While our series is fictional, the principle objective is non-fictional – to explore the likelihood that sooner or later, Canadians will demand a full-scale investigation into the management of the COVID crisis by our federal government. This is the final commentary in our series.
When the new parliament met early in September 2023, the Speech from the Throne contained numerous measures designed to implement the recommendations of the COVID Commission. Leah Wahlstrom, newly elected to parliament, was given specific responsibility by the Prime Minister for following up on the implementation of these measures.
Most importantly, by dealing decisively with the aftermath of the COVID crisis, the Speech from the Throne “cleared the air” for the new government to address numerous other issues that had been ignored due to preoccupation with the COVID crisis or mishandled in previous years. These included, to name only a few of the initiatives of the new government:
- addressing the threat of runaway inflation and housing prices
- seeking balance rather than further polarization on the environment-energy front
- officially recognizing the regional character of Canada and offering federal policies to address the distinctive aspirations of each region
- restoring Canada’s credibility with its allies and trading partners on the international front
- deficit and debt reduction
- pursuing greater equity in federal-provincial fiscal transfers, including equalization
- expanding Canadian healthcare to include a greater role for the nongovernmental sector and public-private partnerships.
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In the aftermath of the COVID Commission Report, however, one last question remained to be resolved by the House. The question was:
- Whether the politicians and healthcare bureaucrats responsible for the mismanagement of the COVID pandemic should be held financially liable and/or criminally accountable for the damages suffered by hundreds of thousands of people, communities, businesses, and other organizations as a result of inactions and actions by the Government of Canada in response to the pandemic, or,
- Whether – given that any such attempt to enforce accountability in that way would result in years of expensive and time-consuming prosecution and litigation – the country should simply “move on,” having learned and applied the managerial and political lessons taught by the COVID experience, having dismissed the federal ministers and administration responsible for the mismanagement, and having empowered the new government to further discipline those officials and others whom the Commission identified as being directly responsible for the mismanagement?
Without disclosing how the House of Commons voted on this matter in September of 2023, I leave you, dear reader, with this: If you were a member of that House, how would you vote on this issue – to proceed with legal action against those found responsible for the mismanagement of the pandemic response, or to simply “move on,” content with having replaced the federal government responsible and Canada having learned the costly managerial and political lessons taught by the COVID experience?
How we collectively answer this question will reveal much about our national character and whether our inclination is to negatively polarize over the wrongs of the past or positively unite to address the challenges of the future.
Preston Manning’s long record of public service includes work as founder of the Reform Party and as a Member of Parliament.
Preston is a Troy Media contributor. For interview requests, click here.
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Who, if anyone, in the Conservative Party, which is in the process of selecting a leader, is best positioned to adopt this idea of necessary accountability?