It's not as though the federal government lacks powers. A few days ago I took a look at the federal Emergencies Act. Parliament is recalled. A national emergency is declared. The government has 90 days (renewable) to take control of the economy and mobilize industry.
Many of us, most I would hope, have been pretty meticulous in social distancing, self-isolating, washing our hands, avoiding obvious infection risks and such. The government has been reasonably good at telling us what we must do but far from diligent in doing what it is given express powers to do on our behalf.
What would have been a benchmark date on which to judge our government's performance. I think it's fair to go back to when the NBA, MLB, and the NHL canceled their seasons or when those high-risk septuagenarians, The Rolling Stones, called off their "No Filters" concert tour. By then we should have expected Ottawa to have been up and running with its coronavirus response measures.
Today - only today - does the government of the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau announce that it's going to direct Canadian industry to ramp up production of medical equipment and supplies so badly needed in hospitals across the country. Today.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a series of new measures Friday to protect Canadians from COVID-19, including a strategy to help manufacturers rapidly ramp up production of medical supplies and a plan to bar asylum seekers from crossing the Canada-U.S. border.
Trudeau called the measures unprecedented and necessary during an emergency that many are comparing to wartime and the Great Depression.
Trudeau said the industrial strategy will allow companies already making sanitizers, masks another other equipment to scale up quickly, while mobilizing others to shift production to items that are in high demand.But wait. Ottawa still hasn't pulled the trigger.
Senior government sources have told CBC News they're hoping to work with existing manufacturers — especially of gloves, masks and ventilators — on a supply chain that's resistant to disruption."Hoping" isn't doing. Hoping is anticipatory. Hoping is manana - eventually, when we get around to it.
In addition, sources say, almost every program within the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development will be "refocused" on fighting the virus. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to speak publicly."Will be refocused"? When? This is 'in house' stuff. You're going to, at some time, hopefully soon I'm sure, refocus on fighting the virus. Shouldn't you have been refocused on this weeks ago?
That'll be a big failing grade for the federal government and this prime minister on this one. There are a lot of Canadians who may pay a price for Mr. Trudeau's neglect and tardiness.