There have been two transfers of power in North America this week. One involved direct, actual power, while the other was more symbolic.
As my colleague Catherine Porter reports, the swearing-in of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as President of the United States on Wednesday is expected to rekindle US-Canada relations after four turbulent years under former President Donald J. Trump.
[Read: Justin Trudeau Gets Call From Biden as Canada and U.S. Mend Relations]
While many Canadians felt relief at the transfer of power, not all were delighted with the handover, including Jason Kenney, Alberta’s Prime Minister. As widely expected, one of Mr Biden’s first actions was to kill the Keystone XL pipeline, which was supposed to connect Alberta’s oil sands and eventually Gulf Coast refineries, which have a thirsty appetite for the heavy crude they produce.
[Read: Biden to Cancel Keystone XL Pipeline in Inauguration Day Executive Order]
Mr Kenney pledged to continue fighting for Keystone XL, which his government had kept alive last year with investment and loan guarantees worth just over $ 7 billion. He also called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to effectively mimick Mr. Trump’s ways and use trade sanctions in retaliation for Mr. Biden’s actions. But several people I interviewed this week said there was probably no legal or commercial channel that could reverse the new president’s decision.
[Read: Keystone Rejection Tests Trudeau’s Balancing Act on Climate and Energy]
But unlike Mr. Biden’s pipeline move, no one had foreseen that Governor General Julie Payette would step down this week. We will likely never know the exact reasons for her sudden departure, although this was clearly triggered by an independent staff review which, based on what Mr Trudeau and others had vaguely suggested, indicated that she and her top assistant were among the worst Chiefs of Canada belonged to.
[Read: Canada’s Governor General Resigns Amid Reports of a Toxic Workplace]
The government does not publish this review, citing privacy concerns. But for months, Ashley Burke of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has been producing a steady stream of horror stories from Rideau Hall, the official residence and workplace of the Governor General. Other reports have questioned a number of Ms. Payette’s actions since she, a former astronaut, took office in 2017, creating the impression that she had a dire case of remorse from the buyer, Canada’s head of state as Queen Elizabeth’s representative II. To become.
While Mr Trudeau cannot be held responsible for how Mrs Payette behaved when she was in office, it was clearly his reputation for getting her there.
Barbara Messamore, professor of history at the University of Fraser Valley in British Columbia and author of the definitive book on the development of the general system of governors in Canada, was among the many people who told me that Mr Trudeau might have been spared, a likely one awkward call with the queen on friday when he 2017 had also set up an impartial advisory body to help select their Canadian representative. This system was introduced by Stephen Harper, its conservative predecessor.
Given that Mr Trudeau has set up a similar advisory body for the election of the Senate candidate, his decision to reinstate the old method of leaving the governor-general in office is all the more puzzling.
On Friday, Mr. Trudeau admitted what was evident: “The existing review process has been followed, but of course we will also look at how we can strengthen and improve the review process for high-level appointments.”
However, he was less receptive to questions about whether this screening process, like journalists, found out that allegations of abusive behavior by Ms. Payette had surfaced elsewhere. And Mr. Trudeau offered little when asked if he had ignored any warnings resulting from the trial.
“It’s the highest appointment in Canada,” said Robert Bothwell, professor of Canadian history at the University of Toronto. “It really is the prime minister’s fault. He really has to endure that. “
Some people, including Professor Bothwell, told me that they hoped that Ms. Payette’s departure could finally get Canadians to reconsider the role of British monarchs in Canada.
As a backdrop, Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research electoral bureau, said his polls showed that the monarch is now a “humble source of national identity that has declined over the past few decades”.
Professor Messamore said that regardless of the current chaos in Rideau Hall, “there is a crucial reason for the office”. She said Canada enjoyed stability by separating its head of state, the queen, from the political head of government, the prime minister, through the governor-general. Whether a monarch in London is necessary to achieve this goal is an open question.
It is unlikely that Queen Elizabeth is still alive and keen to undertake reforms that require the Herculean task of gaining approval from all ten provinces. But Professor Bothwell said when the Queen dies or resigns, “I don’t think anyone knows what we’re going to do.”
When 17-year-old Robert Waldner was lost while snowmobiling on Mica Mountain in central British Columbia, Dan Bilefsky panicked and dug.
Winnipeg fashion mogul Peter Nygard portrayed himself as the multimillionaire and modern Juan Ponce de León, who had found the fountain of youth. Catherine Porter reports that as Mr Nygard now seeks bail in a Winnipeg court while awaiting a hearing on possible extradition to the United States on sex crimes and other charges, he is old, sick, broke, lonely and likely to be classified will die in prison.
Ian Austen is from Windsor, Ontario. He was trained in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has been reporting on Canada for the New York Times for 16 years. Follow him on Twitter @ianrausten.
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