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Politics Briefing: Conservatives lead national poll – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Between the plane crash in Iran, the coronavirus and protests that are increasingly crippling rail lines around the country, it would be a trying time for any government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have been lauded for his handling of the aftermath of the plane crash last month, but Canadians are apparently souring on his leadership as the problems pile up.

The latest Nanos Research survey, released this morning, puts the Conservatives in the lead nationally at 36 per cent support among respondents. Nanos has the Liberals at 33 per cent, the NDP at 15 per cent, and the Bloc and Greens with 7 per cent each.

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“Although the Liberals have enjoyed a marginal advantage over the Conservatives since mid-November there has been an decline in support over the last few weeks in the Nanos tracking,” founder Nik Nanos said. He noted the decline has happened at the same time as the controversies in the news.

The hybrid phone-online survey talked to 1,000 Canadian adults over four weeks. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The latest survey pegs support for the parties pretty close to what they were on the Oct. 21 election night. The Conservatives won the popular vote thanks to huge margins of victory in Western provinces, while the Liberals won a number of close contests in Central Canada that put them over the top in seat count. But with a minority government, technically the Liberal government could fall at any time.

Since the election, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer resigned. The party is due to pick a new leader on June 27.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. 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

Teck chose to back out of the Frontier oil sands mine when it became clear that being at the centre of a national debate about energy and environmental policy was not going to be a boon to the company, sources tell The Globe and Mail. The business case for the major project was also troubled because of low oil prices. Teck said earlier this month it would be net-zero on emissions by 2050, and sources say it also wasn’t clear how the resources company would achieve that.

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Protests in solidarity with some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs continue to target rail lines, a day after Ontario Provincial Police closed the main blockade at Tyendinaga. A new blockade was set up in Hamilton, at an important nexus for freight and commuter lines.

As if there wasn’t enough energy news, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled the federal carbon price was unconstitutional. That ruling followed those of the Ontario and Saskatchewan courts, which found the carbon price was constitutional. It’ll be up to the Supreme Court to sort it out when it hears the case next month.

The New Democrats have tabled a bill to establish universal pharmacare. The Liberals have not said if they will support the bill, though they are promising to move somewhat in that direction.

The Liberals did table a bill to slightly open up access to physician-assisted deaths, by allowing for advance waivers and removing the need for the deaths to be “reasonably foreseeable.”

The government’s long-delayed plan to buy new fighter jets is being delayed more.

And the Public Sector Pension Investment Board is getting into real estate. However, it’s not clear if the Toronto development that the pension plan envisions will get the rezoning required to actually build housing.

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Adam Radwanski (The Globe and Mail) on the Teck oil sands mine’s sudden rise to national prominence: “It can’t be said often enough: Hardly anybody was talking about the Liberals’ looming decision on whether to approve the Frontier mine a few months ago, even in Alberta. It wasn’t a big topic last summer when the project received a rather tentative approval recommendation from a federal-provincial panel, nor in the fall election campaign.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the politics of the decision: “A big chunk of Canada’s population will cheer at the prospect that future oil sands projects will be stymied. Another big chunk will feel climate-change policies must be set aside to let projects go ahead. Those are now political forces beyond the full control of politicians.”

Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on the need for federal and provincial governments to work together: “Yes, the United Conservative Party campaigned on scrapping the carbon tax and protecting provincial jurisdiction. But even Jason Kenney has to know there is value to a consumption tax, and there are much bigger fish to fry – including incentivizing its emissions-heavy oil sands industry to innovate itself greener.”

Jason Markusoff (Maclean’s) on Teck’s thinking in withdrawing the Frontier mine: “The company, as it saved face, also saw this as a good opportunity to demand governments have actual big-picture oil sands development policies, and not just leave each project, one by one, to the whims of the varying beliefs of cabinet ministers who think one more straw will break Canada’s carbon back, or that this one is climate-affordable and economically necessary.”

Doug Cuthand (Saskatoon StarPhoenix) on fair dealing: “Canada is a nation that is built on the rule of law and common sense. Before a railway could be built across the new nation, the government had to make treaty with the First Nations of the plains. This process stopped in the mountains because the American settlers in British Columbia refused to see the need to deal fairly with the First Nations. Today Canada is paying the price and the politicians and those in power know it.”

Brenda Cossman (The Globe and Mail) on the Weinstein verdict: “Measuring the relative success of #MeToo through the Weinstein trial might be a little too myopic, even in terms of the law. Law has already had a big role to play. Men such as Mr. Weinstein and broadcasters Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose were fired, and none of these once-powerful men brought successful wrongful dismissal suits. Nor did any of them bring successful defamation suits against the media who reported on their sexual misconduct. Well before the criminal law got involved, there were many #MeToo consequences meted out through the law.”

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Gender-based harassment for women in politics getting worse: Expert – CityNews Toronto

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Chris Evans hopes to shield democracy with politics website – EverythingGP

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“This was born out of the same reason I do what I do on Twitter. You want to try and help. You want to try and use the platform that you’ve been given the right way,” Evans said. “And this felt like it could cast the widest net because it actually removed my personal politics and just tried to offer information to people who may want to participate.”

The site is divided into three sections. One includes three Republicans and three Democrats answering questions about broad long-term issues like immigration, climate change, student debt and gerrymandering. The second allows politicians to upload solo messages about hot topics like Trump’s executive orders or TikTok ban. And a “counterpoints” section highlights moderated interparty debates: Should schools reopen during the pandemic? Should the government require mail-in voting?

The site is intended to educate, not advocate, Evans says. It’s built without incentives toward extremes. There are no view counters, like or dislike buttons, or comments sections. Some of the videos are fact-checked by an outside group.

“The reason for doing this site is to combat the proliferation of misinformation,” Evans said in an interview from his home in Boston. “A lot of the misinformation out there comes from individuals who have created these platforms and they pull snippets of information to places and create a narrative. And it’s a lot of conjecture. And you hope that the elected officials who are in office are the ones trying to cut through that.”

Evans, whose uncle served in Congress as a Democrat for a decade ending last year, says he and Kassen had to push hard to convince Republicans to participate. The 39-year-old actor had thrilled liberals early in Trump’s term, calling the president “Biff” and a “meatball.”

Kassen said Evans’ reputation left the pair with “a hill to climb” as the pair visited offices around the Capitol pitching their vision of an impartial online venue: “Our hard work and his charm allowed us to keep going. But for sure, there was a lot of bias against us because of that.”

Evans says he’s been pleased to see Republicans uploading more “daily points” videos to the site than Democrats in recent weeks.

As he prepares to potentially film a Netflix spy movie in January, the self-described “news junkie” says he’s tuned out the presidential campaign temporarily to focus on A Starting Point. His social media is mostly benign these days.

“It’s a measure of efficacy. How can you be of most good, of most service?” Evans said. “This site feels to me that it could have a broader impact than anything I could do on my individual Twitter.”

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ryanwrd

Ryan Pearson, The Associated Press

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Politics and xenophobia cloud the race for a vaccine in Brazil – CNN

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But in the age of Covid-19 and under the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, nothing is that simple.
As three joint-ventures begin testing a new vaccine in Brazil — and others wait in the wings — the provenance of the research has become a hugely divisive issue, complicated by xenophobia and conspiracy theories shared by anti-vaxxers and prominent politicians, including Bolsonaro allies.
The two big research players are the Swiss pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, working on a vaccine developed by the UK’s Oxford University, and Chinese biotech company Sinovac, working in collaboration with Brazil’s Butantan Institute. Both have begun the final Phase 3 testing of the virus. A third venture involving US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech is also conducting research in Brazil.
Coronavirus vaccines: 'Encouraging' early data for some, a trial delay for another and more research aheadCoronavirus vaccines: 'Encouraging' early data for some, a trial delay for another and more research ahead
Two other potential research efforts — one involving another Chinese firm Sinopharm and the other led by Russia’s Sputnik V — are being negotiated by the state government of Paraná.
All see Brazil as an ideal country for research because of its surging rate of Covid-19 transmission — as of Thursday there were more than 3 million cases and over 104,000 deaths — as well as its internationally respected research centers and a public health system experienced in creating and distributing vaccines.
Officially, Brazil claims to be neutral in the race to develop the coronavirus vaccine.
Secretary of Science, Technology, Innovating and Strategy Health Supplies Helio Agnotti said as much on Tuesday, declaring Brazil will welcome whatever vaccine is approved for use first. “The adoption preference will be to arrive with proven effectiveness first. There is no problem in having an agreement with a certain partner, so that we close with another,” Agnotti said.
But his boss Bolsonaro has expressed his clear preference, promising citizens in a recent Facebook Live broadcast that the pandemic “would be overcome” once the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is available.
Last week, he signed a law to allocate $355 million for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine — about $262 million for the purchase the technology and vaccine ingredients for 100 million doses, and $93 million for Fiocruz, the Brazilian partner, to adapt its manufacturing plant for the mass production of the vaccine.
At the signing event, interim health minister General Eduardo Pazuello said the government wouldn’t rule out agreements for other vaccines and that the Ministry continues to “seek all the technologies in the world” to combat the coronavirus.
Bolsonaro nevertheless took a swipe at the Sinovac trial, launched by São Paulo state governor João Dória, who has been a thorn in his side throughout the pandemic with outspoken criticism of the federal government’s handling of the crisis.
“What is more important about (the Oxford) vaccine that is different from the other one, which a governor decided to settle with another country, (is that) we can keep the technology,” falsely claimed Bolsonaro, referring to a part of the deal with AstraZeneca and Oxford that would transfer new technology to its research foundation Fiocruz.
However, the same is being done at the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, under the deal Dória signed with Sinovac.
“Our race is for life. It is a privilege for Brazil to have two vaccines for the immunization of Brazilians,” Doria told CNN Brasil on Tuesday.
Brazil's coronavirus chaos provides a global laboratory for the vaccine raceBrazil's coronavirus chaos provides a global laboratory for the vaccine race
The spat between Doria and Bolsonaro — who have both been diagnosed with the coronavirus — is playing out in a country that already has its fair share of skeptics, and where false and unproven news about the coronavirus vaccine, including claims that the Sinovac one will contain “5G microchips” to track patients’ bodies, have proliferated. The Butantan Institute dismissed the claims as “totally unreasonable,” noting that there is no “digital control” component to its vaccine.
When Agnotti’s remarks Tuesday were broadcast on Facebook Live, comments on the page reflected the xenophobia. They included “China vaccine no” and “I am not taking vaccines from Russia and China.” The hashtags used included #vacinacomunista and #doriacomunista, which translate as communist vaccine and communist Doria, a reference to the São Paulo governor.
CNN has asked his ministry for details on what the government will do to combat the misinformation and fake news about the vaccines, but has yet to receive a response.
Those spreading the fake information include elected officials, such as Santa Catarina congressman Jesse Lopes. In a lengthy Facebook post, the Bolsonaro supporter claimed the Sinovac vaccine was the work of the “Chinese Genocidal Party” using “aborted baby cells,” an allegation rejected by the Butantan Institute.
Another Bolsonaro supporter, federal deputy Bia Kicis, asked her 680,000 followers via an unscientific Twitter poll if they would volunteer for the ‘Chinese vaccine’ and more than 90% of the 48,000 respondents said no.
These aren’t the first accusations against Bolsonaro supporters over spreading false information. On July 8, Facebook removed dozens of what it said are fake social media accounts linked to the offices of Bolsonaro and his sons. The accounts were used to target journalists and political opponents of the president, and also discussed the coronavirus, the Facebook statement said.
Marcio Moretto, professor at Sao Paulo University who has been analyzing fake news, told CNN that the skepticism about vaccines isn’t new in Brazil. A survey by the Brazilian Association of Immunization in 2019 reported that 59% of the population believe vaccines are totally unsafe.
“People are first suspicious of all vaccines and now the question of the Chinese vaccine was added,” he said. “It was combined with the narrative that China has manufactured this virus and would be the main beneficiary of the pandemic.”
Moretto said the President and his sons are central to that misleading narrative. “They foster and reinforce prejudices and xenophobia against Chinese people,” he said, noting that Bolsonaro insists on using the term “Chinese virus.”
He added: “So you have Oxford versus Chinese vaccines, or moreover, against communism.”

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