In 2017, four out of five Canadians worked in the service sector, while the industry (including fishing, forestry and mining) employed just under a fifth of the workforce. Just over 1 percent were employed in agriculture. The unions have a relatively strong position, at least from a North American perspective.
In 2014, approximately 3.6 million Canadians were employed in the public sector. Nearly half of them were provincial-level employees, including health care, school, social services, 38 percent were municipal employees, and the rest worked within the federal administration.
In 2016, just over one in four workers was unionized, and almost every third employee was covered by a collective agreement. However, there are major differences between the provinces. The largest trade union organization is the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC). Québec has several trade unions, including the Centrale des Syndicats du Québec.
In 2009 the unemployment rate was over 8 percent, after which the figures have gradually improved. In 2017, unemployment was almost 6 percent the lowest since the 1970s. In addition, Canadians worked on average more hours than before. Youth unemployment was still relatively high, just over a tenth of persons between the ages of 15 and 24 lacked a job. However, the regional differences are large. In the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, 8–10 percent went without work, compared with 5–6 percent in Quebec and Ontario. Nunavut had the highest figure with 12 percent.
In 2012, the rules were tightened for those who attend unemployment insurance funds, those who do not seek suitable work within a certain time risk losing their compensation. As appropriate, it is stated that the salary should be at least 70 percent of what the employee previously earned and that the workplace is located within an hour’s travel time from home.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Canada, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.
Women, on average, earn less than men, although the gap has narrowed. Taking into account that women work part-time more often than men, the gap is about 85 percent (2012). The number of women working for employment has doubled since the 1970s, from slightly above 40 percent in 1973 to 82 percent in 2014.
Those who serve the least include single mothers, indigenous people and newly arrived immigrants. One reason why many women work part-time or are not employed at all is the great lack of childcare.
Minimum wages vary between provinces, but in the fall of 2017 it was between just under 10 and just over 13 Canadian dollars per hour.
FACTS – LABOR MARKET
6.1 percent (2019)
11.8 percent (2019)
Trudeau wants Trump’s help to get Canadians free
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urges the United States not to sign any trade agreement with China unless Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians arrested in late 2018, are released (see December 2018). Canada sees the arrests of the two men as revenge for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer in Vancouver, arrested earlier this year.
Million fine for SNC-Lavalin
SNC-Lavalin, the Canadian engineering and construction company accused of paying 48 million Canadian dollars ($ 36.5 million) in bribes to Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime between 2001 and 2011, now pleads guilty to a case of fraud. It is fined after paying 280 million Canadian dollars (which equals about 210 million US dollars) in fines for five years. The company agrees to this to avoid a trial.
The Conservative Party leader is retiring
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer resigns. This happens after a period of internal criticism following the parliamentary elections. In connection with his departure it is revealed that he had his party pay part of his children fees in a private school. It goes against the image of himself that he gave during the election campaign: an ordinary Canadian who has not had the same privileged background as Justin Trudeau. Under Scheer, the Conservative Party has broadly pursued the same policies as under Representative Stephen Harper: tax cuts, law and order and through greater importance in promoting the Canadian energy industry than fighting climate change. However, Scheer has had a softer appearance than Harper.
Nearly 14,000 have died from opioid overdoses since 2016
Nearly 14,000 Canadians have died since 2016 due to opioid overdoses and 17,000 have been forced to seek hospital care after being poisoned. This is according to a new report from federal health authorities. Opioids include heroin, some prescription painkillers, and fentanyl.
New version of free trade agreement signed
Mexico, the United States and Canada once again sign a new version of the free trade agreement that will replace Nafta from 1994, although it was considered ready already a little over a year earlier. The first version of the agreement, called the T-MEC in Mexico (and the USMCA in Canada and the US), encountered patrol primarily in the United States, where Democrats demanded, among other things, strengthened labor law guarantees. The first version was ratified only by Mexico (see June 2019). Mexico will also be the first to ratify the new agreement, already on December 12.
The climate is given high priority in the Government Declaration
Climate and change are the two words that dominate when Governor-General Julie Payette reads the Government Declaration when the House is re-assembled after the election. Another underlying message is about keeping the country together and taking the concerns of the economy seriously, in a passage that is primarily aimed at the Prairie provinces. The Liberal government emphasizes that while fighting climate change, it should ensure that Canadian resources reach new markets. Opposition leader Andrew Scheer accuses the government of sticking to a policy that voters have now ratified. After the election, Scheer has been strongly questioned by parts of his own Conservative party.
Trump gives Trudeau a boot at NATO summit
The natives meet in London for a summit and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the military alliance. However, the relationships are frosty. US President Donald Trump criticizes several of the other NATO countries for not spending enough money on defense (they have committed to investing 2 percent of GDP). At a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump points out Canada, which spends the equivalent of 1.31 percent of GDP on defense, and aims to reach 1.4 percent by 2024/2025. That in itself represents a 70 percent increase in the defense budget. French President Emmanuel Macron also criticized how NATO cooperation works overall. There are also tensions between Turkey and the other countries, due to the Turks’ intervention against the Kurds in northern Syria.
British Columbia adopts declaration on indigenous rights
British Columbia becomes the first province in Canada to approve the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is adopted by a unanimous provincial parliament.
Government re-furnished, new heavy duty for Freeland
20th of November
One of the main news when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presents his new government is that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will be given the post of Deputy Prime Minister and responsible for measures to keep the divided country together, including by trying to improve relations with Alberta and Saskatchewan, where the Liberals received no mandate at all in the October elections. Another sensitive issue she can deal with is what the Quebec Bloc’s (BQ) surge in Québec will mean for the independence movement there. In addition, Freeland may retain responsibility for contacts with the United States and the continued work with the USMCA, the new trade agreement that Canada has signed with the United States and Mexico, which will replace Nafta and which has so far only been ratified by Mexico. Another important change is that business-friendly Jonathan Wilkinson will be given responsibility for climate issues, which is a priority area for the government, and in a position where Canada will hardly be able to reach the climate goals for 2030. François-Philippe Champagne becomes new Foreign Minister, will be responsible for trade issues and Karina Gould for international assistance. Finance Minister Bill Morneau may retain his ministerial post.
“China resumes import of Canadian meat”
China has agreed to resume imports of Canadian pork and beef, which was halted in June 2019. This is announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It is a first breakthrough in contacts between Canada and China that has cracked since the end of 2018 (see December 2018). Officially, China indicated that Canadian meat imports were halted because it was contaminated and documents had been falsified.
Asylum agreements with the US are being tried in court
Canada and the United States have since 2004 an agreement, the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which means that refugees seeking asylum at border crossings between countries can be denied asylum / rejected as the neighboring country is considered safe for them. STCA does not apply to those who enter the country beyond the border crossings. In 2017, a Salvadoran woman turned to a federal Canadian court to determine whether this violates the country’s human rights statute, especially as it has become harder for President Donald Trump to gain political asylum in the United States. The Canadian government wants the court to dismiss the case. In 2018, the Liberal government changed the rules in presenting the new budget so that anyone who has already applied for asylum in the United States cannot have their cases tried in Canada (the change came into effect in June 2019).
May resigns as leader of the Green Party
Elizabeth May resigns as leader of the Green Party after sitting in the post since 2006. However, she sits as a member of the federal parliament, where she will be joined by two party comrades since the October elections. The Green Party made its best choice so far in 2019, but there were high expectations that the party would achieve an even better result.
A new valuation test is introduced in Québec
The Quebec government is introducing a new test for immigrants to the province from January 2020. They then need to be able to show that they adopt “democratic values” and understand the values that apply in Quebec, not least the new law, Bill 21, which prohibits, among other things, some public servants – teachers, civil servants, judges and police – from carrying religious symbols during working hours (see June 2019). The test applies only to people who move to the province for financial reasons, not those who come there as refugees. Bill 21 is now part of the province’s human rights statute.
Trudeau excludes government coalition
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau states that the Liberals should not form government together with any other party. At the same time, he promises that there will be as many women as men in the new government taking office on November 20. He also says that the new government will work with other parties, including the Quebec Bloc (BQ), and that he will hold talks with the other party leaders in the coming weeks to find a way to agree. He promises to prioritize two issues: measures to counteract climate change and to give Canadians more money in the wallet, including through new tax cuts. He also announces a sensitive issue, the Trans Mountain oil pipeline, which he states will be built, something that, above all, the Social Democratic New Democratic Party (NDP), several environmental organizations and some indigenous peoples are opposed. It is seen as a way to reach out to voters in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where the Liberals won no mandate at all. Trudeau should have already spoken to the heads of government in these two provinces. Another sensitive issue that has faced resistance in several provinces is the new carbon tax announced in 2018 (seeOctober 2018). Trudeau also assumes some responsibility for the harsh tone of the election campaign with harsh personal attacks, especially against Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
The Liberals win the election
The Liberal Party wins a tight victory in the parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Trudeau may thus remain, but he is now allowed to lead a minority government. It is clear when almost all the votes are counted. The preliminary figures give the Liberals a little over 33 percent of the vote and 157 of the 338 seats. However, it will be completely without mandate in Alberta and and Saskatchewan. The Conservative party wins just over 34 percent of the vote, increasing from 95 seats in 2015 to 121 seats. The Left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) wins almost 16 percent of the vote, but gets only 24 seats, compared to 32 seats in 2015, but the NDP can get a wave role in the new parliament. The big surprise of the election is the left-leaning Québec bloc, which only stands in Québec, which receives almost 8 percent of the vote nationally (32.5 percent in Québec). This leads to BQ increasing from 10 seats in 2015 to 32 seats. The Green Party wins 3 seats with just over 6 percent of the vote. The right-wing populist Party of Canada (PPC) fails to enter Parliament. The turnout is 66 per cent. The Liberals are believed to have benefited from so-called strategic voting when voters, especially in Ontario, are believed to have voted for the party to prevent the Conservative from coming to power. The result also shows that the traditional political divide in Canada exists, with the Liberals and parties left largely in the eastern part of the country, while the Conservative Party is strongest in the Prairie provinces. The right-wing populist Party of Canada (PPC) fails to enter Parliament. The turnout is 66 percent. The Liberals are believed to have benefited from so-called strategic voting when voters, especially in Ontario, are believed to have voted for the party to prevent the Conservative from coming to power. The result also shows that the traditional political divide in Canada exists, with the Liberals and parties left largely in the eastern part of the country, while the Conservative Party is strongest in the Prairie provinces. The right-wing populist Party of Canada (PPC) fails to enter Parliament. The turnout is 66 percent. The Liberals are believed to have benefited from so-called strategic voting when voters, especially in Ontario, are believed to have voted for the party to prevent the Conservative from coming to power. The result also shows that the traditional political divide in Canada exists, with the Liberals and parties left largely in the eastern part of the country, while the Conservative Party is strongest in the Prairie provinces.Read more about the result here. Worth noting is that Jody Wilson-Raybould, who earlier in the year had been forced to leave the government and the Liberal Party (see April 2019), wins a seat in the lower house as independent.
The NDP leader wins the party leadership debate
For the first time in Canada, all federal party leaders participate in an electoral debate. Conservative leader Andew Scheer harshly criticizes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and attacks him for not knowing how ordinary people are and for seeing himself as someone who abides by ethical rules, not least in view of the SNC-Lavalin affair (see August 2019). Instead, Liberal Trudeau is taking the opportunity to present pledges to “invest in Canadians so that they can succeed in their lives. However, Jagmeet Singh of the Social Democratic NDP is the one who viewers and political analysts believe has done his best, not least in terms of criticize the climate policy put forward by the two largest parties: with Scheer as Mr Deny (Mr Denier) and Trudeau as Mr Delay (Mr Shoot-Up) and social justice, in the opinion polls conducted the week after the debate, the NDP has climbed several percent, to over 16 percent. Leaders make the Conservative party with just over 31 percent in voter support, while the Liberals are just under 31 percent.
Scheer in blustery weather about abortion and his American citizenship
Now it is the turn of conservative leader Andrew Scheer to wind up. For the first time, he openly says that he is opposed to abortion, but emphasizes, as before, that if he comes to government, he will not take any measures to change Canadian abortion legislation. It also emerges that Scheer is also an American citizen. This is a sore point when in 2005 he criticized Canada’s then Governor General Michaëlle Jean for being both a Canadian and French citizen. Former Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper openly questioned whether his political opponents could really be loyal to Canada if they had multiple citizenship. Scheer says he has now begun a process to resign his American citizenship.
Environment and abortion disputes in election debate
During a French-language debate in Quebec, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accused by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer of being “a fake environmentalist”. He says Trudeau is the only party leader to campaign through two aircraft, one for himself and the press, and one for his “suits and canoes.” Liberal Trudeau may also receive criticism for the government stepping in and taking over the construction of a controversial oil pipeline (see June 2019). He defends himself that it was a difficult decision for him to make and that it will take time for the Canadian economy to free itself from oil dependency. Trudeau, for his part, accuses Scheer of not “sharing our values” on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. The Conservative leader chooses to just state that he does not intend to make any changes if he comes to power, but says nothing about his personal attitude. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says he dislikes the new Quebec legislation that prohibits public servants from carrying religious symbols, but that he would not try to tear up the decision if he wins the election. Fourth party leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, of the Quebec block,
Up to half a million participate in the march for the climate
Up to half a million people participate in a manifestation of the climate in Montreal. It is part of the climate strike that Friday’s for Future, formed by Swedish Greta Thunberg, organizes in several parts of the world. That makes it the biggest manifestation in the city’s history, says Mayor Valérie Plante. Greta Thunberg is one of the speakers in Montreal. Before that, she met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and criticized him for not doing enough to save the climate. Trudeau is taking the pledge that Canada will plant two billion trees in ten years if he is re-elected.
Trudeau: The deficit grows
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is prepared to let the budget deficit rise so that he can carry out his election promises if he is re-elected. During the four years the Liberals have been in power, the deficit has been between Canadian $ 14 billion. Now he is talking about allowing the deficit to increase to almost 25 billion Canadian dollars by 2020. Political analysts believe that the state of opinion is such that voters do not let themselves be intimidated by this.
Trudeau in new winds
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is storming again. The American magazine Times publishes a photo from a school party with an Arab theme in 2001, where Trudeau, who was then a teacher at a private school, has blackened his face (a so-called brownface). Trudeau apologizes for this and says he now understands that it was a racist act and that he should have known better. He is criticized for this from several quarters, not least from political opponents who say that it shows how inappropriate the Liberal leader is as prime minister. Cheryl Thompson, a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, says in an article in Mclean’s magazinethat the photograph may pose a blow to the Prime Minister’s image as an advocate of diversity. In the 2015 elections, Trudeau and the Liberals succeeded in reaching out to minority groups who had previously often abstained from voting in political elections. According to official statistics, turnout increased by 22 percent among Canadians with roots in Africa, the Middle East and Western Central Asia compared to 2011.
Election debate without Trudeau
When the party leaders meet for the first electoral debate, Liberals and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau choose not to participate, which opens to criticism if he was afraid to face his political opponents, especially as the Liberals have found it difficult to fulfill several of their electoral promises, not least when it comes to increase transparency in the government’s work or to reform the electoral system, and of course the scandal surrounding SNC-Lavalin see 11 February 2019). Much remains to be done to improve the living conditions of indigenous peoples and the government’s decision to support a controversial oil pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline has led to criticism. In the plus account there is a relatively good economy, where unemployment has dropped to around 6 percent, the legalization of cannabis and a new carbon tax. At the same time, the Liberals have gone about the Conservative Party in the polls. They have been able to do this by pointing to the conservative leader’s opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, although Andrew Scheer said he does not intend to tear up current legislation in the area. Almost all opposition parties are now led by people who are the new party leader post. The exception is Elizabeth May, who has been in office since 2006. It is also May who, according to Canadian media,
The campaign for the parliamentary elections is running
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces formal parliamentary elections until October 21, asking Governor-General Julie Payette to dissolve Parliament. This will be the start of a five-week election campaign. Pollssuggests that there will be a fairly smooth run between the Liberals and the Conservative Party, supported by just under 34 percent of voters. The Social Democratic New Democratic Party is in third place with about 13-14 percent voter support just before the Green Party, and the Quebec Bloc, which looks to win about 4 percent of the vote. A joker in the game is the new right-wing Canadian People’s Party (PPC), which is only supported by a few percent of voters, but who, in some constituencies, can win votes at the Conservative Party’s expense. The forecasts thus indicate a rolling victory for the Liberal Party, despite the scandals of last year, much because of the party’s strong position in the populous provinces of Ontario and Quebec. However, it is unclear whether any party will receive its own majority.
PCP retains power in Manitoba
The Progressive Conservative Party (PCP) remains in power in Manitoba as it wins the provincial election by just over 47 percent of the vote, giving 36 of the 57 seats in the provincial parliament. The NDP comes in second place with just over 31 percent of the vote, followed by the Liberal Party with just over 14 percent. Turnout was low, around 55 percent.
New strategy for the Arctic
The Canadian government is proposing a new strategy for the country’s Arctic, where one point is to increase the military presence in the area. But issues of health, infrastructure and economic development are given greater importance. According to the document, maritime traffic via the Northwest Passage increased by 22 percent in 2017. The same year, for the first time, a foreign cruise ship with a thousand people on board traveled throughout the Northwest Passage.
Strengthened security for Canada’s environment minister
Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she now needs the help of security personnel to feel safe, something that has so far been unusual in Canadian politics. This happens when she is increasingly exposed to sexist and hateful aspirations. As environmental minister, McKenna is responsible for Canada’s climate policy. During the election campaign, the Liberals are trying to place great emphasis on measures to counter climate change, while Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party promises to repeal the controversial CO2 law.
Trudeau raises the tone against China
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raises the tone against China, which he accuses of “resorting to arbitrary arrests to push through his political goals”. Relations between the countries deteriorated at the end of 2018 when Meng Wanzhou, senior manager at Huawei’s Vancouver office, as well as the daughter of the Chinese company’s founder, was arrested in Canada (see December 2018). In the spring of 2019, China responded by, on dubious grounds, arresting two Canadians operating in China (see May 2019). He also points out that Canada must find ways to constructively relate to China.
Errors in report of murder victims from indigenous peoples
An error has been found in the report on the thousands of women and girls from Canada’s indigenous peoples who have been murdered or disappeared since 1973 (National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) (see June 2019). It states that women from indigenous peoples make up 25 percent of all homicide victims in Canada during the survey period, while the statistics referred to stated that women from indigenous peoples make up 25 percent of all female homicides. In an articleThe media company CBC’s website states that 2,381 people were murdered in Canada in 2014, of whom 655 were women. 138 of the women belonged to the indigenous peoples, which corresponds to just under 6 percent of all homicide victims that year. The statistical authority, Statistic Canada, says that there is now a much better basis for the figures than before, as the police often disclosed such information.
Terrorist sentenced to new trial
The two men who in 2015 (see September 2015) were sentenced to life imprisonment for planning an attack on a train between Toronto and New York 2013 will receive a new trial. This has been done since they appealed against the verdict in February 2019, citing that the judge who held the case made several errors when the members of the jury were appointed.
Trudeau falls into ethics investigation
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is criticized by Parliament’s ethics reviewer Mario Dion for his actions in a scandal that has come to be called the SNC-Lavalin affair (see February 11, 2019). According to the ethics commissioner, Trudeau sought to influence the investigation of an industrial company accused of bribery in Libya. Since the scandal was revealed in early 2019, it has forced two ministers and two heads of government to resign. The then Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who opposed the pressure from Trudeau, has been excluded from the party (see April 2). This is the second time Trudeau has been criticized for not following the Code of Ethics (see December 20, 2017).
UNHCR: Canada receives the most quota refugees
Canada was among the world’s countries that received the most quota refugees in 2018: just over 28,000, according to figures from UNHCR. In second place, the US, which usually receives the most, comes with 22,900. The same year 55,400 people applied for asylum in Canada.
The government gives the go-ahead for controversial oil pipeline
The Canadian government approves the controversial Trans Mountain Expansion project, a pipeline to transport oil from Edmonton, Alberta, to the Vancouver area of British Columbia. The project was temporarily halted by the Court of Appeal in the summer of 2018 after a court argued that sufficient consideration was not given to the concern many indigenous people feel about the project. Another objection is that not enough has been done to investigate the impact that increased tanker traffic will have on the environment. Since then, the oil pipeline project has been taken over by the Canadian state (see August 2018). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau now says that all profits from the project will go to investments in green energy, but he does not specify what it is about.
Controversial bill is adopted in Quebec
The provincial parliament in Quebec adopts a law, Bill 21, which prohibits some public servants – teachers, public prosecutors, judges and police – to wear religious symbols during working hours. Several changes to the law are being implemented at the last moment. These include hiring inspectors to ensure compliance with the law. Nor do people who give or use public service hide their faces. Religious groups as well as the political opposition and legal experts have criticized the law as they say it affects minority groups extra hard, as do Muslim women who wear hijab. The law covers newly hired teachers, while exceptions are made for those who already have employment. A number of school boards in Montreal say they do not intend to follow the law. Several groups say they should appeal the law to the court. It is the first time since its adoption in 1975 that the province’s human rights statute is changed without consensus. Another controversial bill is being adopted at the same time and means that immigrants must pass a test in the French language and on the basic values that should prevail in Quebec in order to be granted a residence permit in the province. The provincial government, led by the Citizens’ Coalition for the Future of Québec (CAQ), believes that the new law is part of the efforts to let the needs of the labor market control which immigrants are allowed to come to Québec.
Canada bans disposable plastic articles from 2021
Canada bans all “harmful” disposable plastic items from 2021. The purpose is to prevent plastic waste from entering the ocean. The companies that sell the plastic items will be responsible for what happens to the plastic waste. As it is now, only ten percent of the plastic is recycled and it is estimated that three million tonnes of plastic waste is disposed of every year.
Assassinated women from indigenous peoples subject to “genocide”, according to report
The thousands of women and girls from Canada’s indigenous peoples who have been murdered or disappeared since 1973 have been subjected to genocide. This is stated in the national investigation which today presents its 1,200 pages long final report (National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls). For 2.5 years, investigators have been listening to testimonies from over 2,300 people, both from people who survived the violence and the victims’ families. The report authors say that ingrained “colonialism”, racism, sexism, widespread poverty along with government inaction are major causes of the crisis. The report contains 231 recommendations for what Canada must do to address the issues. This includes giving official status to the languages of the indigenous peoples and ensuring that everyone belonging to a indigenous people is guaranteed an income, harsher penalties for trafficking in women and a number of reforms within the police and the judiciary as a whole. The investigation began after a 15-year-old girl, Tina Fontaine, was found murdered after being missing for a month. It later emerged that the girl, who was homeless, had asked for help but had not received it. A report from the police presented in 2014 showed that 1,181 women and girls had been murdered or had disappeared between 1980 and 2012. Here you can download the report: Reclaiming Power and Place. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later says he accepts the investigation’s conclusions, but critics say the wording is too strong and that what has happened in Canada does not follow the legal and international definition of what a genocide is.
Canada temporarily closes Embassy in Caracas
Canada is temporarily closing its embassy in Venezuela. This is with reference to the fact that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has not renewed accreditations to Canadian diplomats who have expressed criticism of the political situation in the country. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says Ottawa should now consider the position of Venezuelan diplomats appointed by Maduro in Canada. Canada, together with the United States and several EU countries, in February this year recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as acting president of Venezuela. Later, Venezuela decides to close its consulates in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
The US is withdrawing duties on steel and aluminum
The United States announces the withdrawal of tariffs on Canadian and Mexican aluminum and steel that were introduced in the spring of 2018. It is believed to pave the way for progress in talks between Canada, the US and Mexico on a new free trade agreement to replace Nafta.
Quarrel about garbage between the Philippines and Canada
A garbage dispute has erupted between the Philippines and Canada, leading Manila to call her ambassador. The problems then arose between a Canadian company between 2013 and 2014 shipped 100 containers of rotting waste by boat to the Philippines. According to the label, they should have contained plastic material for recycling. The Philippine government has demanded that the waste be returned to Canada by May 15. But that has not happened. The Canadian government is now acting to end the dispute, which has been going on for several years, and the waste (1,500 tonnes) will now be shipped to Vancouver and taken care of there. In 2016, Canada amended its legislation to prevent similar situations in the future.
Canadians are formally arrested in China
The two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were taken into custody in China at the end of 2018 are now formally arrested by Chinese authorities. They are accused of threatening China’s national security. It happens the day after the US introduced new security measures against the Chinese IT company Huawei. Canada was drawn into the US-Huawei conflict when Meng Wanzhou, senior manager at Huawei’s Vancouver office, as well as the daughter of the Chinese company’s founder, was arrested in Canada after a US court requested her extradition to the United States (see December 2018).
The Green Party wins the election
Green Party’s Paul Manly wins a federal election in British Columbia with 37 percent of the vote. This means that the party increases its representation in the lower house from one mandate to two.
PCP wins provincial election in Prince Edward Island
The Progressive Conservative Party (PCP) wins the provincial election in Prince Edward Island with nearly 37 percent of the vote, followed by the Green Party with just under 31 percent and the Liberals with nearly 30 percent. The turnout is 76 percent. PCP leader Dennis King says he will form a minority government to seek support from the other parties on individual issues.
Power change in Alberta
The bourgeois United Conservative Party (UCP) wins the provincial election in Alberta by a clear margin, the party receiving about 55 percent of the vote and 62 of the 87 seats. The former government party New Democratic Party (NDP) receives just over 32 percent of the vote and 24 seats. The Liberal Party is losing its only mandate in the province. UCP leader Jason Kenney formed the party as late as 2017 by uniting Alberta’s right-wing parties, the Progressive Conservative Party (PCP) and the Wild Rose Party, which were previously political opponents on the right. Kenney’s election victory is set to become a headache for Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. Kenney promises, among other things, to fight British Columbia and Quebec who do not want to allow pipelines for bitumen, a particularly coarse oil. He has also pledged to fight the tax equalization system, which means that wealthier provinces can give money to poorer people. After the election victory, Kenney says that, as the first measure in power, he will abolish the province’s tax on greenhouse gas emissions.
New sanctions on Venezuela
Canada faces new sanctions on Venezuela. They target 43 people who are members of Nicolás Maduro’s government. Venezuela’s foreign ministry then accuses Canada of joining US President Donald Trump’s “war adventure” against the country. Canada is part of the Lime Group, which consists of 14 countries, most of them in Latin America, who recently called on the UN to act to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Venezuela.
Over 10,000 dead due to opioid abuse
More than 10,000 Canadians have died between September 2016 and the same month in 2018 due to opioid overdoses, according to Canada’s equivalent to the National Board of Health and Welfare. Nearly 3,300 people have died in the first nine months of 2018. Of those, about three-quarters were men, most young or middle-aged. In most cases, it has been about abuse of the analgesic drug fentanyl or fentanyl-like substances. The problems of opioid abuse are greatest in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. The abuse has increased in recent years despite the authorities taking measures to curb the epidemic. In a small number of cases, it is about people who have taken their own lives.
Wilson-Raybould and Philpott are excluded from the Liberal Party
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau excludes Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal Party, citing confidence in them. They are thus not allowed to run for the Liberal Party in the autumn parliamentary elections. The decision is made after Wilson-Raybould published a secret tape recording of a conversation she had with Michael Wernick, who led the Privy Council and was the country’s highest-ranking official, about the SNC-Lavalin affair, where he pressed for her to try to avoid a trial and stressed that the Prime Minister wanted this (see February 2019). Philpott says she intends to remain in the lower house as an independent term of office.
Four provinces are required to pay climate tax
Federal authorities are now starting to collect greenhouse gas taxes in the four conservatively governed provinces that have chosen to stand outside the country’s common framework. This applies to Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. They are required to pay 20 Canadian dollars per tonne of greenhouse gas emitted. Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec already have their own systems that meet Ottawa’s requirements. According to calculations made by Canadian media company CBC, an average household in Ontario will continue to pay 10 Canadian dollars more per month for natural gas. To refuel fully a car will be 2 to 3 Canadian dollars more expensive. The fees will then be gradually increased until 2022 (when the fee will be $ 50 per tonne of greenhouse gas). However, the individual households will to some extent be compensated for the fees.
Rapid climate change in Canada
Climate change in Canada is twice as fast as the world average. This is stated in a new government report: Canada’s Changing Climate Report (CCCR). Since 1948, the average temperature has risen by 1.7 degrees throughout the country, but even more so in the northern parts of the country, in the prairie provinces and northern British Columbia. In Northern Canada, the temperature has risen by an average of 2.3 percent. For the world at large, the corresponding figure is 0.8 percent, according to US NOAA. Climate change creates major problems with increased rainfall during the winter season, drought and water shortages in the summer and increased risk of fires. According to the report, the temperature rises are due to several things, but greenhouse gas emissions are one of the main factors.
Liberal ex-minister investigates the role of justice chancellor
Former Liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan, on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s behalf, is investigating whether Canada should appoint a special justice chancellor instead of who today let the Justice Minister do the job. The issue was raised in connection with the so-called SNC-Lavalin deal (see February and March 2019). The investigation will be completed on June 30 this year. The Conservative Party criticized the appointment because McLellan is still active in the Liberal Party.
The middle class wins in the Liberals’ electoral budget
Another attempt to win the middle class. This is how Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s final budget is described before the Canadian press election. But also targeted efforts to reach those born around the turn of the millennium and industrial workers, including measures to help young Canadians who will buy their first home, labor market education and money for municipalities for new investments in infrastructure. An income guarantee for older low-income earners should also be introduced. And an investment in electric cars, with contributions to both private individuals and companies.
Investigation of the SNC-Lavalin deal is closed
The Liberals shut down the Justice Committee’s investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair, saying that the continuation should be handled by the Ethics Commissioner. The decision is made by the committee’s five Liberal members, writing to its chairman, who believe that the public has now received the necessary information to draw their conclusions. The decision is met by criticism from the opposition. Meanwhile, Privy Council senior Michael Wernick, who is also accused of exerting pressure on then-Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, announces that he will retire.
Trudeau apologizes apologetically to Inuit
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes for the abuses that Inuit people infected with tuberculosis suffered in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. They were separated from their families and sent for care in southern Canada, where they could stay for decades without their loved ones knowing what had happened to them. Children sent away were not allowed to speak their own language. Relatives were not informed if anyone had died or where they had been buried. Trudeau apologizes at a ceremony in Iqaluit in Nunavut and emphasizes that Canada must now bear the blame and shame for what happened then. He also promises that a database will be created to help Inuit families locate where their relatives’ graves are located. The ceremony is being held as part of the partnership agreement signed by the Canadian Government and Inuit Leaders in 2017.
Trudeau denies that he did something wrong
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denies that there is anything in the allegations that his office was trying to influence whether it should become a legal process against the corruption-accused company SNC-Lavalin (see February 2019). He admits that he discussed the case with then-Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, but that he should not have taken a position on the matter, but that their conversation should have dealt with the risk of losing jobs in his constituency in Montreal. He also emphasizes that he has “learned a lesson from the crisis” and that some could have been done differently. The day before, Gerry Butts, who had previously been Trudeau’s closest husband, had testified before the House subcommittee, refuting information that something unjust had occurred.
Heavy minister resigns for “ethical reasons”
4th of March
Problems are growing for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when Jane Philpott, Budget Minister and Chairman of the Government’s Special Tax Council, resigns because of how the government handled the SNC-Lavalin corruption business (see January 2019). She refers to ethical principles. She emphasizes that the deal means that the principle of an independent judiciary is in jeopardy. Philpott has been considered one of the Liberal government’s most competent ministers. She is reported to have close ties to Jody Wilson-Raybould who left the government in January. Wilson-Raybould has now announced that she intends to stand as a candidate for the Liberal Party in this fall’s parliamentary elections. It is also clear that the corruption business makes an impression in public opinion. In a poll, one in four voters say it will influence which party they vote for in October. In a later opinion pollit is clear that the deal is hitting harder on Trudeau than the Liberal Party, and that the other party leaders Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh have not been able to take advantage of the Prime Minister’s problems. Scheer’s support has fallen by 3 percent, while it remains unchanged for Singh.
Meng Wanzhou sues Canadian authorities
Meng Wanzhou chief financial officer of the Chinese company Huawei sues Canadian authorities for the arrest of her late last year violating her constitutional rights. She believes she was held and questioned under false pretenses, and when she did not have access to a lawyer, before being arrested by police. Her lawsuit is filed the same day Canada begins the process of extraditing Meng Wanzhou to the United States, where she and the company are accused of violating US export laws and sanctions against Iran (see December 2018). The following day, China accuses the two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, of spying in the country and of stealing state secrets. This is the first time Chinese authorities have said anything about the allegations against the men. Later it is announced that Meng Wanzhou’s case will be taken up on May 8.
Opposition leaders urge Trudeau to step down
Former Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould says, when she testifies before the Justice Committee, that she was subjected to severe pressure, among other things, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his office for several months in the autumn of 2018 to help construction company SNC-Lavalin to avoid a trial for allegations of bribery and corruption in Libya under Muammar Gaddafi. She says she received ten phone calls about the case, and was called to ten meetings between September and December. Opposition leader Andrew Scheer calls on Trudeau to step down because of the deal and demands that the police investigate what has happened. The Prime Minister himself says that he and his staff have acted correctly and that he is convinced that the Ethics Committee will release them. In retrospect, more details are revealed about the allegations SNC-Lavalin, which must have paid, among other things, 48 million Canadian dollars (36.5 million US dollars) in bribes to Gaddafi’s regime between 2001 and 2011. The main reason for the pressures seems to be concerns about how it would affect SNC-Lavalin, one of the largest companies in Quebec, has around 9,000 employees in Canada. If the company falls down, it will not be able to bid on federal contracts for ten years. In 2018, Canada passed new legislation that allows companies accused of financial crimes to avoid prosecution if they admit they have done wrong and pay fines. The main reason for the pressure seems to be concern about how it would affect SNC-Lavalin, which is one of the largest companies in Québec, has about 9,000 employees in Canada. If the company falls down, it will not be able to bid on federal contracts for ten years. In 2018, Canada passed new legislation that allows companies accused of financial crimes to avoid prosecution if they admit they have done wrong and pay fines. The main reason for the pressure seems to be concern about how it would affect SNC-Lavalin, which is one of the largest companies in Québec, has about 9,000 employees in Canada. If the company falls down, it will not be able to bid on federal contracts for ten years. In 2018, Canada passed new legislation that allows companies accused of financial crimes to avoid prosecution if they admit they have done wrong and pay fines.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh wins election election
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh wins a fill election in Burnaby South in British Columbia with 39 percent of the vote, clear for the Liberal candidate coming in second place. This means that he will continue to be able to lead his party’s proceedings in the lower house, which is extra important for the autumn parliamentary elections. His position as party leader has been questioned, among other things, he has been accused of not being able to handle federal policy and he has also received criticism for how he handled sensitive issues within the party. The NDP also has low opinion figures. The party loses a mandate in the lower house in a filling election in Quebec, where the Liberals win. In a third election, in Ontario, the Conservative Party retains its mandate. Election participation is low in all filling choices,
Close employees of Trudeau are leaving
One of Prime Minister Trudeau’s closest associates, Gerry Butts, is leaving as a consequence of the SNC-Lavalin deal. However, he denies that he, or anyone else in the prime minister’s presence, exerted any pressure on then-Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould. However, opposition parties appear to regard Butts’ departure as a sign that there are several things the government is trying to hide. In his letter of departure, Butts emphasized in particular the importance of the climate issue.
Jody Wilson-Raybould submits his resignation application. In 2015, she became the country’s first Minister of Justice from the indigenous population. Her departure means a defeat for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has made a big deal of having a government that reflects the country’s diversity. Wilson-Raybould has been Minister of Veterans Affairs since January 2019.
New ethics investigation against the government
Canadian Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is investigating whether the Prime Minister’s Office has improperly interfered in a legal case in which the engineering firm SNC-Lavalin is accused of committing bribery and corruption in connection with business with Libya during Muammar Gaddafi’s time in power. According to media reports, attempts have been made to persuade then-Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene to prevent a lawsuit, something she should have refused to do. Wilson-Raybould, who since January has a less prestigious ministerial post, has refused to comment on the matter without referring to her duty of confidentiality. The inquiry is being conducted at the request of two MPs from the NDP. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes the inquiry.
Lifetime imprisonment for shooting deaths in mosque
Alexandre Bissonnette, who was behind the shooting deaths at a mosque in Québec City 2017, is sentenced to life imprisonment. It is also stated that he cannot ask for conditional release until he has served 40 years of sentence. Bissonnette has admitted that he committed six murders and six attempted murders. The prosecutor had pleaded 150 years in prison for the crimes, which, however, is not considered a terrorist act.
Yves-François Blanchet becomes new leader for BQ
Yves-François Blanchet is appointed new party leader for the Quebec Bloc (BQ). This is done without any vote as he lacks counter-candidates. He takes over a party in deep crisis. Outside the home province of Québec, he is little known, but at home he is a name to be expected. He has been Minister of the Environment in the provincial government as well as manager of rock artist Éric Lapointe, one of Quebec’s biggest stars, for 20 years. In 2008, he was elected to Parliament in the home province. Since the Quebec Party lost power in Québec in 2014, he has been working to analyze politics, economics and social issues in the TV show Les Ex, where he became one of the main voices of the independence movement. He has been a member of the Quebec Party since he was 14 years old.
Trudeau dismisses Canada’s China ambassador
Canadian Ambassador to China, John McCallum, dismissed by Prime Minister Trudeau, after making a series of controversial statements about the case of Meng Wanzhou, the senior manager of the Chinese company Huawei, arrested in Vancouver at the end of 2018 after she was requested to be extradited of the United States (see December 2018)). No reasons are given for what lies behind the decision, but McCallum had earlier this week said that he considered Meng had good arguments to contest a possible extradition to the United States, that he thought it would be “good for Canada” if the United States withdrew his demands, and he hoped that a possible US-China settlement would also include the Canadians who seized China. The state newspaper China Daily criticized in an article the dismissal of McCallum. A few days later, the US Department of Justice files charges against Chinese telecom giant Huawei and Meng Wanzhou. The US accuses Huawei, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of smart phones, of violating US sanctions on Iran, as well as fraud, obstruction of justice and attempts to steal corporate secrets from a competitor.
Canada recognizes Guaidó as Venezuela’s president
Canada officially recognizes Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president, after President Nicolás Maduro rejected the ultimatum set for announcing new elections. A contact group, the Lima Group, with countries Latin America and Canada has been formed to try to resolve the conflict in Venezuela.
Death sentence in China blocks Canadian-Chinese tensions
A Canadian man, Robert Schellenberg, who was arrested in 2014, is sentenced to death by a Chinese court. As recently as November 2018, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for involvement in drug smuggling. He appealed against the verdict, and in the new trial, Chinese authorities claimed that new evidence has emerged that Schellenberg played a more significant role in international drug trafficking than previously thought. The new trial ends after just one day and the verdict is pronounced after one hour of deliberation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regrets the death sentence and accuses China of acting arbitrarily, saying that Canada will do everything it can to prevent the verdict from being enforced. The case is expected to stem the tensions between Canada and China that arose after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, senior manager of Huawei’s Vancouver office, in Canada (seeDecember 2018). Canada now warns its citizens about the risk of arbitrary arrests when traveling to China.
Restrictions on voters’ right to vote abroad are abolished
The Supreme Court annuls a law clause that denies Canadians who have been living abroad for more than five years not be allowed to vote in Canadian elections. The law was introduced in 1993, but it has only been put into operation during the Conservative government from 2006 to 2015. The Liberal government has already implemented an amendment to the electoral law in the same direction, but the court’s decision is still considered in principle important as it prevents the implementation of new such changes in future. Two Canadians residing in the United States went to court after failing to vote in the 2011 federal election.
Saudi woman is granted political asylum in Canada
An 18-year-old Saudi woman, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who moved her family on a vacation trip, is granted political asylum in Canada. The woman succeeds through a major campaign in social media, persuading Thai authorities not to extradite her to Saudi Arabia. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun states that her father and brothers threatened to kill her, something the family rejects. The decision to grant asylum to the woman is expected to create further tensions between Canada and Saudi Arabia.
Reduced oil exports cause the trade deficit to grow
Canada’s trade deficit increases to just over 2 million Canadian dollars, much as a result of reduced oil exports for the fourth consecutive month. Revenues from crude oil exports have fallen by almost one-fifth, with respect to refined oil, the decline is even greater, much as a result of lower world market prices. Exports of paper and pulp have also declined.
14 arrested in protest of gas pipeline in British Columbia
7 th of January
14 people are arrested in connection with protests against the construction of a pipeline in northern British Columbia where gas is to be transported from Alberta to a facility, LNG Canada, on the Pacific coast for further export. Members of the wet’suwet people, who believe the gas pipeline is a threat to their traditional territory, have set up roadblocks to prevent TransCanada workers from accessing the construction sites. However, a court has ordered them to remove them. When police arrive in the area to demolish a roadblock, rioting occurs. TransCanada says the company has signed an agreement with all indigenous people living along the planned gas pipeline.