OTTAWA — Federal politicians will be on election footing as they get back to parliamentary business today.
They’ll gather in a new, temporary House of Commons — located in the newly refurbished West Block — while the iconic Centre Block undergoes massive renovations expected to take at least 10 years.
But their novel surroundings are unlikely to produce more decorous proceedings — indeed, with an election scheduled for Oct. 21, partisan elbows will be sharper than ever.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can expect to be on the hot seat over Canada’s deteriorating relations with China, which resulted in his weekend firing of Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum.
McCallum twice last week undermined the government’s message that there has been no political interference in the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the United States, which wants her extradited on fraud allegations.
McCallum first suggested she has strong legal arguments to avoid extradition and, after apologizing for those remarks, said it would be “great for Canada” if the U.S. dropped its extradition request.
His remarks were at odds with the government’s insistence that it is simply honouring Canada’s extradition treaty with the U.S. and respecting the rule of law.
Since Meng’s detention last month, two Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — have been detained in China. A third Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, who was previously convicted of drug smuggling, has abruptly been handed a death sentence.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has signalled his intention to use the diplomatic dispute with China to paint Trudeau as a laughingstock on the world stage.
However, in a speech to his caucus on Sunday, Scheer made it clear his party’s primary focus heading into the election will be on what he deems the Liberal government’s out-of-control spending and runaway deficits, which he predicted would mean increased taxes if the party wins re-election.