Breakenridge: Predictable conclusions in costly and pointless COVID report

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We have already got a authorities that noticed match to ban itself from elevating taxes, so it could hardly be stunning to see that very same authorities attempt to ban itself from imposing public well being restrictions.

It’s unclear, although, why such public coverage selections have to be so elaborate and performative in nature. If a authorities is disinclined to a sure coverage, then so be it. Nothing extra actually must be accomplished.

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It’s clear Alberta’s present UCP authorities is against new or increased taxes, for instance. But it surely’s not sufficient to easily not create or elevate taxes, the federal government felt it needed to go one step additional and amend the Taxpayer Safety Act to require that any new or increased tax first achieve approval by a referendum. That legislation, like several legislation, can simply as simply be modified or repealed by a future authorities.

However a minimum of that didn’t require a redundant and costly panel course of to endorse that concept. Sadly, in relation to the politics of pandemic coverage, that’s precisely what we bought.

So now we now have a state of affairs the place the federal government is being suggested to pursue legislative modifications that might make it harder to impose public well being restrictions — a suggestion that comes from a panel struck by the exact same premier whose opposition to such restrictions is nicely documented.

In the case of the so-called Manning Panel (a.ok.a., the Public Well being Emergencies Governance Evaluation Panel), the redundancies don’t finish there. The federal government spent $2 million on a panel to advocate modifications already underway, and different approaches that line up properly with the beforehand expressed viewpoints of the premier.

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For instance, the panel recommends altering the Public Well being Act to empower elected officers to have the ultimate say on important public well being selections. The federal government has already introduced plans for such a change. The panel additionally recommends increasing the capability of the health-care system so {that a} capability crunch doesn’t dictate the necessity for sure measures. The federal government says it’s doing that, too.

One of many extra curious suggestions, although, comes from the part on civil liberties. The report urges a “higher stability,” between public well being and particular person freedoms, though it’s extremely subjective as to the place that line must be drawn. As we noticed in Alberta, there was an actual cut up between those that felt not sufficient was being accomplished to guard public well being and people who felt an excessive amount of was being accomplished in that regard. It’s unclear what the best reply was then, or what it could be in a future well being emergency that’s much more dire.

In the end, the courts have a task in assessing whether or not governments have unreasonably infringed on rights or freedoms. However what this panel recommends is legislative modifications to make it clear “that no infringement of constitutionally assured rights and freedoms . . . is to be thought to be justifiable and affordable till first confirmed to be so in a courtroom of legislation.”

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It’s unclear how this might work in practise. Moreover, a authorities that believes such measures are wanted below sure circumstances wouldn’t impose such a legislative change within the first place. Conversely, it’s redundant for a authorities that opposes such an strategy to forestall itself from doing one thing they don’t have any intention of doing.

It’s handy to have a longtime political ally and pal serve up a report that vindicates your outlook and coverage route. Coverage selections and priorities are clearly the premier’s prerogative, and the voters would be the ones to render a verdict on these selections.

But when this report displays the popular coverage route of the Smith authorities, it shouldn’t be seen as granting any new or further legitimacy to these selections. This was an pointless and costly train that introduced us little greater than some very predictable conclusions.

“Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” airs weekdays from 12:30 to three p.m. on QR Calgary

[email protected]

Twitter: @RobBreakenridge

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