The federal election and all its craziness and vitriol are now behind us. Canada has spoken and it has given the Liberal Party a mandate (sort of) to form a government. Canadians gave “Team Trudeau” the opportunity to form a minority government meaning that the opposition parties in the collective have more seats than the Party who formed the government.
So, the hard part for Canadians is over. We voted and we spoke! And Canadians spoke loudly!! In fact, the outcome of Election 43 gave us back Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister, but not like he was in 2015. Gone are the selfies, the sunny ways, the virtue signaling and in its place is a legacy of apparent divisiveness and anger heretofore unseen in Canada.
In the weeks following the conclusion of Election 43, I’ve heard pundits and social media warriors suggest that the Liberal Party does not have the moral authority to form a government in Canada, because they did not win the popular vote. Yes, the facts weigh out, the Conservative Party of Canada received more popular vote than the Liberals and although that may be true, it means nothing! We simply don’t elect governments in Canada by virtue of who gets the popular vote! The way government are formed in Canada is by the number(s) of seats a Party attains through a first past the post voting process. The Liberal Party garnered the most seats and therefore can form government. Enough said!
So, by the time this little screed gets read, Prime Minister Trudeau’s Cabinet has been sworn in and the Parliament of Canada is officially back in session in Ottawa. The Government’s Speech from the Throne will have been delivered and we’ll know what the plan is for this Government and this 43rd parliamentary session.
Many political observers, pundits, social media wizards and those in media have suggested Canada might be in for a rough ride in the coming years. Western alienation, they say, has produced a political movement there, Quebec nationalism, they say, is on the rise and the climate change agenda remains the single biggest issue to face Canadians.
For this political observer, with this Cabinet I think the country will be just fine! Let me explain.
If we believe everything we read on social media, this is the worst Cabinet ever! Some say the Cabinet is too big, some say it’s too politically correct with 18 men and 18 women and therefore not merit based, others say the west is shut out while still others say Ontario and Quebec will now get everything because the lion’s share of Liberal seats are there.
Consider too, however, that the opposition parties, who actually outnumber the government, will now have a role to play to ensure that Justin Trudeau’s government performs effectively for ALL Canadians because, as we know, governments serve ALL Canadians and not just those who voted for them. And, I submit too, they have a long row to hoe to do well as an effective opposition. The Conservatives have a leader on the ropes, the NDP have no money and therefore no ability to attract attention, the Bloc is seemingly happy in its new role as power-broker and the Greens and Independents are – there!
So, here’s the thing. The Liberal government’s executive council is not as bad as social media seems to be spewing and media and political observers have parsed the appointments as if the very composition of the Cabinet determines the future pathway for Canada. Here’s the reality, the composition of a Cabinet is a tough job for the Leader of a Government. Region, gender, race, creed, and every other aspect of Canadiana MUST be included to make an executive council truly reflective of our great nation. We expect that as Canadians. This Cabinet IS reflective of Canada in a profound way, with the exception of not having representation in Alberta or Saskatchewan. And that glaring dearth is likely the most problematic issue facing the Prime Minister and his Government going forward. Those two provinces in particular are critical to stability in Canada given the apparent increase in alienation and the massive support for the oil industry and pipelines.
That notwithstanding, I think the Prime Minister has appointed an executive Council whose collective stewardship will address the challenges we face as a nation and , I venture to say, we may have stable minority government for the coming years – based on the actions of this government and the circumstances facing the opposition parties.
Juxtaposed against the politics played in the mid-2000’s when Canada was governed with minority Governments who basically did nothing of substance – except politics – we have a Government whose culture is activist. Even now, the government is seemingly prepared to do the work that needs to get done. Because, in 2019, the political agenda cannot be ignored.
At the centre of the agenda is climate change AND economic prosperity (and that will include building pipelines)- a political dance that takes the likes of deft political tactician(s) to resolve. The Prime Minister who had been criticized for being too hands on with respect to every policy file of his Government, in effect, has appointed very good stewards to Cabinet – roles to manage the dance and do the job(s) that need to get done.
Unlike the United States, Cabinet Ministers in Canada must be elected to serve. It’s against that backdrop that I offer a few highlights on how Trudeau’s Cabinet will fare.
Moving Chrystia Freeland out of Global Affairs and into the role of Intergovernmental Affairs is a stroke of brilliance – she has proven herself to be an effective negotiator and her style and presence are calming. The honourific as Deputy Prime Minister will serve her well when she interfaces with Premiers – especially those in the west. Look for a well-crafted plan to have the much-needed buy-in from the provinces for the pipeline project that WILL be implemented. Look for her to also engage effectively with the opposition in the House of Commons for support.
Keeping Bill Morneau in Finance is a signal that the bureaucracy and “the street” have confidence in his ability to be the steward of Canada’s economy. His big challenge is going to be re-building confidence in the middle class who appear to be dogged by CRA at every turn. Look for Morneau to spend more time looking to create a foreign investment environment and associated opportunity for Canadian business to flourish. He will need to work the phones with his Cabinet colleagues, the opposition and international organizations to continue to be successful.
The shift Catherine McKenna endured from environment to infrastructure is not by accident. Her assertive style and her inimitable ability to create alliances will serve the government well as it deftly moves from the sustainable and traditional resource-based economy toward building green jobs and the new economy. She has the right temperament and massive appeal – she’ll do well.
David Lametti is likely the most intellectual in Cabinet. At a time when the Prime Minister needs to rely on stability – he gets it in spades with Lametti as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. He understands the subtlest of nuances related to the law, but the Constitution is a fluid entity requiring a strategic and knowledgeable steward to ensure it gets the attention it deserves. Niagara Region is originally his home so I’m biased – not bad for a boy from Port! But look for good things from him.
Seamus O’Reagan is an unusual appointment to Natural Resources Canada in this writer’s opinion. Ideally the role at NRCAn is suited for a MP from the north or the west where natural resource management is bred in their DNA. He is from Newfoundland – albeit a province with a rich off-shore oil industry- but I think the Prime Minister is taking a chance putting him in the role to deliver on the promise of natural resource economies being preserved in Alberta. Look for his role to be tough in the early going.
Filomena Tassi, Hamilton MP comes into her second term with an increased role to play in Cabinet. As Minister of Labour, she’ll have to steer the labour unrest in the rail industry as well as manoeuvre with her other cabinet colleagues on delivering on the promise of jobs in western Canada. Her strength of character is a strong suit – look for her to do well in the role.
Vancouver based Jonathan Wilkiinson has been boosted to Environment and many think that because he’s a BC MP, he’ll cow-tow to special interest against the pipelines. Not so, I think his strong record in the private sector dealing with First Nations and in the innovative green industry will serve him well.
Francois-Phillipe Champagne has big shoes to fill as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs. BUT, remember, he was a sort of under-study to Chrystia Freeland in the last government. Plus, he’s a brilliant team player and likeable – look for him to do well in the role – especially as Canada strives to deliver on the new ‘NAFTA’ and other trade deals globally.
Patty Hajdu as Minister of Health is another interesting choice. Consider though that she is from Thunder Bay and innovation and integration are not buzz-words there – they are the reality of that environment. Look for her to bring a lot of that inspiration to the role – especially that she has to consider the “Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance” at time when provinces are more cantankerous than ever.
Marie-Claude Bibeau is the new Minister of Agriculture. She’s inherited a ministry that has been male dominated. Look for her to bring a kinder-gentler atmosphere and the possibility of helping to re-invigorate the sector. Her international experience will serve her well – plus she has an extraordinary network to help.
Mona Fortier is perhaps the single most head-scratching appointment. Her entrée to the role (from her CBC interview) made Canadians light up on social media – she could barely describe what being Minister for the Middle Class meant. But let’s consider this – she’s associate Minister of Finance – and that gives her the ability to re-calibrate from a disastrous introduction to re-working the file with her Minister (Morneau) to build the kind of confidence the Government has been asking Canadians to accept since they were elected.
That’s a glimpse of that we can expect from this Cabinet in the months and years ahead. Oh sure, social media will have its expected field day hammering at Trudeau and his gunsills, but if the Government does its job well and condenses the noise and nonsense we may finally see good and effective government. And that’s what Canadians voted for!!
Niagara is a big part of the legacy of former Prime Minister John Napier Turner – he has helped grow her fortunes by attracting major international business while in private practice as a lawyer and in his public role as MP; he’s been a prominent voice for her cultural and agricultural attractions like the Shaw Festival and many, many wineries. More importantly John Turner has many friends and associates from Niagara. Most especially he is a stalwart champion for water – the most famous attraction in Canada being Niagara.
In June of this year, Canada’s 17th Prime Minister and one of her most prolific elected politicians celebrated his 90th birthday. In the case of John Turner, most of what he’s accomplished in the nine decades of his extraordinary life is significance beyond the pale. His 90th birthday party, co-chaired by the writer and Lisa Haley (both Lisa and I were staffers for Turner on Parliament Hill 1984-1990). Those years was the era of free trade, of constitutional debate and when Confederation became mature – most importantly it was widely hailed as the last and best times known in Canadian politics.
Given the run up to the federal election this fall, Mr. Turner’s birthday celebration marked an occasion of civility and bi-partisanship that heretofore had not been seen in Canada for years. In fact, the occasion was marked by the presence and participation of every former Prime Minister of Canada and the current Prime Minster – the first time in the history of Canada. At no other time in Canadian history have every and all living former Prime Ministers attended the same event. But then again, it’s John Turner – he’s the dean of all former Prime Ministers and, without hyperbole, the most celebrated.
Rhodes scholar, Olympic athlete, accomplished lawyer and politician. He once dated royalty, advised Popes, played touch football with the Kennedy’s and negotiated with Presidents and other world leaders in a spectacular political career that spanned 50 years.
And he’s still going. He’s 90 years old in 2019 and even when he was in his mid-80’s he continued to paddle Canada’s lakes and rivers in every corner of the country. The public John Turner is known for his accomplishments as an elected official having been elected in three provinces – a first in Canada and never repeated. He was first elected in a Montreal riding in Quebec in 1962 – was re-elected in an Ottawa riding in Ontario in 1968 and was again re-elected in a Vancouver riding in BC in 1984. He served in the Cabinets of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau in the 1960’s and 70’s. He ran to be Leader of his Party in 1968 losing to Trudeau yet replaced him as Leader when he ran and successfully won the leadership in 1984. Of course, the election outcome in 1984 saw the rise of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, but Turner and Mulroney were worthy advocates fighting two elections at a time when Canada was punching way above its weight. The debates of the 1980’s on Free Trade and constitutional oversight for Canada were legendary – Turner characterized them as the fights of his life. Books have been written about that political era as the “last best”.
What many don’t know is that the private John Turner is equally as accomplished. And he’s been quietly effective. He is known by many in Lake of the Woods (Kenora) where his family’s summer retreat is located as its best steward of the waterways in that area. In fact, it was John Turner who encouraged the International Joint Commission(IJC) , a US/Canada treaty organization mandated to oversee inland waterways between Canada and the United States, to commit the Lake of the Woods waterway to jurisdiction of the IJC thereby ensuring appropriate funding for its clean-up and protection.
Water is his passion – he is the only Canadian to have paddled every lake and river in Canada – an accomplishment that has been recognized by the Royal Geographic Society. He is the architect of the most recent treaty on the Columbia River signed in the late 1960’s. He and then Senator Hillary Clinton (his close friend) signed the 100th anniversary charter for the IJC in 2012 on the bridge that spans the Niagara River in Niagara Falls. He was appointed by then Prime Minister Portia Simpson of Jamaica as the Chairman of the Jamaica-Canada Disaster Relief and Resilience Initiative recognizing his expertise on resilience in the face of disasters that may befall the Caribbean. It was that initiative that set the staging area for Canada’s effective role in managing the first response after the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.
In more recent years, Prime Minister Turner has lent his name and caché to an award for students at Brock University and Niagara College studying and demonstrating leadership for water. That award grant continues to this day and will likely growing with the establishment of a permanent institute of water proposed in Niagara Region.
Most of these exploits were recounted at his birthday celebration in Ottawa this month. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led the evening off with candid remarks to the politically awesome assembly of well over 200 invited guests about his personal and lifelong friendship of Mr. Turner. The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Hon. Geoff Regan, introduced Mr. Turner while Turner’s daughter, Elizabeth, offered poignant words on behalf of the Turner family. Former PM’s Joe Clark, Paul Martin and Jean Chretien provided extraordinary oratories on their relationship Mr. Turner, while former PM’s Mulroney, Campbell and Harper all provided wonderful video tributes. Media greats Lloyd Robertson, Peter Mansbridge, Guy Gendron and Don Newman were on-hand to introduce the former PM’s and the evening ended with special introductions of noted Canadians attending like Ed Broadbent, Irwin Cotler, former Premiers David Peterson and Frank McKenna. Of special note was the reading of a personal note from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth – welcoming her good friend John Turner (who once dated her sister Margaret) to the 90’s club.
Social media has been abuzz characterizing his 90th birthday party as one of the best political events Ottawa had ever witnessed. Media reports in major dailies by those reporters in attendance were equally as effusive. A befitting tribute to a great Canadian who is a living witness to some of the best of Canada – and more to come.
Notes for Remarks
Rt. Hon. John N. Turner P.C., C.C., Q.C.
90th Birthday Celebration
June 10, 2019
Check against delivery
Thank you, Merci , Speaker Regan, for your comments and best wishes.
At 90 years old – I’m probably the oldest person in this room and, as such, I’m allowed the chance to say whatever the hell I want!
Permettez-moi de commencer par vous remercier tous d’être venus ici pour célébrer cette étape avec moi. Vous tous dans cette salle ont été une partie de ma vie publique et privée depuis des décennies et je vous remercie tous d’être ici
I’m particularly happy that Prime Ministers Trudeau, Clark, Chretien and Martin have come tonight to honour this milestone. Your presence here means a lot to me, but more importantly the roles each of you have played in making Canada what she is today –
le monde connaît le Canada plus intimement grâce à vos réalisations personnelles et collectives. Je vous suis reconnaissant.
Encore, je voudrais dire merci Monsieur le president, Speaker of the House of Commons –
the Honourable Geoff Regan
for being here this evening and making the venue available for us to celebrate. I also want to thank Speaker of the Senate the Honourable Chuck Furey for his support of this event as well.
I want to acknowledge and thank my daughter Elizabeth for being here tonight to celebrate with me and her own daughter – my grand-daughter – Fiona. Your love and support are appreciated.
I also want to thank and recognize the Co-Chairs for tonight – Lisa Haley and Marc Kealey. Both have worked for me for many years and their efforts to make this event so memorable for all of us does not go unnoticed. I especially want to recognize that today is Marc’s birthday and I wish you the very best, my friend!
Jim’s untimely death five years ago today shocked many in Canada. For those of us who worked with and for him as a politician, we knew a person of unparalleled intelligence and ethics. We also knew him as a person of extraordinary grace!
For those of us who knew him well from Whitby, we were all so very anxious to see how well he performed while in politics and most especially for what he would do in life after politics. That’s why it’s so hard to comprehend a life so large cut so short.
I recall when I was a hospital administrator in Whitby and going through a particularly difficult time in 1997 because of a government mandated restructuring. The town was in a foul mood over the prospect of potentially losing its acute care services at the hospital. Jim came to my office and sat in the one chair I had for visitors and folded his arms, “Kealey”, he said, “hold fast! What you’re going through is the scourge of leadership. If you can’t handle this, you should get out! But I think you can handle this!” That advice has stuck with me throughout my career and I heed it often. Life can be difficult at times, but when the world has the benefit of advice like that from Jim Flaherty it makes things that are tough seem possible – and it’s simply a better place!
I had the opportunity in 2011 to host Jim for a fundraiser at my home in Mississauga. It was an interesting start to the evening because some trouble-making people in Mississauga had alerted media that the Minister of Finance was coming to my home and they assembled at the end of my driveway. When his car drove up, he stepped out, greeted them warmly and invited them into my home. As if knowing that they were intruding, they politely declined. Vintage Jim Flaherty – he was simply a better man!
In recognition of Pink Shirt Day – here is our perspective on anti-bullying that we co-authored in 2016. Sadly not much has happened in the way of any government legislation or regulation against bullying since then:
Health advocates in B.C. are calling for a crackdown on e-cigarettes in a bid to keep the devices out of the hands of teens.
The group, which includes the B.C. Lung Association, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, says recent data shows a surge in teen vaping habits.
It points to the latest U.S. National Youth Tobacco Survey, which found that the number of young people who said they had vaped within a 30-day period was up 78 per cent in 2018 from 2017.
A 2016-17 Canadian study found that about 10 per cent of students in grades 7 to 12 had used an e-cigarette within the last 30 days.
“When you have flavours in e-cigarettes like chocolate cherry, piña colada, birthday cake, those are definitely not the kind of flavourings we think an adult who is trying to quit would be using,” said Jack Boomer, director of the Clean Air Coalition.
The group says the permit process for selling tobacco products in B.C. is too easy and that the process to be able to sell vaping products — which have nicotine but no tobacco — is even easier.
“There seems to be research coming out which indicates that youth are four times more likely to start smoking combustible cigarettes if they start using e-cigarettes,” added Boomer.
The coalition is calling on the province to require tobacco and vape product retailers to pay permit application fees and annual renewal fees and also to cap the number of tobacco and vaping retail stores in the province.
It also wants to see the sale of tobacco and vaping products banned near schools or youth-oriented facilities, as the province does with alcohol and cannabis, as well as in stores with pharmacies.
However, advocates for the vaping industry say they’re open to working with health groups to keep the products away from kids — but no one has asked.
“We have never, never received one phone call from those organizations to say, ‘How can you work with us?’” said Marc Kealey with the Canadian Vaping Association.
“We’ve been very bullish on this with governments across Canada, that there needs to be a certification program with a third party, that our industry would commit and submit to, that says if you want to be in this business, you must know these kinds of things.”
Kealey said the association has been working with Health Canada and the province, advising both on changes that could help to restrict access for teens, but that, overall, they believe the current system to be robust.
Our final summary of Election 2018 Ontario: