There seems little doubt that, with the contentious campaign for the 2019 federal election looming, the heat is rising rapidly in the partisan elements of politics in Canada.
How much of this increasing level of discord from coast to coast is a ripple effect of the day-to-day extreme chaos of American politics and the increasing uncertainties that go along with being the northern neighbour of the U.S., is unknown. I’m certainly not sure … but every day new and disturbing issues are emerging on both sides of the border.
While leaders of the Liberals and Conservative parties rarely agree, both Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer have said the run-up to the 2019 election is going to be “a nasty one.”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has just experienced the “nasty” when Trudeau announced a date last week for a by-election to fill one of four parliamentary vacancies, but waffled on about the outstanding vacancy in Burnaby South, where the dawdling Singh has finally decided to run for a seat in Parliament after 10 months as leader, “getting to know the country.”
However, “getting to know you” can be a two-way street and Singh may not find Burnaby South will not be an easy win, although formerly an NDP-held seat.
Trudeau is now under pressure by all parties to fill all vacancies ASAP, but has no urgent requirement to clear the way for a Burnaby South by-election for several months.
Burnaby, however, is also the terminus for the much-delayed Transmountain Pipeline project, which Singh vehemently opposes. Let’s see how Trudeau handles the ongoing push by all three opposition parties to get by-elections out of the way – currently, Trudeau is offering his usual well-worded non-responses.
That may be the very least of Trudeau’s troubles.
The legalization of recreational marijuana continuing to generate previously-unpredicted provincial and federal questions on accessibility, supply and demand and a host of other issues.
Add to that the significantly angry political and public reaction to Statistics Canada’s controversial new data project which would see the federal agency gather detailed financial transaction information on hundreds of thousands of Canadians, without either their consent or even notification.
Data sought by StatsCan includes account balances, debit and credit account transactions, mortgage payments and e-transfers. The agency has already inexplicably obtained personal financial information from the TransUnion credit bureau.
The privacy invasion issue was raised in Parliament several times last week, with deputy Conservative Leader Lisa Raitt asking Trudeau if he would order StatsCan to “cease and desist” its attempt to obtain the data.
The PM, in Question Period, simply reverted to an oft-repeated response that the federal government and StatsCan may be trusted to maintain Canadians’ data privacy.
That is not enough for the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien, who is launching an investigation.
Personally, my first question would be, if it’s as easy as StatsCan says it is to order and gather data like this – and use it anonymously to provide the government with “useful, accurate information on Canadians” while completely protecting it from hackers – how anxious would Revenue Canada be to have it too?
We never can be sure that every arm of government knows what the other arms of the octopus are doing, can we?
It is described as “only a sampling of half a million” out of 35 million Canadians – but why stop there? Another noisy shouting match among the parties on Thursday in Question Period shows this is one privacy issue that isn’t going away any time soon.
Meanwhile, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer doesn’t have an entirely clear path in planning to evict the federal Liberals in the next election – former Conservative cabinet minister Maxine Bernier is turning himself into “a bit of a Scheer nuisance,” by muddying the waters ahead for the CPC, after abandoning the party to form his own People’s Party on September 14, 2018.
Bernier is, of course, a former senior cabinet minister and Conservative party leadership candidate who lost to Scheer.
He is the leader of the new party and obviously, its only MP in the House. He has announced plans to run a full slate of candidates in upcoming elections from a claimed 30,000 membership. That remains to be seen.
Yes, things are warming up …