Winnipeg – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet ministers are trying to focus on the Liberal government’s domestic agenda and how it will work in a minority parliament – but the unforeseen emergency continues to demand their urgent attention.
The monstrous storm that pounded Newfoundland and the east of Labrador and the crash of a Ukrainian passenger jet raised questions among trauma ministers as they arrived on Sunday, the day the three-day cabinet retreat began.
But even as those events continue to dominate beyond retreat, the interior ministers turned their attention to more secular issues: Preparations for the resumption of parliament on January 27 for the first extended session since the October 21 election turned the Liberals into a minority.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau and newly appointed middle-class prosperity minister Mona Fortier have updated their colleagues that they are conducting cross-country consultations ahead of the upcoming budget.
“This morning we had a chance to talk about the economy, to reflect on how well middle-class Canadians have done in the last four years but to think about what we still need to do,” Morneau said.
“It was an important start to our day.”
But Foreign Minister Franোয়াois-Philippe Champagne began his day before the cabinet retreat, sending a message to his Iranian counterpart stressing that Canada expects Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752 flight data recorders to be analyzed by Ukrainian experts. Or France.
His message came amid signs that Iran – which accidentally shot down a passenger plane, killing 176 people, including 57 Canadians – may backtrack on its earlier promise to share damaged black boxes with outside experts.
The airliner was shot down on January 8, and the tragedy has kept the government busy ever since. Trudeau, who wanted to take a lower profile during his second order, has held four press conferences on the subject, met with the families of the victims and visited the memorial.
Trudeau made no comment on Sunday because he came from a retreat.
Towards the end of the day, various diplomats around the world gave ministers a rundown on the international scene.
Among them is Dominic Burton, Canada’s ambassador to China, where two Canadians have been jailed for more than a year in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the United States.
To summarize the world situation painted by the diplomats, Champagne said: “This is a complex world. This is a world that is less predictable. This is definitely not the world of our parents. “
That unpredictability is not limited to the international level.
The other three ministers – Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Defense Minister Harjeet Sajjan and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan – did at least part of the retreat to deal with the federal response to the storm that devastated Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday and Saturday.
“We have good, close coordination to make sure they get the resources they need.” Tell me.
The gentleman said that by the end of the day 150 to 200 troops would be on the ground in the province, with another 150 ready to go if needed.
Climate scientist Katherine Heho, one of about a dozen experts, spoke to ministers on Sunday about various issues, later saying the storm was an example of how warming climates are exacerbating extreme weather events.
The ministers also heard from economists about the state of the economy and the government’s efforts to strengthen the middle class.
Morneau later declined to elaborate on how budget preparations in the minority parliament differed from those made during the Liberals’ first majority mandate. He acknowledged that consultations with opposition parties – at least one of which would have to support the budget if the government survived – would be “stronger this year”.
The cabinet retreat outside Ottawa is part of Trudeau’s approach to regional propaganda, with Winnipeg chosen for the special visit to acknowledge that the Liberals in the Prairie election were defeated in the October 21 election – largely because of environmental policies that were perceived as hostile to power. Art
They are completely off Alberta and Saskatchewan and lose three of Manitoba’s seven seats.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has reiterated that he is open to advising liberals on improving climate change policy. But he made it clear that any change in the imposition of a national carbon tax is unlikely to be involved, noting that two-thirds of Canadians voted in favor of the approach in climate policy.
On the other hand, the ministers also received an update on the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline extension, which is intended to carry mixed bitumen from Alberta oil sand to the BC coast for export abroad.
Construction has begun and Ian Anderson, CEO of Trans Mountain Corporation, said the project is expected to be completed by mid-2022.
O’Regan said he hoped it would help “change the temperature” in the prairies, especially in Alberta, where there has been a lot of talk of secession and isolation since the election.
This report was first published in the Canadian Press on January 19, 2020.
Joan Bryden, Canadian Press