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

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

Update: Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps from 60 to 800 hectares

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

B.C. pipeline goes ahead despite scrapped Pacific Northwest LNG

NEB approves amendment for $1.4-billion natural gas North Montney Mainline Project

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

Ben Makuch challenges Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that he must give materials for stories to RCMP

B.C. launches plan to tackle doctor shortage, emergency room congestion

John Horgan aims to set up regional primary care networks in a ‘team-based’ approach

Most Read