OTTAWA — A brand-new Canada — greener, healthier, more compassionate, fairer.
That’s what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised last month, after announcing that he was suspending Parliament as an ethics scandal involving his government and his family was exploding.
He promised to present the country with an ambitious recovery plan from the coronavirus, and the economic devastation it has unleashed, saying, “This is our moment to change the future for the better.”
On Wednesday, he will finally reveal his much-anticipated legislative plan — and as much as it is an effort to reset the nation, it’s also an opportunity for Mr. Trudeau to reset his political fortunes.
Mr. Trudeau is grappling with high unemployment, a soaring budget shortfall and an uncertain future for many of Canada’s businesses. Coronavirus infection rates have begun rising again — as well as fears that a second wave of the pandemic has begun.
Some provinces have revived restrictions, leading to worries about even more economic woes. Lofty — and expensive — long-term goals may be less palatable.
Kathy Brock, a professor in the policy studies department at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, said the prime minister must offer more than platitudes.
“Mr. Trudeau has to have a plan or proposal that says to Canadians: ‘We have a sense of where we are going, we aren’t just reacting now,’ ” she said.
The contract was ultimately abandoned and the charity recently announced that it was shutting down operations in Canada.
But the episode followed last year’s bruising of Mr. Trudeau’s image in the run-up to his re-election, including the SNC-Lavalin controversy over efforts by his office to downgrade criminal charges against a major engineering company, and revelations about the prime minister’s wearing of blackface and brownface in the past.
“For people who are suspicious of, or not particularly thrilled by, Justin Trudeau this whole thing only cements what they thought,” said Lori Turnbull, the director of the school of public administration at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Polls show Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal party suffered short-term damage from the episode.
At the same time, she said, Mr. Trudeau’s supporters “say there’s nothing really to see here,” making the WE affair a wash politically.
When Mr. Trudeau announced that he would shut down Parliament — which also, his political opponents noted, shut down committee hearings into the WE charity — he raised expectations for what he could deliver.
“As much as this pandemic is an unexpected challenge, it is also an unprecedented opportunity,” Mr. Trudeau said in August. “This is our chance to build a more resilient Canada. A Canada that is healthier and safer, greener and more competitive. A Canada that is more welcoming and more fair.”
Opposition parties, businesses, labor unions and think tanks across the country floated ideas about what Mr. Trudeau should include in the plan, which will be put forth in the so-called throne speech, read to Parliament by Governor General Julie Payette as representative for the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.
These ideas range…