Don Martin: The 438 days of Parliament that changed Canada, for better or worse
Published Friday, June 21, 2019 5:52PM EDT
Let's get the obvious out of the way first in delivering a eulogy to the 42nd Parliament, which has been put out of its misery after 438 sitting days over 3.5 years.
The backbench MPs are still largely vote-on-command seat warmers in the House of Commons, the cabinet ministers just follow PMO-mandated orders and this prime minister's office is no less control freakish or more transparent than the last one.
Like rats teaching mice, the Liberals have learned to embrace what they vowed to reject from the Harper era to get their way.
Colossal hodge-podge omnibus bills, dozens of time limits on debate, ministers reading staff-scripted non-answers to any question period – it's all standard operating procedure now. And if there's an Andrew Scheer government to come, it will do precisely the same thing.
But. But. But. If there's a difference, it's that there has been nation-defining change enacted over Justin Trudeau's reign which cannot be dismissed as insignificant or unimpressive.
We are now a nation where the right to choose a medically assisted death has become an option of last resort.
The risk of a criminal record for simple possession of marijuana is a thing of the past with pardons coming for those convicted.
A trans-provincial pipeline, which will move the motherlode of bitumen over the Rockies to west coast tankers, has been purchased by the government, re-approved by the cabinet and will soon be built by a Crown corporation.
NAFTA was renegotiated successfully over the whimsical tirades of a mercurial U.S. president.
Boil water advisories have been lifted in almost three-quarters of First Nations where they existed four years ago, killer whales and dolphins will no longer be allowed in captivity and air passengers will have rights.
Gender balancing of cabinet is now almost a political imperative, parents have the most lucrative child benefit in history and the Senate is starting to flex its muscles as a real check against bad government bills.
Of course, this Parliament saw real achievement offset by broken promises, extreme antagonism in the Commons contrasted by too many apologies for ancient actions and a prime minister devoting an entire Question Period to personally not answering anything with useful information.
And so, the sun has finally set on this parliament, fittingly on the longest day of the year.
Unfortunately, the long-range forecast calls for electorate-polarizing storm clouds, lightning bolts from the leaders and the constant political swirl of debris-filled hot political air.
Let the campaign begin.
That's the Last Word.