In Ottawa Centre, something sharp and bright materialized in Wednesday morning’s drizzle: a defining local issue in an aimless national election campaign.
In Ottawa Centre, something sharp and bright materialized in Wednesday morning’s drizzle: a defining local issue in an aimless national election campaign.
There was NDP candidate Angella MacEwen, in pink running shoes tucked beneath an instant podium, at Queen Juliana Park on the eastern end of the Central Experimental Farm, backdrop sumacs wearing their September reds.
MacEwen, a labour economist, is calling for a public inquiry into how this rolling green land near Dow’s Lake was chosen as the site of the new Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital.
“Why was this decision made and how did we get here?” she asked, mostly addressing a Facebook audience at a “press” conference. (There was one reporter present, one television camera operator, a few civilians literally running by, the odd dog.)
What to do about the future Civic, however, is the kind of instant referendum every riding needs at election time — a yes-or-no question that cuts through the campaign fog.
First of all, it matters, obviously, where we put this $2.8-billion showpiece of health care. Secondly, the issue is easy for people to understand, unlike a binder of fairy-tale policies dropped from on high. Thirdly, the timing is fairly urgent.
And now we have two main candidates with different positions.
MacEwen briefly referenced the process by which the National Capital Commission evaluated more than a dozen sites in 2016, settling on the western side of Tunney’s Pasture, the 120-acre federal complex along the Ottawa River.
The hospital, among many, took one look and said, “No way,” and the Dow’s Lake site was taken as a compromise.
Fighting to regain the seat once held by Paul Dewar, MacEwen said there had been no proper consultation with Indigenous Peoples and no justification as to why 50 or so acres of green space, perhaps 600 trees, needed to be bulldozed for a complex of concrete buildings.
“The best time to preserve our green space, as the saying goes, was 100 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Both she and MPP Joel Harden questioned why the plan does not have better transit integration and why it requires a 2,500-car parking garage — a “relic,” he called it — that would rise four storeys.
“I continue to hear from hundreds of residents, on the phone, on email, who are asking why would we do this in the middle of a climate emergency,” said Harden, who arrived on scene in his trademark cargo bike.
Harden said it is not too late to pause the process. He said there are three elections (federal, municipal, provincial) scheduled before the main construction starts in 2024.
“That is straight-up fear-mongering,” he said of the “can’t-afford-to-delay” arguments.
Nor does he get very far at Queen’s Park or with federal colleagues, he added. “I hear the sound of one hand clapping when I raise this with decision-makers at all levels, and it’s unacceptable.”
MacEwen’s position to urgently apply the brakes (the start of the parking garage construction is roughly six months away) is in contrast to that of her main opponent, Liberal Yasir Naqvi.
He is calling for better consultation and public input on design, protection for the remainder of the farm and reinstatement of lost green space, but doesn’t support a review of the current location.
(Realistically, how could he? He was part of the establishment that allowed TOH to reach this point: almost halfway through a five-stage process to have the campus completed by 2028.)
“No downtown site is perfect,” he writes, “and we cannot afford to relaunch a review process that will result in a decade of delays before we get this new hospital to serve the people of Ottawa.”
Neither has the Conservative candidate, Carol Clemenhagen, signalled that she would try to derail the current plan.
So things are crystallizing on this one big issue in Ottawa Centre. Voters can choose a candidate who wants to pause, explore and contemplate other locations or from a couple who want to proceed, but build better.
The location, and why not be real for a moment, probably isn’t changing. The point, though, is that voters now have choices about something important in their own backyard.
The writing, in big letters, is right there: The process has been horribly political since it started. First the Tories handed the Civic an empty farm field, then the Liberals took it away, then a neutral process gave us Tunney’s, then it was swapped for the Farm-east, minus the crops.
So there’s your “public inquiry,” with a side-dish of “smite your enemies.” And, on a rain-washed morning when almost no one is listening, the hopeful sound of the old refrain: Politicians are the problem, politicians the only answer.
To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-291-6265 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Massimo Renzo has been appointed as the new Yeoh Tiong Lay Chair and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law at King’s College London (KCL).
Professor Renzo, previously a professor of Politics, Law, and Philosophy at KCL and the acting director of the Yeoh Centre, was selected for the endowed chair and directorship following an open search to fill the position. He works in legal, moral and political philosophy, and has written on topics such as political authority, just war, humanitarian intervention, human rights, philosophy of criminal law, consent, and manipulation, among others. You can browse his writings here.
The Yeoh Centre was founded in 2014 with the aim of exploring “major issues in law and politics through the lens of philosophy.” Its previous director was John Tasioulas (Oxford). You can learn more about it here.
Quebec’s Premier says he is taking a cautious approach to proceeding with legislation to outlaw COVID-19-related protests within 50 metres of hospitals, vaccination sites and testing centres, among other facilities.
“It’s never easy to say you cannot go on the street,” Premier François Legault told a news conference on Thursday, responding to a media question about why he had decided to proceed now with Bill 105.
The legislation, with details on prospective fines, was tabled Thursday by the province’s Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault in response to recent anti-vaccine protests outside such facilities.
“It’s not something that you can do every day. You have to be careful. We want to make sure that people will not win, trying to say that the law is unacceptable, and we cannot enforce it,” said Mr. Legault.
“We wanted to do it correctly and I think that also we need to have the support of all the other parties, and I think that it’s the right time.”
Provisions of the bill will cease to have effect when the public health emergency declared in March, 2020, ends.
More details on the legislation here.
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TRUDEAU FACES CABINET CHALLENGES – Justin Trudeau will have to contend with the defeat of three female cabinet ministers as he crafts his senior leadership team in what’s expected to be a quick return to governing. Two senior government officials told The Globe and Mail Mr. Trudeau will outline his government’s next steps once Elections Canada has finalized the seat counts, which could be as early as Thursday. Story here.
QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT O’TOOLE LEADERSHIP – In the first public challenge to Erin O’Toole from within his own ranks, a member of the Conservative Party’s national council says the Tory Leader should face an accelerated leadership review for “betraying” members during the election campaign.
LIMITED DIVERSITY IN TORY CAUCUS – CBC has crunched the the numbers, and concluded that the vast majority of the MPs making up the new Conservative caucus — nearly 95 per cent — are white, even as the country’s racial makeup is diversifying. Before this election, 9 per cent of Tory MPs were BIPOC. Story here,
LPC CANDIDATE ACCUSED OF TAKING RIVAL PAMPHLET – A Calgary resident says he has doorbell security camera footage showing Liberal candidate George Chahal, the night before the election, approach his house in the Calgary Skyview riding and remove an opponent’s campaign flyer before replacing it with one of his own. He posted the footage to Facebook, which has now received thousands of views. Story here.
FORMER LPC CANDIDATE TO SERVE AS INDEPENDENT – Kevin Vuong, who won the Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York as a Liberal candidate, said he will serve as an Independent MP, days after his party said he will not sit as a member of the caucus. Story here.
TWITTER BERNIER BAN – Twitter restricted People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier’s account, preventing him from posting any new messages for 12 hours after he used the platform to encourage his supporters to “play dirty” with journalists covering his campaign. From CBC. Story here.
KENNEY FENDS OFF LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE – Jason Kenney appears to have quelled another challenge from within his own caucus. A non-confidence vote against the Alberta Premier was withdrawn on Wednesday, but he committed to an earlier-than-planned leadership review, to be held well in advance of Alberta’s 2023 general election. Don Braid of The Calgary Herald writes here on how Mr. Kenney survived this fight against his leadership.
NEW CHARGES AGAINST FORMER SNC-LAVALIN EXECS – SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and two of its former executives are facing new criminal charges related to a bridge contract in Montreal nearly 20 years ago, plunging the Canadian engineering giant into another legal maelstrom as it tries to rebuild its business after years of crisis. Story here.
FORD LOOKING FOR CHILDCARE DEAL – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he wants to make a child-care deal with the federal government. The province has acknowledged it was in discussions with Ottawa about a potential agreement into the last hours before the federal election was called in August.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
“Private meetings,” according to an advisory from the Prime Minister’s Office.
No schedules released for party leaders.
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on whether this is the end of majority governments in Canada: “But in Canada, for one reason or another, the grip of two-party politics has been broken – irrevocably, it seems. As a result, something else that is not supposed to happen under first past the post has been happening, with remarkable frequency: minority governments. This is not just the second straight federal election to produce a Parliament without a majority party: it is the fifth in the past seven, 11th in the past 22.”
Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on why, if any federal leader should be stepping down, it’s the likeable Jagmeet Singh: ‘Strange business, politics. While a bit short of a majority, Justin Trudeau wins a third successive election by a large margin in the seat count. Yet some critics say he should be put out to pasture. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh suffered a drubbing in the 2019 election, losing almost half his party’s seats. With much higher expectations, he did badly again in Monday’s vote, electing (pending mail-in vote counts) only one more member. Yet hardly anyone says a word.”
Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on why the knives are out for Erin O’Toole, but not Jagmeet Singh: “Theoretically, Mr. O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh should be in the same boat. Both failed to channel national frustration over a pandemic election call and turn it into material support; both delivered underwhelming results. But Mr. Singh, who led a campaign that saw the party claim 25 seats as of this writing – just one more than it held before – doesn’t appear to be in immediate jeopardy of losing his job. The saga of former NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who was turfed by his party when the NDP won 44 seats in 2015 (that is, about 75 per cent better than it did on Monday), offers an explanation for why.”
Jen Gerson (Maclean’s) on why Tories should not “do that stupid thing” they’re thinking of doing: “If you dump your affable, moderate, centrist leader at the first opportunity because he didn’t crack the 905 on his first try, and you replace him with someone who will chase Maxime Bernier’s vanishing social movement like a labradoodle running after the wheels of a mail truck, you will wind up confirming every extant fear and stereotype this crowd already holds about you and your party.”
Steve Paikin (TVO) on advice for Justin Trudeau, inspired by the political experiences of former Ontario premier Bill Davis: “I think if Davis were still alive, he’d tell the current Prime Minister: “A lot of people are underestimating you right now. They think you’re damaged because you called this snap election, and it didn’t work out as you’d hoped. Well, I’ve been there. My advice, Prime Minister, is to reach out. Be more collegial and less ideological and adversarial. Establish a good working relationship with your opponents.”
Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It’s not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.
Japan’s widening wealth gap has emerged as a key issue in a ruling party leadership contest that will decide who becomes the next prime minister, with candidates forced to reassess the legacy of former premier Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” policies.
Under Abenomics, a mix of expansionary fiscal and monetary policies and a growth strategy deployed by Abe in 2013, share prices and corporate profits boomed, but a government survey published earlier this year showed households hardly benefited.
Mindful of the flaws of Abenomics, frontrunners in the Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership race – vaccination minister Taro Kono and former foreign minister Fumio Kishida – have pledged to focus more on boosting household wealth.
“What’s important is to deliver the benefits of economic growth to a wider population,” Kishida said on Thursday. “We must create a virtual cycle of growth and distribution.”
But the candidates are thin on details over how to do this with Japan’s economic policy toolkit depleted by years of massive monetary and fiscal stimulus.
Kono calls for rewarding companies that boost wages with a cut in corporate tax, while Kishida wants to expand Japan’s middle class with targeted payouts to low-income households.
The winner of the LDP leadership vote on Sept. 29 is assured of becoming Japan’s next prime minister because of the party’s parliamentary majority. Two women – Sanae Takaichi, 60, a former internal affairs minister, and Seiko Noda, 61, a former minister for gender equality – are the other candidates in a four-way race.
Parliament is expected to convene on Oct. 4 to vote for a successor to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who announced his decision to quit less than a year after taking over from Abe.
A government survey, conducted once every five years and released in February, has drawn increasing attention to trends in inequality during Abe’s time.
Shigeto Nagai, head of Japan economics at Oxford Economics, said the survey revealed “the stark failure of Abenomics to boost household wealth through asset price growth.”
Average wealth among households fell by 3.5% from 2014 to 2019 with only the top 10% wealthiest enjoying an increase, according to a survey conducted once every five years.
Japanese households’ traditional aversion to risk meant they did not benefit from the stock market rally, with the balance of their financial assets down 8.1% in the five years from 2014, the survey showed.
“We think the new premier will need to consider the failures of Abenomics and recognize the myth that reflation policies relying on aggressive monetary easing will not solve all Japan’s problems without tackling endemic structural issues,” Nagai said.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda defended Abenomics and said the pandemic, not slow wage growth, was mainly to blame for sluggish consumption.
“Unlike in the United States and Europe, Japanese firms protected jobs even when the pandemic hit,” Kuroda said when asked why the trickle-down to households has been weak.
“Wage growth has been fairly modest, but that’s not the main reason consumption is weak,” he told a briefing on Wednesday. “As the pandemic subsides, consumption will likely strengthen.”
(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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