Listening to the news on Sunday, it was impossible not to feel the worry, if not panic, of travelers preparing to return to Canada on Monday. They had to find a room in one of the hotels designated by the federal government in order to spend the first three days of their mandatory quarantine. A real obstacle course, the telephone lines of the reservation service are constantly congested.
The ridership of the early days was inevitable, but the government does not seem to have foreseen it. Despite this, ministers repeated on Tuesday that people without a reservation could be subject to a fine even if they had tried unsuccessfully for hours to reach the service in question. Their only hope would lie in the possible understanding of the border services officer who is authorized to exercise his discretion in this regard.
“It is not politicians who will have to decide these questions”, launched at a press conference Tuesday the President of the Privy Council, Dominic Leblanc. The problem is that these decrees were adopted by the Council of Ministers, that the cabinet of which Mr. Leblanc is a member is made up of elected officials, therefore politicians, and that it is the government which decides the scope of the powers of the agents. .
In the House, government leader Pablo Rodriguez mocked the Bloc Quebecois who asked, through his deputy Alain Therrien, “what the government has done since [lundi] to change the situation ”. Mr. Rodriguez, a little later, affirmed without laughing that “the government has planned, for months, the return of travelers, the fact of limiting flights to the south, hotel reservations, the transfer capacities of travelers and return tests ”.
For months ? Here is an answer which makes jump. Yes, the government has been saying for months that it is better not to travel. And yes, we are talking here about people who have traveled for reasons deemed non-essential. They do not all come back from the southern beaches. Some have visited a sick relative, lost a job abroad or completed their studies there. But whatever their motives, they do not shirk their obligations, but are simply unable to meet them because of insufficient means put in place by the government.
Nothing justifies this mess. We are no longer at the start of a pandemic. The urgency to act and the unusual nature of the crisis could then explain the missteps, hesitations and errors, but it would be abusive to invoke these reasons now. Everything that was proposed by the provinces and that was finally implemented in recent weeks was being done elsewhere in one way or another. The government has had time to examine these experiences, to draw lessons from them to adapt them to the Canadian context.
Professor at the University of Ottawa, specialist in public administration, Geneviève Tellier misunderstands this latest mess. According to her, the arrival of the second wave, which was also more vigorous than expected, should have prompted the government machine to weigh the feasibility of different scenarios.
Over the past year, the Trudeau government has shown its determination to help Canadians and businesses. It scrambles to supply the provinces with protective equipment, rapid tests and, despite criticism, vaccines. But what is also striking is his ambivalence to act when it comes to borders. He hesitates, procrastinates and then dives without having planned everything.
The closure of land borders has generally gone well, but it took an outcry for the entry ban for foreign tourists to be announced in mid-March 2020. It took another, especially in Montreal, so that a week later, the federal government finally makes mandatory the 14-day quarantine imposed on Canadians and permanent residents still allowed to come and go by air. But questions quickly arose and still persist about the respect and monitoring of this quarantine.
During the holiday season, the recklessness of boaters and the arrival of variants prompted new calls for screening tests before boarding the return flight. The Prime Minister Francois Legault also called for a ban on non-essential travel or, at least, for a mandatory quarantine in hotels designated and supervised by Ottawa.
Here again, the federal government hesitated to finally give in in early January on the pre-boarding screening test and, in late January, announcing the future imposition of a hotel quarantine at the expense of the traveler, the time to get the result of a test done on arrival. It is this measure which entered into force on Monday.
The management of international borders is the responsibility of the federal government. He will not be able to avoid the repetition of his failures if he denies their existence. Before lecturing others, he should possibly draw those, good and bad, from his own experiences.
The Canadian News
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