The federal deputies broke camp until January 30, leaving behind them an eventful year 2022. Here are seven, in more or less chronological order, and not necessarily in order of relevance.
The streets of downtown Ottawa were paralyzed for 23 days, trucks, vans and other vehicles jamming like a giant Tetris game, still leaving enough space for an inflatable spa in Wellington Street. The reaction of the Liberal government to what some saw as a Canadian copy of the assault on the Capitol in the United States was unprecedented: on February 14, Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergency Measures Act for the first time in Canadian history. The House of Commons endorsed it on February 21, and on February 23, while the Senate was debating the legislation, the government revoked it. The occupation, which defeated Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, was the most significant event of the 2002 federal political year, unanimously determined three political scientists consulted by The Press (see other text).
The Trudeau government has imposed more than 1,500 sanctions on individuals or entities in Russia, Belarus or Ukraine since February 24, the day Ukraine was invaded by its Russian neighbor. Canada has delivered armored vehicles, howitzers, cameras for drones, increased its contingents of military instructors to train Ukrainian forces and has already contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. “I think Canada did well. We are not the most important player, but the government has played its role,” said Daniel Béland, full professor of political science at McGill University. While the influence of a notoriously anti-Putin Chrystia Freeland is no stranger to Ottawa’s firm posture, it’s not the only factor that comes into play, believes the political scientist: the approach is “in tune with public opinion” in Canada, home to the second largest Ukrainian diaspora in the world, and is cross-party, unlike what we see in the United States.
This is the year until which the Liberal minority government could remain in power thanks to the “support and confidence agreement” concluded on March 22 with the New Democrat troops. It has therefore been on the road for almost nine months, even if, in this time, Chief Jagmeet Singh has twice threatened to tear it up. “It prompted the Liberals to lay the foundations for a dental health care plan that was put forward because of this pact. This is an important moment for Canadian parliamentarianism,” maintains Thierry Giasson, director of the political science department at Université Laval. The agreement provoked fury in the benches of the opposition. And he will be under close surveillance next year (see other text).
The inflation rate peaked at 8.1% last June. It has since fallen slightly, settling at 7.1% in November, but this boom has forced the Bank of Canada to raise its key rate seven times in 2022: from 0.25% in January, it jumped to 4.25% in December. Each in their own way, Conservatives and New Democrats are enjoying it in the House of Commons. And the Liberals are struggling to come up with solid explanations, says Geneviève Tellier, full professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa: “They have difficulty in terms of communication. It is not their strong point, let’s say, to do pedagogy. »
That’s the number of ministers – one-third of the Cabinet – who have been nominated to serve on a Cabinet committee created in July to find solutions to huge flaws in the delivery of federal services like issuing passports or delays in processing immigration applications. “We had the impression that the machine had gone to sleep, was operating in slow motion during the pandemic”, notes political scientist Thierry Giasson. The government had to notice that people were setting up tents in front of passport offices before they really moved. “It has improved, but we cannot always operate in crisis management. The solutions that come in response to a crisis are not necessarily sustainable,” adds the professor.
Until the end, Jean Charest’s team ensured that there was a way to victory. There was, however, an insurmountable obstacle in the way: Pierre Poilievre. We saw it on the evening of September 10, when the member for Carleton amassed 68.15% of the points in the first round. A triumph that gives free rein to this (young) political veteran, who had filled rooms across the country during his leadership campaign. If he has not lost too much of his brittle style in the debates in the House, Pierre Poilievre speaks less of his affection for bitcoin – which the Liberals are always ready to bring back to the table. He also speaks little to the media on the hill, having shown up twice at a microphone in the foyer of the Chamber since he inherited the Conservative crown.
China may have given Canada back its two Michaels, but it is not done with being “disruptive”, an epithet given to it by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly in the Indo-Pacific strategy it has unveiled at the end of November. A few days earlier, the Global News network reported that Beijing had interfered in the 2019 campaign, through an underground network that allegedly funded 11 candidates. The government and a handful of senior officials have questioned this reporting. “We have no information about these 11 candidates,” Mr.me Joly in front of a Commons committee that has begun to look into this new Chinese puzzle. Clandestine police stations located in Canada, which are allegedly operated by the Chinese regime (there are five of them), also raise concerns. The Chinese ambassador to Ottawa, Cong Peiwu, has been summoned to explain himself to Global Affairs Canada three times this year on this subject.
A mirror and a crystal ball
Three political scientists identify the event which, according to them, marked the most the year 2022, and reveal what they will have in mind in 2023.
Daniel Béland, Director of the Institute of Canadian Studies at McGill University
2022: The “convoy of freedom »
“So much has come out of the occupation, including the hasty resignation of Erin O’Toole as Conservative leader. By revealing vulnerabilities, the presence of the convoy also called into question the ability of the security services to protect the capital of a G7 country. Communication between the various police forces has been a real failure. »
2023: The pact between Left Liberal and NDP
“We will have to watch how the NDP will react to the tabling of the next budget, because it is probably the next opportunity to perhaps bring down the government. Jagmeet Singh is right to urge the Liberals, because he became a shadow of Justin Trudeau by signing this pact. It’s a risky bet. »
Geneviève Tellier, full professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa
2022: The “convoy of freedom »
“We saw the American divide settling in Canada; we wondered if it was going to affect political life here. And obviously, the government’s response was not trivial, with the invocation of the Emergency Measures Act, then the opening of the Rouleau commission. And besides, will there be a new convoy next February? »
2023: The situation economic
“Are we heading for an economic crisis? Will interest rates go up? The first few months may be difficult. It will bother the government… and will we have a new finance minister? What about Charles Sousa [ancien ministre des Finances de l’Ontario, élu dans un scrutin partiel fédéral en décembre] ? Chrystia Freeland’s performance isn’t the best. I’ll say it like that. »
Thierry Giasson, director of the political science department at Université Laval
2022: The “ convoy of freedom »
“It shook up the political spectrum of just about everyone. In the Conservative Party, this allowed Pierre Poilievre to step up and become a little more visible to Canadians who may not have known him. He dared to take sides with the convoy and I think this strategy served him well, and enabled him to become a leader. »
2023: The pact Between Liberal Party and NDP
“It can jump, this case, and it can become the trigger for a vote of no confidence, and the fall of the government. I don’t think the Bloc Québécois or the NDP want to go to an election; maybe that would suit Justin Trudeau… but certainly, Pierre Poilievre would like there to be an election. »
For reasons of clarity and conciseness, the remarks of the speakers have been edited.