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Morning Brief: 'Playing politics' – iPolitics.ca

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Today’s Morning Brief is brought to you by GCT’s #BetterDeltaport campaign. The Port of Vancouver’s multi-billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded RBT2 project will create unneeded capacity, uncompetitive port rates and will cause damage that, according to Environment Canada, is “permanent, irreversible, and continuous.” Fortunately, there is a way to #buildbackbetter. Learn more.

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You can listen to today’s brief here:


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Good morning, and happy March.

Liberals accuse Tories of ‘playing politics’: Liberal MPs are accusing the Conservatives of blocking the government’s legislative agenda almost to the point of obstruction. While all parties say they do not want an election amid the pandemic, the Canadian Press looks at how the Conservatives might be pursuing a strategy that would give the Liberals reason to call one.

Kady O’Malley looks ahead to the day in politics with iPolitics AM: “With daily Commons proceedings on pause until next Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will start his week with a virtual visit to Nova Scotia’s Eastern Passage, where, as per his official itinerary, he’ll join local MP Darrell Samson for a closed-door video chat with members of the Island View High School student council. Also on the prime ministerial to-do list today: A huddle with his front bench team, as well as other unspecified ‘private meetings.’”

Blinken on two Michaels: The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, says his country will continue to stand with Canada in its efforts to secure the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor from Chinese detention.

“It’s a lot harder for China to ignore our collective voice and our collective weight than it is for China to ignore each of us individually,” he said, adding that he had brought the two Michaels up in his own conversations with Chinese counterparts.

Kremlin-linked Twitter accounts targeted Canada: Canada and Canadian political leaders were targeted more than 300 times by social media accounts that have now been shut down by Twitter due to their links to the Russian government or its proxies. Many tweets made by the now-suspended accounts were focused on undermining confidence in NATO, The Globe and Mail reports, citing data from DisinfoWatch.org.

Woman behind Vance allegations speaks out: Maj. Kellie Brennan, the woman at the centre of allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Gen. Jonathan Vance, is calling for an independent investigation to fix systemic problems within the Canadian armed forces. Since sharing her story publicly with Global News a week ago, she says she has been flooded with messages from others who allege they have experienced misconduct in the military.

Divorce Act changes take effect: New rules meant to put an end to the winner-loser mentality of family law come into effect today. Divorcing spouses now have a legal “duty” to use other channels, rather than the courts — such as negotiation, collaborative law, or mediation — “to the extent that it is appropriate to do so.” The aim is to avoid drawn-out court battles that could harm the children of separating parents.

Coming up: Meng Wanzhou is due back in the British Columbia Supreme Court today. Her lawyers are expected to argue for admission of evidence to support their case.

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AROUND THE WORLD

Protests in Hong Kong: Crowds gathered outside a courthouse in Hong Kong in the territory’s biggest protests in months. They demonstrated to support 47 pro-democracy activists charged with subversion under the national security law.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the release of the campaigners in a tweet yesterday.

Tehran rejects talks: Iran rejected proposed nuclear negotiations with the U.S., which the European Union had offered to broker. Tehran insists that the U.S. must lift all unilateral sanctions before the two sides can come to the table, while Washington says Iran must make the first move and return to compliance with the 2015 deal.

U.S. House passes $1.9 trillion relief package: The stimulus bill is now headed to the U.S. Senate, after the House passed it early on Saturday.

Myanmar military fires on protesters: Myanmar soldiers opened fire on protesters over the weekend, killing at least 18 people in the deadliest day of protests since the coup last month.

This morning, Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in court via a video link, the first time she’s been seen publicly since being detained in the coup.

Elsewhere: The U.S. approved Johnson & Johnson‘s vaccine. Europe’s AstraZeneca stockpile mounts as citizens snub the jab. Indian PM Modi got his COVID-19 shot. Amnesty International says Eritrean troops killed hundreds of Ethiopian civilians. Gunmen in Nigeria released 27 schoolboys who were kidnapped the week before last, but the search is ongoing for more than 300 schoolgirls abducted on Friday. Trump blasted Biden in a CPAC speech.

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After North Korea closed its borders to trains as part of its COVID-19 measures, a group of Russian diplomats seeking to leave Pyongyang were forced to do so via a hand-pushed rail trolley.

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Prince Philip took a keen interest in Canada, but stayed above politics, former GGs and PM say

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When former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien met the late Prince Philip for the first time, he told him that for an Englishman, his French was very good.

“He said ‘I’m not English and I’ve spoken French since before you were born,’” Chrétien told the Star Friday, commenting on his many encounters over 50 years with the Duke of Edinburgh.

“He was not dull, let me put it that way,” Chrétien said. “He had some strong views. Sometimes he had to show discipline to not speak up more than he would have wished.”

Philip, born in Greece in 1921 and husband to Queen Elizabeth II for over 73 years, died at the age of 99 on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he first met Philip when he was a little boy, described him as “a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others.”

Former prime ministers and governors general spoke of a man who understood his role and knew not to get involved in politics, but who was very knowledgeable about Canada and took a keen interest in the country’s success.

“I was always impressed by their knowledge,” Chrétien said of Philip and the Queen, Canada’s head of state.

He said he can recall Philip asking about the prospect of Quebec separating from the rest of the country. “Not in a very political fashion, just in terms of interest. Of course he was interested to not see Canada break up. He would certainly say that to me.”

 

Statements from former prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper highlighted Philip’s devotion to the Canadian armed forces and charitable organizations, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, an international self-development program for young people.

Former governors general David Johnston and Michaëlle Jean, through their role as the Queen’s representative in Canada, were also able to get to know Philip more intimately, particularly at the Queen’s Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland.

Jean recalls being “overwhelmed” by all the protocol recommendations ahead of a Balmoral visit with her husband and six-year-old daughter prior to taking office in 2005, only to find Philip and the Queen greeting them at the door, with Philip paying special attention to her daughter.

“The memory I keep of Prince Philip is that of an affable, caring, elegant and warm man,” Jean told the Star, adding he was a man who was very attentive to detail.

She recalled attending a barbecue on the Balmoral estate, just the four of them, and Philip telling her, “Don’t forget to congratulate Her Majesty for her salad dressing, because she made it herself.”

What Jean also saw was a man sometimes hampered by the limitations of his role, like when he talked about one of his favourite topics, the environment.

“He said ‘I do a lot about it, I raise awareness, I take actions…I feel that whatever I do, no one cares,’” Jean recounted. “What I got from that is how lonely he felt…There was a sense of not feeling appreciated in proportion to his contributions, a feeling of being misunderstood.”

Johnston, who succeeded Jean, said Canada’s constitutional monarchy — where the head of state is politically neutral and separate from elected office — is an “important and precious” form of government, and Philip was key to making it work.

Philip showed leadership as a servant, Johnston said, “not taking centre stage, but by ensuring that the Queen and the monarchy were front row and centre.

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“He played such an important structural role, and did that with great diligence and commitment. He was selfless in that respect,” Johnston said in an interview.

For Matthew Rowe, who works on the Royal Family’s charitable endeavours in Canada, the Duke of Edinburgh’s political value to Canada was precisely that he was not political — that he, along with the rest of the monarchy, provided a stabilizing force outside of the partisan fray.

He was dynamic, irascible, exasperating, intriguing. And he was always three steps behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth, who utterly adored him throughout their 73-year marriage, flaws, faux pas and all.

“His presence, and the role of Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family, has been to be able to represent the nation, to represent Canadian interests, and commemorate Canadian achievements without being tied to a particular political ideology or regional faction,” Rowe, who met Philip at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in 2010, said in an interview.

 

Philip’s role meant he could speak more frankly than the Queen in public, and spoke “quite thoughtfully” about the constitutional monarchy in Canada, said University of Toronto history instructor Carolyn Harris.

At a press conference in Ottawa in 1969, Philip famously said that the monarchy doesn’t exist “in the interests of the monarch…It exists solely in the interest of the people. We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

Philip had a good, joking relationship with Johnston’s wife, Sharon. He recounted how the two joined the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral in August 2010, prior to Johnston’s swearing-in later that year.

One evening, they were returning to the castle from a barbecue at a renovated shepherd’s hut on the estate — just the four of them, the Queen driving with Johnston in one land rover, and Philip driving with Sharon in the other ahead of them on narrow, highland roads.

“We were coming home at about 10 p.m., as black as could be, he and Sharon were ahead, kind of weaving, and we could hear these gales of laughter coming out. They were cracking jokes at one another,” Johnston said.

“I had a vision of him going over the edge and down half a mile into the valley, and my first thought is: Do the Queen and I rustle down to rescue them?”

Chrétien said “it must be terrible” for the Queen to now find herself alone after a marriage that lasted for more than 70 years. He noted it’s been almost seven months to the day since he lost his wife, Aline.

 

“It’s a big change in life but she’s an extremely courageous person and she will face the situation with the strength that she has been able to show to the world for the almost 70 years she’s been queen,” Chrétien said.

With files from Alex Boutilier and Kieran Leavitt

 

 

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After warning, McConnell softens posture on corporations’ taking political stances

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., softened his stance on corporations’ getting involved in politics Wednesday, a day after he warned companies not to weigh in on hot button issues.

“I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are,” McConnell told reporters. “My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill.

“They got intimidated into adopting an interpretation … given by the Georgia Democrats in order to help get their way,” he said.

McConnell was referring to a controversial voting law recently passed in Georgia, which came about in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of falsehoods about the election result in the state last fall.

The law led the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola — which are based in Atlanta — to condemn the measure. And last week, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest. The game will, instead, be played in Colorado.

In recent weeks, McConnell has excoriated corporate America for boycotting states over various GOP-led bills. He said Tuesday that it is “stupid” for corporations to take positions on divisive political issues but noted that his criticism did not extend to their donations.

“So my warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell said in Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s not what you’re designed for. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of one of America’s greatest political debates.”

Major League Baseball’s decision drew the most outrage from Republicans, as Trump called for a boycott of baseball and other companies that spoke out against the Georgia law. McConnell said Tuesday that the latest moves are “irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.”

McConnell, long a champion of big money in politics, however, noted Tuesday that corporations “have a right to participate in a political process” but said they should do so without alienating “an awful lot of people.”

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said. “I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don’t like a particular law that passed. I just think it’s stupid.”

Source:- NBC News

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Facebook Removes 1,000 Fake Accounts Seeking to Sway Global Politics

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(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc. said it removed 14 networks representing more than 1,000 accounts seeking to sway politics around the world, including in Iran and El Salvador, while misleading the public about their identity.

Most of the removed networks were in the early stages of building their audiences, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Tuesday. Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday, part of its monthly reporting on efforts to rid its platforms of fake accounts, represents one of the larger crack downs by the company in recent months.

“We have been growing this program for several years,” said David Agranovich, Facebook’s global threat disruption lead. “I would expect to see this drum beat of take downs to continue.”

In one example, the company removed a network of more than 300 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and the photo-sharing app Instagram that appear to be run by a years-old troll farm located in Albania and operated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq opposition group. The group appeared to target Iran, but also other audiences with content about Iran, according to a report released by Facebook.

The group was most active in 2017, but increased its activity again in the latter half of 2020. It was one of a handful of the influence campaigns that likely used machine learning technologies capable of creating realistic profile photos to the naked eye, Facebook said in the report.

The company also removed 118 accounts, eight pages and 10 Instagram accounts based in Spain and El Salvador for violating the company’s foreign interference policy. The group amplified criticism of Henry Flores, a mayoral candidate in Santa Tecla, El Savador and supportive commentary of his rivals, the company said.

The social media giant also took down a network of 29 Facebook accounts, two pages, one group and 10 Instagram accounts based in Iran that was targeting Israel. The people behind the network posed as locals and posted criticism about Isreali prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Facebook. The company also took down networks based in Argentina, Mexico, Egypt and other nations.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said the company has improved its ability to identify inauthentic accounts, but said bad actors continue to change their strategies to avoid Facebook’s detection.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Source:- BNN

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