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A Clinton in Ottawa

In April, Hillary Clinton visited Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

In April, Hillary Clinton visited Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Niall Carson/REUTERS

Canadian Liberals gathered in Ottawa on Thursday for their annual political convention. This year’s event features a special guest appearance from Hillary Clinton, who will be chatting with Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland on Friday. Coincidence? Well, it’s hard to ignore the parallels.


The conference opened with a speech from Justin Trudeau, after which he flew to London for the coronation of King Charles III. In his absence, Clinton and Freeland will discuss the future of the US-Canada relationship.

As always, Canadian political watchers are looking at this as a leadership test. After all, Trudeau is eight years into his tenure, has accumulated more political baggage than a Samsonite factory, and suffers from poor approval numbers.

Freeland, by far the most powerful minister in Trudeau’s cabinet, is often touted as a possible successor to Trudeau. But Liberal strategists worry that pitting her against Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre – who detractors have likened to Donald Trump – could set up a replay of the 2016 US election, which Democrats lost. And Freeland faces some of the same issues as Clinton did: Trying to break the glass ceiling as the first Liberal female PM, she over-indexes on competence and underperforms on the stump.

In any case, Trudeau says he intends to stick around for the next election, likely in 2025, although he leads a minority government that could fall before then. Which is why the Clinton-Freeland exchange will be so closely parsed.

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