Freeland’s new job makes the old one look easy
Many people consider Liberal MP and all-star minister Chrystia Freeland a likely successor to Justin Trudeau as leader of the Liberal Party. If that’s the case, she has just been handed the toughest job interview on record.
Freeland’s move from foreign affairs to deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs is the most dramatic change in Trudeau’s new cabinet. She is widely viewed as having shone in foreign affairs, especially with the U.S.-relations/ NAFTA file. But dealing with the erratic Trump administration, and even with a truculent China, could pale in comparison to the job of trying to find some unity and common ground at a time when Canada is more divided and fractious than at any other time in recent memory.
British Columbia is feuding with Alberta over pipelines. Alberta and Saskatchewan are itching for a fight with Ottawa, and are even willing to inflame western separatist sentiment to further that goal. Quebec wants nothing to do with oil pipelines from the west, but doesn’t mind enjoying a fat budget surplus due to equalization money that other provinces resent. Quebec’s attitude is enraging Alberta politicians, who are using it to further rile up frustrated citizens. And Ontario has a government that pretty much hates the Liberal government and is spending millions to fight a carbon tax.
Into this swamp wades Freeland. She will need all her diplomatic skills, and then some, to get provinces and Ottawa together, especially when some provinces have no interest in collaborating, other than in their own regional interests.
Freeland may well find the world stage was a cakewalk compared to her new assignment.