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The Jitters and Cabinet Shuffles

TORONTO – Rumors galore about a cabinet shuffle: Backbenchers giddy with anticipation, Ministers trying hard to quell their personal tensions about being “dropped” (how can the country survive without them?).

The signs have been all therefor these last two weeks with flurries of activities that defy logic in the sleepy days of summer.

On the Immigration side, there were three announcements on what the federal government was doing to welcome more immigrants (now refugees or Visa students) or how to “house” the most recent arrivals via the “informal entry portal,” in some circles known as “illegals”.

The announcements began the previous week with four MPs from Northeast Toronto making the grand announcement (what was it again?) on behalf of Minister Fraser, then followed up by a similar announcement delivered by former Minister of Immigration in Toronto’s West end. Finally, the big deal of $97 million (federal portion) allocation to Toronto specifically for housing refugees who had been abandoned in the streets.

Toronto must have been at the heart of government concerns because two Ministers (one for Transportation, the other for Heritage) held court with reporters on the “progress” of plans for completion of a high frequency rail line between Toronto and Quebec City. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he hopes the high-frequency rail line will be running by the mid-2030s, rather than the early 2030s.

Noteworthy is that he did not want to raise expectations about High-Speed Rai, which may well be something completely different. There have already been at least seventeen feasibility studies. The Commons sub-Committee on Transportation, which I Chaired and whose membership included a certain MP Olivia Chow recommended Canada “get on with it” in 2009-10.  This deserves an article in its own right.

The most significant “burr in the saddle” is the perceived misstep on the transfer of convicted mass rapist-murderer Paul Bernardo out from maximum security penitentiary. Thirty years ago, the gravity of his chilling murders was so horrifying that the courts forbade Canadian press and media from publicizing details. Reporters resorted to their US colleagues for details but could not and would not include them in their narrative.

If anything would rile the passions of Canadians of all ages, it would be the nonchalance attitude by government on anything having to do with this mass murderer. The current Minister may well have turned himself into a lightning rod.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has been attracting his own share unbridled electricity. He may have misspoken on the issue of Muslim parents being influenced by the extreme right on gender ideology, but mothers are beginning to protest against his policies in this regard. He was booed off the stage in an Indigenous event and shouted down with profanities at another event in Southwest Ontario.

The list on “policy deficiencies” is growing by the day: higher cost of living; affordability issue, for housing and rent, monetary policies that erode value of housing assets accumulated by “youngish” families… In this background, poll results have not been encouraging. Ministers (and would be aspirants) are being called to Ottawa.

It is the end of July. What is the state of emergency other than Is any Minister safe?

Yes, only those who submit their own resignation (for whatever reason) like Carolyn Bennet.

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