Research suggests that argument might be the key to a long, healthy relationship. If that’s the case, Canada’s government and courts are enjoying their healthiest relationship in decades, if not centuries.
Yesterday, the Federal Court issued a ruling that gave the federal government four months to change its cuts to refugee health care on the basis that the government’s treatment of refugees is “cruel and unusual.” As quick as a Rob Ford relapse, the federal government responded by saying it would appeal the Federal Court’s decision. This is the latest in a string of disputes between the government and the court. The good news is that research suggests a healthy relationship can endure a fight every week, so there is no reason to think that the government and courts are heading for splitville quite yet.
Thankfully, the government decided to explain its decision to appeal the decision. It wheeled out Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, who, when cued, recited a pre-recorded message: “[The Harper government] vigorously defends the interests of Canadian taxpayers”. Okay, glad we cleared that up! This was a simple misunderstanding. The Federal Court thought that the government hated refugees, but, really, the government just wanted to protect taxpayers. Of course―just like it wanted to protect taxpayers during the Senate scandal, when purchasing F-35s, when purchasing new ceremonial uniforms for the armed forces, when purchasing a fake lake and gazebo loosely related to the G8/G20 Summit, and when spending taxpayer money on TV advertising for a jobs program that didn’t exist. There’s a pattern here—a pattern of respect.
As if that wasn’t enough, Alexander added that he and his government would appeal the decision because they “remain committed to putting the interests of Canadians and genuine refugees first.” That makes sense. The Federal Court was so busy keeping more people healthy that it couldn’t be bothered putting the interests of Canadians and genuine refugees first. Presumably, Minister Alexander announced the appeal in order to remind the Federal Court of whom it really serves and what it ought to be doing.
This story is chock-full of good and bad news. The good news for gossipers is that this story is going to become spicier in the not-too-distant future. The bad news for refugees is that they might die by then. The good news for Canadians is that (FINALLY!) someone is looking out for the taxpayer. Unfortunately, the bad news for Canadians is that the taxpayer-watchmen are idiots. And we have refugee blood on our hands. Maybe it’s time we started an argument with our government. After all, argument is the best way to build a healthy relationship, and we could really use one of those right now.