
  • The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that conditional sentences don’t count as jail terms for the sake of deportation orders.
  • Public Works officials can’t guarantee that West Block renovations will be complete in time for the planned House of Commons move there for summer 2018.
  • Senator Lankin is appealing publicly to Andrew Scheer to urge his senators to stop filibustering the national anthem bill.
  • Emmett Macfarlane lays out the case against Quebec’s Bill 62 on banning face coverings, while Supriya Dwivedi offers her own condemnation of the whole affair.

Odds and ends:

Former Clerk of the Privy Council and later Senator Michael Pitfield, who was instrumental in patriating the Constitution and creating the Charter, passed away yesterday.

Here is your annual look at lost or stolen government property as reported in the Public Accounts.