Five things other than COVID-19 that marked the federal scene

Five things other than COVID-19 that marked the federal scene

It may seem impossible to remember anything from 2020 other than the pandemic, but major events unrelated to COVID-19 have garnered attention in Ottawa or changed the game on Parliament Hill. Five-step retrospective.

Five things other than COVID-19 that marked the federal scene

1. Aerial tragedy

In early January, all 176 people aboard Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 died in a crash shortly after takeoff in Tehran, Iran. No less than 86 victims are citizens or permanent residents of Canada. We will then learn that the aircraft was shot down by Iranian missiles. Tehran pleads a “human error” in the settings of its air defense system. It must be said that the tragedy occurs in the midst of escalating tensions between Iran and the United States, in the wake of the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Almost a year after the aerial tragedy, many questions remain unanswered. Iran, which is leading the investigation, is limiting access to first-hand information. “The responsible party is investigating itself, mainly in secret, which does not inspire confidence,” summarizes in a report by Ralph Goodale, advisor to Prime Minister Trudeau on flight 752.

Five things other than COVID-19 that marked the federal scene

2. Railway paralysis

From February to March, demonstrators cripple the rail network across the country in solidarity with Indigenous leaders in northern British Columbia opposing the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project. The trigger? The RCMP are carrying out arrests to force compliance with an injunction prohibiting anyone from blocking access to the site. The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation oppose the project, whose infrastructure must cross their ancestral territory. The economic repercussions of the multiple dams, estimated at $ 275 million by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, are obvious. Crisis resolution is less so for the Trudeau government, in particular because not everyone gets along even within the Wet’suwet’en. The situation resolved, however, when Ottawa and the government of British Columbia reached an agreement with the hereditary chiefs on the possible implementation of their ancestral rights.

Five things other than COVID-19 that marked the federal scene

3. Hard setback at the UN

After a four-year campaign for Canada to win a seat on the UN Security Council, the Trudeau government bites the dust in June. Ireland and Norway get the two vacant seats in the first round. The defeat is all the more bitter for a Prime Minister who will have promised to do better than his predecessor, Stephen Harper, and will have declared that Canada was back on the international scene as soon as it came to power. The failure will have been predictable in the eyes of many experts, especially because Canada is far from investing in international development the equivalent of 0.7% of its gross national income, as the objective of the UN.

Five things other than COVID-19 that marked the federal scene

4. Conservative renewal?

After a race for leadership of the Conservative Party that receives little attention, Ontario MP and former minister Erin O’Toole wins by beating the pawn to his ex-colleague Peter MacKay. The new leader, a native of Montreal, is quick to declare that he is pro-choice and is embarking on a charm operation with Quebec. He speaks in favor of the application of Bill 101 to federally chartered companies, the Conservatives joining the Bloc and the New Democrats. More generally, he seeks to expand the Conservative family and creates surprise by extolling the benefits of unions in the private sector. Time is running out for Mr. O’Toole, however, since the next federal election could be called in the spring. Annamie Paul, among the Greens, will also have to fight hard to make herself known after becoming, in October, the first black woman to lead a federal party.

Five things other than COVID-19 that marked the federal scene

5. Trump soon to be replaced by Biden

Democrat Joe Biden wins the US presidential election in November and prepares to succeed hot Republican Donald Trump on January 20. “It’s true that a little renewal will do good, I think,” admits Prime Minister Trudeau in a year-end interview with TVA Nouvelles. It must be said that Mr. Trump likely gave Ottawa headaches in 2020. At the start of the pandemic, he tried to prevent the sending of coveted N95 masks by the 3M company. He later imposed a 10% surtax on Canadian aluminum again before backpedaling as Ottawa retaliatory measures approached.

www.journaldemontreal.com

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