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Bill Morneau serves up a sleeper: Ottawa Power Rankings

Who’s up in the nation’s capital? A Liberal backbencher wins big. Who’s down? The finance minister misses his big moment.


 

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Jason Kenney is on the way up. Canada Savings Bonds are on the way out. See who’s up and who’s down in and around Parliament Hill’s corridors of power. And check out the rest of our weekly power rankings.

WHO’S UP:

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JASON KENNEY

As expected, the former federal minister of citizen, immigration and multiculturalism easily won the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party. He wants to unite the party with Brian Jean’s Wildrose—a decade-old right-wing grassroots offshoot—in order to bring down Rachel Notley’s NDP government. “Today this great party has acted with courage and vision to—in the words of Ralph Klein—stop arguing about history and instead to make history,” Kenney said in his victory speech.

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IQRA KHALID

The anti-Islamophobia motion sponsored by the Liberal backbencher, passed the House 201-91. M-103 doesn’t carry the weight of law—a fact Kellie Leitch either doesn’t understand or ignored—but symbolic gestures can be important. The motion calls on the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear” and condemn Islamophobia and systemic racism. Critics charge it could limit free speech. Khalid faced a barrage of threats and bigoted hate-mail for it—which, of course, only serves to buttress the case for its existence.

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JEAN-YVES DUCLOS

Jean-Yves Duclos, Justin Trudeau’s minister of families, children and social development, blew a pre-budget briefing when he failed to make sense of the government’s ideas about the middle class. But the biggest new spending item in Budget 2017—$11.2 billion over 11 years for affordable housing—goes to a priority Duclos is spearheading, which is a clear win for him. The new National Housing Strategy is touted to include help for northern housing and Indigenous people living off-reserve, more federal investment to reduce homelessness and more federal land available for affordable housing.

WHO’S DOWN:

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BILL MORNEAU

The general consensus on Budget Day—normally the highlight of the Ottawa political bubble calendar, and yes, that’s weird—was that it was a tentative, sleepy fiscal roadmap. The much-touted first attempt at gender-based analysis is arguably disappointing, and the 2017 document is longer on fuzzy, high-minded vision than big numbers and specifics. On top of that, Trudeau’s finance minister is just not someone with a natural talent for selling vision.

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CANADA SAVINGS BONDS

Budget 2017 killed off this nostalgic investment vehicle, declaring it “no longer a cost-effective source of funds for the government.” The program launched in 1946, evolving out of bonds that funded the war efforts, but its popularity plummeted after the late-80s peak because other easily accessible investments offer better returns. Over the years, Canada Savings Bonds bankrolled countless weddings and university educations, as well inspiring some gorgeous vintage poster campaigns and charmingly goofy TV ads.

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DON MEREDITH

The disgraced senator’s situation was incredibly ugly to begin with, given accusations that he used his position to court a young woman and may have had sex with her while she was underage. Then Meredith made it worse. He claimed “absolutely, racism has played a role” in the response to him, and then switched lawyers after his counsel made the same argument. His new lawyer says he wants to calm things down, but the Senate ethics committee is debating whether to give Meredith the boot or impose other punishment.


 

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