In the coming days, Canada will see heightened activity in the nation’s ongoing gender identity politics debate. The “1 Million March 4 Children” protest against how gender identity is taught in schools, is set to occur on Wednesday, with synchronized events in more than 50 cities countrywide. Two days later, separate Toronto rally will spotlight two figures prominent in the gender-critical movement: Chris Elston, colloquially known as “Billboard Chris” for his distinctive method of protesting against childhood medical transition, and Josh Alexander, a Renfrew, Ontario student who was expelled earlier this year after objecting in class to his school’s transgender washroom policy.
Candice Bergen, the interim leader of the federal Conservatives, says the party leadership race is intense and dynamic, but expects unity among Tories once it’s over.
“I recognize that this leadership race is not something for the faint of heart,” Ms. Bergen told a news conference on Parliament Hill on Tuesday.
“It is a very vigorous race where not only the candidates are incredibly engaged, but hundreds of thousands of Canadians are engaged.”
But, the Manitoba MP added, “I have no doubt that once the race is over, we will all come together. We’ll be united and be strong.”
The leadership race continues to be a tumultuous exercise, with tense jousting between the campaigns of Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre and those of rivals Jean Charest, former Quebec premier, and Patrick Brown, mayor of Brampton, Ont.
The other candidates in the race are Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison and Leslyn Lewis and Roman Baber, a former member of the Ontario legislature.
Last week, Mr. Poilievre’s campaign said it had signed up more than 300,000 new members to the party, prompting a new round of exchanges among the campaigns, particularly that of Mr. Brown. This week, Jenni Byrne, an adviser to Mr. Poilievre, was blunt here in her response to comments by Mr. Brown.
Ms. Bergen, who, as interim party leader, is neutral in the race, said she trusts the candidates to run the race they see as appropriate, and that criticism is part of the process.
Meanwhile Tuesday, two Conservative MPs switched their support from Mr. Brown to Mr. Poilievre. Story here from CBC.
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.
BREAKING – Sasha Suda, director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, has resigned from her leadership position to take a post in the United States. Ms. Suda joined the gallery in 2019.
DO MORE ON COST OF LIVING: CONSERVATIVES AND NDP – The federal Conservatives and New Democrats both delivered forceful pleas to the government on Tuesday to do more to address the cost-of-living crisis in Canada, though the parties diverged on what they want to see from the Liberals. Story here.
ELECTORAL OFFICER CALLS FOR CHANGES – Canada’s chief electoral officer is recommending that changes to the law be made to combat foreign interference in elections and the spread of misinformation. Story here.
TIME FOR THE ONTARIO LIBERALS AND NDP TO CONSIDER MERGING: SORBARA – As Ontario Liberals look to rebuild after their devastating result in last week’s provincial election, former Liberal finance minister Greg Sorbara says it’s time to consider what he acknowledges is a “pie-in-the-sky” idea: merging his party with the province’s NDP. Story here.
TRUDEAU MUM ON SUMMIT EXCLUSIONS – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t saying whether he supports President Joe Biden’s decision to exclude Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba from this week’s Summit of the Americas. Story here.
TORIES SPREADING MISINFORMATION ON STREAMING LEGISLATION: RODRIGUEZ – Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez accused the Conservatives of spreading misinformation about the government’s online streaming legislation. Story here.
GG AND AIR CANADA PROMPTED COMPLAINTS: LANGUAGE COMMISSIONER – Canada’s Governor-General and Air Canada’s CEO were connected to thousands of complaints to the official languages commissioner in the past year. Story here from Global News.
QUEBECERS HAVE NO APPETITITE FOR SOVEREIGNTY-FEDERALISM BATTLES: DRAINVILLE – Former Parti Québécois MNA Bernard Drainville says he has joined the nationalist ranks of the governing Coalition Avenir Québec because Quebecers no longer have an appetite for the sovereignty-federalism battle. Story here from The Montreal Gazette.
ANAND AS ALL-ROUND GOVERNMENT FIXER – Maclean’s magazine looks here at Defence Minister Anita Anand as the “Trudeau government’s all-round fixer.”
LEBLANC GRATEFUL FOR STEM-CELL DONATION – CBC reports on how a young German man donated stem cells that saved the life of federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Domenic LeBlanc after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Story here from CBC.
WARE RECOGNIZED AS PERSON OF NATIONAL HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE – The federal government has recognized John Ware, a Black cowboy in Western Canada, as a person of national historic significance. Story here.
CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is in Ottawa on parliamentary business. Roman Baber is in Toronto, Jean Charest in Montreal, Leslyn Lewis in her Haldimand—Norfolk riding, and Pierre Poilievre in Ottawa. Patrick Brown’s campaign did not provide details on his whereabouts.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, June 7, accessible here.
DIPLOMATIC EVENT ON TUESDAY – Yesterday’s newsletter said seven diplomats would be presenting their credentials to the Governor-General on Monday. In fact, they are presenting their credentials on Tuesday.
TWO BQ MPS HAVE COVID19 – Two Bloc Québécois members have tested positive for COVID-19 and are isolating at home. They are Martin Champoux, the MP for Drummond, and Marilène Gill, the MP for Manicouagan.
CSIS DIRECTOR REAPPOINTED – David Vigneault, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service since 2017, has been reappointed to the position, effective June 19, 2022, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. Statement here.
On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, The Globe’s Greg Mercer talks about the inquiry into Canada’s worst mass shooting – the massacre of 22 people in rural Nova Scotia in April, 2020. Mr. Mercer talks about how the RCMP didn’t believe the reports they received from the public, lacked training in their own communications systems, and how a senior commander gave commands after having several drinks. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
In Ottawa, the Prime Minister chaired a cabinet meeting, and then departed for Colorado Springs in Colorado, where he was scheduled to participate in an official welcome ceremony featuring military honours by the Canadian and U.S. armed forces. The Prime Minister was also scheduled to participate in a briefing session provided by members of the North American Aerospace Defence Command, observe a demonstration at the Cheyenne Mountain Space Force Station, meet with Canadian Armed Forces personnel from NORAD, and depart for Los Angeles.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet will hold a media scrum before Question Period regarding Bill C-21, the government’s firearms legislation.
Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen, and other caucus MPs, held a media availability to discuss inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. Ms. Bergen also attended Question Period.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held a news conference on the cost of living and attended Question Period.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Doug Ford won re-election by becoming a fiscal yes-man. But he can’t keep it up in the postpandemic era: “But Mr. Ford had one other thing going for him: The past two years have been a fiscal liminal moment. All sorts of rules, including basic budget arithmetic, were suspended. To govern is normally to choose, but the PC government has spent the past two years not really having to make fiscal choices. Not having to worry about making revenues and expenditures roughly match has allowed it to say “yes” to everyone and “no” to almost nobody. But this moment is – was – temporary. Governments across the country did what had to be done, running deficits to keep Canadians afloat and the economy treading water during the worst of the pandemic. That is now ancient history. With recession and mass unemployment giving way to labour shortages and an economy running too hot, the era of write-cheques-and-ask-questions-later is over.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Pierre Poilievre’s good fortune: His supporters don’t see his hypocrisy: “Say what you will about Mr. Poilievre’s policies – many of which range from disturbing to all-out bonkers – his campaign is a well-oiled machine. Whether it is successful in getting all those people it signed up to vote for him remains to be seen, though all the candidates will face the same issue. Perhaps the most interesting thing left to watch will be how Mr. Poilievre behaves from now until the party membership votes on Sept. 10. Does he begin to play it safe with his pronouncements, or will he double down on his aim to be disruptor-in-chief?”
David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on how Bill Morneau talks about the Liberals’ economic failings as if they were someone else’s fault: “The government came to office in 2015 on an economic platform very much focused on building long-term productivity and growth – but then repeatedly stumbled, stalled and backpedalled its way out of its own best advice. When you look at where the government drifted off course, Mr. Morneau was, at least nominally, at the rudder.”
André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on why we must make it easier to both live and die with dignity, but denying MAiD to those living in poverty is not the answer: “These cases drew attention to the fact that since March, 2021, Canada has had two “tracks” of patients eligible for medically assisted death: Track 1 is for those with conditions where death is “reasonably foreseeable,” and track 2 is for individuals with a “serious or incurable condition” for whom death is likely not imminent. The case of Denise attracted the most attention because she said her choice of MAiD was “essentially because of abject poverty.” Like most people living with a disability in Ontario, she receives $1,169 monthly (plus a $50 special diet supplement) in social assistance, which is not even remotely close to a livable income in Toronto, especially if you need specialized housing. Anti-MAiD activists pounced on the story to argue that Canada is “euthanizing the poor,” which is nonsensical rhetoric. Of course, assisted death is not a solution to poverty or poor housing, but these cases are not as black and white as they have been made out to be.”
Genevieve LeBaron and Priscilla Fisher (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on whether we are ready to seriously act over the forced labour problem created by Canada’s supply chains: “We think of Canada as a beacon for human rights. But the sad fact is that the U.S., Britain and France are far ahead of us, having passed laws to hold corporations accountable for modern slavery in supply chains and having implemented import bans on slavery-made goods. Canada is lagging behind.”
Julia Malott: Nope, parents are not ‘fascists’ for being skeptical of gender politics
As parents’ voices grow louder, there’s a perception in the progressive left that all of these emerging movements are rooted and inspired by “far-right” extremism. Many in leftist circles suggest that parental rights advocacy is a dog-whistle: a veiled attempt to advance anti-transgender policies. A recently leaked video from an Ontario Federation of Labour meeting offers a glimpse into how some of the province’s most influential union members perceive these protests. As one member notably stated during the meeting: “The fascists are organizing in the streets … . This is far more than a far-right transphobic protest. They’re fundamentally racist, they’re fundamentally anti-union, they are fundamentally transphobic, and it’s just a matter of time before they come for us.”
It’s a grave mistake to deride the parental collective pushing back against the status-quo as fascist sympathizers motivated by transgender hate. A glance past such alarmist rhetoric reveals that — while a fringe group of hate has always existed — the concerns many parents are championing are much more moderate than a “far-right” moniker suggests.
For many parents, the core issue at hand is preserving their agency and autonomy over the ideological content of their children’s education. They want transparency about what is being taught, the option to excuse their child from content they believe doesn’t align with their values, and the discretion to determine age-appropriateness for activities, such as certain reading material or events like drag queen performances at schools. Perhaps least surprisingly, parents want to be involved in the key decisions of their own child undergoing a social transition in the classroom.
The matter of social transition behind parents’ backs in particular is so condemning of their role in upbringing that it has thrust the entire gamut of gender identity matters into the national spotlight, revealing just how out of balance transgender accommodation has become. The manner in which the left has responded — by doubling down in their rhetoric and deriding parents as militant zealots, has played powerfully into the rapid growth of this grassroots movement.
Many parents, even amid those who will stand in protest, have little desire to limit other families’ decisions regarding gender teachings and expression for their children. They realize that their objective of ensuring their own parental autonomy is intertwined with safeguarding those same freedoms for other families as well.
So where do we go from here? What might a balanced approach to parental rights look like within the nuanced landscape of gender identity politics? Fortunately, we need not start from scratch; history offers us a model for the coexistence of diverse ideologies within our educational institutions. Look no further than religion.
Amid religious diversity, we teach acceptance. Students are taught to make space for varied faith expression among their peers, whether through clothing or other customs, and with a strong desire to maintain neutral, religious symbols are not adorned by the institution. The lesson for students is to embrace and include, even where personal beliefs diverge; Meanwhile, the guiding principle for the institution is to avoid actions that display favouritism toward any specific religious doctrine.
Such a solution could address a significant portion of the concerns fuelling the rising parental unrest. Moderate parents would applaud such an education system, and this would still be inclusive of transgender students. But in order for this to be realized, the two factions moving ever further apart will first need to come to the table and talk. Given the recent rhetoric from progressive quarters, the prospect of this dialogue anytime soon appears distant.
Ex-diplomat says Poland asked him to keep tabs on Alberta politician
A month after Global Affairs Canada told CBC News it was looking into claims that the Polish government asked one of its diplomats in Canada to gather information on a former Alberta cabinet minister, the dismissed consul general at the centre of the affair says he still hasn’t heard from the department on the matter.
Andrzej Mańkowski told CBC News the only official he has heard from is a B.C. bureaucrat who asked him to return his diplomatic licence plates and identification.
“[Officials with Global Affairs] haven’t tried talking to me,” he said.
Mańkowski showed CBC News a copy of a letter dated Aug. 31 he received from B.C.’s Chief of Protocol for Intergovernmental Relations Lucy Lobmeier asking him to turn in his identity card and to return his diplomatic plates “within 30 days of this letter.” She also thanked him for his service.
Mańkowski alleges he was dismissed from his post in late July after he refused to carry out orders from the Polish government to gather information about Thomas Lukaszuk, a former deputy premier of Alberta who often provides commentary to CBC News about the province’s politics.
“It’s clear that Polish diplomacy during Communist times, the main responsibility was to collect information, to gather information on some Polish representatives abroad,” Mańkowski said, adding he felt as if the request was a throwback to that time.
“The analogy’s extremely evident.”
Last month, Global Affairs Canada said it was taking the allegations seriously.
Spying allegations ‘out of this world’: ambassador
In August, Lukaszuk said he believed he had been targeted by Poland’s department of foreign affairs over his activism against a controversial Polish pastor, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who has private radio and television stations in Poland.
Rydzyk, who has ties to the Polish government, has been criticized for delivering sermons featuring homophobic and anti-Semitic views and for preaching against the European Union.
Lukaszuk also shared what he said were encrypted messages Polish government officials sent to Mańkowski asking him over the course of a year to prepare notes on the former Alberta politician.
CBC News has not independently verified these messages were official government communications. Mańkowski did not dispute their veracity in his interview.
“Asking for my opinion about Lukaszuk was just a kind of trap, was just a political test of my loyalty,” he said.
Poland’s Ambassador to Canada Witold Dzielski called the allegation “totally absurd.”
“The idea of Polish diplomacy spying on a former provincial politician … it’s really out of this world,” Dzielski said.
He said he has never met Lukaszuk and did not know of his previous career in politics before Lukaszuk emailed him about an unrelated consular matter long before the reports about Mańkowski came out.
Dzielski said that if the notes cited by Lukaszuk are real, they were leaked illegally because they would constitute private diplomatic communications.
The affair has captured attention in Polish media, where the story first broke.
In July, Polish opposition politicians cited the messages released by Lukaszuk when they asked Piotr Wawrzyk, a secretary of state in the government’s foreign affairs department, whether Mańkowski was dismissed because he refused to spy on Lukaszuk.
In reply, Wawrzyk said the government could recall a diplomat who refused to carry out an assignment.
Wawrzyk, who was also a deputy foreign minister, has since been fired himself over an unrelated matter both local media outlets and Reuters have linked to a clandestine scheme awarding migrants visas in exchange for cash.
On Saturday, The Associated Press noted he had been hospitalized following an apparent sucide attempt.
“The minister, Wawrzyk, was laid off because of a totally different subject,” Dzielski said.
He pointed out that those documents were cited by opposition politicians in the context of a heated election campaign.
Dzielski� also said it’s normal for diplomats to be asked to gather information on notable members of diaspora communities.
‘A very marginal conversation’
“We are working very closely with them,” he said. “It is obvious and natural, and it is an element of diplomatic workshops, that we provide and we build ourselves opinions about the quality of cooperation with particular actors.”
He said Global Affairs has spoken to him about the allegations. “We had a very marginal conversation on this which reflects the level of seriousness of this topic,” he said.
A NATO member, Poland has worked closely with Canada to help out its neighbour Ukraine ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year.
Asked for comment, Global Affairs said in a media statement it “continues to work closely with security and intelligence community partners to assess the situation and identify next steps as appropriate.”
The department said last month it had contacted Lukaszuk and that it took the responsibility of protecting Canadians from “transnational repression” very seriously.
Put politics aside to solve housing crisis, or your kids might never own a home: Raitt
The Current20:05Putting politics aside to tackle the housing crisis
Political leaders of all stripes must find a way to work together to solve the housing and climate crises impacting Canadians, says former Conservative MP Lisa Raitt.
“Toronto is the best example. NDP mayor, provincial premier who’s Conservative, federal Liberal who’s the prime minister,” said Raitt, co-lead of the new non-governmental Task Force for Housing and Climate, which launched Tuesday.
“And if they don’t figure this out, one voter is going to punish them all.”
The new task force is concerned with accelerating the construction of new homes, while ensuring that’s done in a sustainable way. In a press release, the group of former city mayors, planners, developers, economists and affordable housing advocates said it intends to convene until April 2024 to develop policy recommendations. The work is supported by the Clean Economy Fund, a charitable foundation.
Raitt held several senior cabinet posts under former prime minister Stephen Harper. But as co-lead of the task force, Raitt said she won’t engage in the political partisanship that she thinks “poisons the well” around these issues.
“Part of the reason why we’re coming together as the task force is to have a real pragmatic and practical conversation about these issues instead of weaponizing it into a political arena, and finger pointing back and forth,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Canada needs to build an extra 3.5 million new units by the end of the decade, over and above what’s already in the works, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. A report this week showed rental costs have increased 9.6 per cent from Aug. 2022 to 2023, to an average now of $2,117 a month.
This week, the federal government announced it would cut the federal goods and services tax (GST) from the construction of new rental apartments, in an effort to spur new development. The Liberal government also pledged $74 million to build thousands of homes in London, Ont., — the first in what it hopes will be a series of agreements to accelerate housing construction.
Speaking in London on Wednesday, Housing Minister Sean Fraser called on municipalities to “legalize housing,” urging them to remove “sluggish permit-approval processes” and zoning obstacles if they expect federal investment in housing construction.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre criticized the government’s plans as not going far enough, while pointing out it echoes some of his party’s proposals. He’s proposed measures that tie federal funding to the number of housing starts. Funding would be withheld from cities that fail to increase the number of homes built by 15 per cent, while cities that pass that threshold would receive bonuses.
Poilievre’s proposals also include a “NIMBY” fine on municipalities that block construction because of opposition from local residents, and the sale of 15 per cent of federally owned buildings so the land can be used to build affordable homes.
Don Iveson, former mayor of Edmonton and co-lead of the task force, said he understands why partisan politics can creep into the debate — but Canadians expect more.
He said the task force intends “to help all orders of government” understand what’s needed to tackle these problems from an economic, technical and planning perspective.
“We’re not going to be able to solve the housing crisis [by] building housing the way we built it for the last several generations,” said said Iveson, who was mayor of Edmonton from 2013 to 2021.
Your kids need a place to live: Raitt
Iveson said the challenge of scaling up housing construction will require some new ways of thinking.
That might mean a greater emphasis on automation and building houses from components prefabricated off-site, which he described as “essentially a more factory approach” that could also reduce construction costs.
Raitt said the task force will examine where houses are built, and in what kind of density, to ensure scaling up can “get the most bang for the buck.”
That might mean Canadians might need to have difficult conversations, including whether to build multi-storey buildings instead of single-family homes.
Raitt said older Canadians who already own their own homes might not like the idea of taller buildings going up around them, but they should speak to their kids about it.
“They don’t care if it’s going to be four, six storeys in a residential neighbourhood. They just want a place that they know that they can purchase,” she said.
“Talk about whether or not our kids are going to have a place to live, let alone rent, let alone own, let alone a house in the communities where they were brought up, because right now it’s not looking so good.”
Counting the cost of climate change
When it comes to climate change and sustainability, the task force’s goals come down to a “very simple equation,” Raitt said.
“Whatever we’re building now is going to be here in 2050. So if it’s going to be part of the calculation of our net-zero aspirations, whatever they’re going to be,” she said.
She said the task force will work to formulate ways to build housing that take emissions into account, but don’t include prohibitive costs that slow down the rate of construction.
“It’s going to be a little bit more costly to build with climate indications built in … but you’ve got to make sure that there’s policies surrounding that to make sure it still makes it affordable,” she said.
Iveson said wildfires, floods, heat domes and extreme weather events are already disrupting the economy, as well as posing huge financial burdens for the Canadians caught up in them.
“Climate change is already costing us a fortune,” he told Galloway.
Building without those climate considerations “maybe seems affordable in the short term, but it’s false economy when it comes to the real costs ahead of us,” he said.
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