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Politics Briefing: Canada had to make 'heartbreaking decisions' in response to war in Ukraine, Trudeau says – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the issue of a no-fly zone for Ukraine is “extraordinarily difficult” because of images of the impact of Russian bombs and cruise missiles falling on hospitals, schools and Ukrainian civilians.

“It is heartbreaking to see these images every day of Vladimir Putin’s violence against innocents across Ukraine,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference in Alliston, Ont., on Wednesday that he attended with Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

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“This is an extraordinarily difficult issue,” Mr. Trudeau said.

But the Prime Minister said the NATO alliance is looking at ways to help support and protect Ukrainians, and prevent the war from expanding elsewhere.

“These are heartbreaking decisions and choices we have to make,” he said.

In a speech to Canadian parliamentarians on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed his call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine as the Russian invasion continues. Story here.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau was responding to a journalist’s question about whether there was anything Mr. Zelensky said in his speech that made Mr. Trudeau reconsider Canada’s opposition to a no-fly zone.

Mr. Trudeau noted that in the early days of the conflict Ukrainians were far more successful than Russians expected at shooting down Russian aircraft.

“We’ve seen an emphasis away from aircraft flying into Ukrainian space and more bombs and cruise missiles launched from a distance, which is a challenge in terms of closing the skies.”

Asked Wednesday about the issue of a no-fly zone, Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly expressed concerns about the consequences of the measure.

“My answer has been, since the beginning, we need to make sure that we’re not triggering an international conflict. And, at the same time, we’re in creative mode and we’re willing to talk with allies to see how we can further support Ukraine,” she told journalists on Parliament Hill.

Mr. Trudeau also said he will be attending a March. 24 NATO summit at the organization’s headquarters in Brussels.

In a tweet, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he had convened the “extraordinary” summit to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, support for Ukraine, and “further strengthening NATO’s deterrence & defence.”

Of the summit, Mr. Trudeau said it will allow for continued conversations on the best way to help Ukraine.

Mr. Trudeau was in Alliston, about 100 kilometres north of Toronto, to announce a $131.6-million federal investment to help Honda Canada retool its manufacturing operations in the town to launch the next generation of hybrid-electric vehicles. The Ontario government is matching the investment.

Please check here for live Globe and Mail updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

NEW INFLATION HIGH – Canada’s inflation rate hit a new three-decade high in February as consumers paid sharply more for gasoline and groceries, highlighting the tough task ahead for central bankers looking to calm the situation. Story here.

O’TOOLE WAS PUSHED TO VACATE STORNOWAY – Erin O’Toole was pushed to vacate Stornoway, the residence of the Official Opposition leader, by new interim leader Candice Bergen within weeks of being turfed by Conservative MPs, according to three sources. Story here.

EXPANDING FIELD OF VANCOUVER MAYORAL CANDIDATES – After the already-crowded field of candidates in Vancouver’s mayoral election grew even larger earlier this week, Adriane Carr, a popular Green Party councillor, says she is seriously considering a run because she thinks Mayor Kennedy Stewart is unreliable on climate-change issues. Story here.

JEAN WINS ALBERTA BYELECTION – Brian Jean, the co-founder of the governing United Conservative Party, is back in the Alberta legislature, setting up a showdown with his fellow founder turned political foe, Premier Jason Kenney. Story here.

TOUGH FEW DAYS, SAYS MOE – Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says it’s been a tough couple of days since a pickup truck registered in his name was impounded in British Columbia. Story here.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

TRANSCRIPT OF POLIEVRE INTERVIEW – Maclean’s magazine has posted the transcript of a one-hour interview with MP Pierre Poilievre, one of the contenders for the leadership of the federal Conservative party. The transcript is here.

HUAWEI ON CHAREST DUTIES – Huawei, the Chinese telecom company, says former Quebec premier Jean Charest, now running for the leadership of the federal Conservatives, focused on 5G issues when working with the company. Story here from Global News.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS -The House of Commons is not sitting again until March 21.

GOVERNOR-GENERAL MEETS WITH QUEEN – On Tuesday, Governor-General Mary Simon met in person with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. According to a statement from Rideau Hall, the meeting was intended to share Canadians’ best wishes in this year of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. The Governor-General and her husband, Whit Fraser, also met with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. This was the Governor-General’s second encounter with the Queen after a virtual meeting on July 22, 2021.

THE DECIBEL

On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, business reporter Joe Castaldo talks about meme stock investors who got caught up in the momentum around stock price hikes for companies like GameStop and AMC. While the heights of the craze have passed, a lot of retail investors who got caught up in the momentum are still advocating for their stock picks – and risking a lot of money on their convictions. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

In Alliston, Ont., the Prime Minister had private meetings, spoke with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and then, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, visited the production facilities of Honda Canada Manufacturing. The Prime Minister then made an announcement with the Premier and held a media availability.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Brampton, held a news conference and was scheduled, Wednesday evening, to meet with volunteers for the Ontario NDP.

No other schedules released for party leaders.

PUBLIC OPINION

CANADIAN VIEWS ON HELPING UKRAINE – A new study from the Angus Reid institute finds 48 per cent of Canadians are inclined to send more weaponry to the frontlines in Europe, with this representing a near tripling of support for Canada supplying Ukraine with lethal aid in the last six weeks. Details here.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on when and how the war in Ukraine will end:Starting a war is easy, as Vladimir Putin showed on Feb. 24. But ending a war, and ending it when it has reached a point where neither side has the strength to claim total victory, is a puzzle. The goal of the Western alliance is ending the war in Ukraine. That does not mean accepting any outcome that stops the fighting. But if and when Canada and its allies escalate in response to Moscow’s continued aggression – whether through more sanctions on Russia or more weapons transfers to Ukraine – we have to be sure that our actions aim at limiting the conflict, and bringing it to a conclusion, not expanding it.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how answering Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call to create a no-fly zone would be an unthinkable mistake: “Mr. Zelensky essentially tells Western allies that a Third World War has already begun. There are level-headed experts in Western capitals that believe that may be true. But even if that’s so, it doesn’t mean the best course is to accelerate it to an end. It does mean that Canada and its allies should continue to arm and aid Ukraine, even when Mr. Putin responds with threats. It means preparing to confront further Russian aggression, defend NATO allies in Europe and accept new NATO allies. It means expanding sanctions to weaken Russia’s economy and preparing secondary sanctions in case China provides war matériel to Moscow. Yet responding to Mr. Zelensky’s heart-rending pleas for a no-fly zone means an unthinkable step across the line that risks global war.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the possible method to Pierre Poilievre’s nastiness:For the moment, however, Mr. Poilievre bestrides the Conservative Party. The only way his rivals can dislodge him is by selling new memberships wholesale – tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands – in effect remaking the party. It’s a long shot. The day we see Mr. Poilievre launch a charm offensive, we will know it is beginning to work.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how the spectre of Donald Trump hangs over the federal Conservative leadership race: “Make no mistake: Mr. Poilievre is going after those CPC supporters who would pick a Trump ticket over a Biden one. If you’re looking for them, many can be found at any of these pop-up “freedom” rallies you see across the country. They were the ones flying Trump flags at the trucker convoy that squatted in the city of Ottawa for three weeks before being forced out. It’s why Mr. Poilievre reached out to them to offer his encouragement and support at the time, despite the havoc and hardship they were causing to residents of the capital. A large percentage of these folks can be found in Alberta and Saskatchewan, two provinces Mr. Poilievre hopes to own come the convention. He likely will. His angry, divisive style of politics sells well on the Prairies, where hatred for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau runs high.”

Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on how Canada is an international haven for financial crime and the only antidote is transparency: “There’s a reason that dirty money from around the world washes up on Canadian shores. International consultants are promoting Canada as an ideal place to set up anonymous shell companies because Ottawa is unable to unmask their true owners, according to a new report. Published by Transparency International Canada, a non-governmental anti-corruption organization, the report is titled Snow-washing, Inc: How Canada is marketed abroad as a secrecy jurisdiction. The research in its pages provides a startling glimpse into how shell companies established in this country can be readily exploited by kleptocrats, money launderers, tax dodgers and other crooks.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on where Brian Jean winning a provincial byelection in Alberta leaves Alberta Premier Jason Kenney:So, Brian Jean will go to Edmonton, again. But will he even be admitted to Premier Jason Kenney’s UCP caucus? There is talk that he might be excluded. This would be another unlikely first, but in practical terms it is possible. Jean says Kenney isn’t fit for the premier’s office and should quit. That was the whole point of his campaign to return to the legislature. Allowing Jean into caucus would be like Abel inviting Cain into the family living room.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

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Canada politics: NDP to talk health care with Trudeau – CTV News

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OTTAWA –

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that he would sit down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday to discuss private health care ahead of next week’s summit with premiers.

Trudeau is expected to meet with provincial and territorial leaders in Ottawa next Tuesday to discuss a new health-care funding deal.

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“The deal will be a failure if it doesn’t include major commitments to hire more health-care workers,” Singh said Monday, adding that the funding should be kept within the public system.

The last time Trudeau and Singh met one-on-one, as outlined in the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Liberals and the NDP, was in December.

Singh said now is the time for the Liberal government to make clear that funding private health-care facilities will not improve the shortage of health-care workers Canada is facing.

On Monday, legislators’ first day back at the House of Commons after a winter break, the NDP requested an emergency debate on the privatization of health care. The request was denied.

During the first question period of the year, Trudeau said his government will continue to ensure the provinces and territories abide by the Canada Health Act.

“We know that even as we negotiate with the provinces to ensure that we’re delivering more family doctors, better mental-health supports, moving forward on backlogs, supporting Canadians who need emergency care, we will ensure the Canada Health Act is fully respected,” Trudeau said.

“In the past, this government has pulled back money from provinces that haven’t respected it. We will continue to do that.”

Singh said that while health care falls under provincial jurisdiction, he believes the federal government could be using the Canada Health Act more aggressively to challenge for-profit care.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government announced earlier this month that it’s moving some procedures to publicly funded, private facilities to address a growing surgery wait-list, which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan have already made similar moves.

“We think the federal government should be making it very clear that the solution to the current health-care crisis will not come from a privatization, for-profit delivery of care. It’ll only come by making sure we hire, recruit, retain and respect health care,” Singh said.

“Health care is already dramatically understaffed, and for-profit facilities will poach doctors and nurses — cannibalizing hospitals, forcing people to wait longer in pain and racked with anxiety.”

The New Democrats say they’re also concerned that private facilities will upsell patients for brands and services not covered by the province, and tack on extra fees and services.

Singh spent some of Parliament’s winter break holding roundtable discussions on health care in British Columbia to discuss emergency room overcrowding and worker shortages.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.  

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Prime Minister stands behind newly appointed special representative on combatting Islamophobia – The Globe and Mail

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Amira Elghawaby, a human-rights advocate and journalist, pointed out that the specific sentence from a 2019 article co-authored that has raised ire – that Quebeckers appeared to be swayed by anti-Muslim sentiment – was not her opinion, but rather, a description of a poll’s findings.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood by his newly appointed special representative on combatting Islamophobia as the country marked the sixth anniversary of the deadly Quebec City mosque shooting, while the Quebec government and federal Conservatives called for Amira Elghawaby to step aside.

Outcry over her appointment dominated headlines in Quebec. The backlash stemmed from a 2019 article co-authored by Ms. Elghawaby – a particular line of which was perceived as showing anti-Quebec sentiment. The piece opposed Bill 21, the Quebec law that bans some public servants from wearing religious symbols, such as hijabs.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Ms. Elghawaby, a human-rights advocate and journalist, pointed out that the specific sentence that has raised ire – that Quebeckers appeared to be swayed by anti-Muslim sentiment – was not her opinion, but rather, a description of a poll’s findings.

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After criticism was raised last week, Mr. Trudeau said he expected Ms. Elghawaby to clarify her remarks, which she did, saying she does not believe Quebeckers are Islamophobic. Mr. Trudeau said Monday he is satisfied and wants to move forward.

Ms. Elghawaby’s mandate – to support the federal government in rooting out Islamophobia and highlight the diverse experiences of Canadian Muslims – has grown increasingly urgent. In recent years, hate crimes against Muslims have skyrocketed. And, over the past five years, Canada has taken the dark title of the Group of Seven nation with the highest number of Islamophobic killings, advocates note.

“There are anti-Muslim sentiments across Canada,” Ms. Elghawaby said. “This is not a Quebec issue. This is a Canadian issue.”

Amid the fracas, Ms. Elghawaby’s appointment is being celebrated by Muslim and non-Muslim advocates alike.

Stephen Brown, chief executive officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, or NCCM, said they are very happy to see Ms. Elghawaby’s appointment, noting she has a long history of advocating for Muslims, is bilingual and very dedicated.

He said the recommendation for the role came out of the National Summit on Islamophobia, in 2021, after the killing of four members of one Muslim family – the Afzaals – in London, Ont., which police said was motivated by anti-Muslim hate. Six Muslim men were killed and another 19 injured in the Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017.

Born in Egypt, Ms. Elghawaby was a baby when her family immigrated to Canada, where her father worked for decades as an engineer with the federal government and her mother raised her and her siblings in an east-end Ottawa suburb.

When Ms. Elghawaby decided to start wearing a head scarf – while studying journalism at Carleton University in the early 2000s – she recalled her father warning her against it. He worried about the barriers that a visible marker of faith could pose, she said.

“I remember telling him, ‘I really believe that Canada is a place where I can put on the head scarf and I can still contribute and I can still succeed,’” she said.

Despite the realities of Islamophobia – ones that cause her to be on guard while at mosque – Ms. Elghawaby said she has always had immense hope for Canada.

Over a career spanning two decades, Ms. Elghawaby has written for CBC News and held forth as a contributing columnist for the Toronto Star; been a founding board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network; and worked with the National Council of Canadian Muslims and, most recently, for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

In interviews, several people said Ms. Elghawaby is known for her work building connections across communities.

Debbie Douglas, the executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, described Ms. Elghawaby as very concerned with how Islamophobia ties into women’s rights and to anti-Black racism, as well as issues of antisemitism.

She pays attention to “the need for real bridge-building and conversations,” Ms. Douglas noted. “You often found her where there’s lots of cross-cultural communications happening.”

Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, called Ms. Elghawaby the “perfect appointment.”

“We are living in very dark times,” he said. “Most people allow the darkness to envelop us. Amira is quite the opposite. She insists that there is light.”

He said Ms. Elghawaby has been instrumental in bringing Jewish and Muslim leadership together for difficult conversations. He also described doing trainings – he on antisemitism and she on Islamophobia – for police agencies.

And together, the pair authored the 2019 column that elicited criticism from some.

The pair wrote: “Unfortunately, the majority of Quebeckers appear to be swayed not by the rule of law, but by anti-Muslim sentiment. A poll conducted by Léger Marketing earlier this year found that 88 per cent of Quebeckers who held negative views of Islam supported the ban.”

Ms. Elghawaby said the pair had seen Montreal Gazette reporting on the poll, which stated that “anti-Muslim sentiment appears to be the main motivation for those who support a ban on religious symbols,” and that the poll found most Quebeckers supported Bill 21.

Mr. Brown, of the NCCM, said no one felt that Léger was “Quebec bashing” when it put those numbers out.

Sarah Mushtaq, a community advocate in Windsor, Ont., who writes columns for the Windsor Star, said Ms. Elghawaby’s kindness and wisdom – and ability to navigate tense issues – have made an impact on her.

Part of being a Muslim in the public sphere means that, sometimes, “no one is ever happy with what you said,” she said.

“You never know how certain comments are going to get dug up and misconstrued,” she added.

She said the role of a federal representative dedicated to combatting Islamophobia is “long overdue” and it’s important that a visibly Muslim woman is filling it.

“Despite the naysayers, there’s a lot of people who are grateful that this role exists,” she said. “We are behind her.”

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Parliamentarians kick off return to House of Commons with debate on child care

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Parliamentarians kick off return

The economy was top of mind for members of Parliament as they returned to the House of Commons Monday, with the Liberal government kicking off the new sitting with a debate on child care.

Families Minister Karina Gould tabled Bill C-35 last December, which seeks to enshrine the Liberals’ national daycare plan into law — and commit Ottawa to maintaining long-term funding.

The federal government has inked deals with provinces and territories in an effort to cut fees down to an average of $10 per day by 2026.

During a debate today, Gould said all parties should support the bill, and the national plan has begun saving families money.

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But Conservative MP Michelle Ferreri said the plan is “subsidizing the wealthy” while failing to reduce wait times for child-care spaces and address labour shortages in the sector.

Ferreri told MPs that the Conservatives would be presenting “strong amendments” to the legislation.

The debate comes amid concerns about a possible recession this year, with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre saying their focus will be on the cost of living.

But Poilievre’s Tories may have little room to manoeuvre in the legislature.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters upon his return to the House of Commons that he does not believe there is any room to work with the Conservatives during the upcoming sitting.

Instead, the NDP says it plans to push the Liberals to fulfil the terms of the parties’ confidence-and-supply agreement, such as the planned expansion of federal dental care.

Under the deal signed last March, the NDP agreed to support the minority government on key House of Commons votes in exchange for the Liberals moving ahead on New Democrat policy priorities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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