Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pushing an ambitious and costly new plan to revive both Canada and his political future following months of controversy.
Trudeau spent the summer on the defensive, getting hammered by a contracting controversy that saw him testify before Parliament as the opposition called for him to step down. He’s now looking to secure his legacy and his party’s political future with a soon to be released pandemic recovery plan that would transform Canada’s social safety net and make the country’s economy cleaner and greener. And he’s daring the opposition to take down his minority government.
Talk of a fall election is circulating in Canada, with some suggesting it would suit Trudeau well to campaign on this new mandate while the rival Conservative party is still introducing their new leader to Canadians. The Liberals insist they’re not looking to send Canadians to the polls. But as one senior government official said in an interview the agenda needs to change first.
The challenge for Trudeau now is to convince the public he has the ability to manage an economic recovery that will involve massive new spending, especially in the wake of a scandal concerning a $1 billion grant program. He and his finance minister, Chrystia Freeland, must gauge whether Canadians will continue to accept huge deficits, as the country’s federal debt is set to top $1 trillion for the first time. And he must find a balance between reforms to social programs that are now top-of-mind for many Canadians and a green agenda he promised not to abandon at the start of the pandemic.