Canada Since 1993

By | December 25, 2021

The situation of Canada on the eve of the turn of the century was characterized by substantial political stability (the Liberal Party, LP, had been in government since 1993), a decisive economic recovery and an easing of tensions between separatists and federalists in the province (with a French-speaking majority) of Québec. Furthermore, the progressive recognition of the land rights of the various indigenous peoples, the further development of the already solid welfare system and the now permanently multi-ethnic character of Canadian society (due to a very open immigration policy) were perceived as rights of citizenship, within the framework of that social and constitutional model which, designed by the Charter of rights and freedoms (part of the Federal Constitution of 1982), constituted one of the pillars of national identity. But in the early years of the new century, the leadership of the LP seemed to be heading towards decline: between 2004and in 2005 the party was in fact hit by a profound crisis, due to the explosion of a scandal that involved many of its leaders, questioning its long political hegemony.

At the end of the 20th century Prime Minister J. Chrétien enjoyed a broad consensus in the country, which rested above all on the improvement of the economic situation at the national level and of the political one in Québec. On this second point, after the failure in 1995 of the second referendum on the secession of the province, Chrétien had in fact started a series of negotiations to reach a new agreement, which ended in March 2000 with a law that committed the federal government to negotiate the secession in the case in which the population of a province had expressed their will to do so by a majority. Thus, in October 2000, decided to capitalize on the economic and political successes achieved by holding early political elections for the following month. For Canada political system, please check

The opposition, formed by the Progressive Conservative Party (PC) and the new Canadian Alliance (CA) grouping, born in March 2000 with the intention of unifying all the right but to which only the Reform Party (RP) had joined, led a election campaign inspired by a decisive economic neoliberalism and a strong social conservatism (reduction of public spending, reintroduction of the death penalty, repeal of the abortion law). On the other hand, the LP attacked conservative parties, pointing to a serious threat to the Canadian social and constitutional model in their program. The results rewarded the LP, which won 172 seats (out of 308), establishing itself for the first time also in Québec (with a number of votes higher than the same separatist party Bloc Québécois, BQ, which dropped to 38 seats), while the CA limited itself to 66 seats, the CP to 12 and the Social Democrat New Democratic Party (NDP) at 13. The electoral defeat caused a temporary crisis in the conservative camp: in the summer of 2001 several parliamentarians of the CA broke away from their party to form the Democratic Representative Caucus (DRC), which in September allied itself with the CP, while at the helm of the CA was elected S. Harper (March 2002). The CA and the PC would still have merged in December 2003 into a single party, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), later joined by almost all the deputies of the DRC, and of which Harper was elected secretary in March 2004. However, in November 2003 Chrétien announced that he wanted to anticipate his resignation (scheduled for early 2004), so that in December his successor Fr. Martin, designated by the party in September, simultaneously assumed the office of prime minister and secretary of the LP. When Parliament reopened in February 2004, however, the Attorney General released a report accusing the government of embezzlement for a sum of CAD 250 million. According to the allegations, between 1997 and 2002 the government, in order to promote a campaign in favor of the federal state in Québec, would have paid advertising and public relations companies with false contracts or irregular money transactions. The scandal engulfed the government led by Martin; the latter, who was also finance minister during a good part of the offending period, announced a public inquiry into the case and called early elections in May. The electoral campaign saw, on the one hand, the CPC calling for tax cuts (together with increases in military spending) and, on the other, the LP which, alongside similar proposals, presented a program of reorganization of some areas of welfare, such as education and childcare. The results only partially penalized the LP, which obtained 135 seats, losing the absolute majority but maintaining the relative one and with it the right to form the new government, while the CPC won 99 seats, the NPD 19 and the BQ rose to 54, at the expense of the LP. The new minority government, led once again by Martin, was however subjected to the pressure of a public opinion scandalized by the results of the investigation, which confirmed the accusations of the Attorney General, and in May obtained the parliamentary confidence for a single vote. while the finance law passed only thanks to the support of the NDP. In June-July 2005 the Parliament approved, with the votes of LP, NDP and BQ, a law which, announced in June 2003 by Chrétien, endorsed by a series of provincial court rulings in the name of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and strongly opposed by the conservative right in the media and in Parliament, legalized same-sex civil unions.

Canadian foreign policy in the early 21st century. was dominated by relations with the United States: relations that were intensified in the field of intelligence after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 (when, moreover, the Canada also adopted harsh anti-terrorism measures within) and subsequently thanks to the sending of troops in Afghānistān following the intervention led by the USA (February 2002), but which instead worsened when the Canada denied its participation in the war in ̔Irāq. However, humanitarian issues remained central to the country’s international agenda: between 1999 and 2004, Canada participated in operations of peace-keeping in Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Macedonia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, while in December 2000 it announced a moratorium on the debt of eleven of the poorest countries in the world, with effect from January 2001.

Canada political system