What We’re Watching: Backlash to Trudeau’s Tofino trip – iPolitics

If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had been hoping that the near-universal criticism of his inexplicable decision to mark Canada’s first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by jetting off to Tofino, B.C., for a private family getaway would die down over the weekend, a quick glance at the headlines would deflate such unwarranted optimism.

Perhaps even more baffling is that he initially omitted those travel plans from his official itinerary, which made it look as though his office was deliberately trying to cover his tracks.

The newly created federal holiday “was never supposed to be about politicians, nor was it intended to be a vacation,” the Star’s Susan Delacourt writes. But it’s “now become about both, (and) has handed (Trudeau’s) critics something they won’t let him forget.”

As Chantal Hébert points out, “the actions of a prime minister always speak louder than his words, and, in Trudeau’s case, there was again a glaring gap between his oft-stated commitment to Indigenous reconciliation and his choices.” It’s that gap, “more than any of his signature policies, (that) accounts for his successive failures to secure a governing majority.”

On top of that, nearly two weeks after Team Trudeau earned a second go-round in minority, “no date has been set to swear in a cabinet or for the House of Commons to meet,” she notes. “There is no guarantee of a first ministers’ conference before the end of the year. Even the reflex of reaching for low-lying fruits seems to be on pause.”

So, will the outrage roll on through next week? That remains to be seen, although the Sunday-afternoon news that Trudeau has apologized to the B.C. First Nation, which had twice invited him to mark the occasion in their community, might work in his defence.

Conservatives might debate O’Toole’s fate at first post-election caucus

Meanwhile, as previewed in last week’s lookahead, Conservative MPs are holding their first caucus huddle since the election on Tuesday.

While we still don’t know if they’ll gather via webcam or in person, the meeting will likely tell whether Erin O’Toole needs to worry about a challenge to his continuing leadership of the party.

As the Star’s Stephanie Levitz wrote last week: “Under changes made in 2015 to how Parliament works, every party’s caucus members can vote in their first meeting after an election on whether or not to give themselves power over certain aspects of how they work.” That includes “whether MPs can trigger a leadership review,” which will be decided during the upcoming closed-door session.

“Should MPs vote for a leadership review, the next step would be to give written notice to the caucus chair, signed by 20 per cent of MPs. The written notice must be made public, and a vote would then be held by secret ballot,” Levitz notes.

“If a majority of members vote to replace the leader, an interim leader is chosen right away.”

MPs will also decide whether to opt into provisions to elect their own caucus chair, as well as separate rules requiring caucus to vote on ejecting MPs from caucus or readmitting them.

Although the changes to the Reform Act require the caucus to inform the Speaker of the votes’ results, it doesn’t say when — or even if — those details should be released publicly. Given the level of interest in the opt-in mechanism for leadership review, however, it’s hard to see how the party could keep the outcome under wraps for long — not without triggering a new wave of speculation over just how safe O’Toole is in his current post, at least.

Then again, just one day after the election, a “source close to the O’Toole campaign” told the Star that he’d “encourage” caucus to opt into the review mechanism: “He’s got to have the support of caucus. … He knows that, and (the Reform Act) is something he’s pushed for in the past.”

If that’s still true, not only does it all but guarantee the provision is adopted, it could pre-emptively circumvent claims that voting for the measure constitutes a vote of non-confidence in O’Toole.

Elizabeth May breaks silence on Annamie Paul’s resignation

Finally, just days after Annamie Paul announced she’d be stepping down as leader of the Greens, her high-profile predecessor, Elizabeth May, broke her silence on the internal turmoil that has engulfed the party for months, and offered a markedly different account of the goings-on behind the scenes that preceded Paul’s news conference last week.

Although she was “thrilled” when Paul initially joined the race to replace her, Paul’s “leadership style clashed with party culture almost from the beginning,” May writes.

“None of the leadership contenders was drawn into a revitalized party, nor did any run in the election. In fact, inexplicably, one leadership candidate was denied the right to run, in contravention of the party’s constitution. On the other hand, Ms. Paul negotiated, and still maintains, complete control over party communications.”

In fact, according to May, Paul instructed her to stop giving interviews and participating in news conferences, “to shrink my role and shrink some more, except to support (her) by fundraising for her Toronto Centre campaign in my own riding.”

The “two-line statement” that May and then-Green MP Paul Manly made after Jenica Atwin’s decision to join the Liberal caucus was “our first and only public communication since October 2020 issued without her permission,” May notes.

“On Sept. 28, Annamie Paul held a press conference, viewed by all national media as her resignation,” she continues. “She said she had notified the council. She had not. That same day, she told the federal council that she has not resigned. She remains in control of the party’s communications. She also has had her staff remind me I am still under her directive that I not speak to media.”

May says this left her “feeling a bit gaslit by being attacked by (Paul’s) staff for my silence while being told I am not allowed to speak.” The following Thursday, “I realized I had to say something.”

In her interview with CTV, May pointed out that Paul still hasn’t formally resigned from the post, which she described as “untenable,” and once again dismissed the suggestion that she herself might step up to serve as interim leader. Instead, she recommended that Manly, who lost his bid for re-election in Nanaimo—Ladysmith, take on the job.

On the capital calendar this week

For the second year in a row, the Canadian Public Health Association’s annual conference will be entirely online, starting with an opening-day appearance by Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam, who will share her thoughts on “the future of public heath care after COVID-19.” (Wednesday AM)

Also on the three-day program is a panel discussion on “disrupting whiteness in public health,” as well as sessions on news-media “frames” of public health, alternative drug-policy models, the “health impacts” of climate change, data management, “transformation” of the vaccine supply chain, and “retrofitting the relationship between public health and primacy care.” (Wednesday through Friday)

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