Governments like rules, routine and traditional practices. When there’s routine governments know what to expect next. They feel more in control.
Those rules and practices are also in place to protect the public and ensure precious democracy doesn’t get snuffed out. There are rules and practices for everything from the yearly budget cycle, cabinet processes, introducing and passing legislation, regular elections, the Speech from the Throne, and committee procedures, right up to what words are too hot to be uttered in Question Period. For instance, you can be ejected from the Canadian parliament for calling your adversary, please forgive us, a ‘blatherskite’.
Sometimes though, rules and routines fall by the wayside and governments make it up as they go. They don’t like these times because this is when things can go very badly. Governments can fall and legacies can be forever tarnished by indecision or bungling at a key moment. Right now is one of those dangerous and historic times. All eyes are on government, at least until after the evening news. Then we all escape to Netflix.
Whether or not governments should have been prepared for a pandemic, none of them were, at least not adequately. Now they’re flying by the seat of their pants. Some governments are doing this more successfully than others. What we know for sure is that in times of crisis, all governments need friends. They are short of time, people and ideas. That makes it a time of maximum opportunity for any organization that has a plan to help.