With the big news around LavScam from earlier this week it’s turned out to be a much more eventful week in political Ottawa than most of us were expecting. It’s made for a lot to talk about, that’s for sure, and there will be a lot more to talk about on this topic before the time we vote in the fall. That will start this coming Wednesday when the House of Commons Ethics Committee comes back to try to call the Ethics Commissioner to testify about the Trudeau II report.
But as we go into one of the last weekends of the summer, I thought I would point to a couple odds and ends that have come out today that are interesting and might flight under the radar. The first story comes from Halifax and took place on the Rick Howe radio show. Turns out former Liberal MP turned gasoline pricing expert Dan McTeague was on and folks, it seems that he had a fair bit to say:
For starters, yes it’s notable whenever a former elected official in a party calls for their leader to go, there are no two ways around that. It’s never a good thing for a party to have that out there on the record. But is this huge? Not really. McTeague has been out of elected life for a while now and for the last while has been critical of the Liberals under Trudeau’s leader. When asked directly on Twitter a year ago if he were to run again now would he run for the Liberals, he replied with this:
I think that made his feelings pretty clear, so to hear his criticisms now shouldn’t shock. But that doesn’t mean it’s nothing; it’s still something to see a former MP from a party call for that party’s leader to resign. And yet as stinging as those words were, he didn’t stop there.
He teased that according to his contacts in Ottawa, the Liberals are nervous and that “there’s a lot more to come” on the SNC/PMO Scandal. Is there? We have no way of telling but given that the PM didn’t waive privilege to allow the Ethics Commissioner to fully finish his investigation, there is a potential ring of truth to the idea that there is more still out there to be heard. The fact is that because of the lack of that waiver, the full truth is not out there, which automatically means there is more to still learn. Is that news good, bad, or inconsequential? We just don’t know, but thanks to the actions taken by the Prime Minister that can’t be put to bed and the worst can’t be ruled out. It surely makes the case for a proper Ethics Committee meeting with Mr. Dion all the stronger.
On a different front we’ve heard a bit of interesting nomination news as the parties get closer to filling their slates for the 43rd General Election. In the past 24 hours we’ve seen a couple big name candidates step forward, for the Liberals and New Democrats, that have the potential to make things interesting:
For the Trudeau Liberals this is a big get. To have someone like Sandra Pupatello decide to come out of retirement to take on strong incumbent Brian Masse in Windsor-West, with everything that’s going on right now and the potential for her to seek the Ontario Liberal Leadership again, is good news for them. Can she win? We’ll see but this will be a hard fought race and Brian Masse is a hard working and very well liked MP. Windsor-West will surely become a riding to watch now for sure.
As for the NDP, seeing Sid Ryan come back to run again is a mixed blessing. It’s good in the sense to get someone of his stature to step forward in these hard times for the NDP. It’s good to see someone with his strong history in the labour movement stepping up. That’s a bit of an affirmation of Jagmeet Singh and his team. But on the bad side, Sid Ryan comes with a lot of baggage of his own. He’s known for being very outspoken on many issues, for better or worse, and he’s an oppo-research teams dream because you know there is so much out there on the record that he’s said.
That baggage continues on into his time within the labour movement and his outspoken criticism of national leaders like Jerry Dias and their unions. Does that mean that a union like UNIFOR won’t back the NDP in Oshawa because of Ryan’s candidacy? In other ridings that might not matter, but in the heart of GM country, having UNIFOR’s backing is huge. Remember the last time that Ryan ran federally in 2005-06, that was the campaign where one of UNIFOR predecessors, the CAW, backed the Liberals. That cost him a win in that campaign, and that’s history that has not been forgotten.
In any case, the potential candidacy of Sid Ryan in Oshawa has the same feel as the attempted comeback by Svend Robinson in Burnaby. It also carries the same kinds of risks, but with a lesser chance of Ryan getting elected. Adding a Ryan nomination to that of Robinson’s also says a lot about the current state of the NDP, it’s direction, who it is attracting and who it is pushing away. The same is true of the nomination of Sandra Pupatello in Windsor-West and the state of the Liberals. All of these nominations are big names from the past, but are they the candidates and direction of 2019? We’ll find out in October. But in the meantime, these nominations are noteworthy and give us more reason to pay attention to these two ridings. We’ll see just how many more noteworthy nominations will come in the next few weeks but 66 days out, we’re getting closer and closer to the starting line of this campaign, one that promises to be unlike any we’ve seen in a generation.