August 25, 2021
As a proud, progressive Edmontonian, I know that this city is filled with people who want to see government work well for its citizens. Edmontonians are pragmatic. We want to respond to the biggest issues of our time with a level of urgency that meets the moment and we want to see policy that matches the difficulty of the challenge in front of us.
When this pandemic began, we saw a level of political consensus emerge the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. Recognizing the gravity of the moment, all four federal opposition parties worked with the government on measures to help us weather this storm. In that time, the government brought in programs like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to help people avoid catastrophic economic hardship. It was a proud moment that Canadians across the country welcomed and expected. Sadly, old habits die hard, and it was not long before we saw the same old signs of cynicism seep back into our politics. And as the pandemic has worn on, I think many of us are tired of partisanship getting in the way of solutions that will help Canadians get back on their feet.
Earlier this year, the leader of the Conservative party unveiled what his party would do about climate change if they were to form a government. I don’t bring this up to be partisan – frankly, this should not be a partisan issue. Yet this should have been the moment where a new political consensus to reach new, strengthened climate targets emerged. Instead, the Conservative party chose to make partisan attacks against a price on pollution … while proposing a price on pollution. They further rejected new higher climate targets of 40%+ that we must reach to help protect us all – simply because they can’t bring themselves to just admit that the government had a good idea.
We’ve been here before. We have seen half-baked policy motivated by political division before. In fact, we have been watching it here in Alberta for more than a year, as our province has led the country in per-capita COVID-19 cases.
We witnessed the federal Conservative caucus employ parliamentary tactics to delay measures that would keep Canadians afloat during the pandemic. We saw it with their stalling of Bill C-14 and the Budget Implementation Act , which contained billions in pandemic-related aid including new money for long-term care and increased direct payments to families with young children.
I encourage anybody thinking about running for any federal party to think long and hard about what kind of representative they want to be. To reflect on the kind of contribution they want to make to our political discourse. Will you value evidence over partisanship? Will you demonstrate a willingness to collaborate over soundbite attacks? Will you put your country over your party and personal ambitions? We see the rise of partisanship in Ottawa right now. And it is getting in the way of critical pandemic support for Canadians and bold action on existential threats.
Edmontonians deserve better from their elected officials.