Election? What election? If there were an election, you would think the prime minister would know.
“In an election campaign, you make promises about what you might do once you’re elected. Right now, we’re continuing the work that we got elected for in 2015 and in 2019,” Justin Trudeau assured reporters in Montreal on Thursday. The Liberal government, he explained, is simply doing this summer what is has been doing since it was elected six years ago – growing the economy, creating good jobs, and protecting the environment.
So it’s business as usual. No campaigning. No summer election in the offing.
Perhaps it was too quiet for the PM in Ottawa last week. Or perhaps he wanted to spare cabinet ministers the trouble of travelling to Montreal. He went there himself to make a couple of announcements about the stuff his government has been twice elected to do. Routine stuff, you understand. One was a handout to – forgive me, make that an “investment in” – Quebec’s aerospace industry of $440 million; the other was $25 million to expand a wind turbine plant. Yep, creating good jobs, protecting the environment. No election fodder here.
If the Liberal leader says his party is not going hippity hoppity down an election trail, of course it is not. Only handful of conspiracy-minded journalists – well, if more than a handful, surely less than a dumpsterful – would look at the Friday, July 16 schedule of some key cabinet ministers and draw the absurd conclusion that our PM might be trying to throw the skeptical scribes off the scent.
Let’s see. These Grit ministers are a peripatetic bunch. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra had been in Vancouver on Thursday to announce that Canada’s ban on cruise ships, a COVID-prevention measure, will be lifted, in November. He stayed to announce on Friday how the government is going to protect the oceans. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough was also in British Columbia. She and NDP Premier John Horgan unveiled a fed-prov program to create jobs through the development of clean energy.
Meanwhile, Mélanie Joly, the minister of economic development and official languages, was in Trois-Rivieres with Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne to give out federal cash for two regional airports in Quebec. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, who had been quite busy making announcements about fish in Nova Scotia, shifted gears on Friday for an announcement about energy refitting for the province.
The GTA was not forgotten on Friday. A trio of federal Liberal ministers descended on Scarborough. Deputy minister Chrystia Freeland, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Mary Ng, the minister of small business, joined by a passel of provincial ministers and Toronto Mayor John Tory, announced a three-government deal to invest $35.9 million in the Tamil Community Centre.
Finally, in what would be deemed to be election-related, if an election were in the works, which we now know it is not, another Ottawa-area Liberal MP was poised to announce she will not seek re-election. This time, it is two-term MP Karen McCrimmon in suburban Kanata-Carleton. Earlier, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna announced she will vacate her prime Liberal seat, Ottawa Centre. McKenna’s move prompted speculation that Ottawa Centre was the chosen landing spot for star recruit Mark Carney, the former central banker.
But maybe not. The NDP holds the riding provincially and is targeting the federal seat. The New Democrats reputedly have as many boots on the ground as the Liberals do, possibly more. They are panting for a chance to knock off the latest Liberal rock star.
So the search resumes for a safe place to park the former governor of the Bank of Canada and Bank of England. It could be Kanata-Carleton, in the extreme western reach of the capital. Although it cannot claim to be home to the Parliament Buildings, as Ottawa Centre can, Kanata-Carleton it does have its own national institution, the Canadian Tire Centre, playground of the other Senators, the ones who skate.
Mark Carney would not be able to walk to work, but he might learn to love the one-hour bus ride to Parliament Hill. If there were an election.
Cambridge resident Geoffrey Stevens is an author and former Ottawa columnist and managing editor of the Globe and Mail. His new book, Flora! A Woman in a Man’s World, co-authored with the late Flora MacDonald, is being published this fall by McGill-Queen’s University Press. His column appears Mondays. He welcomes comments at [email protected].