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Is a pandemic a bad time for leadership politics? – Jimmys Post



Leadership is at a premium these days, as countries around the world take action to fight the spread of COVID-19. But a number of parties in Canada have come to the conclusion that a pandemic is no time for leadership politics.

In the last few days, three provincial leadership races have been postponed or delayed until further notice — including one that will select a premier.

On Friday, the Quebec Liberal Party suspended its leadership race indefinitely. The party has been without a permanent leader since former premier Philippe Couillard was defeated in the 2018 provincial election. The race to choose the next leader of Quebec’s Official Opposition was supposed to come to a close at the end of May.

The Parti Québécois, another opposition party in the National Assembly, pushed its leadership race back from June 19 to Aug. 28.

In both cases, ballots are to be cast remotely — so there’s no public health risk related to the voting process. But there are serious challenges involved in signing up new members and soliciting donations in the midst of a pandemic.

A more consequential delay was announced Monday when the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberals delayed their leadership race until further notice and ordered the two candidates in the running to suspend all campaign activities. The party will revisit its options on May 1 and the vote can be held no sooner than July.

That means Premier Dwight Ball will remain in his job for some time yet. He had announced in February that he would step down as Liberal leader and premier as soon as his replacement is chosen.

The British Columbia Greens have not yet re-scheduled their leadership race, which is supposed to come to a close at the end of June. Earlier this month, the party announced that all public events related to the campaign had been cancelled.

On Monday, the Green Party of Canada announced it would change some of the rules for its leadership race, allowing members’ signatures to be gathered electronically and lowering the fundraising thresholds for entry. The party says it could make another change if the pandemic prevents members from travelling, but for now it’s keeping its leadership convention set for early October as planned.

O’Toole calls for postponement

The Conservative Party of Canada has been under some pressure to push back the schedule of its race to replace outgoing leader Andrew Scheer.

The deadline to gather enough signatures and donations to be an official candidate is currently set for Wednesday, with Apr. 17 being the cut-off for new members to become eligible to vote. The results are scheduled to be announced at an event in Toronto on June 27.

The party has announced some changes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak; it will be holding two leadership debates without a public audience and making it easier for candidates to hold virtual town halls and gather member signatures online. But it has not budged on the calendar.

That timeline has been cited by two candidates as their reason for pulling out of the race. Rick Peterson, who finished 12th in the 2017 leadership contest, announced last week he would no longer be a candidate after the party refused to adjust the schedule. Rudy Husny, a Quebec Conservative who has twice run for the party, suspended his campaign activities for the same stated reason.

Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu also has called for the deadlines to be pushed back.

Five Conservative Party leadership hopefuls spoke at the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia’s annual general meeting in February. From right to left: Erin O’Toole, Peter MacKay, Rudy Husny, Rick Peterson and Marilyn Gladu. (Stéphanie Blanchet / Radio-Canada)

But these candidates have not met the thresholds for gathering signatures or raising funds that would put them on the ballot. Derek Sloan and Erin O’Toole, both Ontario MPs, have met those thresholds — both are calling on the party to postpone the leadership decision.

O’Toole is considered to be one of two front runners, along with former cabinet minister Peter MacKay. On Sunday, O’Toole put out a video asking the Conservative Party to delay the race so that volunteers, members and donors can concentrate their efforts on fighting COVID-19.

MacKay, however, sent an email to supporters on Monday making the case for the leadership vote to be accelerated in order to select a “new permanent leader as quickly as possible so our Parliamentary democracy can function as constitutionally intended.”

Leslyn Lewis, a lawyer who has run for the party in the past, said she did not support changing the leadership date and that the next leader must be “battle-tested.”

Challengers lead calls for delay

One common thread running between these calls for the postponement of leadership races is that the front runners largely haven’t been leading them.

Alexandre Cusson, a former mayor of Drummondville, was alone in calling for the postponement of the Quebec Liberal leadership race; his only opponent in that race is high-profile former cabinet minister Dominique Anglade, widely seen as the front runner.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, favourite Andrew Furey — orthopedic surgeon and son of George Furey, the Speaker in the Senate — only joined the calls for a suspension of the Liberal leadership on Friday, after his lower-profile opponent, John Abbott, criticized both Furey and the party for the initial plans to go ahead.

Andrew Furey is one of two candidates, along with John Abbott, running for the leadership of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party. The winner will become the next premier of the province, but the race has been postponed until further notice because of COVID-19. (Douglas Gaulton / Canadian Press)

In the federal Conservative leadership race, Sloan is a first-term MP with no caucus endorsements, while O’Toole trails MacKay on that front by a margin of 31 to 11.

Opposition parties across the country have been carefully finding their way forward in these unprecedented times — striving for less partisanship and more constructive opposition. They’re calculating that this is what the public expects from opposition politicians in the midst of a national crisis.

Leadership races, however, are inherently partisan. The target audience is not the general population but its most politicized segments. If criticizing a government struggling with a global pandemic is seen as an act of bad taste, internecine squabbling between fellow-travellers must seem doubly so at a time like this.

There are both self-interested and sincere explanations for why front runners might want to get a leadership race over with as soon as possible, and why challengers would call for politics to be put aside while there are bigger problems to be confronted.

But right about now, everyone is looking for leadership. For political parties, that makes it a tough time to be looking for a leader — or to be leaderless.

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Political and General News Events from April 6 – National Post



April 6 (Reuters) –

For other diaries, please see:

Political and General News

Top Economic Events

Emerging Markets Economic Events

Government Debt Auctions

U.S. Federal Reserve

Today in Washington

—————————————————————- This diary is filed daily. ** Indicates new events —————————————————————-


** TOKYO – The Japanese government’s advisory panel on the new coronavirus outbreak will meet in preparation for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency – 0500 GMT.

** BERLIN – German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz speak to reporters on the government’s latest aid measures to help the country’s industry shoulder the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis – 1200 GMT.

BAKU – Azerbaijan has received an invitation to a meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC ministers to stabilize the oil market in a video conference format. ZAGREB – Video conference of EU ministers of justice meetings – 0800 GMT.

DA NANG, Vietnam – ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (to April 9). DA NANG, Vietnam – ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) (to April 9). DA NANG, Vietnam – ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM) and Related Meetings.

DA NANG, Vietnam – Vietnam hosts 36th ASEAN Summit in Da Nang (to April 9).

– – – – – – – – – TUESDAY, APRIL 7

BRUSSELS – Video conference of the Eurogroup meeting. GLOBAL – World Health Organisation observes World Health Day. – – – – – – – – –


** NAIROBI – Kenya’s national assembly is scheduled to debate and approve tax cuts unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government to cushion the economy from the coronavirus crisis.

BRUSSELS – Video conference of EU foreign affairs ministers (development) meeting – 1200 GMT.

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW – Ninth anniversary of signing a bilateral treaty between the Russia and United States on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, START-2 (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty).

GLOBAL – International Roma Nation Day.

– – – – – – – – – SATURDAY, APRIL 11

FRANCE – Ninth Anniversary of the French law banning the burqa and niqab.

ABIDJAN – Ninth anniversary of the arrest of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo by supporters of president-elect Alassane Ouattara with the help of French forces, thereby ending the 2010-2011 Ivorian crisis and civil war. – – – – – – – – –


GLOBAL – International Day of Human Space Flight. – – – – – – – – –


WASHINGTON DC – The International Monetary Fund hosts its annual spring meeting with the World Bank.

– – – – – – – – –


** BRUSSELS – EU finance ministers discuss further support for economies ravaged by coronavirus. ** BRUSSELS – EU health ministers discuss the outbreak of the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

RIYADH – G20 finance ministers, central bank governors convene video conference

BELFAST/NEW YORK – 107th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

South Korea – South Korean National Assembly election.

– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, APRIL 16 ZAGREB – Video conference of EU foreign affairs ministers (trade) meeting – 0800 GMT.

VATICAN CITY – 93rd birthday of Pope Benedict. – – – – – – – – –


UNITED STATES – 10th anniversary of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia – Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and budgetary heads from the APEC countries attend the APEC trade ministers’ meeting in Malaysia (to April 21).

– – – – – – – – –

TUESDAY, APRIL 21 LONDON – Queen Elizabeth to celebrate her 94th birthday.

PARIS – 59th anniversary of the first manned mission to space. BRUSSELS – EU informal meeting of environment ministers (to April 22).

BRUSSELS – EU General Affairs Council meeting.

– – – – – – – – – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22 GLOBAL – Earth Day.

BRUSSELS – EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting.

– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, APRIL 23

GLOBAL – U.N. World Book and Copyright Day. – – – – – – – – –

FRIDAY, APRIL 24 GLOBAL – World Immunization Week 2020 (to April 30). BRUSSELS – EU informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers (to April 25). – – – – – – – – – SATURDAY, APRIL 25

GLOBAL – World Malaria Day. – – – – – – – – –


BRUSSELS – EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting (to April 28).

BRUSSELS – EU informal meeting of employment, social policy and health ministers on social policy (to April 28).

BRUSSELS – EU informal meeting of transport ministers (Energy) (to April 28). – – – – – – – – – TUESDAY, APRIL 28

PORT ARTHUR, Tasmania – 22nd anniversary of Port Arthur Massacre in Tasmania. – – – – – – – – –


LONDON – Ninth wedding anniversary of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. BRUSSELS – Informal meeting of health ministers (to April 30). – – – – – – – – –

TUESDAY, MAY 5 ZAGREB – EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb (to May 7).

– – – – – – – – –


POLAND – Referendum election.

– – – – – – – – –


BRUSSELS – EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting – – – – – – – – –


BRUSSELS – EU Foreign Affairs Council (Defence) meeting

BRUSSELS – EU General Affairs Council meeting

– – – – – – – – –


** WELLINGTON – New Zealand’s finance minister delivers budget that aims to tackle the long-term challenges facing the country while also preparing the economy for the future.

BRUSSELS – EU Foreign Affairs Council (Development) meeting.

– – – – – – – – –

SUNDAY, MAY 17 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Referendum election DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Dominican Chamber of Deputies DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Dominican Senate – – – – – – – – – MONDAY, MAY 18

BRUSSELS – Eurogroup meeting

BRUSSELS – EU Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council meeting (to May 19). – – – – – – – – –

THURSDAY, MAY 19 BRUSSELS – EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting. MALAWI – Referendum election.

– – – – – – – – –


BURUNDI – Referendum election. – – – – – – – – –


BRUSSELS – EU General Affairs Council (Cohesion) meeting. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – NOTE: The inclusion of diary items does not necessarily mean that Reuters will file a story based on the event.

For Technical Issues Please contact Thomson Reuters Customer Support (TRCS) at

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On Politics: ‘Our Pearl Harbor Moment’ – The New York Times



Good morning and welcome to On Politics, a daily political analysis of the 2020 elections based on reporting by New York Times journalists.

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  • The surgeon general, Jerome Adams, warned the country on Sunday that the coronavirus crisis was about to get worse, and fast. “The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment,” he told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s going to be our 9/11 moment. It’s going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives, and we really need to understand that if we want to flatten that curve and get through to the other side, everyone needs to do their part.” At one point, he explicitly addressed the handful of governors who have yet to issue stay-at-home orders. “If you can’t give us 30 days, governors, give us, give us a week, give us what you can, so that we don’t overwhelm our health care systems over this next week,” he said.

  • In his daily briefing, President Trump also warned of the tough road ahead, though he notably departed from the advice of Adams and other top medical officials. He continued to promote the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug whose effectiveness is currently being tested. “I’m not a doctor,” Trump said, even as he encouraged people to make use of it. “If it does work, it would be a shame we did not do it early,” he added. Reporters asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whether he agreed that people should use the drug before its efficacy had been determined, even though it can cause significant side effects. But Trump prevented him from answering.

  • Trump is still settling scores from the impeachment inquiry, and he’s doing it out in the open. Late Friday he fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general. The next day he acknowledged that it had been at least partly in response to Atkinson’s decision last year to advance the whistle-blower complaint that set off the president’s impeachment. “He took a fake report and he brought it to Congress,” Trump said. He also endorsed the firing of a Navy captain who had sent a letter demanding aid for his coronavirus-stricken ship.

  • The pandemic has transformed how the 2020 campaign will play out in terms of both mechanics and strategy. And its effects are being felt by candidates in all sorts of races, from the presidential contest down to the local level. For incumbents, embracing a strong response could prove to be a political boost. Then again, frustration and tragedy could lead to an inevitable loss of faith in establishment figures. No matter the level of federal or state intervention candidates prefer, the issue they must confront first and foremost is the virus, and what it means for both health care and economic policy.

  • At a time when doing what’s normal puts you radically out of step, one state is sticking to its guns and moving forward with its primary tomorrow. That state is Wisconsin, a lone experiment amid a nationwide sea of caution. Poll workers have dropped out by the thousands because of safety concerns, and the National Guard will be deployed to understaffed polling places. Election clerks, who have more of an obligation to show up than other poll workers, sent a letter last week to Tony Evers, the Democratic governor, saying that they would be “putting themselves and their families at risk” by doing their jobs. The Republican-controlled Legislature refused a request by Evers to mail ballots to all voters, but over a million of them have already requested absentee ballots.

  • On the eve of the Wisconsin primary, join a few members of our politics team today at 4 p.m. Eastern as they discuss how the coronavirus has upended the campaign in ways large and small. Explore the nitty-gritty of the extended primary season — and their thinking about November. Bring your questions for Rachel Dry, the deputy politics editor, and Katie Glueck and Sydney Ember, national politics reporters. You can register for the call here.

President Trump at the White House coronavirus briefing on Sunday. “What do you have to lose?” he asked as, for the second day in a row, he recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus patients despite the guidance of doctors and health experts.


In his first campaign for governor of Texas, in 2014, Greg Abbott pledged to be a bridge between the far-right and pro-business wings of the Republican Party, someone who would lead as the opposite of a flamethrower and in such a way that even moderate Democrats could get behind.

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Now he is in his second term, and that tactic has worked to a large extent. But in the midst of a pandemic, many Texans’ patience for a middle-of-the-road approach has run low.

On the one hand, Mr. Abbott has tried to heed the recommendations of public health experts for how to combat the spread of the coronavirus in his state, refusing to play down its threat even as other Texas Republicans were happy to write it off. On the other, he’s been acutely aware of the politics behind a statewide stay-at-home order, wary of upsetting those Republican voters who insist that such a directive grossly infringes upon their liberties.

As the former Democratic presidential candidate and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro put it, however, states are now either in “safe” or “unsafe” mode — there is no in-between. And a growing number of Texans, Republicans included, believe that as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread, Mr. Abbott’s mixed signals have left their state in the latter.

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Politics This Morning: Rodriguez asks House Speaker to look into possibility of virtual sittings – The Hill Times



Good Monday morning,

Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez has asked Speaker Anthony Rota for advice on the possibility of convening the House virtually. “I would like advice and assistance on the ability for the House of Commons administration to support and facilitate virtual sittings of the House of Commons where it could conduct its regular business.” Since the current Standing Orders don’t allow for electronic or remote voting, Mr. Rodriguez acknowledged, there would have to be “substantial revisions” to the rulebook. The letter addressed to the Speaker, who presides over the Commons, was also copied to opposition House leaders.

The Bloc Québécois said it’s supportive of the idea of holding virtual sittings, saying in a statement that it has been calling for such measures for days to allow for opposition parties to hold the government accountable for its COVID-19 response. The Bloc also proposed some parameters under which a virtual sitting might take, including adjusting the hours MPs are normally expected to sit and that speaking times should be negotiated and reflect a party’s respective standing.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer last week called for increased accountability, saying that “these accountability sessions could take place via videoconference, be chaired by the Speaker, and follow House rules until MPs can meet in person.”

Though the House motion that called for its temporary suspension marked April 20 as the date Parliament would return, it appears unlikely, given expectations that physical-distancing measures will remain in place for several weeks more, that all 338 MPs will resume sitting on the Hill. NDP whip Rachel Blaney told The Hill Times last week parties were in “preliminary discussions” over how Parliament might make up for the week lost, or be allowed to return to normal.

It was also still unclear when exactly the House will be recalled to pass the feds’ enhanced wage-subsidy program. Ms. Blaney said opposition parties want to have enough time to review the bill, to avoid another late-night showdown over the government’s proposed spending powers, which it later retreated from.

The online portal to apply for the feds’ Canada Emergency Response Benefit opens today. Since the government has staggered application dates by birth months, those born between January and March are first in line. While the criteria for the CERB stipulates that the beneficiary must be at least 15 years old, some students may find themselves unable to qualify if they haven’t earned at least $5,000 in the past 12 months. It also excludes those who have voluntarily quit their jobs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau have acknowledged that the programs being rolled out may not cover everyone who stands to be affected, but have said more relief measures are in the works.

Mr. Trudeau and his team have signalled that they’re hoping that working the phones, as opposed to initiating retaliatory measures against the U.S., will help resolve the dispute over the shipment of medical supplies, particularly 3M masks, to Canada. ” I will say that we will do what is necessary to keep Canadians safe and we will do it in as constructive a way as possible,” he told reporters Sunday.

ICYMI, Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, has carved out some exceptions—in instances where one cannot practice physical distancing on public transit—for when she thinks wearing homemade masks is a “good idea.”

Queen Elizabeth wants Canadians to know that Canada is on her mind, as she acknowledged, in a statement, the difficulty of remaining hopeful “when faced with loss and uncertainty, but Canadians have many reasons for optimism, even in the most trying times.”

Later, this week, the House Finance and Health committee are expected to convene again for more virtual meetings, though times for those meetings have not yet been made public.

The Hill Times

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