Canada: government & governance – politics

Written by  //  August 8, 2022  //  Canada, Politics  //  No comments

6-8 August
Justin Trudeau’s reality: Much of the country dislikes him
Gary Mason
Will Justin Trudeau know when it’s time to go?
Surely, this is something occupying at least some of his energy during his much-discussed vacation to Costa Rica. Will he return reinvigorated, primed for a fall battle against the presumptive new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre? Or will he begin laying the groundwork for his departure?
My guess is … Justin will likely gird for a fight with Mr. Poilievre while trying to refurbish an agenda that has been hijacked and uprooted by a series of unfortunate events: a pandemic, inflation, war in Ukraine, and a new political adversary who is skilled in landing devastatingly effective political punches.
The Prime Minister is seen by many as a woke virtue signaller, more concerned with image than substance. … Fair or not, Mr. Trudeau is taking the blame for just about every travel woe these days: security delays and chaos at airports, days-long lineups for passports, flight cancellations. It’s all because of the federal government’s COVID-19 mandates and the ArriveCAN app, his critics protest. It’s not, of course, but the PM is wearing it anyway.
André Pratte: Trudeau’s departure could cause problems for the Liberals in Quebec
The latest numbers from the Abacus polling firm are disturbing for the Liberals. The Conservatives, who have been without a leader for months, lead the Grits by five points. Mr. Trudeau’s personal popularity is sagging; at 51 per cent negative impressions, the prime minister is in as bad a situation as during the SNC-Lavalin scandal two years ago. If such a situation persists, the pressure will be high on Mr. Trudeau to leave before he inflicts more damage to his party. …
Although a few prestigious personalities are expected to try to replace the current leader, I see no one, presently, able to excite Quebec voters in the way that Justin Trudeau did in 2015. The popular (??) Mélanie Joly and François-Philippe Champagne may very well run, but the party will likely not choose another Quebec, French-speaking leader at this time. This leaves, amongst the big names, Chrystia Freeland and Mark Carney. …
What happens if Liberal support falls in Quebec? There is a strong enough conservative current in the province for the Conservatives to win a majority of seats here, which would make forming a majority government much easier. However, that depends on who the Conservatives choose as their next leader.

5 August
Who are the new Conservative Party members? The Hub Roundtable has some ideas

2 August
338Canada: Is Canada’s Conservative race a given?
Parsing the latest polling for hypotheticals and inevitabilities in the leadership contest led by Pierre Poilievre.
(Politico) Is the Conservative leadership race tightening? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes, but it may already be too late for Jean Charest.
New data on the Conservative Party of Canada leadership contest was unveiled last week. While Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre remains the unquestioned favorite, former federal Progressive Conservative leader and Quebec Premier Charest has significantly improved his standing in recent months, both with the general electorate and among CPC supporters. …
The findings suggest the next election could result in a reduced Liberal minority, perhaps even a broken Parliament — meaning no natural coalition would appear feasible — since it would be unlikely that Liberal and NDP seats achieve the 170-threshold for a majority in the House of Commons.
However, with Charest as leader, the Conservatives would jump ahead in Atlantic Canada, significantly hurt the Liberals in Quebec and score better than Poilievre in seat-rich Ontario.
Pierre Poilievre has raised more money from more donors than all his opponents combined
Poilievre’s capacity to raise so much money in so little time should serve as a warning to the Liberals, a former Conservative strategist says

27 June
Andrew Coyne: Winner of one majority in five tries says Poilievre has what it takes
So Stephen Harper thinks Pierre Poilievre is the best choice to lead the federal Conservatives, on the grounds that he is the candidate most likely to win the next election.
This is big news. After all, who knows more about winning elections than Stephen Harper: the leader who took a certain Conservative victory in 2004 – the year of the sponsorship scandal – and turned it into a Liberal minority; who in 2006 turned a certain Conservative majority into a Conservative minority; who eked out another minority in 2008 against the historically inept Stéphane Dion; and who, after finally winning a potentially realigning majority in 2011 threw it away over the next four years.
At the end of which – after nearly 10 years in power – he departed with next to nothing in the way of a policy footprint: at least, of a conservative policy footprint. The Harper Conservatives jettisoned every principle that he or they had ever stood for, from democratic accountability to a strong defence to balanced budgets to free markets. And they still won but a single majority in five attempts. They sold their souls, and got nothing in return; swung for the lowest common denominator, and missed. All that remains of Mr. Harper’s legacy, the sole basis for his reputation as an unbending conservative, is his scowl: a petulant Cheshire cat
Former Conservative PM Stephen Harper endorses Pierre Poilievre for party leader
In a rare public return to party politics, Harper, who didn’t wade into the Tories’ 2017 and 2020 leadership races, released a short video on Twitter on Monday discussing his endorsement.

20 July
Charest et l’hypothèse d’une Coalition avenir Canada
Yves Boisvert
Certains parlent d’une coalition dans le style de la CAQ, qui a fait éclater le clivage libéraux-péquistes. D’autres évoquent La République en marche d’Emmanuel Macron, qui a phagocyté le centre politique en France et fait exploser les partis traditionnels.
Mais toujours est-il que dans l’entourage de Jean Charest, l’hypothèse d’une sorte de coalition de centre droit est discutée ouvertement depuis plusieurs semaines.
Tasha Kheiriddin évoquait dimanche l’hypothèse d’une coalition « conservatrice-libérale », en entrevue à Radio-Canada à l’occasion de la publication de son essai sur l’avenir du Parti conservateur du Canada (The Right Path, qui sera « Le droit chemin » en français).

28 June
The Liberals face a summer of discontent (audio)
The Liberal government faced tough questions this session on everything from accusations they pressured RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on the Portapique investigation, to their decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in the winter, to inflation.
Today, CBC Parliamentary Bureau senior writer Aaron Wherry explains why those questions won’t just disappear over the summer, and why the Liberals are “arguably in as difficult a stage as it has maybe ever been, which is a funny thing to say for a government that’s been through some pretty major crises.”

26 June
‘I’m very worried’: Former Tory Senate leader on Poilievre, convoys and the party’s future
A former Conservative Senate leader is expressing concern about the direction Pierre Poilievre is taking the party, worrying the Tories might be reaching the point of “fracturing beyond repair.”
(Global) In an exclusive interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Marjory LeBreton said Conservative leadership candidates jumping on the “grievance brigade” is doing a “disservice” not only to the party but to the country.

22 June
‘You have allies’: Tory MPs welcome convoy figures warning of deep divides in Canada
Key figures of the convoy protests and related organizations were welcomed to Parliament Hill on Wednesday by a group of Conservative MPs that assured them they have ‘allies’ in Ottawa.
And while the group professed peaceful intentions for future demonstrations, they also warned they believe Canada was on a “dark path,” deeply “divided,” even showing similarities to countries about to descend into “civil war.”

19 June
Aaron Wherry: The Liberals face a summer of discontent
when the House of Commons reconvenes in September, there’s a decent chance that the seat reserved for the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition will be occupied by Poilievre — an ideologue who would love nothing more than to turn the ship of state around and head in the opposite direction.
… In the space of nine days in late March, the Liberals signed a confidence-and-supply agreement with the NDP, finalized a deal with Ontario to complete plans for a national child care system and released a new plan for hitting Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions target for 2030.
A few weeks later, the Liberals tabled a new budget with an emphasis on government support for innovation and the promise of a new dental care program (the latter at the NDP’s request).
The government tabled legislation on gun control, Internet regulation and a new disability benefit and introduced amendments to the Official Languages Act. In April, the cabinet approved the Bay du Nord project in Newfoundland. In June, it granted British Columbia an exemption to decriminalize possession of small amounts of certain narcotics — a move meant to combat the opioid epidemic.
Not everyone will agree with all of those things. Some might disagree quite strongly with some of them. But these are the things the Liberals were elected to do and some of them could be described as big things.
But while the Liberals have been cruising along, the warning bells have been ringing loudly and the crosswinds have been picking up speed. Indeed, the first six months of 2022 are unlikely to be remembered for any of the things mentioned above — because in late January, a bunch of people with trucks drove into downtown Ottawa. The self-styled “freedom convoy” eventually triggered the first use of the Emergencies Act since those extraordinary powers were passed into law in 1988.
… The most important thing Trudeau did for himself this spring may have been signing that confidence-and-supply agreement with the NDP. It means (at least in theory) that the threat of an election is no longer constant. And it offers his government (again, in theory) some time to ride out the current turbulence, put an agenda in place and make the case that it’s the right agenda for the moment.

14 June
John Ibbitson: If Pierre Poilievre ignores calls to pivot toward the centre, he poses a real threat to the Liberals
Mr. Poilievre should ignore critics who maintain he must abandon his angry populist message or face defeat in the next federal election, assuming he wins the leadership. Following that advice would cost him his most important political asset: his authenticity. That same authenticity helped Doug Ford win re-election on June 2.
The Ontario Premier won with the type of pragmatic, centrist platform to which many think Mr. Poilievre should pivot. But there’s more to it than that.
Mr. Ford understands suburban working-class and lower-middle-class voters. While his progressive opponents talked about subsidies and supports, he talked about lower gas taxes, expanding both subway lines and highways, protecting gig workers and making it easier for developers to build houses people can afford.
You want to understand why the working class increasingly votes for conservative parties? That’s why.

8 June
Campbell Clark: Paths to Conservative leadership are now improbable for anyone not named Poilievre
(Globe & Mail) A big recruitment total is not a deciding factor in and of itself. The Conservative leadership race is not decided by total membership numbers, but rather by points that are allocated in each of Canada’s 338 ridings, so where you get votes can be as important as how many.
Mr. Charest’s “path to victory” has always depended on not just winning Quebec but racking up the lion’s share of the 7,800 points – about 23 per cent of the total – available in the province. That strategy appears to have been blown apart now.
A spokesperson for Mr. Charest insisted he can still win all 78 Quebec ridings. But even if he does, he will be sharing the points. The Poilievre campaign claims to have recruited 25,000 members in a province that previously had fewer than 10,000, so it should easily take a substantial chunk of the Quebec points that Mr. Charest was counting on.
The sheer number of Mr. Poilievre’s recruits means that unless they are concentrated in an unusually small number of ridings, he is within reach of winning the leadership in the first round. (Party members will mail in a preferential ballot that will allow them to rank up to five choices.)

3 June
Conservative leadership race enters new phase as membership deadline nears
Candidates have until midnight to secure party memberships for their supporters to vote in the election for the next Conservative leader, who will replace Erin O’Toole.
The deadline marks a major milestone in the campaign and the start of a new phase in the race.
The party’s leadership election organizing committee said late last month it had already broken records for how many new members candidates have drawn in ahead of the June 3 cutoff.
Once they’ve signed up all the supporters they can to the party, and those memberships have been processed and verified, the camps will turn their attention to getting out the vote and attempt to persuade their opponents’ supporters to switch allegiances – or at least put their name second on the ballot.
Because of the ranked ballot system, voters’ second choice could play a major role in determining the next leader.
Ontario Votes Roundup: Ford has a majority and the opposition is in shambles
Doug Ford strikes a magnanimous tone. The Big Blue Collar Machine. Andrea Horwath and Steven Del Duca exit stage left.
(Global) Alex Boutilier: It’s one thing to win a majority. It’s another thing to win a majority and watch your two principal rivals resign.
What struck me — and probably just because I spend way too much time thinking about the federal Conservative Party — was Ford’s victory speech. After thanking the opposition leaders by name, Ford talked about how his proudest achievement as PC party leader was expanding the party’s base, welcoming in people who hadn’t voted Tory before, and making people feel at home with the Progressive Conservatives.
Marcus Gee Doug Ford squeaked into party leadership before last Ontario election. This time, he’s earned his win
The apathy election? Ontario sees lowest voter turnout in its history, early data suggests
Early data says just 43.03% of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2022 election

28 May
A disappointing election in Ontario
Marcus Gee
Though anything can happen on election night, opinion polls suggest that the Progressive Conservatives will coast to re-election and Doug Ford will serve a second term as premier.
There are those who will say: It could have been worse. Mr. Ford has become a more moderate, mainstream figure than he was during the wild old days at Toronto City Hall. Ontario has managed to avoid veering into the sort of ugly populism that has upended politics in so many democratic countries. At least we still have some stability in our political life. Three big parties: left, centre-left and centre-right. Three well-seasoned leaders to head them. …
All three leaders have been kicking around politics for years. Andrea Horwath of the NDP is taking her party into an election for the fourth time. It should tell her something that she keeps getting asked whether she is finally going to call it quits after this one. Steven Del Duca is a lifelong Liberal who served in the cabinet of Premier Kathleen Wynne. Mr. Ford comes from a leading political family. His father was a Conservative member of the provincial legislature. His brother Rob, you may have heard, was mayor of Toronto. Doug was his right-hand man.
If any of them has a truly original word to say, they haven’t uttered it during this dispiriting election campaign. Instead of speaking frankly to voters, they have contented themselves to park behind their lecterns and deliver the usual talking points, sound bites and barbs.

25 May
Conservative leadership candidates spar over trucker convoy, bitcoin in fiery French debate
(CBC) The two-hour debate featured pointed, personal exchanges throughout as Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, the leading right-wing candidate in this race, traded jabs with his more centrist opponents, Brampton, Ont. Mayor Patrick Brown and former Quebec premier Jean Charest.
With the Conservatives running neck-and-neck with the governing Liberals in opinion polls, the front-running leadership contenders signalled they’re willing to say just about anything about each other to land a job that could get them one step closer to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Poilievre accused Brown and Charest of being corrupt while the two returned the favour, branding Poilievre an extremist who has welcomed racists into his movement.
On the hunt for francophone support in a province that helped decide the last two Conservative leadership races, the three leading candidates also argued over what to do about Quebec legislation that some say has curbed minority rights. [Pierre Poilievre only Conservative leadership candidate to stay mum on Bill 96]

20 May
Paul Wells: Rachel Notley, still standing
Alberta’s first NDP premier surveys the Kenney-less landscape
The wave of anger that toppled Kenney is a danger to all conservatives
Melanie Paradis, veteran conservative campaigner and an executive ghostwriter.
(Globe & Mail) The Conservative leadership contest currently underway has spent more time focusing on who has, and hasn’t, boarded a plane to Davos than it has on how Canada will deal with a looming geopolitical confrontation with China, or how to build supply chain resilience as the continent grapples with a startling baby formula shortage. We are indulging the dangerous fantasies of people lost in their Facebook feeds instead of acting the way serious people who want to govern a G7 country should act.
Jason Kenney is latest conservative leader to be pushed out for not being ‘extreme enough,’ federal tourism minister Randy Boissonnault says
As conservatives across Canada reacted to the fall of Jason Kenney, a defining voice in their political movement, a Liberal from the Tory heartland offered an outsider’s diagnosis into the state of conservatism in the country.

17 May
Poilievre personally holds investment in Bitcoin as he promotes crypto to Canadians
Poilievre has proposed barring the Bank of Canada from developing its own digital currency and said Canadians should be free to use alternative currencies for payments.

14 May
From Poilievre’s banking pledges to absent climate talk, former PM Campbell questions direction of Conservative Party
(CTV) The former leader also weighed in on Pierre Poilievre’s attacks on the Bank of Canada, and specifically comments that Governor Tiff Macklem should be fired for failing to manage soaring inflation. … And on the independence of the Canada’s central bank, she said “when people are appointed to hold independent positions you need to suck it up and respect that unless there is clear evidence that what they are doing is either incompetent or done in bad faith or dangerous.”

11 April
Liberals plan national policy convention for May of next year
Liberals plan to gather for a national convention in Ottawa in the spring of next year.
The Liberal Party of Canada says the convention, to take place in the national capital May 4-6, 2023, will also include some virtual participation.
The meeting will feature policy discussions, keynote speakers, training and the election of the party’s next national board of directors.

10 April
Did Jean Charest see this threat coming to his Conservative leadership bid? (paywall)
Jean Charest’s caucus supporters argue that a Pierre Poilievre victory would lead to electoral disaster in Quebec in the next federal election. Maybe not, Chantal Hébert writes.
Pierre Poilievre’s support of trucker convoy ‘disqualifies’ him from political leadership, Jean Charest says
(Globe & Mail) “Everyone knows that Pierre Poilievre supported the blockade. … Well, I’m sorry, if you want to be a leader of a party, if you want to sit in the House of Commons and make laws, you have to obey them,” he said. “That’s not just a failure in leadership. It disqualifies you, as far as I’m concerned, as being someone who thinks, or aspires to be, a leader of a party.”
The level of open hostility between the main candidates is unusually high for a leadership race of a major national party, which usually feature minor policy disagreements and avoid personal attacks.

30 March
Jean Charest’s Tory leadership campaign calls fake donation pledges ‘obvious attempt to create chaos’
(Toronto Star) Prior to Charest becoming a registered candidate and being able to accept donations, his campaign website had provided an option for people to “pledge a donation.”
Once he was actually able to accept donations, his campaign then began automatically contacting people who had pledged money to encourage them to actually donate, a process that began in recent days.
Coates Mather said after receiving the complaints, the campaign investigated and determined numerous pledge forms were found that were all linked to an IP address originating in Ukraine.

28 March
In a pitch to cryptocurrency investors, Poilievre says he wants Canada to be ‘blockchain capital of the world’
Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre said Monday a government led by him would do more to normalize cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum in Canada to “decentralize” the economy and reduce the influence of central bankers.
Since bitcoin’s advent in 2009, a number of right-leaning and libertarian-minded investors have championed cryptocurrency — a financial instrument that is largely unregulated in the Western world — as a way to reduce government control over money because the supply of cryptocurrency tokens is not set by an authority like the Bank of Canada or the U.S. Federal Reserve.

22 March
The future of the Liberal Party—without Justin Trudeau
Paul Wells: The biggest question in Canadian politics in 2022 is whether Trudeau will still be PM when the year is done. The Grits may be forced to consider life after him—and what they even stand for without him.
Anyone purporting to know Trudeau’s mind on these questions is guessing. He’ll let us know. Either post-election will drift into pre-election and it will be clear that Justin Trudeau is bidding to enter a pantheon so far occupied only by Laurier and Macdonald; or on some random morning he’ll invite Liberals to try their luck without him. All that’s changed now is that the various considerations behind such a decision are now being discussed, just a little more openly, by the people who’ll live with its consequences.

10 March
Jean Charest formally launches Conservative Party leadership bid from Calgary
The returning politician spoke to the crowded room about a range of issues, including the importance of unity, representing Canadians equally, natural resources and respecting provincial jurisdiction.
Charest, 63, was the head of the now-defunct Progressive Conservative Party from 1993 to 1998 and was a federal cabinet minister prior to that. He was premier of Quebec from 2003 until 2012, elected under the province’s Liberal party.

8 March
Brown, Lewis, Charest to announce Conservative leadership runs this week
The Conservatives will choose their new leader on Sept. 10
Charest is the heavyweight in the bunch, with more than three decades of political experience both provincially and federally. He’ll run on the slogan “Built to Win” and formally launch his campaign on Thursday evening at a brewery in Calgary. The Alberta launch is meant to deflect claims that, as a former Quebec premier, Charest won’t play well in the West.
On Monday night, Charest received an endorsement from one would-be competitor. National Post columnist Tasha Kheiriddin had been considering a run; she told CBC’s Power & Politics that she would be throwing her support behind Charest instead.

2-6 February
Pierre Poilievre announces bid for Conservative Party leadership
Candice Bergen sweeps away Erin O’Toole’s parliamentary leadership team
Conservative MPs were informed Friday of the major shakeup, which follows their decision to force O’Toole from the job by a vote of 73 to 45
Why Erin O’Toole is no longer Conservative leader (YouTube)
The At Issue panel breaks down Erin O’Toole’s leadership of the Conservative Party in the last 18 months and what led to him losing the job
Where the Conservative Party of Canada goes from here
Conservatives face daunting task: finding a unifier to lead a deeply divided party to victory in a deeply divided country
O’Toole resigns as Conservative leader, will stay on as MP

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