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Politics Briefing: Canadian researchers and scientists march for better compensation – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Scientists and researchers marched on Parliament Hill Thursday for a Support our Science rally, with the group calling for a living wage for early-career researchers.

The group is calling for a funding increase for grad students and post-doctoral scientists who are supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, an open letter details. The value of scholarships for graduate and postgraduate recipients has not changed since 2003, while living costs have risen steadily, the letter notes.

“You’re not able to really even focus on your studies because of so many financial concerns,” Sarah Laframboise, a biochemistry PhD student at the University of Ottawa, told CBC Ottawa Morning on Thursday.

A petition to the federal government is calling for a 48 per cent increase to graduate scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships – to match inflation since 2003. That petition has received more than 1,200 signatures, while the group’s open letter has been signed by around 7,100 people.

A physical copy of the letter – stretching more than 70 metres – was carried along the Rideau Canal toward Parliament Hill on Thursday.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written today by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for 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 sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

INFLATION BILL CREATES POSSIBLE BUMPSWhen the United States Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act earlier this week, Canadian political and industry leaders were elated by the legislation’s climate provisions, but other major changes in the bill set the stage for a trade standoff between the two countries over digital sales taxes. Story here.

NON-EMERGENCY PARAMEDICS As a number of hospitals across Canada cut back the hours of operation of their emergency departments amid staff shortages, some veteran paramedics say an innovative form of paramedicine could help take the pressure off, specifically, through community paramedicine programs outside of hospitals. Story here.

EDITS ON SPEECH – A line attributing responsibility for abuses of children at residential schools – specifically, that it occurred “at the hands of the federal government” – was edited out of remarks prepared for Carolyn Bennett, who was the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations at the time. Story by The Canadian Press here.

HIGH UNIVERSITY REVENUES – From coast-to-coast, Canadian universities recorded record profits in the 2020-21 fiscal year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Story by the Toronto Star here.

AID SHIPMENT CANCELLED – A Canadian aid group said that a shipment of food, which they were forced to cancel because of a Canadian anti-terror law, could have fed around 1,800 children in Afghanistan. Story by CBC News here.

FIRES CONTINUE IN NEWFOUNDLAND – Newfoundland residents are preparing for the possibility they may have to evacuate their homes as two large forest fires continue to rage through the central parts of the province. Story here.

SENATOR WANTS TO END NDAs – A Manitoba senator wants all federal bodies to be prevented from using nondisclosure agreements in misconduct cases, following months of concern over Hockey Canada’s handling of a sexual-assault allegation. Story by the Winnipeg Free Press here.

THIS AND THAT

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

FUNDING FOR SOMBRE MONUMENT – On Thursday, Betty Ross, an elder and member of the Assiniboia Residential School Legacy Group, along with Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller, announced more than $600,000 in funding to build a monument and gathering place to commemorate survivors of the Assiniboia Residential School in Winnipeg.

UNIFOR UNVEILS PROPOSAL – Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, released a proposal Thursday outlining its vision for “vehicle and parts manufacturing that transforms Canada into a global leader as the world transitions to electric vehicle production.”

THE DECIBEL

In today’s episode, chef and author Suzanne Barr teaches The Decibel how to make her famous Caribbean curry chicken and reflects on how the dish helped launch her cooking career. Episode here. It’s the fourth episode of The Decibel’s Food Week.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister is on a two-week vacation in Costa Rica.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

OPINION

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on the latest battleground for First Nations rights: “The next battleground is to the north and west of Lake Superior, on the traditional territories of Treaty 9, Treaty 3 and the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850. It is here, in an area many Indigenous people share, where the waters of Turtle Island split and either flow north to Hudson Bay or south to urban cities. It is also the spot where the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, or NWMO, wants to send truckloads of radioactive material to be buried 500 metres deep into the Canadian Shield.”

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on the arrival of the ‘great resignation’ in Canada: “Canada has largely avoided this phenomenon, at least in terms of the broad labour market. The number of workers overall who have voluntarily left their jobs has been well below prepandemic levels through the past two years, and has been on the decline over the past three months. … But among the 55-plus population, the story is suddenly very different. It’s as if older workers, having stuck it out during the depths of the recession and the frantic, uncertain recovery, have decided that they’ve had enough.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on the hollow reassurances of Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones: “When asked whether the current health care situation in Ontario is unprecedented, Ms. Jones replied, “No, I’m sorry, it is not,” which is both incorrect and not the winning defence she thinks it is. (Don’t despair, good people of Ontario: our health care system has always been on the verge of collapse!) It is true that the province has faced ER shutdowns before, but it has never faced such a confluence of compounding crises: record-high waits for ward admissions, record-high health care sector vacancies, unprecedented lengths and numbers of “level zero” events where there are no paramedics available to answer emergency calls, and a massive backlog of diagnostic procedures and surgeries that have already put lives at risk and quality-of-life in peril.”

Max Fawcett (National Observer) on the recent U.S. tax bill, and how it should have Canada upping its climate change commitments: “It might finally be time to expect more here in Canada as well. After years of tiptoeing around the energy sector and its numerous allies in politics and the punditocracy, the federal government finally has the cover it needs to bring forward more ambitious policies. Those should include its long-overdue cap on oil and gas emissions and the proposed regulations on methane emissions, which are set to be published next year. And if the government was ever inclined to go easy on the oil and gas industry, recent comments from some of its most prominent (and well-paid) executives should make it think twice.”

Fae Johnstone (Ottawa Citizen) on how Canada must step up to protect LGBTQ2+ rights: “I see increasing attacks on efforts to make schools more inclusive for LGBTQ2+ students, rising incidence of hate crimes against LGBTQ2+ Canadians, and a more organized anti-LGBTQ2+ hate movement than ever before. Since 2015, I’ve lost most of my optimism. Early warning signs indicate Canada could be headed in the wrong direction. Provincially and federally, right-wing fringe parties have adopted anti-LGBTQ2+ rhetoric.”

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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Redemption: Danielle Smith aims to be ‘force of unity’ as new Alberta premier

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CALGARY — The political story of Danielle Smith is one of triumph then defeat, followed by betrayal, banishment and, now, redemption.

Smith, a 51-year-old Alberta-born journalist and restaurant owner won the leadership of the United Conservative Party on Thursday to become its new leader and the next premier of Alberta.

It’s a stunning comeback for Smith, who eight years ago was a reviled outcast in the conservative movement after she engineered a floor crossing for the ages.

“(It’s) unfinished business for me,” Smith said in an interview earlier this week when asked why she decided to re-enter politics.

“After everything I’ve done in the past to divide the movement, then try to bring it together the wrong way, I feel like I owe it to the conservative movement to do what I can to be a force of unity.”

Smith was born in Calgary and got into politics in junior high school, after she told her dad that her teacher was lauding the virtues of communism. Her father had roots in Ukraine, where millions died under Josef Stalin, and gave the teacher an earful. He then ensured politics was discussed around the dinner table.

Smith attended the University of Calgary and found herself entranced by soapbox lectures of conservatives like Ezra Levant and Rob Anders.

She joined the campus Progressive Conservative club and soaked in teachings of the “Calgary School” of economists and political scientists advocating for free markets and small government.

She devoured the works of John Locke and Ayn Rand and got tongue-tied when she met her idol, former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher. She took leadership courses and attended Toastmasters meetings to hone her debating skills and smooth out a public speaking style now considered to be her strongest political attribute.

In 1998, at 27, she won was elected a trustee for the Calgary Board of Education.

It was a short, rocky ride. Smith clashed with the liberal majority on the board and the panel was so fraught with acrimony and dysfunction that the province fired them within a year.

She then moved to media and business advocacy. She wrote newspaper editorials, hosted the current affairs TV show “Global Sunday” and was the Alberta boss for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

By 2009, politics was calling again. A rift was widening in Alberta’s conservative movement.

The Wildrose Alliance, later the Wildrose Party, was hiving off members and money from the governing Progressive Conservatives, under then premier Ed Stelmach.

The PCs, they said, had forgotten their roots, delivered top-down decisions and indulged in profligate spending that delivered multibillion-dollar deficits as oil and gas prices hit the skids.

Smith agreed change was needed and won the Wildrose leadership, telling cheering supporters in her maiden speech: “Ed Stelmach, you haven’t begun to imagine what’s going to hit you!”

The Wildrose grew under Smith and poached floor crossers from the PCs, who in turn kicked Stelmach to the curb and installed Alison Redford as premier.

In the 2012 election, Smith and the Wildrose appeared primed to end the PC dynasty.

But there were late-stage mistakes. Smith questioned the science of climate change and refused to sanction two candidates for past remarks deemed homophobic and racist.

When the votes were counted, Smith and the Wildrose lost to the PCs but captured 17 seats to become the Opposition.

Smith began trying to rebuild the party brand and reached out to marginalized groups.

The Tories, meanwhile, continued their descent into infighting and disarray. Redford quit in 2014 amid scandal and was replaced by former federal Conservative cabinet minister Jim Prentice.

As Prentice took over, the Wildrose began to fray. The party lost four byelections to the PCs, then Wildrose rank-and-file voted to roll back a policy to respect all Albertans regardless of differences, such as sexual orientation.

Some of Smith’s caucus began bolting to Prentice and eventually Smith agreed: if the goal was to keep the conservative movement strong and Prentice would give them what they wanted, let’s roll.

A week before Christmas, Smith led eight more members across the floor, leaving five shell-shocked Wildrosers and staffers getting pink slips for the holidays.

“Tighty Righties” was one cheeky tabloid headline at the time that appeared beneath a photo of a beaming Prentice and Smith.

The fallout was swift and merciless. Smith and the other crossers either didn’t win their PC nominations or their seats in the 2015 election.

The Wildrose rebounded under new leader Brian Jean to retain Opposition status. Jean called Smith a “betrayer of family.”

Rachel Notley and her NDP won government for the first time ever, taking advantage of vote splitting between the Wildrose and PCs in key Calgary constituencies.

Smith began a six-year stint as a daily current affairs radio talk show host in Calgary.

“It was not easy deciding to stay in the public eye after what I’d done and the visceral reaction people had,” said Smith.

“It was unpleasant the first three months I was on the air — the texts and the emails that came in and the people who were so furious at me.”

It was three years before she began attending conservative meetings again, after a friend told her: “you can’t keep hiding.”

“I had dear friends from my Wildrose days that I’d go in for the hug and they’d give me the hand, or they’d walk away,” Smith recalled of the first few events.

“It was a seven-year process of trying to get people to forgive me. Not everyone has, but a lot of people have.”

Smith said she never discounted running again for premier, but figured Jason Kenney had a long-term lock on the job after he united the PCs and Wildrose in 2017 to form the new United Conservative Party.

Kenney won the UCP leadership, then made Notley’s NDP a one-and-done government in 2019.

When Kenney quit over caucus and party discontent in May, Smith said she decided to run by courting the UCP base — rural members frustrated with Ottawa, mainly over health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was an agent of chaos and confrontation, promising to pass a law allowing Alberta to ignore federal laws deemed offside with its constitutional prerogatives. She pledged no more health restrictions or COVID-19 lockdowns and promised to fire health board members en masse.

As premier, she must now pivot to make the UCP palatable to the broader population, quell a divided, angry caucus and answer the question of whether politician Danielle Smith 3.0 can break her pattern of splashy political entrances and even crazier exits.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.

 

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Quebec elects record number of women, but will they be named to key cabinet roles?

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MONTREAL — Quebecers made history Monday when they elected a record number of women to the province’s legislature, but political observers say more is needed to ensure equality between men and women in politics.

Of the legislature’s 125 seats, 58 are represented by women, including 41 of the 90 seats won by the Coalition Avenir Québec led by Premier François Legault. That number broke the previous record of 52 women elected during the 2018 general election.

Esther Lapointe, executive director of Groupe Femmes, Politique et Démocratie, a Quebec organization that advocates for more women in politics, said the increase is good news. But for real equality to be achieved, she said, women need to be represented in the places where decisions are made, including the premier’s cabinet and among his political advisers.

“I believe that things will really change when not only in the forefront, but in the background, behind the scenes we also have more female political advisers, with their ideas, their experience, their expertise,” she said. “We don’t want to replace the guys, we want to share the decisions, discussions; we want to be at the table where the decisions are made.”

Lapointe is also calling for Legault to appoint a gender-balanced cabinet — and to maintain parity throughout the next mandate. The women named to cabinet, she said, should have important portfolios.

In 2018, Legault appointed 13 men and 13 women to his cabinet, but after three months, then-environment minister MarieChantal Chassé resigned and was replaced by a man: Benoit Charette. When the 2022 election was called, Legault’s cabinet consisted of 16 men and 11 women.

“We saw that there were women who were penalized while men who were not always exemplary in their files remained in cabinet,” she said. “I have a question about that: is there a double standard?”

Legault has said his new cabinet will consist of between 40 per cent and 60 per cent women.

Pascale Navarro, author of “Women and Power: The Case for Parity,” a 2015 book that explored how gender parity could be achieved in politics, said the results of the Quebec election are “excellent” — but she said women need more support in politics.

“It’s an excellent result in terms of the number — you can’t argue with that. You have to recognize that the parties have made efforts to recruit female candidates, so it’s an excellent thing.”

However, she said it’s not yet clear that with more women in politics comes more female-related issues on the top of the agenda. Prioritizing issues that affect women is important, Navarro said, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a major effect on female-dominated fields such as health care and education.

Navarro said that while the parties are doing a better job at recruiting female candidates, they need to ensure they retain them after they are elected — around a quarter of the women who were elected in 2018 didn’t run four years later.

“It’s not just about finding women, you also have to support them. And in this regard, I have not found that Coalition Avenir Québec has done a lot to ensure its capacity to retain women,” she said, using the example of former environment minister Chassé.

Shortly after the 2018 election, Chassé didn’t perform well during a few news events. Legault initially supported her, but then said it was “mutually agreed” she should leave that position.

“I think (Chassé) started to understand her file well — she’s an engineer, a businesswoman — but communicating with journalists was difficult,” Legault told reporters at the time.

Navarro suggested Chassé would have been treated differently if she was a man.

“Why wasn’t she supported when there are plenty of other ministers who made gaffes? Men who made a lot of gaffes remained in office, and they had a team around them, to help them, to support them, to equip them. I would expect the same for women.”

Danielle Pilette, a political science professor at Université du Québec à Montréal, said there are still barriers to women entering politics. Labour shortages in daycares, for instance, have contributed to a reduction in spaces, making it more challenging for women — especially for those who don’t live in the provincial capital and need to travel to the legislature.

As well, female politicians are often targeted on social media more hatefully than men are, Pilette said in an interview Wednesday.

But despite the increase in women holding elected office in Quebec, power remains centralized in the premier’s office, a growing phenomenon across the country. Whether members are men or women, Pilette said, they all have to toe the party line.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.

 

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

 

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Alberta United Conservatives head to polls on final voting day to replace Kenney

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CALGARY — Albertans will learn later Thursday who the new premier of the province will be.

Voting is wrapping up by members of the United Conservative Party to select a successor to Premier Jason Kenney.

Kenney announced in the spring he was leaving after receiving 51 per cent in a party leadership review.

“I’m feeling great. I’m just doing my job. I’m trying to deliver on our commitments to Albertans as long as I have this responsibility,” he said Thursday morning while at a news conference in Calgary.

Kenney announced that 50 previously promised intensive care beds are now ready and efforts are underway to bring in more nurses from abroad to address labour shortages.

Kenney said he’s often asked why he stuck around as premier after the leadership review instead of handing the reins to an interim leader.

“Believe me, I didn’t get into politics for the adulation. I got into public service to get things done,” he said.

“And if we had shifted to an interim government for five months, very little would have gotten done … the province would have gone through a degree of policy paralysis for the better part of six months just as we’re trying to recover from COVID.”

There are 124,000 eligible voters in the leadership race, many of whom cast early ballots by mail.

In-person voting stations were also set up at five locations in various regions Thursday, and the winner was to be announced later in the day in Calgary.

There are seven candidates in the race, including four former members of Kenney’s cabinet, but one-time Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is the perceived favourite to win.

Political observers and pollsters have said whoever wins needs to start talking about issues that are top of mind for Albertans.

The leadership debate has been dominated by ways the province can assert greater independence from the federal government.

Pollster Janet Brown and political scientist Lori Williams said Albertans are more concerned about inflation, long waits for health care and jammed emergency wards in hospitals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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