Capital Dispatch: Trudeau put 'on notice'

Here's what you need to know about the top political stories of the week.
February 9, 2024
Capital Dispatch

Poilievre accused of 'playing with fire,' and is Trudeau's confidence deal in peril? 

This week was a big one for Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre who finally started to outline, more concretely, his policy positions and governance plans -- from a multi-pronged auto theft proposal, to revealing in a scrum when pressed what he thinks about transgender and non-binary minors using puberty blockers. 

Plus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was put "on notice" by the NDP, and there's new insight into how Canadians feel about the war in Ukraine. 

The week that was

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith came to the nation's capital this week to set up an Ottawa office, and her presence was felt for days to follow, specifically when Parliament Hill reporters got the chance to question Poilievre about his views on what the province is proposing in terms of transgender restrictions. 

Siding with Smith on her proposed measures focused on transgender youth, Poilievre confirmed Wednesday that in his view, no trans and non-binary folks under the age of 18 should be allowed to use hormone therapies that help delay puberty-related development for gender reassignment purposes.

His position on the issue was swiftly met with pushback from his political opponents who accused him of trying to take away Canadians' rights, from members of the trans community and their families who expressed the importance of access to affirming care, and from a former federal Conservative candidate, who accused the party of selling out the transgender community. 

If you missed it earlier this week, here's my piece on this.

The major event of the week was Thursday's national summit aimed at tackling the rising issue of auto theft. While Poilievre pushed out his proposals at a press conference with a backdrop of vehicles and shipping containers, and in the House of Commons through an opposition motion, the Liberals convened governments, police forces, and auto sector stakeholders in the capital to talk solutions. Here's what came from that. 

Also, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he's put the Liberals "on notice" that his party is ready to pull out of the confidence-and-supply agreement if the federal government doesn't make good on its pharmacare commitment on time. With less than a month to go, is the end of the two-party pact near? More on this below. 

Lastly, Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford signed a new health-care agreement between the federal government and the province in the GTA on Friday. As CTV News Toronto reports, the announcement comes almost a year after the two governments reached a 10-year deal in principle to pay for health care in Ontario.  

Not to be missed

House passes revamped Ukraine trade deal

A bill to implement the modernized Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement passed the House of Commons on Tuesday despite the Conservatives voting against it, prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to accuse Pierre Poilievre of "abandoning" Ukraine. Poilievre shot back that Trudeau was "a big talker and a little doer" for the war-torn country. These reciprocal jabs came amid new polling data that indicated Canadians' attention on the war is plunging, as is support among Conservative voters. 

Climate group splashes paint on PMO, again

A climate action group that blocked traffic and vandalized property in Ottawa last summer has returned to once again demand the federal government do more to deal with climate change. Members of Last Generation Canada, previously known as On2Ottawa, splashed pink paint on the Prime Minister's Office on Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa and blocked the road before being arrested Wednesday morning. The group has been demanding a national firefighting agency that employs and trains 50,000 firefighters and that Canada implement "legally-binding citizens' assemblies to tackle the climate and ecological crisis within two years."

Liberals at risk of big losses in Vancouver, Toronto

And, the federal Conservatives continue to hold a commanding lead over the Liberals, who are at risk of losing large swaths of Metro Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area they won in the last federal election, according to the latest ballot numbers and seat projection data from Nanos Research. If the election was held today, the Conservatives would get 40 per cent of the ballot support marking a 15-point lead over the Liberals, who are at 24.7 per cent ballot support. That's an increase of 6.3 percentage points for the Conservatives, when compared against their 2021 election performance, while the Liberals are 7.9 percentage points lower than they were three years ago. 

Quote of the week

"I made it very clear to the prime minister that we expect legislation, and we expect the government to take steps to go beyond that. And, we expect that by the 1st of March. And it was a tough meeting… I made it clear that this is something we're very serious about. We're not going to extend this any further. We're very serious that pharmacare has to be delivered. We need to see legislation, and some additional steps. And I made that very clear to the prime minister. I put him on notice that we expect that by March 1st. If not there will be repercussions."

- NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, speaking with reporters about his Monday meeting with the PM.

Curious why this was my pick?

Head over to CTV News' YouTube channel for the new Capital Dispatch video edition, where I provide more context and insight behind the quotes I highlight, and more. New episode are posted on Friday afternoons when Parliament is sitting. 

The week ahead

What's on the docket for next week?

It sounds like the Liberals are trying to find a consensus with MPs and senators around how to expedite the assisted dying legislation given the looming mid-March deadline, so should a deal be made, expect that bill to come up.

And, on Monday, Auditor General Karen Hogan will issue her performance audit report on the federal government's ArriveCAN app, which has been at the centre of intense scrutiny over contracting misconduct allegations that the prime minister has called "illogical and inefficient."

According to the AG's office, the report focuses on: "whether the Canada Border Services Agency, Public Health Agency of Canada, and Public Services and Procurement Canada managed all aspects of the ArriveCAN application." This will include assessing the procurement element, as well as the COVID-era creation's "regard for economy, efficiency, and effectiveness."

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