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Don Martin: MPs avoid questioning foreign policy that’s sure to be a winner with voters
The Liberals rolled out their redefinition and rearming of Canada on the world stage this week.
It’s a major revamp, a line of political demarcation in the life of this Liberal government.
But you’d never know it from Question Period in the Commons.
Tuesday saw one opposition question, far down the lineup, on a foreign affairs mission that looks beyond Donald Trump to a Canada outside the U.S. sphere of military influence for the first time in our history.
Wednesday featured one Conservative MP question, even further down the lineup, about a massive 20-year, $62-billion reinvestment in the Canadian Armed Forces.
A visitor watching from the observation gallery would’ve thought the Trudeau government was in danger of falling for making a controversial patronage appointment to the obscure official languages commissioner post.
The failure of the opposition to ask questions on two critical developments for Canada is a very clear answer unto itself.
The opposition knows the government has hit a grand slam with the voters on both fronts – and it’s always best to ignore popular moves instead of highlighting them.
After all, polls consistently show the public wants separation from the toxic Trump administration. They recoil at the thought of Prime Minister Trudeau holding hands for a singsong with this particular president.
And Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s policy was an unmistakable and unexpected barge-poling away from the Trump administration.
The military plan is far more ambitious and comprehensive than anything pushed forward by the Conservatives under Stephen Harper, so that forces the Conservatives to attack the plan on how to pay for it.
And it’s true the defence minister’s struggle to articulate the cash flow suggests this is the blueprint for a dream home which still needs mortgage financing.
But it has always been thus.
Governments roll out grand plans which are hailed as ending a decade of darkness and they are immediately archived in the twilight zone.
Priorities shift or disappear and money allegedly allocated in future budget projections are mirages which disappear as they get closer to being spent.
This week’s two-pronged rollout may be more aspirational than contractual in making Canada into a hard military power. And it’s clearly too soft in locked-in financing.
But if the opposition non-reaction is any indication, both policies are just right.
And that’s the Last Word….