The Border, the Budget and Chafing over 'The Centre': Federal Politics This Week

By Scoffield, Heather; Chief, Ottawa Bureau | The Canadian Press, March 11, 2017 | Go to article overview

The Border, the Budget and Chafing over 'The Centre': Federal Politics This Week


Scoffield, Heather, Chief, Ottawa Bureau, The Canadian Press


How federal politics touched us this week

--

OTTAWA - The delight and optimism surrounding International Women's Day persisted over several days on Parliament Hill this week, with all the political parties piling on with speeches and toasts to women in politics.

A roster of 338 young women -- one from each riding, organized by advocacy group Equal Voice -- took over the House of Commons on Wednesday, to the applause of real MPs from across the political spectrum.

But the merciless cut and thrust of politics was never far away. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave an impassioned speech, plus funding, in support of safe access to abortion around the world -- a not-so-subtle dig at Conservatives for avoiding such support during their time in power. And Sophie Gregoire Trudeau sent out a Liberal party fundraising appeal on the heels of it all.

At the same time, the week saw concrete developments in grassroots politics, problems with the Canada-U.S. border and the pending federal budget. Here are three ways Canadian politics touched us this week:

CHAFING OVER CENTRAL COMMAND

Trudeau may be riding high in public opinion polls, but both his caucus and Liberal party members thumbed their noses at him this week and exercised some independent thinking.

On Wednesday, 104 members of the Liberal caucus voted with the Conservatives and the NDP to support a bill that aims to prevent genetic discrimination -- despite arguments from the prime minister and the justice minister that aspects of the bill are not constitutional.

The proposed law would make it illegal to require someone to take a genetic test or to disclose previous results of genetic testing as a condition of an insurance policy. But it's now caught up in a power struggle, with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould signalling she will refer it to the Supreme Court for clarity -- a process that could put the bill on hold for a couple of years.

Also on Wednesday, Liberal party members in the Montreal riding of Saint-Laurent rejected the favoured choice of the Prime Minister's Office to stand as the Liberal candidate in an upcoming byelection.

Instead of backing former provincial cabinet minister Yolande James, they voted for a 26-year-old high school teacher known for her persistent door-knocking in the riding. …

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