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

Alberta had 1,571 active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta’s central zone now has 1,101 active COVID-19 cases

Provincial death toll has risen by nine

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

(Photo submitted)
Ermineskin citizen graduates vet school, is part of busy practice

Dr. Justin Hodgson is rolling up his sleeves in Meadow Lake, Sask.

Shaela Dansereau/Pipestone Flyer
Wetaskiwin City services impacted by new public health measures

Public centers and availability to public impacted by the new public health measures.

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Moderna chairman says Canada near head of line for 20 million vaccine doses

Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre speaks during a news conference Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 in Ottawa. Poilievre says building up the Canadian economy post-pandemic can't be achieved without a massive overhaul of the tax system and regulatory regime. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Conservatives attack Trudeau’s ‘reset’ but they have ideas for their own

‘We don’t need subsidized corporate welfare schemes that rely on endless bailouts from the taxpayer’

There were 47 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Spread of COVID-19 in Brampton, Ont., linked to systemic factors, experts say

‘We’re tired. We’re numb. We’re overworked. We’re frustrated, because it’s not our rules’

A couple embrace during a ceremony to mark the end of a makeshift memorial for victims of the Toronto van attack, at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. in Toronto on Sunday, June 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
‘I’ve been spared a lot,’ van attack survivor says as she watches trial alone

Court has set up a private room for victims and families of those killed in the Toronto van attack

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

Most Read