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Liberal Party

The Liberal Party has dominated federal politics for much of Canada’s history, using the formula for success of straddling the political center developed under the leadership of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Liberals have formed numerous governments and provided Canada with 10 prime ministers, but the party has also experienced defeat and internal divisions. In the election of October 2015, the party rose from third to first place in the House of Commons, winning a majority government under leader Justin Trudeau. The Liberals won a minority government in the 2019 election.

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Denis Coderre

Denis Coderre, politician, federal cabinet minister, mayor of Montreal 2013–17 (born 25 July 1963 in Joliette, QC). A federal politician for 16 years, Coderre moved into municipal politics and was elected mayor of Montreal in November 2013. Although credited with cleaning up the city’s administration, Coderre lost the November 2017 election to Valérie Plante, becoming the first Montreal mayor in 57 years to lose after only one term.

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Pandora Papers Reveal Canada Is “A Hub” of Global Tax Avoidance Scheme, Watchdog Says

Following the release of the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released its findings on the Pandora Papers, a collection of 12 million documents from 14 offshore financial institutions. James Cohen of Transparency International said the papers show that "Canada is a hub" of illicit financial flows and offshore called for the creation of a public registry for corporate beneficial ownership. The governing Liberal Party had announced in its 2021 federal budget that such a registry would be created by 2025.

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Chrystia Freeland

Christina Alexandra “Chrystia” Freeland, politician, journalist, editor and writer, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, 2019–present (born 2 August 1968 in Peace River, Alberta). Chrystia Freeland is the Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for University-Rosedale and currently serves as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. She is the first woman in Canada to hold the latter position. She has also served as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of International Trade. Notably, she handled the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as complicated diplomatic situations involving Ukraine, Russia, Saudi Arabia and China. Freeland is an award-winning journalist, editor and author of such books as Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (2012).

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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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Leo Kolber

Ernest Leo Kolber, OC, businessman, philanthropist, senator (born 18 January 1929 in Montreal, QC; died 9 January 2020 in Montreal). Leo Kolber was a pillar of Canada’s business, political and philanthropic communities for more than 50 years. He was perhaps best known as a long-time advisor to the Bronfman family. Kolber also ran the successful real estate firm Cadillac Fairview Corporation, as well as holding companies that administered the Bronfman family trust. He served in the Senate of Canada from 1983 to 2004, most notably as chairman of the Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. He was also the Liberal Party’s chief fundraiser for many years and chair of the Advisory Council on National Security from 2005 to 2007. An Officer of the Order of Canada, he was recognized for his many charitable and philanthropic contributions.

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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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Bob Rae

Robert Keith (Bob) Rae, CCOOntPC, lawyer, politician (born 2 August 1948 at OttawaOntario). A prominent lawyer, community activist and author, Rae has served as a federal (1978-82; 2008-2013) and provincial politician (1982-96), premier of Ontario (1990-1995), interim leader of the federal Liberal Party (2011-2013), and as a government-appointed official. In July of 2020, Rae was named Canadian ambassador to the United Nations. Rae's family had substantial ties to Ottawa; his father Saul had been a senior diplomat, while his brother John was a long-time advisor to former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

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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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Alfonso Gagliano

Alfonso Gagliano, politician (born 1942 in Italy; died 12 December 2020). Alfonso Gagliano was the Member of Parliament for the Montreal neighbourhood of Saint-Leonard from 1984 until 2002. Following the 1997 election, he served as Minister of Public Works and Government Services in the cabinet of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. He was also chair of the electoral commission of the Liberal Party in Quebec. Gagliano resigned from cabinet and the House of Commons to accept a position as ambassador to Denmark. He was fired by Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2004 for his role in the sponsorship scandal.

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Jane Philpott Resigns from Cabinet over SNC-Lavalin Scandal

Liberal MP Jane Philpott resigned from her Cabinet position of president of the Treasury Board and minister of digital government. She cited “the evidence of efforts by politicians and/or officials to pressure the former attorney general [Jody Wilson-Raybould] to intervene in the criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin… Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised.”

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Andrew Scheer Resigns as CPC Leader

Following weeks of speculation and pressure from inside and outside his party, Andrew Scheer announced that he would be stepping down as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Scheer had been criticized for failing to win the federal election on 21 October 2019 against a Liberal Party that was weakened by scandals, such as the SNC-Lavalin affair and revelations involving Justin Trudeau’s use of blackface. Scheer said he would continue to serve as the party’s leader until a convention is held to elect his successor.

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Amarjeet Sohi

Amarjeet Sohi, politician, federal cabinet minister, mayor of Edmonton 2021–present (born 8 March 1964 in Banbhaura, Punjab, India). After being falsely accused of terrorism and imprisoned in India for 21 months, Amarjeet Sohi became involved in municipal politics in Edmonton. He served on city council for eight years before being elected as a Liberal MP for Edmonton’s Mill Woods riding. Sohi served as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Minister of Natural Resources before losing re-election in 2019. On 18 October 2021, he became the first person of a racialized minority to be elected mayor of Edmonton.

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Justin Trudeau Violated Conflict of Interest Act in SNC-Lavalin Case, Ethics Commissioner Finds

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion found that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s actions in the SNC-Lavalin case violated section nine of the federal Conflict of Interest Act, which prohibits a public official from using their influence to benefit a third party. Dion found that Trudeau, both directly and through his staff, subjected then-Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to “veiled threats” that were “consistent and sustained,” pressuring her to defer the prosecution of Montreal-based construction and engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

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Sir Ambrose Shea

Sir Ambrose Shea, diplomat, politician, businessman, newspaperman (born c. 1815 in St. John’s, Newfoundland; died 30 July 1905 in London, England). Sir Ambrose Shea was one of the most influential Newfoundland politicians of the 19th century. He served in the colony’s House of Assembly for 34 years, including six as Speaker. He was a key player in both Liberal and Conservative administrations, having crossed the floor twice. A skilled orator and diplomat, he was admired for his attempts to mend political divisions between Catholics and  Protestants, and for his promotion of the island’s economic development. His enthusiastic support for Confederation following the Quebec Conference in 1864 hurt his career in Newfoundland, as Confederation did not gain popularity there until the mid-20th century. He is nevertheless considered a Father of Confederation. He also served as governor of the Bahamas.

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Bennett's New Deal

In the mid-1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, Prime Minister R.B. Bennett’s political demise seemed inevitable. He sought to reverse the tide running against his Conservative Party. In January 1935, he began a series of live radio speeches outlining a “New Deal” for Canada. He promised a more progressive taxation system; a maximum work week; a minimum wage; closer regulation of working conditions; unemployment insurance; health and accident insurance; a revised old-age pension; and agricultural support programs. But Bennett’s 11th-hour proposals were seen as too-little, too-late. He lost the 1935 election to William Lyon Mackenzie King and the Liberals.