Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has been regularly engaging in private conversations with Stephen Bronfman — the Liberal Party’s treasurer — in recent weeks, a staffer inside her office tells The Chronicle. The Bronfmans have been the principal financiers of the Liberal Party of Canada for more than one hundred years.
Worried about the stability of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s government, Mr. Bronfman initiated at least one of those conversations in a private phone call in February, during which Freeland offered Bronfman reassurances that — in the event Trudeau is forced to resign — Cabinet would be prepared to act swiftly to ensure the party would have a ‘robust message’ heading into October elections.
Freeland even named herself as a ‘suitable and likely’ successor to Trudeau, noting by name that Ministers Carolyn Bennett, Bill Morneau, and Catherine McKenna are ‘solidly’ in her camp, should the situation necessitate a battle for the leadership post. Joyce Murray, Ralph Goodale, and Carla Qualthrough were identified as being obstacles to her succession.
Not long after that call, Freeland had a ‘serendipitous’ encounter with Charles Bronfman, the 87-year-old brother of the late Edgar Bronfman, Sr, who encouraged her to ‘keep quiet’, having seen her name mentioned as Trudeau’s likely successor and noting the appearance of several editorials encouraging her to seek the post.
Freeland, with the reflexes of a diplomat, hurriedly denied that she would position herself to succeed Trudeau publicly and blamed the talk on ‘political speculators’, a term that created some awkwardness in the conversation. Neither wanted to ask the other whether Bronfman was the ‘political speculator’ to whom she, perhaps unknowingly, referenced.
The same source tells The Chronicle that Freeland has been heard in her office ‘reciting grandiose political rhetoric’ by herself — as if she were rehearsing for a pivotal speech.