Free­land’s new job makes the old one look easy

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION -

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.

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