Mail, Japan and Canadian-style populism: how politics touched us this week

Sexual misconduct allegations, Canada Post, free trade with Japan and more

First Nova Scotia’s Jamie Baillie, then Ontario’s Patrick Brown, and finally Ottawa’s Kent Hehr.

The toppling of three politicians in the space of two days obliterated all other talk around federal politics this week, reverberating through caucus meetings in Victoria and Ottawa, and reaching the prime minister during his trip to Davos, Switzerland.

While circumstances around each man’s downfall are dramatically different, they all link to allegations of sexual misconduct — and have prompted politicians of all stripes to take a hard look at what happens behind closed doors.

READ MORE: Combat sexism, misconduct by voting in more women: former B.C. premier

Whether the introspection will turn into better working conditions for women in politics and young staffers, or whether it will turn into a tit-for-tat leaking of lurid tales is an open question.

Drowned out by the scandals were developments on mail delivery, opportunities for trade and investment with Asia, and the taking root of a Canadian brand of populism.

Here’s how politics mattered this week:

Of Canada post and election promises

Home delivery was a contentious issue in the 2015 election campaign after the Conservatives moved to halt it and replace the service with community mail boxes that residents would have to walk to.

This week, the Liberals rolled out their response. After many months of consultation and close scrutiny of the numbers, they say they will not convert any more home delivery routes to community mail boxes. More controversially, however, they also say they won’t “put the tooth paste back in the tube” by restoring the conversions of 840,000 households that have already taken place.

Not going ahead with the Conservative plan to eliminate door-to-door delivery means foregoing $350 million a year in savings. But the Liberals say they are giving Canada Post new freedoms and incentives to spread its wings and compete on parcels, on remittances, and off-hour deliveries.

Does all this mean Justin Trudeau has kept an election promise? Many voters had the impression — from comments made by Trudeau and his team — that home delivery would be completely restored. The Liberals’ election platform promises to “save home mail delivery.”

Of free trade with Japan

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, as Trudeau was consorting with the rich and famous in Davos and the bulk of Canada’s trade negotiators were holed up in Montreal for the renewal of NAFTA, Canadian officials in Japan agreed to sign on to a massive trade and investment agreement with Asia-Pacific countries.

The treaty will give Canada free trade with some of the world’s most dynamic economies — Japan, Australia, Vietnam. But the cheers of joy have been tempered in Canada by concerns about secrecy, and an outcry from the auto sector and dairy farmers.

Canada held off signing on to the deal late last year because of concerns about the cultural and auto industries. It came away this week with a cultural exemption in hand.

On the auto front, officials point to a side deal with Japan that will protect Canada’s interests. But since that bilateral agreement has yet to be made public, the auto sector and its unions fear for the worst — at a time when the NAFTA negotiators in Montreal are also under pressure to make concessions on auto manufacturing.

Of Canada-style populism

Former Conservative leadership contender and MP Kellie Leitch announced this week she would not seek re-election, and massive new polling and research by EKOS and The Canadian Press could give some insight as to why.

During her ill-fated leadership campaign, Leitch did not hesitate to invoke Donald Trump. She advocated screening immigrants for so-called Canadian values, and made no bones about adopting some of Trump’s populist tactics. She finished sixth.

Research published this week shows that populism may have a foothold in Canada, but it’s unique and doesn’t exactly replicate forces that drove voters to choose Trump.

EKOS Research took polls involving 12,604 people who discussed their opinions on economics, culture, openness towards the world and towards immigration. The polling firm formed an index that plotted the respondents according to how “open” or how “ordered” they preferred their world to be.

Fewer than half are on the “open” side of the spectrum. About 30 per cent are “ordered” — feeling economically and culturally insecure. And about 25 per cent have a mixed view.

The 30 per per cent of “ordered” respondents is not generally linked to race or immigration. Rather, there is a stronger correlation with education, income and hopes for the next generation.

Heather Scoffield, Ottawa Bureau Chief, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Esquimalt man faces four charges of sexual assault, investigators suspect more victims

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Heat and smoke raises health risks

Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror Health risks arising from heat and… Continue reading

Pet-A-Palooza a good reason to ‘pawse’ this weekend in Victoria

Puppies, goats, wiener dog races and more on the grounds of St. Ann’s Academy Aug. 18-19

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Victoria Lavender owner set to retire

Sidney storefront to remain open, future of goat yoga undecided

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

Altidore nets 3 as Toronto drubs Whitecaps 5-2

Vancouver falls 7-4 on aggregate in Canadian Championship final

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

B.C. company patents Sasquatch, the country’s first homegrown hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, Sasquatch hops are being grown commercially for the first time in B.C.

Farmers ponder impact of alternatives to pesticides being banned

The nicotine-based pesticides scientists have linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths will be phased out of use in Canada over a three year period starting in 2021.

Most Read