Chrystia Freeland talks tough: Ottawa Power rankings

Who’s up in the nation’s capital? An NDP bulldog and a Liberal minister. Who’s down? A high-profile Tory and a hopeful for the party crown.


With Justin Trudeau’s trip to Washington, D.C. taking centre stage, his foreign minister rises—while his finance minister falls. 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.




The new Foreign Affairs Minister was in Washington this week to meet with top congressional leaders ahead of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tête-a-somewhat-differently-groomed-tête on Monday with President Donald Trump. Freeland offered up exactly what she was brought into this portfolio to do: tough talk about Canada’s willingness to stand up for itself, its trade interests and NAFTA. “Rest assured that we will very forcefully advocate for the national interest,” she said.



The NDP’s democratic reform critic has become the furious face of resistance to the Liberal government ditching its electoral reform promise. When Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould appeared in committee this week, Cullen demanded to know why she had asked him, in a face-to-face meeting, for ideas on how to proceed with the file just hours before it went public that the issue was dead. A petition Cullen sponsored, which demands the government re-commit to electoral reform, has gathered nearly 100,000 signatures.



It appears that the rumour that Sarah Palin is headed to Ottawa as the new U.S. Ambassador is based solely on the fact that Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, wouldn’t explicitly rule it out—that, and the fact that people really, really, really want it to be true. I mean, come on: The world’s ur-hockey mom, firing winks and finger-guns and deeply questionable uses of the English language from the most prestigious and visible diplomatic post in town? You can practically hear the collective voice of the capital floating above the Rideau Canal: “Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease…”




Yes—again—the Conservative leadership candidate lands on the downhill side of this list. You get the feeling what was grabbing her most of the oxygen early in the race is curdling now, and even Trudeau took a cheap shot by way of defending his abandonment of electoral reform. Peter MacKay, the former Progressive Conservative leader who helped create the united Conservative Party, also offered rare commentary this week on the leadership contest, picking apart Leitch’s centrepiece proposal on screening immigrants for Canadian values. “I do worry about certain positions that have been staked out…it does pose the risk of causing brand damage for the Conservative Party,” he said.



In mid-October, the finance minister had in hand a long-term fiscal projection that showed Ottawa would be in the red decades longer than the Liberal government had promised. However, that dour news somehow failed to make it into the economic update Morneau provided two weeks later, which instead focused on more chipper policy announcements. The deficit news was publicly released using the tried-and-true practice of quietly posting something online with no press release, just as everyone has checked out and unplugged their brains for a holiday—in this case, on Dec. 23.



The interim Conservative leader is now facing uncomfortable questions about her January vacation aboard a yacht owned by energy titan Murray Edwards—a friend of her spouse, J.P. Veitch—whose aerospace company received funds from the Conservative government while Ambrose was a cabinet minister. What’s more, the awkward symmetry of Ambrose’s luxe vacation—which was cleared, albeit belatedly, with the ethics commissioner—has given her party zero legs to stand on in labelling Trudeau as entitled. All that hollering about the Aga Khan’s helicopter has suddenly faded to crickets.