The Race for Iowa, Georgia and Texas
House Democrats (and Bernie Sanders) want to stop Trumpism from becoming the new normal. But first they’ll have to get him to give up power — and he’s not making any promises. It’s Thursday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.
Joe Biden talked to reporters as he departed Charlotte, N.C., yesterday. Asked questions during the day about the ruling in Breonna Taylor’s killing and the Supreme Court nomination, two important issues for Democrats, he gave cautious responses.
It’s rare for a Canadian prime minister to make a televised address to the nation. But Justin Trudeau did just that on Wednesday evening to declare that Canada was in its second pandemic wave — and to not incidentally sell the country on his new legislative agenda.
Canada had some rough patches in the early months of the pandemic, particularly when it came to deaths in nursing homes in its two most populous provinces. But it has since outperformed its much larger neighbor. One possible factor is that the virus has largely escaped becoming a particularly politicized issue, at least so far.
Trudeau faced political challenges on two fronts when the virus arrived. A federal election last year left his Liberal Party without a majority of votes in the House of Commons and thus dependent on support from at least some of the opposition parties to stay in power. At the same time, getting big projects done often requires the buy-in of the powerful provinces, particularly when it comes to health care, which is their closely guarded responsibility. All of the large provinces are governed by parties other than Trudeau’s Liberals, and most of them are led by premiers far to the prime minister’s right.
Before the pandemic, Doug Ford, the Conservative premier of the country’s most populous province, Ontario, was Trudeau’s leading critic. Since March he’s had nothing but praise for the prime minister.
“People expected us to put our differences aside, to put the politics aside and work together, and that’s exactly what we did,” Ford said at a joint event with Trudeau a month ago.
In Parliament, the Conservatives and other opposition parties have certainly criticized Trudeau, but there hasn’t been a concerted effort to bring his government down.
And all of Canada’s political leaders, regardless of their partisan leanings, have consistently deferred to public health authorities and scientists from the beginning. Indeed, some of those officials, particularly Dr. Bonnie Henry in British Columbia, have become celebrities of sorts.
While politicians in Washington negotiated endlessly about financial support measures for individuals and businesses, Trudeau’s government moved swiftly to put them in place and even increase them.
His legislative agenda released on Wednesday contained a torrent of more costly promises. Trudeau, in his television appearance, said that such spending was vital for recovery, and that the country’s comparatively small debt and low interest rates would make that possible.
But that additional spending may create the first big political rift over the pandemic in Canada. The plan had barely been unveiled when the Conservatives announced that they would vote against it. If Trudeau can’t round up support elsewhere in the opposition, Canada might be headed to a pandemic election.