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Trudeau jogs down photo-op lane: Ottawa Power Rankings

Who’s up? The Conservatives, who finally have their moment. Who’s down? Nigel Wright and his conflict of interest.


 

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A Tory leadership race comes to an end. Prime Minister Trudeau impresses (and fails). 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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CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA

This weekend, their very long leadership race reaches its conclusion. And if the outcome isn’t exactly a season-finale cliffhanger—all the polls, fundraising, number-crunching and crystal-ball-gazing have libertarian candidate Maxime Bernier moving into Stornoway—the leadership convention in Toronto makes the party the centre of political attention at the moment. But more importantly, the official opposition that’s been headed by the determinedly genial Rona Ambrose for 18 months will finally have a permanent leader and can shift into rebuild-and-redefine mode, with an eye to the 2019 election. Of course, the fact that many of Bernier’s proposals will likely be tough sells with Canadian voters is an issue that remains to be reckoned with.

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JUSTIN TRUDEAU THE LEADER

The Prime Minister arrived at the G7 summit in Sicily as the third-most senior member of a group of world leaders among whom he was the rookie just a year ago in Japan. There and at NATO meetings in Brussels earlier in the week, he occupies the role of Donald Trump whisperer, with other leaders looking to him for help in dealing with the most powerful toddler in the world. Being seen as a bridge to the mercurial U.S. president places Canada and its PM in nicely influential positions internationally, but it’s also a bit like being the guy in the horror movie nominated to go check out that noise in the basement.

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CHRYSTIA FREELAND

The U.S. president looks—with increasing obviousness—to be the odd man out on a host of issues at the summit. Trudeau’s foreign affairs minister is once again front and centre with muscular things to say about that. Free trade, climate change and migration policy are three major areas where Trump is profoundly out of step with the group and any consensus that’s like to emerge from the talks in Sicily. Freeland insists there will be no bowing to one person’s will on these issues. “There are clearly some areas where the Canadian position may not be universally embraced,” she said—and who could guess who she was speaking of?

WHO’S DOWN:

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JUSTIN TRUDEAU THE BRAND

One senses a certain curdling into cynicism in perceptions of the photo ops, branding and general charm offensive that the PM and his camp are so undeniably skilled at. The latest example that seemed to slide directly from “Heh, cute” to “Come on” was a photo of Trudeau jogging past oblivious teens taking prom photos along the Vancouver waterfront. The image sparked Zapruder-style deconstructions of exactly how it went down—and how that differed from Team Trudeau’s presentation of the moment—and chastisement of the media and public for lapping it up. Which is certainly not to say that there’s no delighted audience left for this kind of thing.

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JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD

The justice minister’s father, Bill Wilson—a hereditary chief in B.C.—decries the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women as a “bloody farce” and says the commissioners should be fired. Wilson argues the commission has existed for eight months and spent large amounts of money without accomplishing anything. He says he doesn’t expect his daughter—one of the cabinet ministers most closely linked to the inquiry—to act on his criticism, but it adds an awkwardly personal note to an inquiry that’s already drawing criticism from other quarters.

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NIGEL WRIGHT

The federal ethics commissioner says Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff broke the Parliament of Canada Act and conflict of interest rules when he forked over $90,000 of his personal funds to Mike Duffy to help make his Senate living expense scandal go away. “Mr. Wright was improperly furthering Sen. Duffy’s private interests” by alleviating the need for him to use his own money to repay what he owed, said Mary Dawson in a long-awaited report. Wright has never faced any criminal charges for his involvement in the Duffy affair.


 

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