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Politics Briefing: Deploying military to deal with Ottawa protest 'not in the cards,' Trudeau says – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there are no current plans to deploy the military to deal with protests besieging downtown Ottawa and that no one has officially requested the option.

“One has to be very, very cautious before deploying the military in situations engaging Canadians. It is not something that anyone should enter in lightly,” said Mr. Trudeau, when asked Thursday about the protests during a virtual news conference on child care in Manitoba.

“As of now, there have been no requests and that is not in cards right now.”

That said, the Prime Minister added he sympathizes with Ottawa residents who are looking for an end to the chaos, which has seen the harassment of pedestrians, truck horns blaring, and the shutdown of the downtown Rideau Centre mall – one of the largest in Canada.

“The people of Ottawa deserve to have their lives back, their neighbourhoods back,” Mr. Trudeau said.

He said the federal government is prepared to assist local authorities with the services of the RCMP and intelligence services.

On Wednesday, Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said all options are on the table for dealing with the protests, including calling in the military to end the continuing demonstration that some councillors have described as an “occupation.”

Parliamentary Reporters Kristy Kirkup and Janice Dickson, Calgary Reporter Carrie Tait and Edmonton Feature Writer Jana G. Pruden report here on the ongoing situation.

ELSEWHERE ON THE PROTESTS:

OTTAWA MAYOR DENOUNCES MPS – Ottawa’s mayor is calling on several Conservative MPs and a senator from Saskatchewan to apologize for praising the anti-vaccine mandate protest that has brought the capital’s downtown to a standstill for close to a week. Story here.

WORRIES IN QUEBEC ABOUT TRUCKER CONVOY – With tensions mounting in Quebec City over the prospect of a disruptive trucker convoy, the political class and police have teamed up to make a pitch for order despite the uncertainty in the air. Story here from The Montreal Gazette.

QUEBEC MP DENOUNCES CONFEDERATE FLAGS IN PROTEST – The chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus is denouncing the display of Confederate flags during the protests in Ottawa. “Let’s not mince words. The Confederate flag is a symbol for slavery. Whips deformed Black bodies, forced labour, mangled limbs, torture almost always preceded lynchings,” Greg Fergus, the Liberal MP for Hull-Aylmer told Parliament. Story here from CTV.

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 sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

O’TOOLE OUT; BERGEN IN AS INTERIM TORY LEADER – Candice Bergen is now the interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada after the party caucus ousted Erin O’Toole as leader, delivering a stunning rebuke of his brief tenure and triggering the party’s third leadership race in seven years. Story here. CP has an overview here of some possible contenders for the full-time leadership.

BOOSTER DRIVE SLOWING – Canada’s COVID-19 booster drive is slowing despite mounting evidence that an additional vaccine dose is needed to maintain strong protection from severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2, according to a Globe and Mail analysis of uptake across the country. Story here.

CONSUMERS DICTATING RATE HIKES: MACKLEM – Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said the pace of interest rate increases this year will depend to a significant extent on how quickly consumers run down excess savings they have built up over the course of the pandemic. Story here.

CARTER OUT AS MAYORAL ADVISER – Stephen Carter, a veteran Alberta political operative who has worked with former premier Alison Redford and former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, is out as chief of staff to Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s after a little over three months on the job. Story here from The Calgary Herald.

THIS AND THAT

The projected order of business at the House of Commons, Feb. 3 is here.

PREMIERS NEWSER – Canada’s premiers will be holding a virtual news conference on Friday, with British Columbia Premier John Horgan, chair of the Council of the Federation of premiers and territorial leaders, chairing the proceedings. Health care is likely to be the key topic. Parliamentary Reporter Kristy Kirkup wrote here on the premiers stepping up their campaign to increase the Canada Health Transfer.

THE DECIBEL On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, political columnist and writer-at-large John Ibbitson argues that the infighting in the Conservative Party of Canada that led to a vote that this week ousted Erin O’Toole as party leader is not just bad for their supporters, but bad for Canada as a whole.

Here’s an excerpt:

Menaka Raman-Wilms, host: How would you describe the current state that the Conservative Party of Canada finds itself in?

John Ibbitson: “I think the Conservative Party of Canada is in a very vulnerable, fragile state. It is in danger of turning into the kind of schism that we saw in the 1990s when you had the Reform Party representing the western part of the Conservative movement and the Progressive Conservatives representing the centre in the east. Before it, Stephen Harper was able to unite the two parties in some ways. It’s also like the 1930s and ‘40s where the Conservatives lost one election after another, changed leaders after every election and the Liberals were able to govern for decades as a result. That doesn’t have to be the Conservative Party’s future. But it’s a risk now.”

The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister made an early learning and child care announcement virtually with Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, then held a media availability. The Prime Minister also participated in a round table with Winnipeg teachers about their experience as educators during the pandemic, and was also scheduled to virtually visit Country Corner Donuts, a local shop in Regina.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held a virtual news conference on the opioid crisis.

PUBLIC OPINION

HOW CANADIANS FEEL ABOUT OTTAWA PROTESTERS – Two out of three interviewed for an Abacus Data nationwide poll feel they have “very little in common with how the protesters in Ottawa see things,” while 32 per cent say they “have a lot in common.” Details here.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on why Canada needs a progressive Conservative party: The Conservatives who defenestrated Mr. O’Toole are misunderstanding Canada, Canadians and even Canadian conservatism. Canada is not America. Its people aren’t, its problems aren’t, its answers aren’t and its conservatism isn’t. Our politics simply aren’t as polarized, though Conservatives and Liberals alike have of late been trying to change that. Our parties have traditionally won by appealing to the middle and the reasonable. And by – however a dirty word this has become – compromising. This is coalition country. Big, broad tents. It is not a land of extreme political faiths. Please hang up and try your call again, you have the wrong number.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on former federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole: “Mr. O’Toole’s sudden ouster was rough, but not unique. Ask Tom Mulcair, who was dumped hard by the NDP after he failed to win the 2015 election. Both leaders lacked a deep connection to the grassroots of their party that might have saved their leadership after a losing campaign. Mr. O’Toole’s own party hardly knew him. He won the leadership on the third ballot as a lesser-known candidate in a pandemic campaign that was mostly virtual, and therefore lacked a lot of face time. Then he changed political persona. He didn’t have a big constituency of Conservatives who felt that they’d walked the long road with him.”

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on the powder-keg party having blown itself up again:Don’t rule out a Peter MacKay bid, a close colleague of his tells me. The former leader feels he has considerable support in caucus and that he is a candidate who can bridge the party divide. Before he was sacked, Mr. O’Toole issued a final appeal on said divide, saying there were two possible roads forward. One is “angry, negative, and extreme. It is a dead end.” “The other road is to better reflect the Canada of 2022. To recognize that conservatism is organic, not static, and that a winning message is one of inclusion, optimism, ideas and hope.” Sounds right. But the powder-keg party probably has other ideas.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how the vaccination-tax flip-flop caps a bad month for Quebec Premier François Legault: “The year has not started off well for François Legault. The Quebec Premier seems to have lost the magic touch that allowed him to sail through the first 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic with an approval rating that was the envy of his peers across Canada. His once uncanny political judgment has failed him in recent weeks – first, when he reintroduced a hated nighttime curfew, and then with his vindictive vow to tax unvaccinated Quebeckers. Both measures flopped spectacularly because they were transparent attempts to divert public attention away from uncomfortable truths.”

Omer Aziz (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on why what’s happening in Ottawa is an assault on democracy: The truckers’ movement is no longer a demonstration for freedom or vaccine mandates, but a well-funded assault on democracy. As one organizer put it, their mission was to “compel the government to dissolve government.” We must be clear about what took place in Canada last weekend: an attempt to alter government policy by force – while masquerading as a rally for freedom. More dangerously, it was a movement insidiously co-opted by white nationalists and their far-right allies.”

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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Abortion ruling pushes businesses to confront divisive politics – PBS NewsHour

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The Supreme Court’s decision to end the nation’s constitutional protections for abortion has catapulted businesses of all types into the most divisive corner of politics.

Some companies that stayed silent last month — when a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Politico — spoke up for the first time Friday, including The Walt Disney Company, which said it will reimburse employees who must travel out of state to get an abortion.

Facebook parent Meta, American Express, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs also said they would cover employee travel costs while others like Apple, Starbucks, Lyft and Yelp reiterated previous announcements taking similar action. Outdoor clothing maker Patagonia went so far as to post on LinkedIn Friday that it would provide “training and bail for those who peacefully protest for reproductive justice” and time off to vote.

But of the dozens of big businesses that The Associated Press reached out to Friday, many like McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Tyson and Marriott did not respond. Arkansas-based Walmart — the nation’s largest employer with a good portion of its stores in states that will immediately trigger abortion bans following the Friday’s Supreme Court ruling — also kept quiet.

Meanwhile, the Business Roundtable, an organization that represents some of the nation’s most powerful companies, said it “does not have a position on the merits of the case.”

READ MORE: The ‘air is thick with disbelief and grief’ at a Louisiana clinic as abortion ends

A lot is at stake for companies, many of which have publicly pledged to promote women’s equality and advancement in the workplace. For those in states with restrictive abortion laws, they could now face big challenges in attracting college-educated workers who can easily move around.

Luis von Ahn, the CEO of the language app Duolingo, sent a tweet Friday aimed at lawmakers in Pennsylvania, where the company is headquartered: “If PA makes abortion illegal, we won’t be able to attract talent and we’ll have to grow our offices elsewhere.”

The ruling and the coming patchwork of abortion bans also threatens the technology boom in places like Austin, Texas as companies like Dell — which was already becoming more flexible to remote work because of the tight labor market — struggle to recruit newly minted tech graduates to their corporate hubs, said Steven Pedigo, a professor who studies economic development at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Rather than stay in Austin, do you go to New York or Seattle or the Bay Area? I think that’s a real possibility,” Pedigo said. “It becomes much more challenging, particularly when you’re looking at a young, progressive workforce, which is what technology workers tend to be.”

Emily M. Dickens, chief of staff and head of government affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management, said in a statement that nearly a quarter of organizations in a recent poll agreed that offering a health savings account to cover travel for reproductive care in another state will enhance their ability to compete for talent.

“But how these policies interact with state laws is unclear, and employers should be aware of the legal risks involved,” she said.

Dickens noted that companies that use third-party administrator to process claims on their behalf — typically big employers — are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act rather than state law. But companies that have to buy their own health insurance for their employees — typically small businesses — are subject to state regulations and have less flexibility in designing benefits.

READ MORE: Missouri’s last abortion clinic finds itself in center of Roe fallout

Offering to cover travel expenses could also make companies a target for anti-abortion lawmakers. In March, Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain, a Republican, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Citigroup, saying he would propose legislation barring localities in the state from doing business with any company that provides travel benefits for employees seeking abortions.

In his concurring opinion released Friday, Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested it would be unconstitutional for a state to bar residents from traveling to another state to get an abortion.

“In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel,” Kavanaugh wrote.

[embedded content]

But a corporation’s right to fund what would be an illegal act in another state is still questionable, argues Teresa Collett, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas.

“That’s not an interstate commerce question, per se,” she said. “So you’d need the right plaintiff.”

Meanwhile, tech companies are facing tough questions about what they’ll do if some of their millions of customers in the U.S. are prosecuted for having an abortion. Services like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft routinely hand over digital data sought by law enforcement agencies pursuing criminal investigations. That’s raised concerns from privacy advocates about enforcers of abortion laws tapping into period apps, phone location data and other sensitive online health information.

A letter Friday from four Democrats in Congress called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the phone-tracking practices of Google and Apple, warning that location identifiers used for advertising could fall into the hands of prosecutors or bounty hunters looking “to hunt down women who have obtained or are seeking an abortion.”

The Supreme Court ruling comes at a time when companies have become increasingly reliant on women to fill jobs, and especially as they face a nationwide labor shortage. Women now account for nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce, up dramatically from 37.5% in 1970 — three years before the Supreme Court ruled abortions to be legal in Roe vs. Wade — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Denied access to abortion could hit low-income workers the hardest because they’re typically in jobs with fewer protections and that are also demanding, from loading groceries onto store shelves to working as a health aide.

“As a direct result of this ruling, more women will be forced to choose between paying their rent or traveling long distances to receive safe abortion care,” said Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, which represents nearly 2 million janitors, health care workers and teachers in the U.S. “Working women are already struggling in poverty-wage jobs without paid leave and many are also shouldering the caregiving responsibilities for their families, typically unpaid.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants told The Associated Press that the ruling was “devastating.”

“It cuts to the core of all the work that our union has done for 75 years,” she said. “This decision is not about whether or not someone supports abortion. That’s the distraction … This is about whether or not we respect the rights of women to determine their own future.”

Maurice Schweitzer, a professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, said the handful of companies are taking a stand on the court’s ruling because their customers and employees are expecting them to speak out.

“We’re in this moment in time where we’re expecting corporate leaders to also be leaders in the political sphere,” he said. “A lot of employees expect to work in companies that not only pay them well, but whose values are aligned with theirs.”

But the vast majority of executives will likely avoid the thorny topic and focus on things like inflation or supply chain disruptions, he said.
That, too, comes with risks.

“They can either support travel for out-of-state care and risk lawsuits and the ire of local politicians, or they can not include this coverage and risk the ire of employees,” Schweitzer said.
___
AP business writers Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island; Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit; Barbara Ortutay in San Francisco; David Koenig in Dallas and Ken Sweet in New York contributed to the story.

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Opinion: The vacuum at the centre of Canadian politics: an incompetent, unethical government faces an intemperate, unhinged opposition – The Globe and Mail

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Over the last few weeks and months it has become impossible to escape the feeling that Canadian politics has come loose from its moorings. There is a manic edge to it, as if the inmates had suddenly and collectively declared themselves absolved of any remaining obligations to common sense, or the ordinary routines of democratic politics, or the rule of law.

On the one hand, you have a Liberal government that is now embroiled in half a dozen crises of its own making, the fruit of a peculiar mix of cynicism, moral vanity, incompetence, doctrinaire ideology and apparently habitual abuse of power – a culture that originates with the leader, to be sure, but which appears to have spread throughout the party.

Thus you have, simultaneously, the airport mess, the passport mess, and the Russian embassy party mess; the abject retreat on vaccine mandates, in the face of a panicky Liberal backbench; the revelations that its centrepiece climate plan is in disarray, its 2030 carbon emissions reductions targets acknowledged, within government, to be a distant fantasy; all while it is engaged in the utter madness of attempting to regulate the internet, through no fewer than three separate bills.

That’s four or five ministers in trouble, and we haven’t even got to the matter of the Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino – and, let us not forget, the Prime Minister – apparently lying to Parliament about why they invoked the Emergencies Act, and on whose advice.

Or, worst yet, the jaw-dropping allegation that the Prime Minister’s Office, and the then Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, prevailed upon the commissioner of the RCMP, Brenda Lucki, to interfere in the investigation of the murder of 22 people by a gunman in Nova Scotia two years ago, for the purpose of selling gun control legislation the government had planned.

The allegation, that Ms. Lucki demanded local RCMP officers reveal to the public, contrary to procedure and at the risk of compromising the investigation, the precise make and model of the guns the killer used, has been officially denied. Nevertheless it is hard to shake: the allegation is precise, detailed, and contained in a contemporaneous note by the officer involved.

More to the point, whether or not the allegation is true, it is easy to believe this government, and this Prime Minister, would be capable of it. Seize on a horrible crime to unveil showboating legislation, cooked up on the fly, to no apparent public benefit? Checks out. Lean on a law enforcement official to meddle in what is supposed to be an independent legal process, wholly off limits to politicians? What was SNC-Lavalin about?

So much for the government: tired, directionless, massively overcentralized, coasting on self-satisfaction and increasingly overwhelmed by the actual business of governing, including the tiresome necessity of respecting the rights of Parliament and the principle of the rule of law.

But what lurks across the aisle? What of the government-in-waiting, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada? How are they shaping up as an alternative?

Funny you should ask. The party is just now in the throes of a leadership race – the traditional opportunity for a party in opposition to define itself, and its core beliefs. What, by the lights of the current campaign, are the core beliefs of the Conservative Party? On matters of ordinary policy, things like deficits and taxes and foreign policy, we are not much further ahead than when we started.

But if it’s lunatic conspiracy theories you would like to know about, on these the Conservatives have plenty to say, ranging from unfounded fears about the health effects of vaccines, to paranoia about the baleful influence of the World Economic Forum, to the dystopian possibilities of central bank digital currencies, as a means of surveilling and controlling the population – or if you really want to know the “truth,” how all of these are bound up together.

On the day after the allegation surfaced, earlier this week, that the government had interfered in a murder investigation for political ends – a day that ought to have been reserved for asking the most searching questions of those involved – several Conservative MPs were feting the organizers of a new anti-vaccine, anti-government, anti-everything rally planned for Ottawa this summer, some of whom were involved in the one that paralyzed the capital for three weeks earlier this year. Just in case anyone had forgotten the party’s disgraceful cheerleading for that particular outbreak of lawlessness.

It isn’t only at the federal level that Conservatives seem to have abandoned their traditional belief in law and order. The Alberta Conservative leadership race has barely begun, yet has already featured proposals either to ignore the Constitution altogether – that is, to refuse to enforce federal laws the provincial government dislikes – or to dictate constitutional changes to the rest of the country that have no actual hope of passing.

There is precedent for this, of course, notably in the revolutionary fantasies of certain Quebec separatist leaders. But given how signally these have failed, and how much worse it would have been for the province if they had succeeded, it’s hard to imagine anyone citing them as an example to follow, rather than avoid. Yet that is where we have arrived, in both Quebec and Alberta – with political leaders pretending they can rewrite the Constitution unilaterally.

At the federal level we would seem to be left with something of a vacuum, with neither main party displaying much interest in governing responsibly. This is sometimes described as “polarization,” as if the problem could be solved by everyone agreeing to meet in the centre. Not so: this country has big, challenging issues confronting it, some of which may require radical changes in policy. Radicalism is not the same as extremism.

What’s needed is not centrism, if that is interpreted to mean blindly hugging the middle on every issue. Neither is pragmatism the answer, if that means governing without an ideological compass, but merely blowing this way and that according to the latest poll or interest group lobby.

What’s needed – what is sorely lacking – is judgment: political, moral, intellectual. Judgment is the foundation of leadership, and leadership is the only way we’re going to get back to something resembling functional politics.

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Are Politics A Problem For The Markets? – Forbes

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As an economist and market analyst, I try to shy away from politics and focus on the facts. Nonetheless, I often receive politically charged questions that are usually some variation of the following: “With X party in office, the country is doomed. How can you say otherwise?” I have heard this in every presidential election from George W. Bush to Joe Biden. But the truth of the matter is this: both the economy and the markets grew during all of those administrations. Of course, each one had its own challenges and problems, but as a country we continued to move forward. Companies found ways to grow and make money. Given this, are politics really a problem for the markets?

A Limited Effect

No matter which side, the administration actually has a very limited effect on the national economy and on the financial markets. In fact, if you look at a chart of the economy or of the markets, and cover up the dates, you really can’t pick out when your party was in charge. Similarly, when you look at economic and market performance under various permutations of which party is in charge, there are differences, but they are not consistent over time. For all of the headlines and the fearmongering, politics and governance don’t make a significant difference.

Who’s In Control?

How can that be? Simple. Every president and Congress would like to have control—but they don’t. States push back. The Supreme Court pushes back. Municipalities push back. It is rare that something significant actually gets through. And even when it does? The genius of the American system is that companies then set their collective minds on how to avoid it, if they don’t like it, and/or how to make money off it. For example, look at literally any tax bill ever passed.

Fundamentally, that is the strength of the American system. When you say that Washington will derail the economy or the markets, you are saying that it really controls all of the shoppers and the companies, which simply isn’t true. It is certainly in the interest of politicians to exaggerate their power (to motivate their supporters) and to exaggerate their opponents’ powers (again, to motivate their supporters). But the fact of the matter is that the U.S. economy is driven by millions of profit-motivated companies that will find ways to work around or profit from pretty much anything the politicians can do. Thank goodness for that.

Which doesn’t answer those who maintain that this time is different. That somehow today’s problems are worse than they have ever been before. There is always a constituency for panic. But if you really believe that, if you really believe that Washington—of one party or the other—can derail the country, then what you are saying is that Washington already has full control. That is not what I see when I look around.

This Too Will Pass

What I see is the same vivid debate on policy we have always had and the same back-and-forth that ultimately results in a reasonable solution. Perhaps it is louder now, but it is still the same process.

One of my favorite quotes, from Winston Churchill, notes that you can always count on Americans to do the right thing once they have tried all the alternatives. I would argue that is what is happening now and that despite the short-term damage, which can be real, ultimately we will move ahead again.

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