Politics

Trudeau missing Calgary Stampede this summer, his only absence outside COVID-19 years

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s summer campaign circuit will not include a stop at the Calgary Stampede.

The annual 10-day rodeo and festival is usually a must-do event for politicians, and Trudeau hasn’t missed a summer except for the COVID-19 years of 2020 and 2021.

But his office confirms there will be no pancake flipping, cowboy-hat tipping or crowd-hopping for the prime minister this year.

There was no immediate explanation provided Tuesday for his absence. The prime minister’s office did announce this week that he will be travelling to Washington, D.C., to participate in this year’s NATO Summit from July 8 to 11.

The Stampede officially begins Friday with a parade and runs until July 14.

Trudeau’s office signalled he wasn’t going to attend in 2017, but after a gaffe — when he accidentally forgot to include Alberta in a list of provinces during his Canada Day speech — he showed up at the Stampede two weeks later.

Trudeau is currently dealing with the fallout from the Liberal loss of a long-held Toronto seat in a byelection on June 24.

His party’s slump in the polls has lasted more than a year, and his MPs are up in arms about how to stage a comeback before the next election.

Last year, crowds jockeyed for selfies as Trudeau made his way through the Stampede grounds.

He also flipped pancakes at a breakfast hosted by Calgary MP George Chahal, one of two Liberals elected in Alberta. Chahal is hosting a pancake breakfast again this year but Trudeau won’t be there.

A spokesperson for Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said the news Trudeau won’t be attending “must come as welcome relief” for Alberta Liberal and NDP MPs who would prefer he “stay in hiding.”

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“Having just been rejected in one of the safest Liberal ridings in downtown Toronto, it’s hard to imagine that Canadians will miss Justin Trudeau all too much at Stampede,” Sebastian Skamski said in a statement.

Lori Williams, a political analyst at Mount Royal University, said Trudeau’s Stampede absence is notable because he’s so often come to Alberta. However, she added that he doesn’t lose much politically by skipping it.

“There’s not a lot politically to be gained by pressing the flesh in Alberta for an unpopular Liberal prime minister,” Williams said.

“I think that, by itself, would not have deterred him. But the fact there’s so many questions swirling around leadership, around the future of the party, its vision, its plan going forward and so forth, they’ve got to settle those questions before they go out into anything that looks like a campaign event.”

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