By Sally Barnes
I promised myself I would steer away from politics but that’s like my Mom trying to swear off sports at the age of 92 because she’d seen it all before and often didn’t like how the game was played and how it turned out. (Need I say she was a devoted Leafs fan.)
I’ve been a political junkie all my life and it’s impossible for me to take my eye off the game.
There’s a lot to love about this crazy, hard-to-govern country and lately there are so many days when I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Right now, we are without a Governor General because the most recent holder of the title picked up her medals and went home in the wake of accusations that she learned her administrative skills from a training handbook written by Nurse Ratched.
We are also without a chief of our national defence staff because the most recent title holder “stepped aside” while being investigated for inappropriate behaviour. He was just nicely getting the top soldier’s seat warm after replacing another highly decorated military leader who is also being investigated for alleged related activities.
I have lost track of how many politicians and healthcare officials have either resigned or been publicly shamed for being caught escaping the Great White North for warmer climes despite pandemic warnings against international travel.
Ontario’s finance minister was probably the biggest fish to get caught and lose his job. Rumours that some news outlets had posted spies at airports to catch other high-profile offenders probably caused many to cancel their reservations and stay home.
The CEO of the fund that manages Canada’s Pension Plan resigned after a personal trip to Dubai. To add insult to injury, he got a virus vaccination while he was there.
Soon, we’ll also be in the market for a new member of the Supreme Court to replace a current member reaching the mandatory retirement age in July. Another big decision facing Prime Minister Trudeau.
The federal job openings are under a microscope because of public criticism of some of Trudeau’s recent appointments and his vetting process for candidates. Maybe the Prime Minister’s office should just hang out a sign reading ‘Help Wanted: Flawless People Only’ and be done with it.
Speaking of our PM, it’s interesting that we can’t even get his house renovated. The Trudeaus are holed up down the street at a house called Rideau Cottage. The official residence at 24 Sussex Drive needs renos estimated at upwards of $100 million. The Trudeau Liberals, like their predecessors, are too smart to be seen spending that kind of money and so the remnant will remain unloved and unoccupied until it either falls down and is replaced or a private benefactor comes along.
Imagine the Americans watching the White House slowly but surely deteriorate and having to redeploy the First Family elsewhere. Only in Canada you say. Pity.
At one time we had a pretty good reputation internationally. A former Prime Minister, Lester Pearson, won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Today, we’re better known as apologists than peacekeepers.
Our pandemic response has gone from the ridiculous to the really ridiculous. At one point we looked pretty good and laughed at the rednecks and deniers to the south. We’re not laughing now as Americans are vaccinated by the millions and our peasants and politicians alike just pray for miracles to receive the imported vaccine and get it into the arms of long-suffering Canadians.
And pipelines? Forget about it.
There are foibles that truly cross the line.
It was certainly a sad moment when our Members of Parliament voted to officially label the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghur people a genocide. What they are doing to their Muslim minority is well documented. The Nazis made films about their atrocities; the Chinese government tries unsuccessfully to hide theirs.
What does this vote in the House of Commons mean to the average Canadian? Probably little. The story was quickly lost in the pandemic fog. But it means a lot to me and it means a lot to how the world sees us as a people.
We have skin in this game that goes far beyond trade deals and corporate profit. Our MPs’ vote took place on the 806th day of the abduction and imprisonment in Beijing of two Canadians in retaliation of Canada’s retention of an influential Chinese business leader arrested here on a U.S. warrant on serious criminal charges.
Playing nice with the Chinese Communist government has done little or nothing to help bring these poor souls home.
The vote to declare a genocide didn’t require any action on behalf of our government. It was merely a statement of principle and an act of courage to stand up for human rights and denounce a sadistic, predatory bully on the world stage.
When it came time to vote, the Prime Minister and his cabinet were no-shows. The sacrificial lamb was cabinet minister Marc Garneau, a Canadian icon and highly respected minister, who sheepishly announced that he and his cabinet colleagues chose to abstain.
Obviously, someone too cute by half thought this a clever strategy. Let their Liberal MPs vote—but leave the PM and cabinet sitting on their pristine hands and spouting diplomatic niceties so as to not offend the Chinese Communists. (The Chinese government, by the way, is the same outfit that last year pulled out of a deal to supply us with vaccine and left Canada scrambling to find other suppliers.)
What a shame it was to watch those with the real power in our federal government—with Chamberlain flourish—refuse to show the guts to say the world has promised Never Again and by God we in Canada are serious.
There is a time to laugh and a time to cry. Watching the main feature that played out in Canada’s House of Commons on February 22 was a time to cry.
Peace in our time. Quiet diplomacy. We’ve seen this bad movie before.
Sally Barnes has enjoyed a distinguished career as a writer, journalist and author. Her work has been recognized in a number of ways, including receiving a Southam Fellowship in Journalism at Massey College at the University of Toronto. A self-confessed political junkie, she has worked in the back-rooms for several Ontario premiers. In addition to a number of other community contributions, Sally Barnes served a term as president of the Ontario Council on the Status of Women. She is a former business colleague of Doppler’s Hugh Mackenzie and lives in Kingston, Ontario. You can find her online at sallybarnesauthor.com
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