“Canada has never been perfect, and it’s not perfect now,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the first in-person Canada Day in Ottawa since 2019.
Speaking to thousands from a festival stage at LeBreton Flats Park near Parliament Hill, the Prime Minister indirectly acknowledged the tension in the air by focusing on the Canadian flag and its takeover by far-right groups as a symbol of anti-government anger.
“Let’s remember the values it represents: compassion, hope and responsibility, justice, openness and hard work,” Trudeau said.
The family program at the LeBreton Flats attracted a friendly crowd. But between Park and Parliament Hill the atmosphere changed.
Heading east down Wellington Street to the Prime Minister’s office – the same streets overtaken by convoys this winter – protesters joined the crowd, turning a crossroads into an anti-Trudeau meeting.
Hundreds of convoy supporters and anti-government protesters gathered in front of Trudeau’s office wearing their “Truck Yeah” shirts. They waved their “F— Trudeau” flags and sold “Freedom Convoy 2022” merchandise to spread their dissent.
There were scuffles between demonstrators and the police sparked new investigations after the bank holiday weekend, large crowds encouraged the return.
It has been more than four months since Ottawa took unprecedented emergency measures to evict anti-government protesters after their three-week occupation of the streets around Parliament Hill.
The chaos shook the lives of downtown residents. Disturbing truck horns blared around the clock. As the home continued to weather the chaos, some stores temporarily closed to protect staff from agitators who had grown accustomed to the protest.
The spectacle dragged on in part due to a disorganized police response that allowed protesters to hole up on the hilltop. The delayed action of the police is now the subject of several investigations.
The occupation’s apparent success mobilized anti-government and far-right groups around the world and at key border crossings, urging the federal government to take emergency measures as a “last resort” to end the trucker protest.
The stubborn response bolstered the resolve of anti-Trudeau and anti-government protesters, sparking a new flurry of controversy for Liberals – and an opportunity for opposition Conservatives.
Parliament rose for the summer, but an independent inquiry continues its work to probe Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Emergency Act to respond to convoy protesters.
Running parallel to this summer’s probe is the race for Conservative leadership at the federal level.
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre is the presumed lead candidate, leading candidates Jean Charest, Patrick Brown, Leslyn Lewis, Roman Baber and Scott Aitchison in the number of members registered for the party’s September 10 election.
Poilievre’s populist campaign has drawn huge crowds at bus stops across the country, who are adopting US political tactics like modeling distrust and contempt for mainstream media to promise to take on Canada’s elites and fire “the gatekeepers.” His willingness to flirt with far-right leaders and groups to garner support has alarmed some supporters of the party.
On the eve of Canada Day, the conservative arsonist literally marched with the rebel troops, walking alongside James Topp, a veteran who did it gained notoriety for his far-right connections.
Topp went to Ottawa from Vancouver to protest the Covid-19 mandates, which have largely been lifted for now.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters on Thursday that while relaxed restrictions should allow Canadians to enjoy a well-deserved summer, he said he and his provincial and territory-level counterparts are preparing for a fall vaccination campaign to ensure one to avert further expected wave of infection.
A new Conservative leader will be installed by September – the party’s sixth in seven years since former Prime Minister Stephen Harper lost the 2015 election to Trudeau’s Liberals.
Canada’s federal conservatives have their eyes on a low-hanging political opportunity. A series of controversies and two consecutive minority governments have weakened Trudeau and piqued voters’ curiosity for something else.
The Conservatives announced on Thursday that 675,000 members are entitled to vote in this year’s leadership race, including about 613,000 new registrations since February.
The preliminary list of eligible voters smokes the party’s previous record of 270,000 eligible voters from the 2020 leadership election.
“This is a tidal wave of membership,” said Ian Brodie, chairman of the organizing committee for the party leadership elections.
While the party’s record-breaking membership list is driving the party, some old-guard conservatives are concerned about where that support is coming from and where it will take the party.
Retired Conservative Sen. Marjory LeBreton wrote an op-ed in Policy magazine this week, noting that the party must make an “existential choice” about its direction.
She cautioned against adopting “divisive and excessive rhetoric,” warning that “stoking the flames of poison, resentment and anger solves nothing, making it even more difficult to resolve some very serious issues facing our country.” is”.