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22 in 2022
'Tis the season for book recs and year end headlines
We are just hours away from the start of a new year, so we're taking a look at the top political stories that shaped the last year (in no particular order):
1 — Valentine's Day ended with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoking the Emergencies Act in response to the "Freedom Convoy" demonstrations in Ottawa. It was an unprecedented decision that Trudeau justified over "serious challenges to law enforcement's ability to effectively enforce the law."
2 — A supply and confidence agreement between the governing party in Ottawa and the NDP was reached in March that would keep the Liberals in power for three more years. The pact would see the Grits supported by the NDP on confidence and budgetary matters, though any party could back away at any time.
3 — A political mea culpa from Premier Doug Ford paved the way for the end of a labour dispute with CUPE education workers. The government tabled legislation to block the union from entering a provincial strike and impose a contract on their members before the union launched a “political protest” in defiance of the bill. Hours before major labour unions were set to reveal plans for a provincial general strike, Ford promised to repeal the legislation. CUPE and the province reached an eleventh-hour deal to avoid a second walkout.
4 — An internal caucus revolt in February led to the ousting of Erin O'Toole as Conservative captain. The majority of caucus — 73 MPs — voted to remove O'Toole with 45 MPs endorsing his leadership.
5 — Pierre Poilievre toppled four candidates on the first ballot to become the new leader of the Conservative Party, winning almost seventy per cent of available points in the contest. It was an expected victory by many party watchers.
6 — Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown was disqualified from the Tory leadership contest over “serious allegations” of financial wrongdoing by his campaign.
7 — The race to lead the NDP ended with the acclamation of Marit Stiles — the MPP for Davenport and former federal party president — as captain after no challengers emerged in the race for the party's top job.
8 — Jason Kenney resigned as Alberta's premier after narrowly winning a leadership review by United Conservative Party members. Kenney told supporters that the results — around 51 per cent in favour — were “not what we hoped for.”
9 — Former Wildrose Party captain Danielle Smith made a political comeback, succeeding Kenney as Premier of Alberta. Smith's first order of business was passing the Alberta Sovereignty Act — which would give Alberta “a legal framework to push back on federal laws” that “negatively impact the province.”
10 — It took eleven minutes for major networks to declare that the Tories were returning to Queen's Park with a larger majority government. Two party leaders quit after losing seats or failing to secure official party status — NDPer Andrea Horwath later became Mayor of Hamilton and former Grit captain Steven Del Duca took the top job in Vaughan.
11 — François Legault returned to the Premier's Office in Quebec after securing a second majority mandate and upsizing his caucus. His primary opponent — Dominique Anglade of the Quebec Liberal Party — later stepped down.
12 — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the House of Commons at the height of the ongoing war in his country. He spoke via Zoom and received a seven-minute standing ovation from MPs and senators.
13 — The Rouleau Commission investigating the invocation of the Emergencies Act held over a month of public hearings with senior government officials — including Prime Minister Trudeau — and leaders of the "Freedom Convoy."
14 — Premier Doug Ford unveiled a major shakeup of his frontbench following the June election. Sylvia Jones took over as Deputy Premier and Minister of Health while Michael Ford — the Premier's nephew — was handed the Citizenship and Multiculturalism portfolio.
15 — The Ford government handed Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe enhanced powers — providing them with a veto power and more budgetary authority. The Tories later gave the two mayors the ability to pass measures with minority support amongst councilors.
16 — The Bank of Canada raised the benchmark interest rate seven times.
17 — A nationwide Rogers outage that left millions without internet or cellular network prompted the feds to direct major telecom companies to enter a formal agreement to ensure emergency roaming in emergencies.
18 — The Premier swallowed a bee. A moment that left social media abuzz.
19 — Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools. “I am sorry. I ask forgiveness,” he told survivors in Maskwacis, Alberta.
20 — The demonstrations in Iran over the killing of Mahsa Amini by the country’s morality police caused Ottawa to impose sanctions on members of the Iranian regime. Opposition parties — and one Liberal MP — said the measures are not enough.
21 — Queen Elizabeth II passed away at 96. She was Canada's head of state and the longest-reigning British monarch.
22 — The Omicron variant dominated the scene at the start of the year with grim modelling and the reinstatement of pandemic restrictions while Ottawa recommended that unessential travel be avoided.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: This is our final edition of the year — we'll be taking a short break and will return to your inbox later in January. It's been quite the year for this newsletter. We published dozens of editions and it's now read by a growing community of political watchers. Here are some of our biggest stories:
This newsletter is only possible because of our growing community of readers — thank you for being part of the family. See you in 2023.
🎤 THE YEAR IT WAS — Tune into CBC Radio's Ontario Today on Friday between noon and 1pm as Ahmad joins Amanda Pfeffer to talk about this newsletter and his political reporting, plus how the past year changed him. Aisha Mahmoud of the Ontario Student Trustees' Association will also join the show.
Young people: how did 2022 change you? Dial in at 1-888-817-8995.
WHAT TO READ IN 2023
To end off the year, we asked political insiders and watchers to share a book recommendation for the new year. Here's what they told us:
Shachi Kurl (President, Angus Reid Institute): “I'd recommend either The Allies by Winston Groom and Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan because they both sketch in the nuances of geopolitics that lead us to where we are today. Not enough people read their history.”
Karen Littlewood (President, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation): “I'd recommend Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself By Nedra Glover Tawwab. This was a book I discovered via Instagram. I have read it multiple times and bought it for many of my friends and family. In my position, it’s too easy to get caught up in the job and trying to please everyone. Nedra's book gave me permission to take care of myself and gave me the words I needed to set boundaries. I am looking forward to reading her latest book but this one is always on my top shelf.”
Cristina Tenaglia (Reporter and Anchor, CP24): “The one book I look forward to reading the most and will get started on is my colleague Steve Ryan’s The Ghosts That Haunt Me. Steve is a dear friend, beloved colleague, and a longtime former homicide detective. I will tackle that book next.”
John Michael McGrath (Writer, TVO.org): “Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe is a book that I heard a lot about when it first came out and I didn't pick it up because who has the time? Then a friend loaned me a copy and I let it sit on a shelf because who has the time? When I finally cracked it open I... found the time to tear through it in a few days. An excellent history of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, it's also an astonishing work of journalism centered on one of the last unsolved murders of the time.”
Wyatt Sharpe (Host, The Wyatt Sharpe Show): “Betrayal by Jonathan Karl is a good account of what happened on January 6, with the behind-the-scenes factor being taken into account. It displays what the Trump presidency was like for many folks inside the administration and those covering the White House.”
Kristy Kirkup (National Reporter, Globe and Mail): “I really enjoy Mel Robbins’ book the High Five Habit. This book is all about encouraging yourself and offering self compassion — something I think we can all benefit from.”
Amanda Alvaro (President, Pomp & Circumstance): “It’s not really political but one of my favourite books of the year was Sarah Polley’s magnificent memoir Run Towards the Danger. As one of Canada’s most beloved actors/filmmakers and political activists, this collection of personal essays, with plenty of Canadian references, is a powerful read putting Polley’s unmatched storytelling chops on full display! Highly recommend.”
Emily Haws (Associate Producer, Power and Politics): “My serious pick is Corruptible by Brian Klaas. It’s about who gets power and it’s based on 500 interviews with leaders good and bad. It’s a fun read that’s also super relevant to politics of all levels. For something more on the fun side — I'm going with The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. She writes historical fiction and this one is about the British code breakers in WWII. It’s a bit long at 600 pages but the pacing is great and the characters are compelling — plus the subject is super fascinating. I've gifted it a few times this year.”
Greg Denton (Executive Assistant, incoming NDP leader Marit Stiles): “With the provincial election and NDP leadership campaign, 2022 didn't leave me with as much reading time as I'd have liked but one book that really stayed with me was Hua Hsu's Stay True. It's a beautifully written memoir about friendship, grief, and the author's coming of age through music, zine-making and political activism. A great read.”
Former finance minister Charles Sousa has made a political comeback — elected as the MP for Mississauga Lakeshore. "I want you to know that I am here to provide support, to work with you and the community, and to be pragmatic at finding the right solutions to those challenges that we face," he said in his victory speech.
We were at Sousa’s election night HQ and spoke with Liberals about what the results meant for the governing party in Ottawa:
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra: “Sometimes people over analyze the results or under analyze them. I think what we can say is that the results will give us a strong indication about the people of Mississauga Lakeshore — similar to the people in other ridings in Mississauga and other people in suburban ridings. It will be a good indicator. I don't think we should over analyze it but I think it's informative and helpful to know how people are feeling right now.
Liberal president Suzanne Cowan: “I think all the things that were talked about during this campaign were very forward thinking or very positive and progressive ideas – a continuation of the things that the Liberal Party’s been talking about. That party is led by Justin Trudeau so I think that it was definitely a solid thumbs up and endorsement for the team and for the leader.
Former Grit MPP Amanda Simard: “The results will mean different things based on who you ask. The Opposition will try to say it's a test on the performance of Justin Trudeau. But it's also very well known that it's very difficult for governments to win by elections. It's very tough to gauge why people go to the polls. Are they longtime liberals? Are they longtime Conservatives? We know that Conservatives go out more than Liberals do. It takes less to get them out. I think it'll depend on who you ask but I think there's a lot at stake for both parties.”
Sousa: “I think what people here Mississauga Lakeshore — and those that I've spoken to — are tired of the toxic nature and the divisive political theater that happens. I think they just want us to be more positive and work together to get things done.”
Patrick Sackville will replace Jamie Wallace as chief of staff to Premier Doug Ford. Sackville — who Ford says has been “a constant source of support and leadership as he’s successfully stickhandled” pressing files — most recently served as principal secretary to the Premier. Wallace is leaving the Pink Palace to become CEO of Supply Ontario, the government’s procurement agency. The move is the latest and largest in a mass staff shakeup among Team Ford ranks. More here. And here.
WHAT WE'RE READING
THE CANADIAN PRESS: “Pierre Poilievre doesn't like anti-Trudeau flags, but understands anger behind them” by Lee Berthiaume
Related reading: “(Dis)Ordered Liberty” by Erin O'Toole
QP BRIEFING: “Ford's cabinet approves $473-a-day tribunal gig for ex-MPP who dramatically left the NDP” by Charlie Pinkerton
TORONTO STAR: “Doug Ford’s family rift over COVID-19 measures plays out on his Christmas card” by Robert Benzie
POLITICO: “Transcript tales: Notable moments from Jan. 6 panel interviews” by Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu
CNN: “More than 190 countries sign landmark agreement to halt the biodiversity crisis” by Laura Paddison
Last edition's question: Catherine McKenna was the federal representative for Ottawa Centre — preceding Yasir Naqvi in the role.
Mea culpa! We incorrectly suggested that McKenna resigned from cabinet before the snap election was called — she did stay on as a minister until a new frontbench was sworn in. We regret the error.