House Call with Carol Hughes

Government looks to reset as Canadians face too many questions

As Canadians are struggling in this pandemic, the government is lurching from self-inflicted wounds and looking to reset their footing in Parliament. The events of recent weeks have proven too much for their media handlers to control which may explain some of the desire to begin again, but beginning another session of this parliament likely won’t change the channel in the way the government desires. The WE charity scandal that has cost the prime minister a star cabinet member, the finance minister, will not magically disappear along with Mr. Morneau. More so, the real needs of the country are not best served by proroguing Parliament just as the CERB is set to expire. While Canadians wait for direction and assistance, the government is occupied with their own fortunes.

This is happening as Canadians are dealing with high unemployment and parents are preparing for the school year with more questions than answers. At a time when they deserve a government that is committed to focusing on and working to deliver the help that people across the country need, they are seeing one that hides when they’re caught working for their well-connected friends.

That’s why shutting down Parliament in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis is wrong. The move is anything but transparent too. With a planned sitting next week and committees working hard to get answers and solutions for Canadians, now is the wrong time to stop everything in the name of self-interest. Our priority should be on Canadians who have been relying on the CERB and don’t know how they will pay the bills at the end of the month. Add to that workers who will need to depend on EI and don’t know if they’ll be able to get help. Consider the needs of parents and women wanting to go back to work and don’t know if they’ll have childcare to rely on and they don’t know how to send their kids back to school safely. This is not the time to test Parliament with a confidence vote.

This leads us to election speculation which will be rampant until the throne speech is voted on. The question is, why should Canadians be forced to pay the price for the government’s scandals? With so much uncertainty related to the pandemic, people deserve a government that is focused on helping them, not a Stephen Harper-style tactic and cover-up.

That’s why New Democrats are focusing on the needs of Canadians who are still struggling and worried about caring for their kids, for their elderly parents, and about keeping a roof over their heads and food on their table. As long as we can continue to force the government to work with us so we can deliver for people across the country, that’s what we’ll keep doing. We will not be looking for a reason to cause an election, but we will be ready to hold the Liberals’ feet to the fire and get them to help Canadians and come clean on their scandals.

This is a considered position with good reason—minority parliaments are the best opportunity for us to leverage items that make a real difference in people’s lives. Since the last election, and in previous Liberal and Conservative minority governments, New Democrats have used that leverage to deliver for Canadians. When those governments have taken NDP support for granted and refused to work to deliver for Canadians, we have refused to support them.

A good example is the lead-up to the 2011 election when the media, pundits and Parliament Hill watchers were all saying that Jack Layton and the NDP had no choice but to vote for Stephen Harper’s budget. When the budget came down, it was clear the NDP could not, on principle, vote for it. In that election, Canadians saw that principled stand and put their support in the NDP. That is a lesson the Liberals should not forget. New Democrat support has everything to do with whether or not it helps Canadians. That is our bottom line because Canadians deserve to get the support they need.