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Politics Briefing: Bloc’s Blanchet says MPs returning to Parliament should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – The Globe and Mail




This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

The leader of the Bloc Quebecois says MPs should return quickly to Parliament in person, but only if they are fully vaccinated.

If someone is not doubly vaccinated, they shouldn’t be able to return to Parliament, Yves-François Blanchet told a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday. “I do think we have to go back to working normally.”

Mr. Blanchet said Canadians have, in last week’s federal election, elected 338 MPs whose workplace is the House of Commons. “And that’s where we should be working.”

The BQ leaders’ news conference came a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held his first extended postelection news conference in which he said he will unveil a new cabinet in October, and that the House of Commons will be recalled some time before Dec. 21. Mr. Blanchet strongly condemned Mr. Trudeau’s suggestion that Parliament may not resume until December.

Asked, on Wednesday, about Conservative MPs, Mr. Blanchet said they should not enter Parliament if they are not vaccinated. “They get fully vaccinated or they stay home,” he said.

During the recent federal election campaign, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was the only leader to not disclose the vaccination status of his party’s candidates. Asked about the issue in mid-September, the NDP and the Bloc both said all of their candidates were vaccinated and the Liberals said all but one of their candidates were vaccinated, with the sole exception being someone with a medical exemption.

The Globe and Mail has reached out to other parties for comment on the BQ leaders’ suggestion.

Mr. Blanchet also said the Parliament that will be convened soon is largely the same as the one before the election so some previous decisions on bills and committees should be brought back such as Bill C-10 to ensure Canadian artists are supported as their work is consumed by global streaming giants and legislation criminalizing conversion therapy, which he said could be passed by the Senate and put into place quickly.

During the election, Mr. Trudeau said his government would move on the conversion therapy legislation if re-elected


HUAWEI 5G RULING COMING SOON: TRUDEAU – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal cabinet will soon rule on whether to ban Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. from Canada’s 5G mobile network, now that Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have returned home after nearly three years in Chinese prisons. Story here.

RECONCILIATION DAY NEEDS TO BE STAT HOLIDAY – Provincial governments are facing calls to make the new federal National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a statutory holiday so all Canadians can reflect on the dark and painful history of residential schools.

KENNEY FACES NEW CHALLENGE – Members within Alberta’s governing party are, once again, openly challenging Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership, with the province’s hospitals overwhelmed to the point where the government has reached out to institutions in the United States for help.

RCMP REBUKED IN LOGGING PROTEST – The B.C. Supreme Court has delivered a rebuke to the RCMP, saying the tactics used to enforce a court injunction prohibiting blockades against old-growth logging at Fairy Creek trampled on civil liberties and put the court’s reputation at risk.

HARPER HAS ROLE IN SURVEILLANCE TECH SALE – Former prime minister Stephen Harper heads the advisory committee of a Toronto-based company now looking to facilitate the sale of cutting-edge surveillance technology to the United Arab Emirates — a country with a troubling human rights record. From CBC. Story here.

NEW O’TOOLE ENDORSEMENT – John Reynolds, the former Canadian Alliance leader and Stephen Harper campaign co chair, makes the case, in The Vancouver Sun, for the Conservatives keeping Erin O’Toole as leader. “Conservatives are a national party. We made big breakthroughs in Eastern Canada in this election. Those are things we can build on next time,” he writes.

DEBATE TO BE MANITOBA’S NEXT PREMIER – The two women campaigning to become Manitoba’s next premier squared off Tuesday, both promising to revive a Progressive Conservative government running low in opinion polls. The race pits former federal Conservative cabinet minister Shelly Glover, who has not been elected provincially, against Heather Stefanson, a former provincial health minister. The two are the sole candidates in the race, which comes to a conclusion Oct. 30. Story here.

FALCON UNDER FIRE AS BC LIBERAL LEADERSHIP PROSPECTS DEBATE – Kevin Falcon, who has held the B.C. cabinet posts of finance, health and transportation for the governments of premiers Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, was under fire this week during the first debate in the race to win the leadership of the BC Liberals. Story here.


No schedule released by the Prime Minister’s Office.


Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet will hold a news conference in Ottawa.

No other schedules released for federal leaders.


The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Erin O’Toole and the wrong way to pick a party leader:Had Mr. O’Toole not “betrayed” the base that made him leader, he would have had to run an election campaign calling for: the end of carbon taxes, which 56 per cent of Canadians support; legislation limiting abortion, in a country where 77 per cent support abortion rights; rolling back gun controls favoured by a majority of Canadians; and no vaccine passports, when 70 per cent of Canadians are in favour of them. The problem is that, to become leader, Mr. O’Toole had to appeal to a tiny and not particularly representative group. He became leader thanks to the votes of fewer than 91,000 paid-up party members – about one-third of 1 per cent of the Canadian electorate. But to become prime minister, one has to win over a third or more of the entire electorate. And more than 99 per cent of them are not Conservative Party members.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on little standing in the way of Justin Trudeau’s legacy:It might annoy many in the 67 per cent of voters who didn’t choose Mr. Trudeau’s party, but that is the bottom line. As a practical matter, mandate is beside the point. Mr. Trudeau can advance the Liberal agenda. Even more: He can entrench a lasting legacy. On Tuesday, he went so far as to entertain the idea that he will serve out all four years of his term. “I hope so,” he said. That’s pushing it. But for a substantial period of time, there won’t be a lot standing in his way. For starters, opposition parties who complained about this year’s pandemic election can’t afford to force another. In fact, the bar triggering a vote will be pretty high for a while.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on whether or not we will be firmer with China now that the two Michaels are free: “But in truth Canada’s policy of strategic pussyfooting long predates the two Michaels’ arrest. The causation is, if anything, the other way: Canadian policy on China has not been weak and vacillating because they were taken prisoner – they were taken prisoner, arguably, because we were so weak and vacillating. There’s a reason China targeted Canada, rather than the U.S., for retaliation for Ms. Meng’s arrest: because they knew, or suspected, it would work better against us.”

Irwin Cotler, Amanda Ghahremani and Alex Neve (Contributors to The Globe and Mail) on the search for justice following Iran’s downing of Flight PS752: “Canada’s next minister of foreign affairs should prioritize this file. The RCMP should open a criminal investigation into what happened, given the non-existent prospect of justice and fair trials in Iran. The results of this investigation would be shared with Ukrainian authorities, who are currently pursuing possible prosecutions. The government should also promptly take all necessary diplomatic and legal steps to launch proceedings at the International Civil Aviation Organization and even the International Court of Justice, unless negotiations with Iran toward a fair resolution immediately show more promise.”

Dakota Kochie (Contributor to the Globe and Mail) on why it is essential for all Canadians to honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:The holiday that has followed from this call needs to be a day of truth-telling so that Canadians can continue to reconcile with our shared dark history. The truths of abuse, death, humiliation and lost childhoods. The fact that Canadians had a better chance of surviving battle in the Second World War than children attending a residential school had here in Canada. These are the many reasons we as Canadians owe this one day to residential school survivors. Truth must come before reconciliation.”

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.

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Biden says United States would come to Taiwan’s defense



The United States would come to Taiwan‘s defense and has a commitment to defend the island China claims as its own, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday, though the White House said later there was no change in policy towards the island.

“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall when asked if the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has complained of mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty.

While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

In August, a Biden administration official said U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the United States would defend the island if it were attacked.

A White House spokesperson said Biden at his town hall was not announcing any change in U.S. policy and “there is no change in our policy”.

“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the spokesperson said.

Biden said people should not worry about Washington’s military strength because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world,”

“What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake,” Biden said.

“I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”

Military tensions between Taiwan and China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said this month, adding that China will be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.

Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.

China says Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in its ties with the United States and has denounced what it calls “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.

Speaking to reporters earlier on Thursday, China’s United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun said they are pursuing “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and responding to “separatist attempts” by its ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

“We are not the troublemaker. On the contrary, some countries – the U.S. in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction,” he said.

“I think at this moment what we should call is that the United States to stop such practice. Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest. I don’t see that the United States will gain anything from that.”

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, Michelle Nichols in New York and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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Do climate politics really matter at the local level? A Seattle professor thinks so –



The changing climate is a topic you’d think would be front and center in local elections – especially after the heat wave that killed hundreds of people in the Northwest this summer.

A professor of politics at the University of Washington noted a lack of attention to the issue – until he and a colleague pushed for a debate about it in Seattle.

Aseem Prakash

Aseem Prakash directs the school’s Center for Environmental Politics. In July, he wrote about his amazement that none of the candidates seemed to care about the climate. Instead, their focus – as with candidates in New York City – is on crime, policing and, lately, homelessness.

And when you ask them how we’re truly adapting to climate change, the candidates either pass the buck and say some other jurisdiction is ultimately responsible, Prakash says. Or they talk about pilot programs for this and that.

And there are lots of pilot programs, he says. But he doesn’t see any Seattle mayoral candidates — or past mayors — following up with data that would help keep them accountable. Instead, he says, most seem to use a local office, like mayor or city councilmember, as a stepping stone at the beginning of a career in politics — or toward something else more lucrative.

“At some point, all of us, we have to call out the B.S. You have to call out the B.S. and force politicians to confront the issues that affect us,” he says.

“Because there’s a program for everything, right? … Is it really helping?” Prakash wonders.

“Do we have data that the heat island effect in Seattle has improved over the years because there are programs? Have we evaluated how effective these programs are? No. … So then what’s the point? This is what you call ‘virtue signaling.’” 

Prakash says there are too many pledges and not enough action. Accountability is missing. Most people aren’t getting help with things like cooling their homes during heat waves or getting electric cars that are affordable and reliable.

Everybody wants to be a global leader, (to) talk about the future generation. It’s a moral responsibility,“ Prakash says, with a note of frustrated sarcasm in his voice.

“But you ask them, ‘OK, can you please translate it in the context of my humble census tract, my ZIP code? What does climate change mean for my ZIP code? Why should I care?’ ”

These are issues that students and professors from departments all over the University of Washington want to come together to discuss and attempt to solve, as they relate to climate change.

This interdisciplinary approach is why Prakash founded the Center for Environmental Politics seven years ago. The debate is co-hosted by the UW’s EarthLab.

“A Climate Conversation with Seattle Mayoral Candidates” is free and open to the public via Zoom. It takes place Friday evening from 5 to 6 p.m. You can register here.

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Factbox-Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch



Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, spent a night in hospital but returned to Windsor Castle on Thursday.

Here are some facts about the 95-year-old queen:


Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born at 17 Bruton St, London W1, on April 21, 1926, and christened on May 29, 1926, in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace.

After her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 for the love of a divorced American woman, the queen’s father, George VI, inherited the throne.

Two years after World War Two, she married navy Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, a Greek prince, whom she had fallen for during a visit to a naval college when she was just 13.


She was just 25 when she became Queen Elizabeth II on Feb. 6, 1952, on the death of her father, while she was on tour in Kenya with Prince Philip.

She was crowned monarch on June 2, 1953, in a ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey that was televised live.


Philip was said to be shattered when his wife became queen so soon.

Her marriage to Philip, whom she wed when she was 21, stayed solid for 74 years until his death in April 2021.

Their children are Charles, born in 1948, Anne, born in 1950, Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964.


Winston Churchill was the first of her 14 British prime ministers.

As head of state, the queen remains neutral on political matters. The queen does not vote.


Elizabeth, who acceded to the throne as Britain was shedding its imperial power, has symbolised stability. Her nearly 70-year reign is the longest of any British monarch.

A quiet and uncomplaining dedication to the duty of queenship, even in old age, has earned her widespread respect both in Britain and abroad, even from republicans who are eager for abolition of the monarchy.


Her Majesty Elizabeth II, By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.


The Queen is head of state of 15 Commonwealth countries in addition to the United Kingdom. She is also head of the Commonwealth itself, a voluntary association of 54 independent countries.


The 40th anniversary of her accession, in 1992, was a year she famously described as an “annus horribilis” after three of her four children’s marriages failed and there was a fire at her Windsor Castle royal residence.

The death of Princess Diana, the divorced wife of Elizabeth’s son and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, in 1997, damaged the family’s public prestige.

Charles’ younger son, Harry, and wife Meghan said in an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year that one unidentified royal had made a racist remark about their first-born child. The couple had stepped back from royal duties in early 2020 and moved to the United States.


(Writing by Michael Holden and Kate Holton; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Peter Cooney)

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