Rex Murphy: Sorry, Liberals, our Earth is not in danger — Canadian democracy is
When I first read that I thought it must be the opening line in a new Avengers movie. It certainly had all the bloated teenage hysteria that stocks those witless superhero dramas, the clichéd apocalyptic threat that is now the cliché of all those CGI creations.
But, alas, I was in error. It was instead the most standout sentence, all five words of it, in the speech from the throne of Canada’s new Liberal minority government. Our Earth in danger? Really? We just had the best and the richest minds in the planet crowding sad Glasgow for two weeks, and surely after such a symposium of the best and the brightest, if our Earth was in real danger, that bunch would have worked out a rescue.
They would have reached for a real remedy — something dramatic you know — to keep the poor old globe spinning on its axis and continuing its dance around the sun with the other planets for another couple of decades at least.
Like turning the United Nations over to Greta T. (which in itself would be an improvement) and licensing her to put out a daily stream of her patented, rude and lately four-letter rage tirades. Or calling on Prince Charles to give up his infinitely protracted wait to assume his mother’s throne and take on instead the kingship of the whole world — on the plausible premise that putting someone so innately boring in charge of the whole operation would ineluctably signal there could not be a planetary crisis.
But no, here we were in Canada early in the week with all our freshly elected Parliamentarians radiating with pride to have participated in the “most important election since 1945,” gathered in the fine old chamber that has been the hospice of Canadian democracy since we had one, and being given a five-alarm warning that the planetary jig might be up.
And who could doubt that if the Earth, all of it, was in danger, that Ottawa, the world’s most respected apocalypse early warning site, would be the first to know, and a Liberal throne speech, if I may, would send out the needed bat signal to the rest of the world.
Well, that being the state of things, what can we expect, because obviously if our Earth is in danger only a Liberal minority government with a climbing specialist from Greenpeace as its minister of environment and climate change has the leverage and the wisdom to save it.
Still there was a tiny hiccup in the admonition, seeing that it has been two whole months since TMIE since 1945, and it wasn’t until now that Prime Minister Trudeau called the Commons together to disclose the imminent peril. And there is an even bigger discrepancy. Having brought Parliament together, finally, it took but a couple of days for our courageous government, facing planetary crisis remember, to decide to go back to Zooming Canadian democracy, putting the House of Commons once again into the twilight of “virtual” debate, into the same lame and abbreviated functioning that has been the rule now for two years.
Which, to my mind anyway, raises this question. If our Earth really is in danger, shouldn’t the House of Commons stay in full, all-member, attendance day and night till it isn’t? Or was that five-word scream just a slogan of the moment, one not meant to live up to the emergency it declared? Was it, far more likely, just a vast and hollow distraction from — shall we say — more local, more “in-Canada” problems, problems for which the Liberal government has real responsibility to deal with and fix.
Problems like the need for clean water for First Nations, for example. Or the beginning of a rampaging crisis of inflation brought on in large part by reckless overspending of historic scale during the pandemic. Was it a cover for more of their global warming obsession and their ludicrous carbon taxes — due to rise incidentally — which are helping to fuel that inflation? Or a cover for not attending to the real grievances of the Western provinces, or P.E.I.’s recent hit on its main export? Then there’s the rise in lumber duties. And a pending world-energy crunch. Rather than disaster predictions every second day, how about real disaster preparation?
Sneaking off to a virtual Parliament, keeping ministers out of harm’s way during question period, and having the prime minister very likely going back to the “Cottage of the Commons,” is not the way a government would act or could act if it believed that over-hyped and frankly embarrassing our-Earth-is-in-danger bulletin.
Instead, it’s very much business as usual in Ottawa, which means leaving Parliament itself in a crippled state, hanging on to disastrous carbon taxes, avoiding scrutiny and accountability, and, this also has to be said, putting up with a largely enfeebled Opposition. For this we spent more than $600 million and went to the polls two years early, to produce the same result.
The Earth is not in danger. As to Canadian democracy, that’s another question.