Roundup: Mid-term check-in

Over in Maclean’s, John Geddes put together a deep dive into the current government’s midterm woes, and it’s well worth the read – and it’s a pretty long read too. But once you’re done (seriously, this post isn’t going anywhere), I would want to push back on some of the things that he highlights.

For starters, I think that there is something to be said for a government that is willing to walk back on bad promises, and they made a few. Most notably is electoral reform, and the fact that they could actually take the step of smothering it the cradle is actually something that they should be congratulated for. We dodged a bullet with that one, and I wish that my fellow journalists would get that through their heads. Likewise, Bardish Chagger taking back her plans to “modernise” the way that the House of Commons operates is similarly another dodged bullet – most of her plans were terrible and would make things worse, not better. Casting them as failures does a disservice to the fact that they backed down from bad promises. When it comes to Bill Morneau and his troubles, I think it also bears mentioning that the vast majority of the attacks against his tax proposals (and his own personal ethics situation) are largely unfounded, based on disingenuous framing or outright lies designed to try and wound him. The attacks have largely not been about the policies themselves (even though there were actual problems that should have been asked about more), and I think that bears some mention.

I also think that Geddes doesn’t pay enough attention to some of the backroom process changes that the government has been spearheading, particularly on the Indigenous files – many of the problems mentioned need to have capacity issues addressed before funding is increased because we have seen numerous examples of places where money was shovelled out without that capacity-building being done, and it made situations worse. Is it frustrating that some of this is going slowly? Yes. But some of the ground-up work of reforming how the whole system works, and ensuring that once more money flows that it can be spent effectively is something that we should be talking more about, because process matters. We simply don’t like to talk about it because we labour under this belief that nobody reads process stories, so we ignore them, which is why I think some of the calls about “failures” are premature or outright wrong – things are changing that we can’t immediately see. That doesn’t mean that changes aren’t happening.

Finally, there is a list of major legislation coming down the pipe, and I think it bears reminding that the focus on consultation before making some of these changes is as much about inoculating the government against criticism that was levelled against their predecessors as it was about trying to get some of this complex legislation right. Do they get it right all the time? No. There is a demonstrated record of barrelling ahead on things with good intentions and not properly thinking through the consequences *cough*Access to Information*cough* and when it blows up in their faces, they’re not really sure how to respond because they think that their good intentions count for something. I’m not sure that simply focusing on the perceived inexperience of ministers helps when it comes to trying to meaningfully discuss these issues, but here we are.

Good reads:

  • Justin Trudeau will be meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi today on the sidelines of the APEC summit, in the hopes of resolving the Rohingya situation in Myanmar.
  • Despite reports that an agreement in principle had been reached in TPP-11, we’ve heard from our trade minister that it isn’t the case.
  • Expanded parental leave and caregiver benefits in federally-regulated sectors will be rolled out on December 3rd. (Look for the video at the bottom of the post).
  • The government is moving to send national security bill C-59 directly to committee before second reading, so that it can get a greater scope of amendments.
  • At justice committee, MPs voted to keep and amend a section of the Criminal Code about disrupting religious services after the government wanted it scrapped.
  • Sections in the same bill around tightening sexual assault law also passed largely unscathed, which could set it up for a series of Charter challenges.
  • Elections Canada is looking for someone to help them run simulated phishing and cyber-attack exercises to ensure that their defences are up to snuff.
  • A group of veterans are speaking out about their frustration that the government doesn’t seem to be making any progress on disability pension inequities.
  • The Canadian Forces are planning to repaint some search-and-rescue planes in tactical grey, making it look like they might be deployed for combat.
  • CBC digs into the numbers of how many times government departments have deleted tweets and Facebook posts, and why they block some accounts.
  • Brad Wall, ever the prima donna, wrote a letter to Julie Payette to express his dismay at her comments over a week ago. To the fainting couch!
  • Supriya Dwivedi gives one of the only good takes on the Julie Payette situation, and reminds us of what Payette’s actual message and point was.
  • Jen Gerson takes on the Alberta issue on the fight over GSAs, and how Jason Kenney walked into the trap that Rachel Notley set for him.
  • Robert Hiltz remarks on some of the similarities between former Montreal mayor Denis Coderre and Justin Trudeau, and how that could hurt Trudeau going forward.

Odds and ends:

Maclean’s took to the archives to remind us of what was written up when they first started broadcasting Question Period back in 1977.

Programming Note: There won’t be a post tomorrow as it’s Remembrance Day, and there likely won’t be one on Monday either, as I’m hoping to get at least one partial day off in a weekend full of deadlines.

2 thoughts on “Roundup: Mid-term check-in

  1. Quite comprehensive,many good points but the beginning”we dodged a bullet “in not changing our antiquated fptp election system, floors me. We..the Liberals, dodged the political courage to change a 150 years old system whereby a 39 % of voters party gains 100 % of the power;the 61 % can rant and rave(try the Q&A period,at your peril)but have no power.There are reasons why 29 of 35 OECD countries us a proportional representation system starting with the fact that all voters get term representation. In Canada..some 50 %.only. The other 50%’s sin..did not pick a winning MP or MPP..
    Good to remebre too that Roger’s owned Maclean’s has always been Con-supportive. The odd article here and there but the allure of lower corporate ta rates wins out.Pity that struggling Maclean’s, now a monthly vs a weekly for decades, is our only mass circ. mag now. Better days when we had Time, Saturday Night .

    • I fully disagree about FPTP, and it’s partly why I wrote my book which helps to explain why it works and why it’s a useful system, particularly in the Canadian context. PR has its own problems as a system, which Canada’s unique situation would likely amplify.

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