Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Despair and the Status Quo: How Federal Politics Touched Canadians This Week

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Despair and the Status Quo: How Federal Politics Touched Canadians This Week

Article excerpt

Three ways politics touched us this week

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OTTAWA - A leaden blanket of despair stifled Parliament Hill this week, as politicians strained to come to terms with the Quebec City mosque shooting and the confusing Donald Trump ban on travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The Liberals started the week negotiating exemptions and scrambling for clarity on how the travel edict would affect Canada's 35,000 dual citizens from the countries on the U.S. president's blacklist, while wrestling with how to react to the more general nature of the ban.

MPs from all three parties either quietly or overtly denounced the targeting of Muslim-dominated countries -- even as what appeared to be anti-Muslim hatred crystallized into the killing of six men praying at a suburban mosque.

The long, dark week ended in funerals.

In the midst of the gloom, there were concrete developments on electoral reform and on the prospects for infrastructure, intended to give the economy a boost. Here's how politics touched us this week:

STATUS QUO ON IMMIGRATION:

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted last weekend that Canada welcomes refugees, many in Canada and around the world figured he would follow up with some tweaks to immigration policy that would deal with those no longer allowed into the United States.

Indeed, Minister Ahmed Hussen suggested as much on Sunday afternoon, leading the NDP to hope there may be some changes in the wind in time for its emergency debate on the subject Tuesday.

But by then, Hussen said there was no need for changes since the situation with the United States was evolving. And on Wednesday, his department issued a dry, technical analysis of the effect of Trump's executive order on the American asylum system, concluding no action was necessary from Canada.

Still, the media are full of stories about travellers being stopped or fearing to go, and the opposition is hankering for a policy response.

STATUS QUO ON ELECTORAL REFORM:

Close observers of federal politics saw it coming from a mile away. But when Trudeau finally confirmed in a letter this week to his new democratic institutions minister that electoral reform was dead, the opposition hit the roof. …

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