Under tight security on Canada Day, Trudeau shows the flag

“Canada was never perfect, and it’s not perfect now,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at Ottawa’s first in-person Canada Day 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 adoption by far-right groups as a symbol of anti-government rage.

“Let us remember the values ​​he represents: compassion, hope and responsibility, justice, openness and hard work,” Trudeau said.

Family programming at LeBreton Flats drew a friendly crowd. But the atmosphere has changed between the park and Parliament Hill.

Heading east on Wellington Street towards the Prime Minister’s Office – the same streets overtaken by convoys this winter – protesters joined the crowds, turn an intersection into an anti-Trudeau encounter.

Hundreds of convoy supporters and anti-government protesters gathered outside Trudeau’s office wearing their “Truck Yeah” shirts. They waved their “F—Trudeau” flags and sold “Freedom Convoy 2022” merchandise to spread their dissent.

Scrums between demonstrators and police launched new investigations after the holiday weekend encouraged the return of large crowds.

It has been more than four months since Ottawa invoked unprecedented emergency measures to root out anti-government protesters after their three-week occupation of the streets around Parliament Hill.

Chaos rocked the lives of downtown residents. Disruptive truck horns sounded at all hours. As the House continued to sit in chaos, some businesses closed temporarily to protect staff from agitators who had clung to the protest.

The spectacle dragged on in part because of a disorganized police response that allowed protesters to entrench themselves on the Hill. The late police intervention is now the subject of multiple investigations.

The apparent success of the occupation has mobilized anti-government and far-right groups around the world and at major border crossings, prompting the federal government to take emergency “last resort” measures to end the protest of truckers.

The heavy-handed response has emboldened the resolve of anti-Trudeau and anti-government protesters, sparking a new spiral of controversy for liberals – and an opportunity for opposition conservatives.

Parliament has risen for the summer, but an independent inquiry is continuing its work to probe Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to respond to protesters in the convoy.

Alongside this summer’s inquiry is the federal Conservative leadership race.

Tory MP Pierre Poilievre is the presumed favourite, leading candidates Jean Charest, Patrick Brown, Leslyn Lewis, Roman Baber and Scott Aitchison in the number of members registered to vote in the September 10 election.

Poilievre’s populist campaign drew large crowds to stops across the country, borrowing American political tactics like modeling distrust and disdain against the mainstream media to promise to take on Canada’s elites and fire “the gatekeepers.” . His willingness to flirt with far-right leaders and groups in support of the shore has alarmed some party stalwarts.

On the eve of Canada Day, the Conservative brand literally marched with rebel forces, marching alongside James Topp, a veteran who gained notoriety for his ties to the far right.

Topp marched from Vancouver to Ottawa to protest the Covid-19 mandates, which have largely been lifted for now.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters Thursday that while the easing of restrictions should allow Canadians to enjoy a well-deserved summer, he said he and his provincial and territorial counterparts are preparing for a vaccination campaign in the fall to avoid another expected wave of infections.

By September, a new Conservative leader will be installed – the party’s sixth in seven years since former Prime Minister Stephen Harper lost the 2015 election to the Trudeau Liberals.

Canada’s federal Conservatives have their eyes on a political opportunity at hand. A series of controversies and two successive minority governments weakened Trudeau, fueling the electorate’s curiosity for something different.

The Conservatives announced Thursday that 675,000 members are eligible to vote in this year’s leadership race, including around 613,000 new registrations since February.

The preliminary list of eligible members smokes the party’s previous record of 270,000 eligible voting members since its 2020 leadership election.

“This is a tidal wave of membership,” said Ian Brodie, chairman of the party’s leadership election organizing committee.

While the record membership slate energizes the party, some old-guard conservatives are wary of where that support will come from and where it will lead the party.

Retired Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton wrote an op-ed in Policy magazine this week, noting that the party has an “existential choice” to make about its direction.

She cautioned against adopting “excessive and confrontational rhetoric”, warning that “fanning the flames of vitriol, grievances and anger solves nothing, which makes it even more difficult to work on some very difficult issues. that our country is facing”.


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