The Trudeau government wants to be virtuous.
Fight against racism, social inequalities, violence in cities, dignity for the elderly, difficult to denounce the laudable intentions of its political commitments.
In politics, values matter. They are essential signals for the whole of society.
However, it is still necessary to move from words to deeds. This is where the problem lies.
The art of lecturing
There are many examples of this gulf between the values advocated and the results. We had a good example this week.
The Trudeau government allows itself to lecture Quebec on systemic racism. Yet, while reconciliation with the First Nations was his top priority, he relegated the overhaul of the Indian Act to oblivion.
The violence sown by street gangs must be stopped? What better way than to promise to give cities the power to ban handguns. That Ottawa shovels the problem in the backyard of cities ill-equipped to enforce such rules is secondary.
It looks good, it reassures the electorate. Above all, it allows the Conservatives to be portrayed as henchmen in the gun lobby because they dare to question the effectiveness of such a measure.
And what about our elders? What could be better than calling for national standards to ensure that seniors with loss of autonomy will have the right to the same dignity, regardless of the province in which they live.
That Ottawa thus avoids tackling the issue of health underfunding is secondary. The Trudeau government presents itself as a great defender of the elderly in the face of the failure of certain provinces, including Quebec during the first wave of COVID.
A parallel world
Thus defined, the political debate turns into a binary confrontation between the good guys and the bad guys.
Those who respect aboriginal people and others.
Those who tackle violence in cities and others.
Those who defend the elders and others.
In this parallel world, the message comes before the content.
Faced with social issues as complex as the achievement of equality for the First Nations, urban violence and care for the elderly, pragmatism is portrayed as an abdication of its “moral duty”.
Therein lies the problem with virtue in politics. It is instrumentalized.
The Trudeau government has made it a partisan weapon.