Joe Oliver: Will Liberal failures and lapses never end? – Financial Post

Posted: May 9, 2021 at 11:16 am

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Have Canadians, weary of the Liberals failures, finally had enough? The polls suggest no. Hurt me once, shame on you; hurt me twice, shame on me

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Will the Liberal governments costly blunders and moral lapses never end? In the past few weeks Canadians have been subjected to assaults on their health, economic wellbeing and fundamental values. Yet by skillfully and cynically exploiting the pandemic, shifting blame to the provinces, claiming undeserved credit, never admitting fault and especially doling out hundreds of billions of dollars to those in need but also to many who were not, the Liberals have managed, so far, to avoid harsh condemnation from the public or from a largely forgiving media. It is all very remarkable.

Consider just four of their worst failures.

COVID-19 has been the governments most critical challenge. It responded with gross incompetence. In January 2020, the Chinese government strictly confined 60 million people in Hubei province, but allowed flights to foreign cities. Yet Canadas chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, opposed a ban on travellers from Wuhan, the pandemics epicentre, thus demonstrating a phenomenon I have long observed: IQ and common sense are independent variables. Prime Minister Trudeau either relied on her flawed advice or feared upsetting Beijing. Regardless, overseas flights have had fatal consequences.

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Canada is now a humiliating and dangerous 80th in the world for full vaccinations per capita, largely because the government pursued a doomed development deal with Chinas CanSino Biologics, with no backup from major pharmaceutical companies. The late delivery of vaccines is causing thousands of unnecessary hospitalizations, deaths and business closures.

Ten million Canadians are waiting four months for their second shots, the only people in the world with so long a delay. According to a recent U.K. study, the effectiveness of one dose is very, very feeble against variants. Canadians are guinea pigs in a national medical experiment designed to compensate for disastrous procurement management. Government rolled the dice and some people have died. The policy needs urgent reevaluation in the light of new health data.

After an unprecedented 25-month wait, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland tabled a wildly profligate federal budget, which will create deficits for 2020-2022 of over $500 billion and national debt of $1.2 trillion. With no meaningful fiscal anchor, it heavily mortgages this generation and the next. To the four-month vaccination gap it adds another reckless gamble: that inflation and interest rates stay below economic growth and there are no financial shocks. If not, we will hit a fiscal wall, requiring a brutal reckoning. Meanwhile, the government is keeping mum about broad-based tax hikes and tax-the-rich schemes until after the next election.

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Internet regulation bill C-10 is an alarming assault on freedom of expression, a core value of our democracy protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It would have given and may yet give the CRTC power to control audio and audio-visual content that individuals post on social media used by over 25 million Canadians. Minister of Heritage Steven Guilbeault claimed opponents of this Soviet-style censorship were extremists. In the face of fierce opposition, he now promises to back off. It is chilling to consider what the most anti-internet government in history, as one observer has characterized it, would do with a parliamentary majority.

In sunnier times, Justin Trudeau declared that a woman alleging sexual misconduct must always be believed except, it now seems, when the conduct is his own or former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Jonathan Vances. Since 2018, complaints about sexual harassment by the CDS were ignored by Harjit Sajjan, minister of defence, and senior members of the Prime Ministers Office, likely because the allegations coincided with news of the PMs own infamous Kokanee grope. After this wilful blindness was uncovered, the government appointed former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour to re-write former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps 2015 report on this issue. The main goal of the exercise is clearly to protect our feminist leaders crucial advantage among women prior to the next election. The entire sordid story is a shameful betrayal of womens safety and dignity.

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To this dismal list could be added: an unprecedented evasion of parliamentary accountability; a fired Governor General the PM neglected to vet; two female former cabinet ministers ejected from caucus for standing on principle (imagine if Dr. Jane Philpott were still minister of health); a finance minster lost to a WE scandal the PM prorogued Parliament to contain; two confirmed ethics violations; and so on and so on.

Have long-suffering Canadians, weary of the Liberals harrowing failures, finally had enough? The polls suggest they are not there yet, so we may have to brace ourselves for four more years of the same or even worse. Hurt me once, shame on you; hurt me twice, shame on me.

Joe Oliver was minister of natural resources and minister of finance in the government of Stephen Harper.

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Joe Oliver: Will Liberal failures and lapses never end? - Financial Post

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