With one week to go, here’s what the three main parties must do before election day

by Kate Harrison

From left to right: Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. Photos via The Canadian Press.    Bottom of the ninth. Home stretch. Fourth and goal. Whatever sports analogy you choose, it aptly applies to the final week of a political campaign. As far as elections go, the stakes […]

O'Toole, Trudeau and Singh

Three things Erin O’Toole has done right this election – so far

by Kate Harrison

O’Toole (right), himself a former helicopter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, at a recent campaign stop at a helicopter operator in Nova Scotia. Photo credit: Twitter/Erin O’Toole   With three weeks left in the suddenly interesting federal election – and lots of time yet for momentum to be gained and lost – one […]

An Afghan mother and her children wait on the tarmac at Hamid Karzai International Airport, hoping to flee the country before Taliban forces take over Kabul and its assets. Photo credit: AFP/Wakil Kohsar via Getty Images Every federal election gets a curveball. Unforeseen events or issues arise to force politicians off their message track. Insufficient […]

people on the airport runway

Trudeau must justify the necessity of an election as pandemic persists

by Kate Harrison

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a campaign stop in Surrey, B.C. during the last federal election, September 24, 2019. Some two years later, Trudeau appears to be angling for another crack at a majority government. Photo credit: AP/The Times Despite a now world-leading vaccination effort, health officials are warning of a looming fourth wave of […]

PM Trudeau

Afghan interpreters are begging for help – Canada should respond

by Kate Harrison

A Canadian soldier speaks to an Afghan local through an interpreter. Photo credit: CityNews Toronto It’s been over seven years since Canadian troops were stationed in Afghanistan. For many, that seems like a lifetime ago, and it feels even more distant when you consider the conflict has been ongoing since 2001. But new changes in […]

Don’t want an election this year? Take it up with the Liberals

by Kate Harrison

It’s an obvious statement that elections are all about politics. That’s particularly true in a minority government situation, where the ability to send Canadians back to the polls on an abbreviated timeline is a constant threat. All parties must work together to keep Parliament moving, or force an election in an attempt to conjure a majority government (and another reliable four years of power). Opposition parties play a big role in when an election is timed, but the government can also pull the plug on itself if it perceives it may have an upper hand.

PM Trudeau

Border reopening issue puts politics above public health

by Kate Harrison

Canada hit an important vaccine milestone last week, with 75 per cent of the population having received their first dose and 20 per cent now fully vaccinated. This was coupled with news that millions more doses of both Pfizer and Moderna are destined for Canada in the next few weeks, as well as the opportunity for most Canadians to receive an accelerated second dose this summer. Vaccine hesitancy in Canada is low, and there’s been no indication that we won’t continue to meet important inoculation benchmarks.

Fort Erie Peace bridge

Attempts to conjure a Conservative bogeyman fall flat with O’Toole

by Kate Harrison

Erin O’Toole. Attempts to paint the Conservative Party leader as anything but progressive on social issues have thus far failed. O’Toole has been unequivocal in his support and stance on such things as LGTBQ+ rights and women’s ability to decide. Photo credit: Twitter/Erin O’Toole You can set your watch to Liberal and NDP efforts to […]

Erin OToole MP

An attempt by some commentators on Twitter to paint Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O’Toole as an old-school sexist backfired this weekend, after an innocuous tweet was misconstrued for a calculated political message. Instead of succeeding in painting O’Toole as some kind of chauvinist, it exposed the crass attempt from the left to virtue signal to female voters, and the hypocrisy of the Liberal government’s self-proclaimed feminist bonafides.

O'Toole's tweet

A pandemic election seems probable. How would it play out?

by Kate Harrison

Multi-exposed image of Conservative leader Erin O’Toole (left) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) in the House of Commons, November 4, 2020. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick Continuously high COVID-19 case counts and provincial restrictions have dampened the likelihood of a federal election happening this spring, but that’s not to say an election won’t […]

O'Toole and Trudeau

Mental Health Week a reminder of unseen impacts of COVID-19

by Kate Harrison

The beginning of May marks Mental Health Week in Canada. The week should serve as a reminder for decision-makers that their policies have health impacts that stretch well beyond COVID-19 positivity rates, even if those consequences aren’t immediately visible. Politicians should not only dedicate resources to mental health to address the long hangover that will result from COVID-19, but challenge overly-restrictive policies that fail to address the deteriorating mental health of many Canadians.

woman on couch

The race to prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants continues, with the federal government moving late last week to ban flights to Canada from India and Pakistan. However, their hesitancy to do so is the latest example of the Liberals being resistant to close borders – despite praising countries who have taken that step. With Ontario facing daunting hospitalization and ICU rates, the Trudeau government is being urged to pick up the pace on restricting travel – and on getting more vaccines.

Pierre Trudeau airport

Are we still “all in this together”?

by Kate Harrison

Just over a year ago, there was unprecedented camaraderie between the federal government and provincial premiers. We went from magazine covers showcasing conservative leaders as “The Resistance”, to a political kumbaya between Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford, who served as the former’s election foil just a few months earlier.

PM Trudeau and Premier Ford

A preview of Liberal election messaging

by Kate Harrison

Permanence of pricey COVID-19 programs, lofty climate change promises, and a healthy dose of fear-mongering towards conservatives. Those wondering what the Liberals intend to run on in the next election should have a pretty clear picture following their policy conference this past weekend.

PM Trudeau in front of convention screens

Liberals, NDP Play to Progressives Ahead of Policy Conventions

by Kate Harrison

Canada’s Liberals and New Democrats will gather virtually this weekend for their respective policy conferences. While these events are usually inside-baseball, the likelihood of an election this year has put a spotlight on the proposed policies being debated at each gathering. There seems to be very little light between what Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Jagmeet Singh’s NDP are putting on offer for Canadians, creating challenges primarily for the NDP and scuttling any desire they may have to head into an election.

Trudeau and Singh

Allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at Canada’s former top soldier have rocked the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). While calls for a culture change in the CAF have never been louder, the Prime Minister and Defence Minister seem to be pointing fingers in every direction but at themselves, abdicating any responsibility in what has transpired at the Department of National Defence (DND). It is the latest example of this self-appointed feminist government refusing to practice what they preach when it comes to supporting women and victims of workplace harassment.

General Jonathan Vance

Conservatives need to talk values, not just vaccines

by Kate Harrison

After six full months at the helm of the Conservative Party of Canada, Leader Erin O’Toole has had some impressive wins as Opposition leader. While it is important to keep up the pressure around the government’s mismanagement of vaccine rollouts – one of the few issues that have dented the Liberal polling numbers – the Tories are now at a point where they need to propose their own vision for Canada. It’s important Canadians can have a look at the values driving O’Toole and his team before the next election, which may be called sooner rather than later.

Erin O'Toole

Flurry of Liberal promises signals a Spring election is still on the table

by Kate Harrison

The federal government claims they’re laser-focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, procuring vaccines, and not at all interested in a Spring election. Last week’s flurry of new announcements, most of which have little or nothing to do with the pandemic, tells a very different story. Attempts to extend the olive branch to progressive-left voters and tick off mandate letter commitments should send a clear message to voters that a Spring or “Sprummer” election remains a very real possibility.

PM Justin Trudeau

Make or Break Moment for the Trudeau Liberals on Vaccines

by Kate Harrison

This week is a make-or-break moment for the federal government’s credibility on vaccine procurement.

With more doses finally set to arrive in Canada over the next month and a half, the government has a time-limited opportunity to turn this mismanaged file around. While it might be enough to rehab the Liberals’ reputation on vaccine management with Canadians in the short term, it would be a mistake to declare victory this early.

PM Trudeau wearing a mask

As public opinion on vaccines shifts, so may federal election timing

by Kate Harrison

As the federal government faces renewed criticism over their handling of the COVID-19 vaccine file, the probability of a Spring election may be slipping. While the Liberals still have the ability to right the ship on vaccines, the next few weeks will be critical for Team Trudeau to demonstrate not just competency on the distribution plan, but empathy toward an increasing number of Canadians concerned about how many shots are bound for Canada, and when they’ll get them.

Trudeau, O'Toole, Singh

Vaccine uncertainty abounds, with little accountability in Ottawa

by Kate Harrison

Confusion is rampant over Canada’s vaccine delivery schedule, and whether or not we remain on track to have “all Canadians vaccinated by September” as the Prime Minister has promised. As the country falls further behind many other nations in terms of vaccination rates, the government has now turned to restrictive travel measures to try and curb an influx in new cases. These short-term fixes allow the government to posture they are taking tough action, but are cold comfort to many Canadians itching for a return to normal life.

PM Justin Trudeau

Selection of new Governor General an opportunity to fix what’s broken

by Kate Harrison

“Slow and steady wins the race” should be the guiding mentality behind the Liberal government’s plan to replace their hand-picked–and now disgraced–Governor General Julie Payette. The self-inflicted wound created by her appointment, and the fallout of her exit, is an opportunity for the government to reflect and for once demonstrate that they can be more about show than substance.

PM Trudeau and Julie Payette

Keystone failure latest example of Canada’s strained international muscle

by Kate Harrison

President-Elect Joe Biden has yet to be sworn into office, but he’s already drawing lines in the sand on major issues – including the decision to nix the Keystone XL pipeline. While this may have some Liberals breathing a sigh of relief behind closed doors, it is another example in a growing list of attempts, and failures, to secure support for our interests from our friends and allies abroad.

pipeline

Tension on vaccine rollout puts “Team Canada” to the test

by Kate Harrison

Vaccine distribution is the biggest test Canada’s federal and provincial governments will face in the COVID-19 pandemic. Once-friendly collaboration has now turned to finger pointing, with the Prime Minister and Premiers saying the other is at fault for slow immunization rates. As Canadians stare down the barrel of more lockdowns and limited vaccine supply for the next three months, patience is wearing thin – and the political price could cost both levels of government the political capital they’ve built with voters over the last ten months.

unloading the vaccine from a plane

Politicians set a high bar for COVID-19 restrictions – then fail to meet It

by Kate Harrison

Elected officials who sought warm escapes beyond Canada’s borders have been hit with a cold dose of reality following a steady stream of stories exposing politicians who’ve travelled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rod Phillips MPP

New Year’s resolutions for Canada’s political leaders

by Kate Harrison

2021 cannot come fast enough. While the troubles and tragedy that marked the last year won’t evaporate at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31st, a lot of Canadians aren’t just hopeful that the year ahead has better things in store – they’re counting on it.

The leaders of Canada’s federal political parties may be approaching the New Year with a bit more hesitation.

PM Trudeau, O'Toole and Singh

It’s beginning to look a lot like an election

by Kate Harrison

Foreshadowing is necessary for any good drama.

What goes on in the House of Commons could easily be confused for comedy most days, but political watchers in Ottawa have observed nothing short of foreshadowing in the last number of weeks – all building towards an election this spring. A number of clues – some more obvious than others – would suggest that Canadians are more likely to be heading for the polls earlier in 2021 than later – even if many Canadians remain unvaccinated by that date.

election sign

COVID-19 vaccination plans to dominate Premiers meeting this week

by Kate Harrison

The plan to get Canadians COVID-19 vaccines will take centre stage at this week’s meeting between Premiers and Prime Minister Trudeau. News of imminent vaccine arrival in Canada is positive; but don’t expect a series of glowing reviews from the provinces on how the Trudeau government has managed the process so far. All indications suggest the plan to roll out vaccines is poised to become a more of a political hot potato than a collaborative touchstone.

the premiers of canada sitting at a table during a meeting

The Fall Economic Statement tabled in Ottawa on Monday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is likely to be described as ambitious by some and amorphous by others. A read through the document makes clear that, more than a reset or a restart, the government is readying for an election; and one that may be in the cards sooner rather than later.

minister freeland

Nearly two years after the illegal detainment of two Canadians in China, voters may soon get a glimpse into how the Liberal government intends to address encroaching hostility from China.

That is, unless the Liberals get their way.

huawei

No certain path for Canada-US Relations, regardless of Tuesday’s outcome

by Kate Harrison

It’s hard to imagine two Presidential candidates in starker contrast than Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Though their political views may be worlds apart, both present challenges for Canada once Tuesday’s election concludes.

A Biden victory may mean a more predictable relationship with our neighbours to the south, but the shadow of Donald Trump’s policies – including his approach to trade and nods toward populism – will linger should he be unsuccessful in securing re-election.

Biden and Trump

The boy who cried confidence

by Kate Harrison

A high-stakes game of chicken in the House of Commons nearly saw Canadians head to the polls last week. The relief of staving off an election is likely to be short lived; pressure on the Liberals from the opposition on a number of topics, including management of the COVID-19 pandemic, may see more confidence votes in the very near future. With political tension escalating in Ottawa, the Liberals must balance the pursuit of their agenda with the optics of being quick to dismiss the Opposition should they wish to avoid the breakdown of Parliament.

PM Trudeau

Liberal tactics do not spell innocence for Liberals in WE charity controversy

by Kate Harrison

The Trudeau government has tried every move in the parliamentary playbook to put an end to the WE Charity controversy. From proroguing parliament to filibustering at committee, it is clear they are worried by what may come to light with continued scrutiny. Now, they’re threatening to send Canadians to the polls in the middle of a pandemic to try and avoid a special House of Commons committee from digging any further into the scandal.

PM Trudeau testifying

Ban on plastics may need a pandemic re-think

by Kate Harrison

The federal government’s choice to forge ahead with a ban on single use plastics by 2021 is perhaps the last attainable bastion of a green agenda that has been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it may appease environmentally-minded Canadians, for others it comes across as tone deaf at a moment when the very materials that will be banned have kept some businesses afloat during the crisis.

plastic bottles in a recycling bin.

Can the Green Party move from fringe to force?

by Kate Harrison

Canada’s Green Party has selected a new leader, presenting an opportunity to move out of Elizabeth May’s shadow into the mainstream.

While a refresh of Canada’s Greens could present a near-term opportunity to peel away support from Singh’s social democrats, they face a tall task of diversifying their offering to voters at a time where climate change plays second fiddle to the COVID-19 crisis.

Elizabeth May and Annamie Paul

Pure politics behind “urgency” of national address

by Kate Harrison

While the Speech from the Throne (SFT) is all about pomp and circumstance, it is at its core a political document. But the politics of the SFT played second-fiddle to Prime Minister Trudeau’s choice to convene Canadians for a rare national address last week. What was billed as a moment of critical urgency and importance felt much more like a rerun of Trudeau’s COVID-19 press conferences, leaving viewers with a sense of deja vu rather than decisiveness from the federal government.

PM Trudeau

Reality check hits Liberals’ throne speech

by Kate Harrison

Wednesday’s Speech from the Throne was supposed to serve as a channel-changing moment for the Liberal government; an opportunity to put the WE scandal behind them and focus instead on a big, bold vision for Canada’s post-pandemic economy. Instead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet Ministers have found themselves stalled by the reality that Canada’s COVID-19 response needs more work before we can turn the page to recovery.

PM Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Julie Payette

The scandal that just won’t quit

by Kate Harrison

Prorogation, the unceremonious exit of Canada’s top Cabinet Minister and now, the collapse of the WE Charity itself have all served as the supposed final chapter in the Liberals’ attempts to close the book on the WE scandal. But a number of loose threads and unanswered questions remain, threatening to extend the life of this political headache for the government into the Fall and potentially overshadowing the Liberals’ Throne Speech.

PM Trudeau on WE stage

Canadian’s stomach for spending to be put to the test

by Kate Harrison

Governments around the world have spent inordinate amounts of money to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, Canada included. As the federal government switches gears from emergency response to recovery, Canadians’ lassaiz-faire attitude towards government spending will be put to the test as new programs could see the country’s deficit teeter near the half trillion-dollar mark by year end.
Prime Minister Trudeau and his Liberal colleagues are banking on voters being ok to let the dollars flow, just as they were when the Liberals first came to power five years ago – but new data suggests skepticism in their ability to manage Canada’s economic response.

finance minster freeland

Fallen statue symbolic of disintegrating political discourse

by Kate Harrison

Protesters demanding police forces be defunded brought down a historic statue of Sir John A. MacDonald over the weekend in Montreal. It is the latest in a series of acts that have seen monuments destroyed or defaced by protesters demanding change, in an increasingly tense political climate both North and South of the Canada-US border.

How Erin O’Toole won the Conservative Leadership

by Kate Harrison

Newly crowned Conservative leader Erin O’Toole. 2020 has been a year full of surprises, and the Conservative Party’s leadership race did not disappoint. After a seven hour delay in results, Durham Member of Parliament and military veteran Erin O’Toole obtained a decisive third-ballot victory over runner-up Peter MacKay at the contest’s conclusion last night. While […]

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O'Toole

Leslyn Lewis is one to watch in the Tory leadership race

by Kate Harrison

While the federal Liberals have kept political watchers busy with all-things WE, the Conservative leadership race has been quietly chugging along. The lack of fanfare may make the outcome all that more surprising in two weeks time, and in particular, how underdog Leslyn Lewis performs once votes have been tallied.

Leslyn Lewis

Where do WE go from here?

by Kate Harrison

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, provided testimony to the House of Commons’ Finance Committee on all things related to the WE charity fiasco. While here was no smoking gun, the scandal is still smouldering, with a few new directions the saga may take as the government heads into the second month of scrutiny.

PM Trudeau

Will WE have us heading to the polls this fall?

by Kate Harrison

The possibility of a Fall election is back on the table, should Canada’s opposition parties be believed. The WE scandal is providing some legitimate grounds for election speculation, but the likelihood this will materialize into people at polls before the end of the year remains slim.

Last week was an opportunity for the Trudeau Liberals to turn the page on the WE scandal. The Prime Minister had apologized, and has agreed to appear before a House of Commons committee, ostensibly in an act of transparency to try and put any outlying questions to rest. Attention had started to turn away from the government, and more toward the shady dealings of WE as an organization.

finance minister morneau

Houston, WE is a Problem.

by Kate Harrison

Headlines have been peppered with new details nearly every day surrounding the Trudeau government’s sweetheart deal with the WE charity, in what was shaping up to be an otherwise sleepy summer. While the long-term ramifications of this scandal aren’t yet known, the short-term impacts are clear: WE is a problem.

Sophie and Justin Trudeau on stage at a WE event

Fiscal Snapshot Paints a Grim Picture of Canada’s Finances

by Kate Harrison

While “The Great Depression” is most commonly known as a historic period, it could also characterize the mood of Canadians who tuned into last week’s Economic and Fiscal Snapshot. Though extraordinary times may have called for exceptional spending, the absence of a roadmap to recovery, let alone a balanced budget, has left many wondering just how high the limit on the country’s charge card is.

Finance minister Bill Morneau

Trudeau’s Toughness on China May Be Too Little, Too Late

by Kate Harrison

Warming weather in Ottawa has coincided with heated words from Prime Minister Trudeau on China’s illegal detainment of two Canadian citizens abroad. While Trudeau is right to take a stronger stance, the timing and intensity of these critiques may be too little, too late.

Michael Kovrig, left, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur

Failed UN Bid Leaves Canada Scrambling for a Foreign Policy

by Kate Harrison

“Canada’s Back” … to the drawing board when it comes to international substance and swagger.

After a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort to secure a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council, Canada lost in a contest to Norway and Ireland on Wednesday. The loss under Prime Minister Trudeau follows a failed bid to obtain a seat under former Prime Minister Harper a decade prior.

United Nations vote

What to Watch for in This Week’s Conservative Leadership Debate

by Kate Harrison

Trying to generate attention or interest as an opposition party is a tall order at the best of times. Throw in a global pandemic, recession, international protests against racism and a Presidential election, and that becomes even more daunting.

conservative leadership candidates

“Safe Restart” sure to Reboot Federal-Provincial Feuding

by Kate Harrison

Fresh funding for struggling provinces and municipalities was met with fresh criticism from some of Canada’s Premiers last week, laying the groundwork for the resumption of tensions between federal and provincial governments.

PM Trudeau

Politics of Long Term Care present short term challenge for Trudeau

by Kate Harrison

Horrific reports on the conditions of long term care (LTC) homes in Ontario and Quebec released last week have rightly called into question the quality of care for the greatest generation. The enormity of the challenges facing our seniors has the federal government being suddenly selective about what is their jurisdiction to fix, and avoiding action in exchange for ambiguous offers of support.

prime minister trudeau

Canada’s Security Council Bid: Image or impact?

by Kate Harrison

Next month, international leaders will elect two new countries to the United Nations’ Security Council (UNSC). Canada’s campaign for one of those spots has occupied a considerable amount of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s time, and taxpayer money, at a moment when many would argue domestic issues should be the sole priority.

UN security council

Time for Conservative Leadership to Move from Boring to Bold

by Kate Harrison

A global pandemic, record unemployment and ballooning debt are enough to make even the most tuned-in Tories forget about the big news happening within its own Party: the forthcoming Conservative leadership election. But even in the midst of a generational crisis, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the race would still be a snooze in the absence of these events.

5 Reasons Why There Won’t be an Election This Fall

by Kate Harrison

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is riding high in the polls, the Opposition is disorganized, and we’re in a minority Parliament, which means it is time to start Ottawa’s favourite parlour game: Election Speculation.

vote sign

Gun Changes Prove Political Collaboration has its Limits

by Kate Harrison

After weeks of federal politicians getting along for the greater good, the swift, sneaky introduction of changes to firearms ownership in Canada has proven that political collaboration has its limits.

guns

Pandemic Politics Good News for Trudeau (For Now)

by Kate Harrison

If you’re a believer that everything is political (even a pandemic), it is hard to ignore the healthy polling bump the crisis has created for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. With support high for the Liberals, it seems increasingly likely that the government’s minority mandate will edge effectively into majority territory as Opposition parties are forced to think carefully about challenging a popular prime minister with an election.

PM Trudeau

With Ottawa indicating many weeks more of isolation are in store before reopening Canada’s economy, some of Canada’s provincial leaders are content to go it alone, threatening to reignite tensions between the Trudeau government and the provincial premiers.

Premier Jason Kenney

Pandemic Forces Parliament to Get with the Times

by Kate Harrison

Nimble isn’t a word many would use to describe Canada’s parliament. But a silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis may be a modernized federal government, which should persist post-pandemic.

Government institutions around the world including Canada are grappling with the logistical challenge of governing while also physical distancing. In a parliamentary democracy that depends on opposing sides fiercely debating ideas, this is easier said than done. And while the challenges posed by moving processes online isn’t new to the Government of Canada (Phoenix pay system, anyone?), COVID-19 has brought a new urgency to bringing Parliament up to speed.

parliament hill

Convoluted COVID Programs Will See Many Canadians Slip Through the Cracks

by Kate Harrison

The federal government has announced a flurry of government programs in the last two weeks, all designed to support Canadians and businesses during the COVID-19 storm. The intention to help is clear, but the hoops through which families, workers and business owners need to jump are anything but. The resulting confusion has seen businesses – from start-ups to restaurants – unable to get the financial assistance required to continue operating. 

Min Bill Morneau

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