Such a burst of activity! Prime Minister Trudeau has a transit line for Calgary, a Sky Train for Vancouver and a new rail service to link Toronto to Quebec City. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has a new fiscal stabilization plan that will pay $48 billion to Alberta. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has a list of speeches proving he is much more feminist and much more environmentalist than Mr. Trudeau.
Pandemic restrictions on some public gatherings were eased just in time for Canada’s political leaders to fan out across the country and call their supporters together at one event after another now that Parliament is in recess and the summer barbecue season is in full swing.
Barbecue season always draws leaders away from Ottawa to renew acquaintance with their supporters, but what we’re watching this month is over the top. You’d think they were running for re-election.
The major parties are having a tough time capturing public attention, while the Green Party is loudly and publicly tearing itself apart. The same way motorists will stop to stare at a road accident, there’s something arresting about the self-immolation of a splinter party. The smoothly engineered media events of the Liberal, Conservative and NDP professionals are far less entertaining.
Ever since Jenica Atwin, the Green MP for Fredericton, announced she was joining the Liberals, the news from the Greens is all about accusations and recriminations swirling around Annamie Paul, who was elected party leader nine months ago but has no seat in Parliament and no early prospect of winning one.
For all the difference the two remaining Green PMs make to the exercise of power in Canada, the party’s fortunes scarcely matter. Its self-destruction, however, is still the most attention-grabbing show now playing on the national stage.
Manitoba was not forgotten in the sudden burst of politicking. Mr. Trudeau’s ministers concluded an agreement with the Manitoba Metis Federation — among the Liberal party’s most loyal allies in this region. The MMF organized a ceremony at Upper Fort Garry, in the heart of Winnipeg, to mark the occasion.
The practical impact of the agreement was far from clear, but its political effect was unmistakable: it put the MMF at the top of some pecking order, as Arlen Dumas, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, was quick to point out.
Barbecue season always draws leaders away from Ottawa to renew acquaintance with their supporters, but what we’re watching this month is over the top. You’d think they were running for re–election.
MMF president David Chartrand thought the agreement paved the way for recognition of his organization as the government for Métis people.
Mr. Trudeau and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe smoothed over their differences long enough to appear together at Cowessess First Nation, where 751 unmarked graves had been tentatively identified near the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School. Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Moe concluded an agreement putting Cowessess in charge of child and family services to its people.
With Mr. Trudeau striving for a breakthrough on the Prairies and Mr. O’Toole clinging to the wall-to-wall support his party has enjoyed from Headingley to Chilliwack, this region came in for more attention than it customarily attracts. If that’s the way the political battle is going to be fought this year, western Canadians should brace themselves for successive waves of public figures ringing their phones and knocking on their doors.
For westerners who complain of being ignored by federal politicians, this offers a rare opportunity to give them an earful.