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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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