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Trudeau Shuffles Cabinet

In anticipation of the federal election in the fall, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his Cabinet, moving Jody Wilson-Raybould from justice to veterans affairs, and naming Jane Philpott President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government. Trudeau called Philpott a “natural choice” for her new role and attempted to dispel the notion that Wilson-Raybould’s move was a demotion, saying, “She is extraordinarily capable of delivering on this file that is one of the core delivery mandates that the federal government has.”

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Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party Win Minority Government

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party won re-election with a minority government, despite losing 20 seats for a total of 157. They also secured the lowest ever share of the popular vote (33 per cent) by a victorious party in a federal election. Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives received 34 per cent of the popular vote and increased their seat count from 95 to 121. The Bloc Québécois regained official party status with 32 seats, while the NDP fell from 39 seats to 24 and the Green Party increased their seat total from two to three. Jody Wilson-Raybould was the lone independent. The Liberal victory also breathed new life into the Western separatist movement, as the Conservatives’ loss left many in Alberta and Saskatchewan feeling disgruntled and alienated.

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Federal Government Apologizes for MS St. Louis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a formal apology in the House of Commons for the government’s decision in 1939 to turn away 907 Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis, 254 of whom eventually died in the Holocaust. Noting Canada’s anti-semitic immigration policies at the time, Trudeau said, “We apologize to the 907 German Jews aboard the MS St. Louis, as well as their families. We are sorry for the callousness of Canada’s response. And we are sorry for not apologizing sooner.” 

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Justin Trudeau Apologizes for Mistreatment of Inuit with Tuberculosis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to Inuit for the federal government’s policy on tuberculosis in the mid-20th century, calling it “colonial” and “purposeful.” “For too long,” he said, “the government’s relationship with Inuit was one of double standards, and of unfair, unequal treatment. Canada must carry that guilt and that shame.” The apology, made in Iqaluit, was part of the Nanilavut initiative, which will assist Inuit in finding gravesites of family members. “We are sorry for forcing you from your families, for not showing you the respect and care you deserved,” Trudeau said. “The racism and discrimination that Inuit faced, was, and always will be, unacceptable.”

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Seven Syrian Children Die in Halifax House Fire

The seven children of Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho, Syrian refugees who immigrated to Canada in 2017, were killed in an early morning house fire in Halifax’s Spryfield area. The children’s ages ranged from four months to 15 years. Halifax deputy fire chief Dave Meldrum called the death toll “the largest loss that we have in our memory.” A vigil held the next day was attended by hundreds of people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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Pictures and Video Surface of Justin Trudeau in Blackface

In the midst of a federal election campaign, Time magazine published a photo from the 2001 yearbook of Vancouver’s West Point Grey Academy showing a then-29-year-old Justin Trudeau with dark makeup on his face, neck and hands as part of an “Arabian Nights” costume. Trudeau told assembled media that “It’s something that I didn’t realize was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do and I regret.” He also confessed to wearing blackface makeup when he sang Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” in a talent show as a high school student. A video surfaced of a third, undated instance of Trudeau in blackface. He admitted that he could not rule out the possibility of other instances.

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Ethics Commissioner Finds Bill Morneau Broke Law in WE Charity Scandal

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Following two separate investigations, federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion ruled that former finance minister Bill Morneau violated the Conflict of Interest Act “on several occasions” by not recusing himself from a Cabinet decision in 2020 to pay Craig Kielburger’s WE Charity $43.5 million to administer a $912 million summer program for students. Morneau had resigned in summer 2020 after it came to light that he had family connections to the charity. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, was cleared of wrongdoing by Dion.

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Trudeau and Liberals Win Third Term, Second Consecutive Minority

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The 36-day election campaign that began on 15 August finished in much the same way as the previous federal election in 2019 — with similar seat counts for all parties and a Liberal minority government. Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives had been in a statistical dead heat with the Liberals in late August and went on to narrowly win the popular vote for the second consecutive election. However, the bad press generated by an unfolding health crisis in Alberta under conservative premier Jason Kenney combined with the successful efforts of Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada to eat into the Conservatives’ vote share tipped the scales toward a Liberal victory. Following the election, many questioned the efficacy of spending more than $600 million on an election that replicated the status quo.

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Court Ruling Halts Expansion of Trans Mountain Pipeline

In a unanimous decision, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed approval of the $9.3-billion pipeline expansion on the grounds that First Nations in the area had not been adequately consulted and the impact of tanker traffic on endangered killer whales had not been considered. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote in a tweet that, “the federal government stands by the TMX expansion project and will ensure it moves forward in the right way."

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Justin Trudeau

Justin Pierre James Trudeau, PC, 23rd prime minister of Canada 2015–present, teacher, public issues advocate (born 25 December 1971 in Ottawa, ON). The son of Pierre Trudeau, the former prime minister, Justin has repeatedly defied expectations. In 2007, he won the Liberal nomination in the Montréal riding of Papineau, beating the establishment’s candidate. A year later, he was elected to the House of Commons, confounding pundits who insisted the Trudeau name was political poison among francophone voters. After winning the Liberal Party leadership in 2013, Trudeau propelled the party from third place to first in the House, becoming prime minister at the head of a majority government in 2015. Although Trudeau’s Liberals lost support in the 2019 election, they won enough seats to form a minority government.

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Jody Wilson-Raybould Resigns from Cabinet Amid SNC-Lavalin Scandal

Jody Wilson-Raybould, who had been Justice Minister until a Cabinetshuffle on 14 January, resigned from Cabinet days after news broke that the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly pressured her to help Quebec constructionfirm SNC-Lavalin avoid facing criminal prosecution. In the wake of the news, Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts resigned on 18 February and a federal hearing on the issue was held beginning on 20 February. In her testimony to the hearing on 27 February, Wilson-Raybould claimed that almost a dozen senior government officials made a “sustained effort” to convince her to drop charges against SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau disagreed with her recollection of events and claimed that he and his staff “always acted appropriately and professionally” on the matter.

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Michael Spavor Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison in China

Michael Spavor, who had been detained in China on espionage charges since December 2018 following Canada’s detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Chinese court. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement calling the verdict “absolutely unacceptable and unjust… For Mr. Spavor, as well as for Michael Kovrig who has also been arbitrarily detained, our top priority remains securing their immediate release. We will continue working around the clock to bring them home as soon as possible.”

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2018 Toronto Danforth Shooting

Minutes before 10:00 p.m. on Sunday 22 July 2018, a 29-year-old man walked into a busy Toronto neighbourhood and began shooting people indiscriminately. He walked along Danforth Avenue, shooting others before exchanging gunfire with police and turning his handgun on himself. The shooter killed 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and left 13 people injured. The rampage led to calls for more gun control in Canada.

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Jagmeet Singh Wins Burnaby South Byelection

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh secured a seat in the House of Commons by winning a byelection in Burnaby South with 39 per cent of the vote, besting Liberal candidate Richard T. Lee’s (26 per cent) and Conservative candidate Jay Shin (22 per cent). Singh had accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of delaying the hotly contested election, which Singh needed to win in order to lead his party from within Parliament.