Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

One year ago today, Canadians elected to put Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals on a shorter leash, returning them to government but with only a minority of seats in the House of Commons.

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis.

So it seems somehow fitting that the anniversary will be marked by a confidence vote today in the Commons that will decide whether to plunge Canadians into another election in the midst of the worst global pandemic in a century.

Here’s a look back at the top five things the government has had to contend with in the first year of its second mandate:

  • On Jan. 8, Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was hit by two Iranian missiles shortly after takeoff from Tehran airport. Among the 176 people killed were 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. Dozens more passengers were bound for Canada, many of them students and academics returning from a winter break.

Canada and the other members of the International Co-ordination and Response Group for the victims of Flight PS752 continue to press Iran to conduct a thorough, transparent investigation into the tragedy. They also want a criminal investigation and impartial judicial proceedings against those responsible and for compensation for victims’ families.

Some families of the victims have criticized the Trudeau government for not doing enough to stop Iranian stonewalling.

  • In February, protests and railway blockades sprang up across the country in solidarity with hereditary chiefs from British Columbia’s Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who were contesting construction of a natural gas pipeline across their traditional territory in northern B.C. The blockades dragged on for weeks, prompting fear of economic devastation and calls for police to forcibly remove the barriers as the government attempted to find a peaceful resolution.

In early March, federal and provincial governments reached a deal with the hereditary chiefs on Wet’suwet’en rights and land title. That ended the blockades, although it did not resolve the underlying conflict over the Coastal GasLink pipeline project.

  • In mid-March, the country went into lockdown as the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19 began sweeping the country. Canadians were told to stay home and avoid contact with others as much as possible. All but essential businesses were shut down and the economy went into a tailspin. Trudeau himself had to go into isolation for several weeks after his wife contracted the disease.

The government stepped in with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of hastily created relief programs to help Canadians stay afloat during the pandemic.

As the pandemic went into a bit of a lull over the summer, provinces began relaxing some of the public health restrictions. But the spread of the coronavirus has spiked again this fall and the country is now in the midst of a second wave that threatens to be even more deadly than the first, which killed more than 9,000 Canadians. Federal and provincial governments are struggling to contain it without forcing the country back into an economically devastating lockdown.

  • On May 25, George Floyd died after Minneapolis police pinned him to the ground, one with a knee on his neck for nearly eight minutes while Floyd repeatedly pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death sparked massive “Black Lives Matter” protests around the world, including in Canada, despite the pandemic.

Trudeau took a knee in one of those protests in Ottawa in June. But his government was also hit with allegations of police brutality and racism against Blacks, visible minorities and Indigenous people in Canada — some of them backed up with video evidence.

In one week in early June, an Indigenous woman was fatally shot by police in New Brunswick during what was supposed to be a “wellness” check and an RCMP officer was captured on video knocking down an Inuk man with the door a pickup truck in Nunavut. That was quickly followed by the disclosure of video from a violent altercation in March between RCMP officers and the chief of a northern Alberta First Nation, who had been stopped over an expired licence plate on his vehicle.

  • On June 25, Trudeau announced the creation of the Canada Student Service Grant, which was to provide compensation to students who volunteered over the summer in pandemic-related efforts. The program was immediately engulfed in controversy over the fact that WE Charity, an organization with which Trudeau and his family members had long been involved, was given a $43.5-million contract to administer the program.

Within a week, WE backed out of the arrangement and the program itself was eventually cancelled. WE returned to the government all money it had been given to launch the program and says it has eaten some $5 million in expenses for which it will not seek reimbursement.

Trudeau has said that the recommendation to involve WE came from public servants but he has nevertheless apologized for not recusing himself from the final decision, given his family’s connections to the group.

WE has disclosed it paid Trudeau’s wife $1,500 for one speech and covered nearly $24,000 in expenses for eight other events over the past eight years. It has also paid his mother $180,000 in speaking fees and almost $164,000 in expenses over the years, and his brother $36,000 in fees and just over $22,000 in expenses.

Bill Morneau, finance minister at the time, also has close family ties to WE. Both he and Trudeau are under investigation by the federal ethics commissioner, which may have had something to do with Morneau’s abrupt decision in early August to resign from cabinet and from politics altogether.

Opposition attempts to revive their investigation into the WE affair this fall have been filibustered by Liberals at House of Commons committees, which has in turn led to an impasse over a Conservative motion to create a special committee to investigate alleged Liberal “corruption.” Today’s vote on that motion could bring down the government.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police responded to W.L. Seaton Secondary after reports of young man attempting to smash car windows in the student parking lot on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Facebook)
Case of COVID-19 at Vernon high school

Member of W.L. Seaton Secondary exposure Nov. 26

Josh Dueck of Canada races during the men’s Super-G, sitting event at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Whistler, Friday, March 19, 2010. Dueck knows the role of chef de mission for Canada’s Paralympic team during these unparalleled times comes with huge and unique challenges. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vernon Paralympian named Canada’s chef de mission for 2022 Paralympics

Three-time Paralympic medalist Josh Dueck will lead Team Canada in Beijing

This microscope image made available by the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research in 2015 shows human colon cancer cells with the nuclei stained red. On Friday, May 29, 2020, doctors are reporting success with newer drugs that control certain types of cancer better, reduce the risk it will come back and make treatment simpler and easier to bear. (NCI Center for Cancer Research via AP)
Vernon families give $200,000 towards cancer care in Kelowna

First ever chair in brachytherapy supported by Popowich and Bannister families

Paramedic Jason Manuel, dressed in PPE, inspects an ambulance at Station 341 on Nov. 30. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Second wave, twice the anxiety; Okanagan paramedics reflect on pandemic from the front line

‘I don’t know who that (next) person is going to be, I don’t want it to be me or my family’: Paramedic

Lincoln Lanes has suspended adult league play for the time being as per the latest provincial health order. Youth leagues and public bowling are still permitted. (Morning Star file photo)
Vernon bowling centre suspends adult league play

Lincoln Lanes following provincial health order; youth leagues and public bowling permitted

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP was called to a report of a fight at an Okanagan Landing Halloween party Saturday, Oct. 31, but issued the homeowner a ticket  under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act for having too many people at the party. (Black Press file photo)
West Kelowna man, dog rescued from carbon monoxide poisoning

The man was quickly transported to the hospital

The aftermath of the 3 a.m. fire in Keremeos. (Keremeos Fire Department)
Fire and explosion wakes Keremeos residents

A motorhome was consumed and a boat severely damaged after the 3 a.m. fire

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
First long-term care resident dies from COVID-19 in Interior Health

Man in his 80s dies following virus outbreak at Mountainview Village

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

The former BC Tree Fruits office building at 1473 Water Street has been sold. (Contributed)
BC Tree Fruits downtown Kelowna office sold for $7.5M

Historic building sold for 44 per cent more than the $5.2-million asking price

Most Read