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Politics Briefing: Canada should balance welcoming Afghan refugees and efforts to help those who remain in the country, says Trudeau – The Globe and Mail




Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will have to balance welcoming Afghans to this country and diligent efforts to provide support to those in need within the troubled country.

Mr. Trudeau’s comments during a Thursday news conference in Halifax came amidst criticism from the Conservatives about his government’s handling of issues around facilitating access to Canada for Afghans intent on leaving the country.


“We are going to have to figure out how to step up and support people who remain in Afghanistan with humanitarian support, with investments, with the global community that is extremely concerned, rightly with the Taliban’s sponsoring terrorism around the world,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“But we have to make sure we are getting food and supplies and a future to the people in Afghanistan even if the Taliban isn’t, and it is a difficult issue.”

However, the federal Conservatives are raising concerns about the Liberal government’s approach.

At a news conference Thursday, MPs urged the government to expand a special program to bring Afghans to Canada even though the government has said it will process the last of 18,000 applications in the program.

MPs Jasraj Singh Hallan – the opposition immigration critic – and Luc Berthold, deputy opposition leader, accused the Liberal government of being ready to move on while thousands of Afghans are still fleeing the Taliban.

In a statement, they noted that out of the roughly 16,500 Afghans who’ve made it to Canada since August, 2021, only 7,200 applicants have entered through the government’s special immigration measures program.

“Running the program incompetently and without the urgency it deserves is not an excuse for the Liberal government to turn its back on Afghans who are desperate for answers,” they said in a statement.

The federal government promised to admit 40,000 Afghans to Canada after the Taliban takeover. Some have arrived under a humanitarian program that resettles vulnerable Afghans who did not work for Canada while others have been settled through the program for people who worked for Canada.

As of mid-July, 16,645 Afghans have arrived under the program for Afghans who assisted the Government of Canada and the humanitarian program, according to the immigration department website.

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.


SECRECY CONSIDERED FOR SOME ARMED FORCES FLIGHTS – The military says it’s exploring ways to add a layer of secrecy to the movement of some Canadian Armed Forces flights, including the planes that carry the Prime Minister and the Governor-General. Story here.

NEW TECH OFFICERS AT ROGERS – Rogers Communications has a new chief technology officer in the wake of a nationwide outage earlier this month that resulted in the company promising change and investment to ensure network reliability. Story here.

CHARGES AGAINST SENIOR MILITARY COMMANDER – A senior military commander has been charged with two counts of breaching the Armed Forces’ disciplinary code, after a sexual-misconduct investigation by military police. Story here.

BIDEN HAS COVID-19 – President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, underscoring the persistence of the highly contagious virus as new variants challenge the nation’s efforts to resume normalcy after two and a half years of pandemic disruptions. Story here. The President tweeted a video message here on how he is doing.

MINISTER ASKED TO FREEZE FUNDING – More than 500 Canadian gymnasts are calling on Canada’s Sport Minister to freeze funding to their national sport organization. Story here.

PUBLIC SERVANTS EXPECTED BACK IN THE OFFICE PART-TIME – Canada’s top bureaucrat wants public servants back in the office part-time this summer to test drive running federal departments with a hybrid workforce. Story here from Policy Options.

AFRICA DIPLOMATIC STRATEGY IN THE WORKS – Liberal MP Robert Oliphant, the parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly talks to The Hill Times about an African strategy he is developing for cabinet, noting, “It really the first time that there has been a strategy document for our engagement diplomatically and on a number of fronts with Africa in many years.” Story here.

CANADA AND U.S. UNITE TO PRESS MEXICO ON ENERGY – Canada joined forces Wednesday with the United States in a bilateral effort to push back against what they consider protectionist energy policies in Mexico that violate both the spirit and the letter of North America’s new trade rules. Story here.

ALBERTA MINISTER CRITICIZES SMITH PLEDGE – Alberta Finance Minister Jason Nixon says United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith’s proposed Alberta sovereignty act is “very problematic” for the party and would be impossible to deliver. Story here from CBC.

OTTAWA COUNCILLORS OPPOSED TO `STRONG-MAYOR’ SYSTEM – Ottawa city councillors are skeptical about and opposed to an Ontario government plan to give more power to the next mayor to make decisions at city council. According to an Ottawa Citizen story here, the “strong mayor” system proposed for Toronto as well as the nation’s capital would result in a massive change in the political culture at Ottawa City Hall by centralizing more authority in the mayor’s office and potentially reducing the influence of the 24 ward councillors.

SILVER TAKES LEAD IN SOURTOE COCKTAIL MILESTONE – They wanted Ryan Reynolds. They got Sandy Silver. The Yukon premier was chosen to, this week, drink the 100,000th sourtoe cocktail at the Downtown Hotel in his hometown of Dawson City. Story here from CBC.


CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is campaigning in Ontario. Roman Baber is in Victoria. Meanwhile, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre are all in Toronto.

THIRD LEADERSHIP DEBATE NEXT MONTH – The Conservative Party of Canada has decided to hold a third debate in the contest to become its next leader. The event will take place in August and more details on the timing are expected to be released later today. Story here.

POILIEVRE LIKELY TO PIVOT TO CENTRE: CLARK – Pierre Poilievre is likely to pivot to the political centre if he wins the Conservative leadership this fall, says former British Columbia premier Christy Clark. Story here.

VANCOUVER TO BLAME FOR REGIONAL HOUSING CHALLENGES: POILIEVRE – Pierre Poilievre did an interview with Castanet News while touring Kelowna, B.C. last week. Among other things, he said Vancouver’s failure to build housing is impacting Kelowna. Story here.


The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

PMO RESPONDS TO REPORTS ABOUT MEDIA HANDLING IN KELOWNA – The Prime Minister’s Office has responded to a report here in The Daily Courier newspaper in Kelowna, B.C. about a recent visit by Justin Trudeau to the Okanagan city. According to the report, journalists were told they would face “police-assisted eviction” from the premises Mr. Trudeau was visiting if they shouted questions.

In a statement, PMO spokesperson Ann-Clara Vaillancourt said, “Our office never instructed anyone to do this, and this is not how we operate. We have looked into the matter. It is our expectation that everyone involved in organizing government events treat journalists with respect and professionalism at all times.” She also said journalists must always be treated with the utmost respect and be able to do their jobs. “Under no circumstances should journalists ever be threatened when covering a government or political event.”

ALGHABRA IN EDMONTON – Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, in Edmonton, announced funding to support trade corridors.

BENNETT IN WHITEHORSE – Mental Health Minister Carolyn Bennett, in Whitehorse, announces funding to prevent and address family violence in the Yukon.

KHERA AND RODRIGUEZ IN MONTREAL – Seniors Minister Kamal Khera and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, in Sainte-Thérèse northwest of Montreal, announces changes to the Old Age Security pension.


On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Adrian Morrow, the Globe and Mail’s U.S. correspondent, talks about the most important things learned, so far, from the Jan. 6 Committee hearings in Washington and what to expect now that the hearings are coming to an end. The committee is attempting to figure out exactly what happened when supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The Decibel is here.


In Halifax, the Prime Minister made a clean-energy announcement and held a media availability, then attended a community barbecue with local families, and was scheduled to meet with local First Nations Chiefs, and met with youth and athletes at a local sporting event.


Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet continued a summer tour of Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Yellowknife met with the Northwest Territories Association of Communities.

No schedules released for other party leaders.


William Robson (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how we are at a major turning point in the fight against inflation: “Two economic headlines a week apart – the Bank of Canada’s 1 per cent hike in the overnight rate last week, and the 8.1 per cent year-over-year increase in the Consumer Price Index Wednesday – make clear that we are at a major turning point. The Bank has underlined its determination to get inflation, which it admits it underestimated, back to its 2-per-cent target. Canadians can look forward to lower inflation, and also need to be ready for the recession that will precede it.”

Peter MacKay (The National Post) on Canada failing the thousands of Afghans who risked their lives for us: “For both Afghans and Ukrainians, Canadians, and their government, should open their arms, hearts and homes to welcome them in. In a few short months, over 151,000 Ukrainians have been approved to come to Canada, with almost 60,000 having already settled here. We need to bring them all here, and we need to apply this same kind of effort to those Afghans who helped our war effort. Canadians should call on the government to immediately commit to a “surge of resources,” to ensure that every Afghan with a legal path to Canadian residency is successfully evacuated.”

Geoff Norquay (Canadian Politics and Public Policy) on how the Conservative leadership process he helped invent needs an overhaul: Open recruitment of new members and direct election has also displaced the most engaged local party activists and stalwarts who showed up through thick and thin, recruiting and coaching the next candidate, fundraising, running the campaign office and knocking on doors at election time. Today, who knows if the thousands of new members recruited to support a specific leadership candidate will stick around to contribute locally for the long haul? Despite the imperfections of the delegated convention, political parties lost a lot with its demise.”

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Senegal opposition leader trial kickstarts rocky election season – Al Jazeera English



Dakar, Senegal – Prominent opposition leader Ousmane Sonko is scheduled to face charges of libel in a Dakar court on Thursday. If found guilty, the political leader could be barred from running in the 2024 presidential elections.

Originally set for March 16, the hearing was postponed to March 30 after state security services forcibly removed Sonko from his vehicle and escorted him to court on the day of the hearing. Shortly after, clashes erupted between police forces and Sonko’s supporters.

Sonko, 48, said he inhaled a harmful substance during the altercations which impaired his eyesight and breathing, claiming the altercation amounted to an assassination attempt.


Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Senegal’s Attorney General Ibrahima Bakhoum said a suspect had been arrested in relation to the case.

Yarga Sy, an airport security agent, allegedly gave Sonko a scarf soaked with a harmful substance. The substance was in fact vinegar, said Bakhoum.

The incident has escalated tensions in Senegal as the country braces for potential unrest ahead of Sanko’s court hearing on Thursday. Ousseynou Fall, one of Sonko’s lawyers was suspended by the Senegalese Bar Association on Wednesday after a complaint by a case judge and will be unable to appear in court.

“The ongoing tensions have led to a worsening of the situation, fueling political violence as the opposition rallies around the Sonko…case,” said Alioune Tine, Senegalese political analyst and founder of think tank AfrikaJom Centre.

The opposition leader faces libel charges brought against him by Senegal’s Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang after accusing him of stealing 29 billion CFA francs ($47 million) from a government agency. Sonko also faces separate charges of raping a beauty salon employee and making death threats to her in 2021.

He denies the accusations and claims incumbent President Macky Sall is using the judiciary to quash his presidential run. A presidential spokesperson denied commenting on Sonko’s court hearing.

A former tax inspector who transitioned to politics and became the leader of the Pastef opposition party, Sonko became even more popular after finishing third in the 2019 presidential election, becoming Sall’s foremost political opponent.

Stifling opposition with the judiciary

Previous opposition figures such as former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, the son of former President Abdoulaye Wade, were both charged with corruption and barred from running against Sall in 2019.

The opposition coalition has argued that these disqualifications are part of a broader pattern in which the ruling coalition is leveraging the judiciary to sideline opposition candidates and clear the path for the incumbent president’s reelection.

Senegal has enjoyed relative political stability since it gained independence from France in 1960. Unlike many of its neighbours, it has avoided military coups, earning it a reputation as a beacon of democracy in the region. Despite these credentials, the country has experienced significant political turbulence ahead of the election.

In the past few months, there has been a wave of opposition arrests, including El Malick Ndiaye, spokesperson for Sonko’s Pastef party. He was accused of spreading fake news and spent five days in prison before being released with an electronic ankle bracelet.

Thus, there are concerns that a potential Sonko disqualification or another Sall presidential run could signal a descent into chaos.

“Our current political situation is the most dangerous since decolonisation,” Cheikh Fall, a Senegalese political activist, told Al Jazeera, “Macky Sall is the one and only person responsible for this situation.”

Amnesty International has warned about the increased violence with which security forces have cracked down on protesters ahead of the 2024 elections.

“An escalation of tensions, and further violent clashes between opposition supporters and security forces may damage Senegal’s democratic reputation,” said Renna Hawili, a Dakar-based analyst with geopolitical consultancy Control Risk.

A controversial third term

In 2016, the Senegalese constitution was amended, restricting the length of presidential terms to five years. An earlier amendment in 2001 had limited consecutive terms to two.

But now there is uncertainty about whether Sall will be running for a third mandate.

The president is yet to confirm or deny any such ambitions but he recently discussed the possibility in an interview with French magazine L’Express. He stated that should he choose to run, it would be constitutional as his first term extended beyond the scope of the reform, lasting for seven years rather than five.

“Legally speaking, the debate has been settled for a long time,” said Sall, who claims he consulted the Constitutional Council before the 2016 amendment. “Now, should I run for a third term or not? It’s a political debate, I admit.”

If he does run, it would be a “political bomb” that would further deteriorate the country’s already tense political situation, Tine said.

The issue of tenure elongation is an old one in Senegal – and indeed West Africa.

In 2012, Sall’s predecessor Wade also attempted to circumvent the 2001 amendment and run for a third term. Like Sall today, he claimed that because he had been elected before the amendment, it did not apply to his first tenure. That triggered violent protests.

Sall was an opposition leader then and, buoyed by his support of anti-Wade protests, gained the popularity that helped him eventually become president.

At the time, he said he would not allow presidents to run for more than two terms, which led to the law signed four years later.

Calls for protests

Sonko’s trial comes less than a year before the 2024 presidential elections. If found guilty on Thursday, he will be disqualified from running in the next election, which could tip the scales in favour of the incumbent.

But there is a growing sense that the trials have galvanised the opposition and led to a significant shift in the political landscape as more youth, frustrated by rising unemployment, flock to Sonko.

The Yewwi Askan Wi coalition, translating to “Liberate the People” in the local Wolof language, led protests in Dakar on March 29 and has planned nationwide demonstrations for Thursday – and April 3. These protests are scheduled to take place despite a lack of government authorisation.

Whether Sonko’s trial will mark the start of a new era of political unrest or whether it will strengthen the grip of the incumbent president will become apparent on Thursday, analysts say.

“It is the first time that our collective actions since independence have allowed us to build such a solid democratic system,” said Fall the activist, “but that is in danger of crumbling like a house of cards”.

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Middle East round-up: Israel pauses its political crisis, for now – Al Jazeera English



Here’s a round-up of Al Jazeera’s Middle East coverage this week.

Protests in Israel force the government to backtrack, US attacks Iran-aligned fighters in Syria, and Lebanon’s two timezones. Here’s your round up of our coverage, written by Abubakr Al-Shamahi, Al Jazeera Digital’s Middle East and North Africa editor.

After five elections in less than four years, it’s perhaps not surprising that Israel finds itself in yet another political crisis. After coming to power at the end of last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken advantage of his coalition government’s majority in parliament, slim though it is, to try and push through legislation that would weaken the independence of the judiciary, a long-time demand of the political right.


But maybe, just maybe, Netanyahu has misjudged the depth of his opposition’s outrage. They argue that, along with giving the religious far-right an opportunity to impose its views on other Israelis, the new legislation would also give Netanyahu more leeway in his fight against corruption charges (which, for the record, he denies).

[READ: Is Israel’s far-right government jeopardising ties with the UAE?]

After weeks of protests, matters came to a head this week, and Netanyahu’s ability to get the various pieces of legislation through parliament now looks shaky. First, his own attorney general called his actions illegal. Then, his defence minister publically asked him to stop trying to overhaul the judiciary. Netanyahu didn’t like the perceived insubordination, and fired the minister on Sunday. Cue bedlam.

Large demonstrations took place in several cities, and carried on through Monday, eventually prompting the prime minister to backtrack, sort of. While he refused to withdraw his plan for the judiciary altogether, he did suspend proceedings, saying he was “taking a timeout for dialogue”.

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It’s been a crisis without precedent. That’s because of the opposition by army reservists, and the fear among some that it could compromise Israel’s military preparedness. Secular Israelis are also becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the dominance of religious Jewish voices. There’s even been talk, on Netanyahu’s part, of the risk of a ‘civil war’.

[READ: Israeli right-wing protesters attack Palestinians in Jerusalem]

And in the midst of all this, there have been the Palestinians. While there has been a small, anti-occupation bloc within the latest protests, many Palestinians question why the Israeli public has largely failed to show a similar outrage when it comes to the ongoing occupation and treatment of Palestinians. And there are also significant fears over what happens if Netanyahu’s far-right minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, gets his own national guard to command. The founder of one American Jewish peace organisation called the force a “militia [that] will be used to … terrorise Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank”.

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US air attacks in Syria

The US military in Syria has had several run-ins with Iran-aligned forces over the past few years, but the latest incident appears to be one of the worst. As many as 19 fighters were reportedly killed in US attacks in eastern Syria, after a US contractor was killed in a drone attack. While both the Iranian and Syrian governments condemned the US, there are few if any signs that the Americans are planning on leaving Syria anytime soon. The US says the presence of its forces is necessary to prevent the re-emergence of ISIL (ISIS).

What time is it in Lebanon?

In parts of Beirut this week you could have asked two people on opposite sides of the street what time it was, and they could each have given you a different answer—and both been technically correct. Just when the Lebanese thought their state couldn’t be any more dysfunctional, the government failed to implement its decision to delay the start of daylight savings time, after the Maronite Church rejected it.

Although the split wasn’t strictly across religious lines, the general impression was that, for a few days at least, Lebanon operated on either “Muslim” or “Christian” time. The government has since backed down, and brought forward the introduction of daylight savings, but the debacle added to the economic crisis, power cuts and depreciating currency by illustrating just how poorly run Lebanon has become.

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And Now for Something Different

For Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan is a time of giving. In Egypt, that continues to be the case — even though inflation has made it harder for many people to donate. But those who can are trying to step up and fill the gap, funding charity tables called ‘mawaed al-rahman’, where people can gather to break their fast.

Ramadan recipes

Sticking to the Ramadan theme — here’s the first of our Fork the System series, where chefs tell us about their favourite recipes for the month. Yemeni American Akram Said shares his (delicious) recipe for chicken zorbiyan, as well as his memory of his mother, and why his journey into Yemeni cuisine is partly a way of coping with her death.

[READ: My mom’s chicken zorbiyan connected me to Yemen, and her memory]


US Congress members voice concerns over Tunisia human rights crackdown | Bus carrying pilgrims crashes in Saudi Arabia, killing 20 | US Senate votes to clear way for repeal of Iraq war authorisation | UN mission accuses EU of aiding crimes against humanity in Libya | Iraqi Parliament passes controversial electoral law amendments | Saudi National Bank head resigns after Credit Suisse crisis | Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers to meet during Ramadan | Sudan’s military leader says he backs democratic transition | Boat sinks off Tunisian coast, killing 19 | Qatari Sheikh Jassim submits new bid for Manchester United | LGBTQ dating app Grindr warns Egyptian users of police-run accounts | UN commission ends hearings on rights abuses in Israel and Palestine | Saudi Arabia and Syria in talks to restore ties | Iraqis still await special US visas 20 years after invasion |

Quote of the Week

“Muslims used to share our joys and sorrows, we were brothers and still are. The monastery guard is Muslim. When we celebrated Mass two days ago, the residents of the area welcomed us very much.” | Ezzat Sami, an Iraqi Christian who moved from Mosul in 2014, after it was taken over by ISIL. He came back to visit this week, and to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Monastery of Saint Michael, being held in the house of worship for the first time in 20 years.

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Poilievre surpasses Trudeau on preferred PM question: Nanos – CTV News



The federal Liberals are trending downward on three key measures while Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has surpassed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when it comes to the question of who Canadians would prefer now as their prime minister, according to Nanos Research.

Ballot support has been trending negatively now for weeks for the Liberals, while it’s remained steady for the Conservatives; meanwhile, support for Trudeau as prime minister has taken a sharp downward turn as Poilievre’s personal numbers have risen to the point of surpassing Trudeau’s.

Preferred Prime Minister (Source: Nanos Research)


“Usually whoever is the prime minister has some sort of advantage. Right now, Pierre Poilievre outpolls Justin Trudeau,” said Nik Nanos, pollster and chair of Nanos Research, on the latest episode of CTV News Trend Line.


Aside from their sagging numbers on the ballot and preferred prime minister question, the other key metric where the Liberals have fallen behind is on the Nanos power index, which is a composite of measurements including voter preference and leadership impressions, as well accessible voters – the proportion of Canadians who would consider voting for a party.

“Over the course of the last while, the Liberals have consistently had an advantage on the power index and had a stronger brand. Now we see the Conservatives surpassing them for the first time in a couple of years since the last election, when the Conservatives had a little bit of a surge,” said Nanos.

Currently, the Conservatives sit at 50 points on the power index, while the Liberals are at 47 and the NDP at 46.

Power Index (Source: Nanos Research)

A key reason for the Conservative surge is that their share of accessible voters in Canada is growing.

“For the last … 50 years, the Liberals traditionally have always had a larger pool of accessible voters. That means people that would consider voting Liberal,” said Nanos. That was certainly true in the 2015 election when Trudeau secured a majority for the Liberals, who took 184 seats compared with Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, who won 99.

“But since 2015, the proportion of Canadians that would consider voting Liberal has gone down. So they’ve gone from a big tent … to a narrower tent. And as a result, it’s impacted the political muscle of the Liberals,” said Nanos.

Speaking of elections, Nanos said the good news for the Liberals is that they’re not fighting in one anytime soon. With Poilievre’s Conservatives currently at 35 per cent on the ballot question, with a six-point lead over the Liberals, they’re in the territory they need to be in, in order to win an election.

Ballot support (Source: Nanos Research)

“When Stephen Harper won a number of elections, he won because he had a six-point advantage. Right now, the Conservatives have a six-point advantage,” said Nanos.


Whether Tuesday’s federal budget — in which the Liberal government prioritized help for Canadians’ pocketbooks and promised to invest in a clean economy and fund a national dental care program — will boost their fortunes in they eyes of voters is yet to be seen. Nanos said wewon’t know that for anotherseven to 10 days.

But “it speaks to the importance of the budget and also the most recent visit from President Biden. It’s very important for the Liberals to try to reverse this trend right now that currently is favouring Pierre Poilievre and the federal Conservative Party,” said Nanos.

Watch the full episode of Trend Line in our video player at the top of this article. You can also listen in our audio player below, or wherever you get your podcasts. The next episode comes out Wednesday, April 12.

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