The fact that China’s communist regime attempted to influence the last two federal elections caused a real shock wave. The fact that Beijing has established clandestine “police stations” to crack down on its nationals on Canadian soil has equally shaken the political class and society. The assassination ordered by the governmentdien of a Sikh leader becoming a Canadian citizen, right here, in the suburbs of Vancouver, would upset the order nevertheless established in the democracies of which Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims to be a part.
Canadians have not only lost their innocence regarding the scope of foreign interference perpetrated by a few states, it has now been shattered.
The diplomatic escalation was instantaneous. The director of Indian intelligence stationed in Ottawa has been declared persona non grata. His Canadian counterpart in New Delhi too. The Modi government called the “credible allegations” leveled by Canada “absurd” and “completely rejected” them. His collaboration, hoped for by Ottawa, will obviously not come.
No more than the rapprochement desired so far by Canada, to counterbalance the freezing of relations with China. The government finds itself rather at odds with two of the largest economies on the planet, but which are also guilty of some of the most aggressive steps of interference.
The solidarity that the Western allies will show remains to be measured. Although the United States and Australia are deeply concerned, Great Britain (where another Sikh independence leader was killed in June) intends to continue its trade talks with New Delhi. And no other country immediately formally condemned the Modi government.
On the other hand, a surge of solidarity was expressed in the Canadian Parliament. For around twenty minutes, at least, political hostilities were suspended in the name of national security. Which could bode well, if it continues, for the work of the public inquiry into foreign interference in the coming months.
This relaxation, however, remained circumscribed. Parliamentary work had barely begun on Monday when partisan attacks also resumed on all sides. Particularly and especially on the liberal benches, whose ministers accused the conservatives of throwing “small tantrums” and of “showing their true face”, the traditional scarecrows of abortion, firearms and climate skepticism having been brought out to the opportunity.
Perhaps the liberals allowed themselves to pour out their gall out of brotherhood with their colleague Steven Guilbeault, forced to “unblock” the polemicist Ezra Levant on X (late Twitter) and once again expose themselves to his repeated insults. The Federal Court’s order, imposed as long as Mr. Guilbeault is not only Minister of the Environment but also a simple MP, must have shocked many elected officials from all levels of government. All joking aside, the Liberals’ resentment was probably more guided by recent polls.
Still, the tone was thus set for a parliamentary session which will be held under the theme of the cost of living, housing and groceries. The main federal parties have indulged in their own one-upmanship, each promising a bill to remedy this. The Liberal government has also given another priority: the bill promised to its NDP partner to lay the foundations for drug insurance will be tabled soon and adopted, it hopes, by the end of the year.
Quebec, which has its own program, has nevertheless warned that it does not want it. And that he intends to claim his due, through a right of withdrawal with full compensation without any conditions.
A scenario that refused to comment on Duty the federal Minister of Health, Ontario Mark Holland, who preferred to maintain a vagueness that was not very reassuring. His wish to “collaborate” in order to achieve a “common objective”, however, suggests his intentions. Especially since his New Democratic ally, Jagmeet Singh, immediately rejected the idea of an asymmetrical program for Quebec.
François Legault’s government stands ready. The Bloc Québécois too. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre preferred to shy away once again.
Quebec has no need for yet another jurisdictional dispute with Ottawa. The federal government has still not agreed with Quebec on an agreement on health funding announced in February nor on a right of withdrawal for its dental insurance program, another Liberal-New Democrat project. Now a third federal encroachment in health is being prepared.
Justin Trudeau’s government should first worry about its adversaries in Beijing and New Delhi, rather than doing in Quebec what it criticizes its opposition rivals: bickering pointlessly.