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What the hell is going on in Canada? Your questions about a most scandalous week answered

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspended parliament until late September. And that’s just the beginning.

What the hell is going on in Canada? Your questions about a most scandalous week answered
[Photo: Dave Chan/AFP via Getty Images]
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Look up! Toward Canada. All hell is breaking loose up there, which you may have missed because California is on fire and the COVID-19 pandemic is raging on in the United States. Meanwhile, Canada is also self-immolating.

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Here’s an update on the scandals to help you catch up:

  • On Monday, the finance minister resigned. Bill Morneau left in the middle of sweeping pandemic aid spending, as the Canadian economy continues to struggle.
  • On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspended Parliament until late September. He abruptly prorogued Parliament in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis. “Prorogue” means to “discontinue a session.” You’re welcome.
  • Trudeau and Morneau are both under an ethics investigation by Parliament. Both were involved in choosing a charity that received $600 million from a student grant program. Morneau’s daughter works for the organization, to which Morneau and his wife had made substantial donations; the organization has also paid Trudeau’s mother and brother $200,000 in speaking fees. It is complicated and involves a billionaire, Libya, and a helicopter ride. Suspending parliament effectively stops the committee investigation into this.
  • On Wednesday, Trudeau leaked that he’s overhauling Canada’s social welfare system. In an effort to redirect attention, Trudeau says that he wants to boost childcare, affordable housing, and employment insurance, as well as continue pandemic aid, because the pandemic has revealed systematic failures. He said, “This is our chance to build a Canada that is healthier and safer, greener and more competitive.” In other words, a Canada still led by him! He will seek Parliamentary approval . . . in September, since his Tuesday actions are the reason Parliament is not currently in session.

Rest assured, the United States is not the only North American nation facing political dysfunction during a crisis. Trudeau was already on thin Canadian ice: He won reelection in October in a relatively close race, but his party lost majority in Parliament, leaving him with a weak electoral mandate. Stay tuned.