A lot of things happened this past week.
Like Elvis, Donald Trump has left the building — at least I think he has. He will go down in history as a very poor president, not because he was a Republican, but rather because he was of despicable character, for whom his own brand was more important than anyone or anything else, including the truth.
In fact, Donald Trump was not really a conservative. He simply saw an opportunity to hijack the Republican Party as a base to start his own movement. Indeed, if it had suited his purposes, Trump could just as easily have embraced the Democrats. After all, he was a card-holding member for many years and at one time even made noises about running for president on that ticket.
If ever there was any doubt that Donald Trump put himself first—over nation, over policy, over a significant and widely authenticated electoral loss, and over mob violence and public safety—one need only look at the last three months to be very confident about that. The proof was definitely there, right in the pudding.
Now the Republican Party has a decision to make. Do they tie their wagon to the radical Trump movement, which has not gone away and is still festering out there, or do they return to a respected political party, on the right of centre, who can propose and negotiate policies that are good for all Americans? Clearly, some conservative leaders, like now Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, believe that they must separate themselves from the almost-lethal hold that the Trump movement has been able to impose on the Republican Party. Only time will tell if they are able or willing to do that.
Meanwhile, the United States has a new president. History has been made there in a number of ways. But many will continue to worry that President Biden, himself a centrist, will cater to the far-left wing of the Democratic Party. While he has promised to govern for all Americans, certainly some of his initial executive orders do not indicate an aggressive beginning to that.
Nevertheless, a breath of fresh air and even some sunshine blew across Washington and, to an extent, globally when Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Some of it, of course, was because Donald Trump is no longer president. But there was also a refreshingly statesmanlike inaugural address from President Biden that promised dignity, opportunity, and safety to all Americans, a return to global co-operation, civility in government, and a promise to reach across the aisle of partisan politics. Is this possible? Can he do it? In my view, the next 100 days will tell the tale.
This has been quite a week for Canada as well.
First, Pfizer has announced a delay in getting critically needed COVID-19 vaccines to Canada. The buck here, stops with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. No back-up plan, 16 million vaccines from Moderna were declined by his government. Not even direct contact with Pfizer’s CEO until a few days ago, after Ontario Premier Ford beat him to it.
The result? On a per capita basis, the United States has vaccinated three times as many individuals than has Canada. Lockdowns and restrictions will continue because they are now the direct consequence of the effectiveness and availability of vaccines.
The prime minister has said he has procured more vaccines than are needed in Canada. That may be, but procuring them and actually having them here are two very different things. Where are they and why are we behind the United States and many parts of Europe? Just as we hold Premier Ford accountable for COVID-19 pandemic mistakes in Ontario, we should hold Prime Minister Trudeau accountable for his.
There was also the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline by President Biden. We knew this was coming with a Biden Administration and environmental activists in Canada will applaud it. But no effective consultation, no negotiation, and no stated back-up plan is bad for Canada, resulting in tremendous loss of jobs, serious economic grief for our Western provinces and, yes, a threat to Confederation. Some may call this collateral damage. I call it a critical problem.
As well, we lost a governor general this past week. That is regrettable on a number of fronts, not the least of which is that it will bring the anti-monarchists into the limelight once again.
It is hard to tell if Julie Payette ever really appreciated or enjoyed her vice-regal role. It was pretty apparent she didn’t have the disposition for it, starting with her refusal to move into Rideau Hall.
Her resignation is an embarrassment to Canada and a recognition that the vetting process for a governor general, which was dismantled by the Trudeau Government, needs to be reinstated. After all, that is the process that selected former Governor General David Johnston. He served Canada through both Harper and Trudeau administrations and did so with distinction second to none of his predecessors.
Finally, and happily, in this week of historic activities, Canadians saw Erin O’Toole step up and be counted. He answered accusations of so-called Trumpism by boldly stating, “There is no place for the far-right in the Conservative Party (of Canada).” Then he and his caucus followed up by kicking out Derek Sloan, who accepted a donation, however small, from a known white supremacist. He has expressed alt-right views that border on racism. He does not belong in the Conservative Party I believe in. Showing him the door sends a clear message and is a good step forward.
Quite a week that was. Lots there to talk about!
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