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Canada’s Trudeau to unveil Cabinet amid push to fight climate change

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 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who fell short of a majority in last month’s election, will introduce a Cabinet on Tuesday that analysts say should hone in on the fight against climate change.

Trudeau’s Liberals gained four seats to 159, but fell short of the 170 needed to pass legislation without the support of an opposition party. Minority governments normally last about two years instead of a full, four-year term.

Trudeau, 49, has promised to spend tens of billions of extra dollars over five years to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. But analysts said Ottawa should narrow its focus and make fighting climate change a clear priority.

Peter Donolo, a political strategist at Hill+Knowlton who was communications director for Liberal former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, said the campaign had “a very ambitious agenda.”

“I would simplify it … on how to position Canada as a winner in the greener global economy over the longer term, and then on how to ensure that those benefits are shared more equitably,” he said by phone.

One option Trudeau is considering is a climate portfolio that pulls together some policies normally handled by several ministries, according to one Liberal source.

The new Cabinet will be sworn in at 10:30 a.m. (1430 GMT). Trudeau says it will be composed of an equal number of men and women, a pattern he set when first taking office in 2015.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will keep her job, Trudeau said shortly after the vote, and has begun to reduce https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canada-govt-provinces-agree-covid-19-vaccine-travel-passport-officials-2021-10-21 COVID-19 support programs as the economy recovers and inflation https://www.reuters.com/business/canadas-annual-inflation-rate-hits-44-september-highest-since-2003-2021-10-20 hovers at an 18-year high.

Last month’s vote marked Trudeau’s third win as Liberal leader. Unhappiness over his decision to call an early election during the pandemic left him short https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-election-idAFKBN2GG06L of a majority.

Trudeau’s priorities are managing COVID-19, bolstering healthcare, fighting climate change and fostering a green economy, supporting economic growth, delivering national childcare and affordable housing plans, and following through on reconciliation with indigenous Canadians, a separate source with direct knowledge of the Cabinet said.

“This is only an 18- to 24-month government, so the idea that you can address all four or five or six or seven of those issues … is preposterous,” said Ian Lee, a business professor at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

Lee said growing the green economy should be a priority and merited a U.S.-style climate czar “with gravitas and with skill, and who has sharp elbows and is not afraid.”

Liberal officials say Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand, who played a major role in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines, is set for a promotion, and Tourism Minister Melanie Joly also might get a more important role.

Anand could replace Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who has been widely assailed over what critics say has been a lackluster effort to address allegations of sexual assault in the military, two Liberal sources said.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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U.S. Senate passes bill to avert government shutdown, sends to Biden for signature

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The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bill to fund the government through mid-February, averting the risk of a shutdown after overcoming a bid by some Republicans to delay the vote in a protest against vaccine mandates.

The 69-28 vote leaves government funding at current levels through Feb. 18, and gives Democratic President Joe Biden plenty of time to sign the measure before funding was set to run out at midnight on Friday.

The Senate acted just hours after the House of Representatives approved the measure, by a vote of 221-212, with the support of only one Republican.

Congress faces another urgent deadline right on the heels of this one. The federal government is approaching its $28.9 trillion borrowing limit, which the Treasury Department has estimated it could reach by Dec. 15. Failure to extend or lift the limit in time could trigger an economically catastrophic default.

“I am glad that in the end, cooler heads prevailed. The government will stay open and I thank the members of this chamber for walking us back from the brink from an avoidable, needless and costly shutdown,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on nailing down a deal with Republicans to clear the way for passing the bill.

The vote ended weeks of suspense over whether Washington might be plunged into a government shutdown at a time when officials worry that the potentially dangerous Omicron variant of COVID-19 could take hold in the United States after being discovered in South Africa.

Such a shutdown could have forced layoffs of some U.S. government medical and research personnel.

Senate Democrats defeated an attempt by a handful of conservative Republicans to attach an amendment that would have prevented enforcement of Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for many U.S. workers.

Republican Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Roger Marshall had earlier raised the possibility that the government could partially shut down over the weekend while the Senate moves slowly toward eventual passage.

“It’s not government’s job, it’s not within government’s authority to tell people that they must be vaccinated and if they don’t get vaccinated, they get fired. It’s wrong. It’s immoral,” Lee said before the defeat of the amendment.

Over the past few days, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted there would be no government shutdown from congressional inaction. But he had to work through the day on Thursday to get his Republican lawmakers in line on a deal allowing quick passage of the funding bill.

The emergency legislation is needed because Congress has not yet passed the 12 annual appropriations bills funding government activities for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

A partial government shutdown https://www.reuters.com/world/us/what-happens-when-us-federal-government-shuts-down-2021-09-27 would have created a political embarrassment for both parties, but especially for Biden’s Democrats, who narrowly control both chambers of Congress.

LONGER TIMELINE

The fact the temporary spending bill extends funding into February suggested a victory for Republicans in closed-door negotiations. Democrats had pushed for a measure that would run into late January, while Republicans demanded a longer timeline leaving spending at levels agreed to when Republican Donald Trump was president.

“While I wish it were earlier, this agreement allows the appropriations process to move forward toward a final funding agreement which addresses the needs of the American people,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro said in a statement announcing the agreement.

But she said Democrats prevailed in including a $7 billion provision for Afghanistan evacuees.

Once enacted, the stopgap funding measure would give Democrats and Republicans nearly 12 weeks to resolve their differences over the annual appropriations bills totaling around $1.5 trillion that fund “discretionary” federal programs for this fiscal year. Those bills do not include mandatory funding for programs such as the Social Security retirement plan that are renewed automatically.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton, Doina Chiacu, David Morgan and Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone, Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)

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Austria's Ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to Quit Politics Amid Corruption Probe – Bloomberg

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Austria was thrust into political turmoil after former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz quit his party and politics, prompting his hand-picked successor and finance minister to also resign.

The day of commotion in Vienna started with Kurz’s decision on Thursday to leave his most recent role as leader of the People’s Party amid a corruption probe. 

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Canada joins U.S, EU and Britain in imposing new Belarus sanctions

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Canada imposed new sanctions on Belarusian officials and entities in coordination with international partners on Thursday to protest against what it called attacks on human rights and acts of repression, Ottawa said.

A foreign ministry statement said Canada was acting together with the United States, the European Union and Britain. Separately, the U.S. Treasury imposed restrictions on dealings in new issuances of Belarusian sovereign debt and expanded sanctions, targeting 20 individuals and 12 entities.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren)

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