Hockey coaches talk about how important it is for the team to play well when it’s not in possession of the puck. In a democracy, it’s important for those not in power to exercise controls over those who are. We don’t just elect a government. We also elect an official opposition which can not play its role when a government rules by decree. Had Pierre Trudeau used the October Crisis as an excuse to keep war measures in place, we might have been governed by decree until the separatists were democratically elected six years later.
In an election year, it’s more tempting than ever for the party in power to use the pandemic as an excuse to lock down democracy. In Quebec now, we can’t even have a debate about the duration of the decree without elected deputies in opposition being called conspiracy theorists or worse by cabinet ministers. In the result, the government has unwittingly provided fake civil libertarians with real excuses to behave irresponsibly. It’s time to lift the decree.