As foreign affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland accomplished what few diplomats were able to: she appeased Donald Trump’s volatile administration with an amenable trade deal. Justin Trudeau, having learned the efficacy of Freeland’s magic touch, has since tasked her with a more immediate goal: placating restive parts of her own country. Trudeau’s cabinet overhaul last week shifted the Alberta-born Freeland into the role of deputy prime minister, specifically to leverage her Prairie upbringing to unite this clearly divided country, where his government won zero seats across Saskatchewan and Alberta. Freeland’s first hurdle: the CN rail strike. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on social media and to Freeland in person, urged the federal government to enact back-to-work legislation, spinning Quebec’s propane shortage, caused by the strike, into a pro-pipeline pipe dream. The railworkers’ union, naturally, wanted its right to strike respected. And so, once again, Freeland did what she does best: she stayed the course, allowing negotiations to play out. Sure enough, the strike ended with a tentative agreement the day after her meeting with Kenney. Who’s laughing now? Freeland is—all the way to her next seemingly impossible obstacle: figuring out the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
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