OTTAWA — There's so much Canada-red and white on Parliament Hill that when the hundreds of thousands of bleary-eyed partygoers finally finish toasting the country's 150th birthday this weekend, they will be seeing Ottawa awash in a pink haze.
Viewing Canada through rose-coloured glasses was the tone of the week, as politicians repeatedly waxed poetic about the wonders of our history and the potential for our future.
The stand-off between police and indigenous protesters on the Hill, on the other hand, was anything but poetic. Activists aiming to build a teepee on the grounds came nose-to-nose with tense Mounties on Wednesday night. The RCMP arrested a handful. But they eventually shared tobacco with the group and helped move the teepee to a more prominent spot.
Government insiders had been bracing for demonstrations for months. But instead of the discord they feared would dominate Canada 150, there were weeks of discourse about reconciliation, culminating in Friday's visit to the teepee by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire.
It may be too early to declare a new, mature age of Crown-indigenous relations, but there's no doubt the political conversation this week was more about searching for understanding than casting blame.
There were also some political developments on economics, lumber and China that will touch many of us. Here are three:
PAYING IT BACK
The mature conversation that avoids casting blame did not extend to Trudeau's comments on the fiscal framework. In comments to wrap up the parliamentary session, the prime minister insisted that he was keeping his election promise to curtail deficits to $10 billion, and that any totals that run higher than that are the previous Conservative government's fault.
Conspicuous by its absence was a date for when balance would return to the budget.
The Bank of Canada was more substantive. It has been sending increasingly loud messages that rock-bottom interest rates are nearing an end, and that Canadians carrying large amounts of household debt need to get ready.
This week, governor Stephen Poloz said again that low interest rates had done their job in inoculating the economy against an oil price slump, and he pointed to strong growth in the first part of 2017.
It has been seven years since the central bank raised its benchmark rate — a move that would prompt commercial lenders to move their own lending rates in lockstep, driving up the costs of carrying mortgages and credit card debt.
LUMBERING TALKS ON LUMBER
The United States has stuck Canadian lumber exporters with a second batch of duties to pay when they sell their product south of the border, bringing the average payment to about 27 per cent — slightly lower than anticipated, but stiff all the same.
The second round of duties inspired a second round of speculation in Ottawa.
On economics: Will the payments break the back of some Canadian exporters or do they have enough stamina to withstand the measures until a lasting settlement is negotiated? Will the big sawmills survive as the little ones vanish?
On politics: Did the U.S. lowball the duty to show Canada it was ready to negotiate? Did they lowball the duty so they could take more from Canada in the bigger NAFTA negotiations starting later this summer? Is Canada serious about a negotiated settlement, given the years the talks have languished and the long-gone opportunities for truce?
The speculation was lost on lumber workers who fear immediate implications for their job security. Unifor, which represents 24,000 workers in the sector, figures duties sustained at that level would eventually lead to 25,000 lost jobs in Canada.
CHINA, BIT BY BIT
Canada and China have signed an agreement to refrain from knowingly hacking each other's trade and business secrets — a pact that cynics say isn't worth much but that optimists consider a building block towards a far more robust trading relationship.
Canada is eyeing China's huge population as a major business development opportunity that would give Canadian exporters an alternative to an inward-looking United States. But a full-fledged free trade agreement is years away. In the meantime, there's hope that small steps on protection of intellectual property such as the one announced this week will coax reluctant Canadian companies to entertain closer ties with China.
The two countries are also holding talks on an extradition treaty, which is controversial in Canada, raising questions about respect for human rights.