Every successful political leader, when elected, comes to regret some of the promises he or she made while campaigning. Changes that seemed so compelling, so popular – and maybe so easy – while campaigning take on a different complexion once the election is over. Promised changes suddenly seem less compelling, not quite so popular – and even downright difficult to achieve.
The Trudeau Liberals are moving into the second phase of their mandate, investing some of the political capital they collected in the first phase (the honeymoon or “sunny ways” period) to assert the primacy of the federal government in three areas of national concern.
These are climate change, pipelines and the preservation of medicare. Taken together, the Liberals’ approaches in these areas signal a desire to reestablish a muscular federalism reminiscent of the Pierre Trudeau era.
Think what you will about Dr. Kellie Leitch, the Conservative MP from rural Ontario who is running for Stephen Harper’s old job. At least she is not afraid to be different.
A pediatric orthopedic surgeon from Western University in London, Ont., Leitch was parachuted into Simcoe-Grey constituency in 2011 after Harper threw the previous MP, Helena Guergis, under the bus for causing him public embarrassment. Two years later, Leitch was promoted to the cabinet as Minister of Labour and the Status of Women.
The appointment of Bardish Chagger, the MP for Waterloo, as “Government Leader in the House of Commons” (to give the post its formal name), comes as a surprise.
There has never been a woman in that job since Mackenzie King created it during the Second World War – not that there is any reason for it not to be a woman. Just as there is no reason for not having a female Minister of Finance, but there has never been one of those either.
For better or worse, Atlantic Canada has put all of its political eggs in one basket – the Liberal basket.
All four provinces have Liberal governments, and last October the region gave all 32 of its Commons seat to Justin Trudeau and his federal Liberals. After years of feeling ignored by the Harper Conservatives, the region’s ardent embrace of the Liberals is understandable.