This item is part of Watching Washington, a regular dispatch from CBC News correspondents reporting on U.S. politics and developments that affect Canadians.
A long-awaited announcement from U.S. President Joe Biden is going to make some Canadians unhappy.
Biden released updated highlights of his key budget plan Thursday and it includes language Ottawa has been worrying about: a Buy American-type provision for the auto sector.
It involves a tax credit for U.S.-made cars that the Canadian government describes as potentially damaging, and also illegal under international trade law.
It came in an announcement from the White House of its list of priorities after months of negotiations among Democrats resulted in a smaller version of its original multi-trillion dollar budget package.
One idea that made the cut was a maximum $12,500 US tax credit for people who buy electric vehicles, with some conditions: “[The] tax credit will lower the cost of an electric vehicle that is made in America with American materials and union labour,” said the White House.
Then, later in the day, congressional Democrats released the full text of their 1,684-page budget bill; it confirmed new details of a tax credit favouring U.S. vehicles.
The plan would grow in two phases.
At first, a part of the $12,500 credit — $4,500 of it — would be reserved for vehicles assembled in the U.S. Then, starting in 2027, only U.S.-assembled vehicles would qualify for any of the $12,500 credit.
What’s the context
Ottawa has been fretting about this idea for months. It’s worried about the effect on a Canada-U.S. auto industry that has long been integrated, with parts repeatedly moving back and forth across the border.
Those concerns were publicly voiced in a letter last week to nearly a dozen U.S. officials by Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng.
Its stated concerns are threefold: Potential future job losses in Canada, alleged violations of international trade agreements and disruptions to cross-border supply chains that could also hurt Americans who supply parts to Canadian plants.
The move comes as the auto sector is making long-term decisions about where to build future electric fleets and the fear in Ottawa is that the tax credit creates an unfair incentive to invest in the U.S.
Biden unveiled the nearly $2 trillion suite of programs Thursday before leaving for G20 and climate summits in Europe.
This budget package forms the heart of his domestic legislative agenda — touching on climate change, child care, health care and corporate taxes.
However it’s a much more modest package after some democratic senators insisted on trimming numerous ideas from Biden’s plan. Among the ideas nixed was his most important climate policy forcing utility companies to go green.
Eager to have a policy to show at the UN climate summit in Glasgow, and to make progress on some priorities before a batch of state-level elections next week, Biden revealed his remaining priorities for the budget bill; the vehicle tax credit included.
The Buy American vehicle idea was initially championed by Michigan Democrats in both chambers of Congress.
There’s still no guarantee this will become law. Progressive Democrats are deeply disappointed in the reduced scope of the bill and it’s unclear if it will receive the votes required in the House of Representatives and Senate.
Representatives of the Canadian auto industry have hinted that they envision lawsuits if the measure goes forward.
The Canadian government did not make that explicit threat in Ng’s public letter, but it did describe the idea as contrary to international trade rules.
Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said on Thursday evening that it’s “too soon” to speculate about how Ottawa would respond if the bill becomes law.
WATCH | Ambassador says ‘Buy American’ will cost jobs:
She is instead arguing that the policy will harm businesses in both Canada and the U.S.
“We’re emphasizing that trade is not a zero-sum game. It’s not a question of winners and losers,” Hillman said during an interview on CBC’s Power & Politics.
“Working together creates jobs on both sides of the border. Breaking down those supply chains loses jobs on both sides of the border.”
Behavioral tools of pandemic should be applied to climate policy – scientists
Lessons learned from the pandemic about shifting people’s behavior will be applied to policies to counter climate change and disinformation in the future, leading scientists said Thursday.
Carlos Scartascini, from the Inter-American Development Bank, said behavioral tools became critical in the pandemic, in a panel at the Reuters Next conference.
“When you say ‘wash your hands’ – you can say (it) 20 times, but if you don’t change the way you say people basically do not react,” he said.
Dr. Laura de Moliere, who heads up behavioral science in the UK Cabinet office, said a better understanding of human behavior became critical to policymakers in the pandemic, and that should carry forward.
“Climate change is probably quite an obvious one, where if we aren’t designing rules and regulations well, we will be seeing rebound effects where people are insulating their houses, but then buying bigger houses because the energy is cheaper,” she said.
She said transparency of decision making, central to COVID communication, would also be important for winning support for climate change policies.
“There’s lots of really interesting avenues for behavioral science application that have arisen because of because of the pandemic,” said Mary MacLennan, the cofounder of the United Nations Behavioral Science Group.
(Reporting by William James; writing by Merdie Nzanga)
Majority of Canadians want to ditch the British monarchy. How feasible is it? – Globalnews.ca
For Barbados, the transition on Tuesday marked an end to its last remaining colonial bonds nearly 400 years after the first English ships arrived at the Caribbean island.
There is now renewed debate in Canada over whether to follow Barbados’ lead, with a majority of Canadians saying the monarchy is becoming less relevant or is no longer relevant at all, new polling shows.
According to an Angus Reid survey published Tuesday, more than 50 per cent say Canada should not remain a constitutional monarchy indefinitely, while one-quarter say it should.
The same poll also suggests that as long as Queen Elizabeth II continues to reign, 55 per cent of Canadians support continuing to recognize her as the official head of state.
Rising number of Canadians support dropping monarchy: poll
However, that support has declined over the years, polling shows.
In an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News in March 2021, two in three Canadians, or 66 per cent of respondents, said the Queen and the Royal Family should not have any formal role in Canadian society, as they are “simply celebrities and nothing more.”
That was up two per cent over last year and six per cent since 2016, according to Ipsos.
The waning support comes amid uncertainty around the 95-year-old monarch’s health that has recently limited her public appearances.
Challenges for Canada
Despite Canadians’ dwindling enthusiasm for the royals, eliminating the monarchy in Canada will be a “complicated process,” experts say.
To make any change to the role of the Queen or her representatives in Canada, there must be unanimous consent from the House of Commons, the Senate and each of the provincial legislatures to change the constitution — a process that could take years to complete.
How Canada could break up with the monarchy
“Under our constitution, all 10 provinces would have to agree on changes to the office of the Queen and it’s very difficult for all 10 provinces to be on the same page at the same time,” said Carolyn Harris, historian and author of Raising Royalty: 1,000 Years of Royal Parenting.
Because Canada’s Indigenous communities have their own treaties with the Crown, First Nations would need to be consulted as well for any transition to take place, Harris said.
“So in Canada, it would be a very complicated process compared to the comparatively straightforward process in Barbados,” she told Global News.
Queen responds to Harry and Meghan’s tell-all interview
Citizens for a Canadian Republic (CCR), a non-profit group, acknowledges there would be challenges when it comes to amending the Constitution but still encourages the discussion.
Among the hurdles it highlights on its website is “an unfair amending formula.”
“Compounding these difficulties is the subject of how Canadians should choose their new head of state and what role it would play in the federal system,” CCR states.
In the practical sense, abolishing the monarchy would not change much for Canada, as the Queen has no political authority, argued Melanie Newton, an associate professor of history at the University of Toronto.
“And the federal government could become a republic without the Indigenous people necessarily having to give up those symbolic ties to the British monarchy,” she said.
Barbados breaks free
Barbados’ move to becoming a republic was the culmination of a more than two decades-long push to ditch the monarchy.
A “major shift” took place last year spurred on by the racial inequalities of the COVID-19 pandemic response, access to vaccines and the Black Lives Matter protest movement across the world, said Newton.
In a historic throne speech in Sept. 2020, governor-general Dame Sandra Mason told the world Barbados was removing Queen Elizabeth as its head of state.
A two-thirds majority vote was needed to amend the country’s constitution.
The parliament unanimously passed the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2021 last month, effectively transferring the responsibilities of the governor general to a new position of president.
Mason was elected as the island’s first president by the Barbados parliament on Oct. 20 and formally sworn in on Nov. 30.
Barbados becomes a republic and parts ways with the Queen
Cynthia Barrow-Giles, professor of political science at the University of West Indies, said the transition to the republic represents a “moment of pride for many Barbadians.”
“This move is very emblematic of overthrowing the yoke of British colonialism and with it some of the negative connotations that people have been dealing with more recently with respect to the character of British colonialism,” she told Global News.
But there is still a “significant amount of work” left to do in terms of the constitution and governance, Barrow-Giles added.
The process of becoming a republic is “far easier” when there is a centralized system of government, as was the case with Barbados, she noted.
“Canada’s situation compared to the Caribbean situation is a little more complex,” she said.
What about other Commonwealth nations?
Other Caribbean nations have also left the monarchy to become republics, including Trinidad and Tobago, but the last country to remove the Queen as head of state was Mauritius in 1992.
With Barbados cutting ties, that leaves 15 Commonwealth countries that have the Queen as their monarch, including Canada.
However, Barbados will remain part of the Commonwealth, a grouping of 54 countries across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.
Other Caribbean nations, including Jamaica and St. Lucia, have also discussed breaking away from the monarchy.
The details on the Queen’s mounting health concerns
Now, Barbados’ move may fuel republicanism within the Commonwealth, experts say.
“It’s certainly something that will be discussed and debated in the Commonwealth realms, especially as this transition does not mean a departure from the Commonwealth,” said Harris.
Barrow-Giles concurred, saying, “I would think that for a lot of the other Caribbean countries, the conversation would resume, and hopefully we’ll get that transition going.”
— with files from Global News’ Redmond Shannon
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
New travel rules: Canadian airports warn of 'chaos' – CTV News
Canada’s plan to require novel coronavirus tests for all but U.S. arrivals on international flights risks causing “chaos” and long lines if all passengers are expected to get tested at airports, industry groups said.
The move, announced Tuesday, comes as the travel season kicks into gear and could stretch airport resources as well as testing holiday-makers’ patience, they said.
Daniel Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, said airports cannot test all overseas arrivals on-site without long wait times.
“Do we really want people waiting for hours for a test in a customs hall?” he asked by phone on Wednesday.
“We want to avoid chaos. And we want to ensure that travelers who have booked trips are comfortable to travel.”
Canada on Tuesday said it will require people arriving internationally by air, except from the United States, to take a COVID-19 test, seeking to halt the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Currently, only randomly selected passengers from international flights are tested at airports by private companies the government contracts.
The announcement came as the country’s aviation sector, battered by the pandemic, had been looking forward to a stronger holiday season this year.
Canadian public health authorities did not say Wednesday when the policy will come into effect, who will administer the tests or whether the tests will be administered on-site or through take-home kits.
Airports are pushing for the latter.
Tori Gass, a spokesperson for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport – Canada’s largest – said in an email that “a combination of onsite and off-airport testing must be considered to accommodate the volume of tests contemplated.”
Some travellers, meanwhile, who had rushed to book trips amid loosening restrictions just weeks before, were having second thoughts.
“I know various clients who have decided to cancel and are now looking at what refunds they’ll be able to get,” said Marty Firestone with Travel Secure insurance, adding that the travel landscape had been getting better.
“Now we’ve taken two steps back,” he said.
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