The package contains 24 commitments in total. The sum total, if waived, would ruin the country’s finances and cause war with the provinces whose exclusive jurisdiction is to be attacked.
When France collapsed in the face of the German blitzkrieg of World War II, the British government offered the two countries joint citizenship if France would remain in the war. The offer was dismissed as no better than “merging with a corpse.”
Last week’s deal between the federal Liberal and NDP parties, of which more will come in a moment, promises to be, if anything, a merger between two dead bodies. The liberal part of the deal binds Justin Trudeau’s government to promises that can neither be afforded nor likely to be kept.
Jagmeet Singh has since erased any reason for voting for the NDP in the next elections. In almost every important area of public policy, his party is now linked at the waist with a government he cannot control. History has not been kind to the junior partners in such unilateral agreements.
So what does this deal include? First, the NDP has promised to keep the Liberals in office until 2024 in exchange for a slew of new programs.
Note to Singh: In 2017, John Horgan signed a similar agreement with the BC Green Party to maintain his minority administration, then resigned when the moment suited him. In the elections that followed, the Greens were all but wiped out.
And these new initiatives?
First a dental care program. Details are hazy, but such a program would cost the House Budget Officer about $20 billion if fully implemented.
Second, “Move” toward a universal national pharmaceutical supply plan.
Note to Trudeau: None of these initiatives fall under the constitutional authority of the federal government.
Third, the “enactment” of a Safe Long-Term Care Act that “ensures seniors are guaranteed the care they deserve.”
This is pure persiflage. Ottawa has no legal or other ability to honor any such representation. Perhaps that is why the law is only being tabled, not passed.
I could go on. In all, this package contains 24 commitments, none of which have been approved by the House of Commons. The sum total, if waived, would ruin the country’s finances and cause war with the provinces whose exclusive jurisdiction is to be attacked.
It’s also deeply divisive. Nearly 90 percent of right-leaning voters oppose the deal, while around 80 percent of left-leaning Canadians support it. This is not a way to unite an already divided country.
One final comment on the details. The preamble promises that “both parties agree on the importance of parliamentary scrutiny and the work of parliament [parliamentary] committees.”
Yet in the same paragraph we get the following: “Both parties agree to communicate on any matter that might affect the functioning of government or create unnecessary obstacles to committee review of laws, studies and work plans.”
For “unnecessary obstacles” read “Ideas we don’t support”. For “communicate to” read “agree to silence any opposition”.
This is not the People’s Parliament.
What should Trudeau and Singh have agreed on? save on health insurance. That’s it.
Here in BC, one in three healthcare workers say they plan to quit in the next two years.
Needless to say, there is a desperate shortage of general practitioners or long waiting times for surgeries.
To pretend that we can afford a new dental program or a national pharmaceutical supply plan when we cannot afford the basics of a decent health care program is obscene.
Any nickel Ottawa plans to spend on this deal should be funneled to the provinces in the form of remittances, against assurances that the money will be spent solely on health services.
This is a transformative moment. The prime minister and his NDP colleague have emasculated parliament and put themselves on a wish list that is selling the country dry.