It is a BIG DEAL for a prime minister calling for a time across Canadian airwaves and thus very rarely done. Instead of being political posturing, on a matter of national significance, it’s supposed to be a five-alarm siren from a prime minister who considers that urgent information should be fed directly into Canadian ears. Trudeau cautioned Canadians that the coronavirus likely cooks their Thanksgiving turkey, and they might also cancel the family feast now, during that weird breathlessness he saves for his most dramatic conversations.
That glum scenario does not qualify to be a news-bulletin material being relayed by a leader with exclusive insights to share. Being an imitation of what public health officials have said about the second wave to be upon many Canadians, it hardly rates as a news story. As long as the throne speech gets passed by Parliament, then Trudeau dived into an overtly-partisan listing of government actions already taken and those to come. Instead of leaving all the television clips to a disinterested reading by scandal-tainted Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, it was a transparent and shallow attempt to paste Trudeau’s face over the throne speech highlight reel.
Trudeau’s opposition rivals jumped on the free political advertising bandwagon with highly partisan televised reactions of their own, not to be outdone with this flexing of prime ministerial power. The last week or two have provided Canadians with an ominous preview of COVID cases building into a tsunami-sized wave on case projection charts. As long as Trudeau’s 6,000-word action plan had not been read to rapture-level media coverage just four hours earlier, it’s an emerging emergency which could’ve justified a national address. He echoed the throne speech’s pandemic as an important one and repeated how his government would assist millions of Canadians during the coming winter of self-isolation discontent.
Besides, the government launched a flotilla of lifeboats to keep COVID-displaced Canadian workers, disadvantaged women, daycare-dependent family’s ravaged retailers, and vulnerable seniors afloat in the second wave. However, to flesh it out with an assortment of less-urgent, undelivered or oft-repeated priorities dilutes a plan which needs to be almost solely fixated on the medical and economic trauma facing this country. Let’s say it’s a safe bet Canada will be two billion trees away from the two billion trees promised on Wednesday speech by this government to be planted by the time we approach the polls. This and many other non-pandemic initiatives will be quickly moved to the back-burner.
Moving back to the address, it was blatant duplication for purely political purposes for Trudeau to graft his message onto the throne speech. On Tuesday, in the House of Commons, Trudeau and the other party leaders will get their opportunity for an official Hansard-recorded reaction to the throne speech. Unless Trudeau is about to scare off Hallowe’en also, what more can he say after his urgent national address the day before is hard to imagine. We hope the next time Trudeau requests access to the nation’s airwaves; the networks will indicate his turkey was cooked in 2020. After that, they need to tell Trudeau they will wait and air his Christmas greeting in its place.