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Deputy Finance Minister testifies about race to prevent economic damage from border blockades

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Hello,

The Finance Department’s most senior public servant told the Emergencies Act inquiry on Thursday that he and others were engaged in a race against time to find ways of preventing the escalating economic damage created by the February border blockades.

While estimates of the impact of the blockades were circulating in the media and within government, Michael Sabia said projections of daily economic damage underestimated the fact that the scale of harm would increase significantly the longer the blockades continued.

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With U.S. lawmakers weighing Buy America provisions that could have cut Canada out of future electric vehicle manufacturing, Mr. Sabia said Canada’s reputation as a reliable trading partner was at risk and the concern had risen to the level of discussions between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“These were very meaningful issues that arose in the Canada-U.S. relationship,” he said. Had the border disruptions continued, he said the government was concerned that it would cause “very severe long-term consequences” for not only the Canadian auto sector but also for a whole range of industries that export goods to the U.S.

Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Bill Curry and Reporter Marsha McLeod report here.

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

PM IN THAILAND – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived, on Thursday, in Thailand for meetings aimed at expanding Canada’s trade with the Indo-Pacific region. He is attending the leaders meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Story here.

LUCKI SAYS SHE WANTS TO REMAIN RCMP COMMISSIONER – Embattled RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki says she wants to remain at the helm of the federal police force even as she faces growing dissatisfaction at the highest levels of the government over her leadership. Story here.

TRUDEAU TO ATTEND SUMMIT IN MONTREAL – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend next month’s UN biodiversity summit in Montreal, the country’s Environment minister said on Thursday – despite the event’s official host China plan to send no invitations to world leaders. Story here.

CHINA’S PRESIDENT WASN’T CRITICIZING TRUDEAU: FOREIGN MINISTRY – China’s foreign ministry on Thursday said Chinese President Xi Jinping was not criticizing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a day after Xi was seen confronting him at the G20 summit over alleged leaks from a meeting they held. Story here.

WEAR MASKS ON PLANES AND TRAINS, BUT NO MANDATE: TRANSPORT MINISTER – Canada’s Minister of Transport says after a briefing with the country’s top doctor, the government still strongly encourages people to wear masks on planes and trains – but stopped short of making it a requirement. Story here.

CHINA CRITICIZED BY STUDENTS – A growing number of mostly Chinese students in B.C., Ontario and other parts of Canada are using creative and often covert ways to express their increasing dissatisfaction toward China’s unrelenting zero-COVID-19 policy and the Communist Party’s rule under its paramount leader Xi Jinping. Story here.

QUEBEC MAN CHARGED IN HAITI OVERTHROW PLAN – The RCMP say a 51-year-old Quebec man has been charged with planning a terrorist act to overthrow the Haitian government of Jovenel Moise. Story here.

OTTAW REJECTS NUNAVUT MINING BID – Ottawa has turned down Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s application to increase its iron ore output in Nunavut, citing environmental concerns, putting an end to a multiyear conflict that sparked a national debate about responsible resource development in Canada. Story here.

KEY PLATFORMS TO HAVE FLEXIBILITY OVER PROMOTING CANADIAN CONTENT: CRTC CHAIR – Platforms such as Netflix and YouTube will have flexibility over how to promote Canadian films, TV shows and songs after the online streaming bill becomes law, broadcasting regulator Ian Scott says. Story here.

MAYOR CRITICIZED FOR BRINGING NEEDY TO SHELTERS – Less than a month after he was elected, the new mayor of Kamloops has raised the ire of shelter operators upset about him suddenly showing up with someone needing a bed, sometimes in the middle of the night. Story here from CBC.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Nov. 17, accessible here.

DAYS SINCE CONSERVATIVE LEADER PIERRE POILIEVRE TOOK MEDIA QUESTIONS IN OTTAWA: 65

WITNESSES, THURSDAY, AT PUBLIC ORDER EMERGENCY COMMISSION IN OTTAWA:

-Michael Sabia, Deputy Minister of Finance; Rhys Mendes, assistant deputy minister, economic policy, federal finance department and Isabelle Jacques, assistant deputy minister, financial sector policy branch at the federal finance department.

-Jody Thomas, national security and intelligence adviser to the Prime Minister,

GLOBE PUBLISHER/CEO AMONG ORDER OF CANADA RECIPIENTS – Globe and Mail publisher and CEO Phillip Crawley is among 49 people being invested into the Order of Canada on Thursday. Others being honoured at the ceremony at Rideau Hall include actor Tom Jackson, journalist Hanna Gartner and author Yann Martel. The full list of appointees is here. Due to illness, Governor-General Mary Simon was unavailable to preside over the event. Story here. Former governor-general Michaelle Jean agreed to lead the event instead.

IZRI JOINS GLOBAL NEWS IN OTTAWA – Touria Izri is joining the Global News Ottawa bureau as a national reporter. Announcement here.

CANADA’S UKRAINE AMBASSADOR AT SENATE COMMITTEE – The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade heard from Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Larisa Galadza, on the situation in Ukraine. The hearing began at 11:30 a.m. ET. Broadcast details here.

JOHN HORGAN EXIT INTERVIEW – It’s John Horgan’s last full day as Premier of British Columbia after five years in the job. David Eby will be sworn in on Friday. Mr. Horgan’s agenda for the day includes a lunch event held by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce at which he will participate in an interview with broadcaster Simi Sara.

MINISTERS ON THE ROAD – Families Minister Karina Gould, in Igloolik, Nunavut, made a child-care announcement; Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27; Justice Minister David Lametti and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, in Montreal, announced government support for a project from DESTA Black Youth Network; International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan, also Minister for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada , in Prince George, B.C., announced the opening of new offices in Prince George, Prince Rupert and Fort St. John. Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan, in St. John’s, as well as Premier Andrew Furey and St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen made an infrastructure announcement.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, travelled from Bali, Indonesia to Bangkok, Thailand to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. Mr. Trudeau was scheduled to meet with Chilean President Gabriel Boric, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gala dinner. The menu for the dinner is here.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet held a media scrum in the House of Commons foyer on health transfers, accompanied by caucus Health Critic Luc Thériault. He then attended Question Period.

No schedules released for other party leaders.

THE DECIBEL

On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Dr. Leighanne Parkes, an infectious disease specialist and microbiologist with the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, answers questions about RSV, influenza and COVID viruses. The Decibel is here.

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how the return of Donald Trump, the candidate, weakens the West: One of the great quirks of geopolitical fate in 2022 was that the Russian invasion of Ukraine solidified the Western alliance that Vladimir Putin hates so much. Who better to tear all that apart than a re-elected Donald Trump? Mr. Trump makes a lot of claims about his record, including his assertion in his 2024 election-campaign announcement on Tuesday that he – a man who served four years in the White House – went “decades” without a war. But no one can claim that he was a great builder of alliances. He viewed them as rip-offs, and made friends of the United States feel like they were under assault, rather than on the same team.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how if only the opposition leaders were running the Bank of Canada:As he steers inflation back to Earth – the three-month annualized rate was 4.3 per cent in October, a third of its spring peak – Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem must surely take comfort in the knowledge that, should he need any advice on how to proceed, he need not rely only on the bank’s world-leading roster of economists, but can tap the deep wellspring of expertise on the opposition benches. Just now they are sending somewhat conflicting signals. Where Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre holds the governor to blame for inflation having reached such levels, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is equally concerned that he might do something to reduce it. For where Mr. Poilievre believes current inflation levels are solely and entirely a function of bank policy, Mr. Singh believes it is caused by everything but: corporate greed, profiteering, price-gouging.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how the Polish missile crisis is sharp reminder of threat posed by Russia’s invasion: Tuesday’s brief crisis reminds us that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put all our lives at risk. “We are clearly in the worst crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis,” said Elliot Tepper, a professor of international relations at Carleton University. But there are two differences: The 1962 confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, lasted days. This crisis has lasted months, with many more months to come.And as Prof. Tepper observed, the Kennedy administration found a way to let Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev retreat while saving face. (The Soviets agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba, as the United States demanded; the Americans in turn removed missiles from Turkey.) But Russian President Vladimir Putin “is far more reckless,” said Prof. Tepper. “We see no off-ramp for him. Either he wins or he loses.”

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on how medical advice shouldn’t be different for Indigenous kids: “As Canadians worked with First Nations to fight COVID-19, traditional silos in medicine crumbled; health care professionals from across the province hopped on planes to communities such as Bearskin Lake and Moose Factory, which they may not have otherwise ventured to or even heard about. They had the opportunity to see, firsthand, the inequitable realities of Canada’s “universal” health care system for First Nations peoples. Surely, then, the Canadian public is now more aware of the immense logistical challenges involved in life in remote communities. These are places without so much basic infrastructure, including proper roads or runways, sanitation systems, ambulances, fire trucks, housing or hospitals. And surely, Operation Remote Immunity taught us enduring lessons about how to come together to consider the most vulnerable first, in future crises. Sadly, though, those lessons have apparently vanished – just in time for the latest national health crisis.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on how Canadian politicians should have better security, and the public should pay for it: Though politicians in Canada have been sounding the alarm on security threats for years (Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner has been particularly vocal on the matter) and though no party or political leader is immune from harassment or threats (Ms. Rempel says she has received death threats, NDP MP Charlie Angus has been a victim of stalking, and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was verbally harassed in the summer in an incident caught on video), the push for better security for public officials – and by extension, the funds that come with it – remains a tough sell.”

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Petr Pavel: Polyglot, war hero, and the new Czech president – Euronews

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Ex-general Petr Pavel has won another gritty campaign — this time at the ballot box.

The bearded 61-year-old, a decorated veteran who took part in a high-stakes peacekeeping mission in the Balkans and represented his country as a top-tier NATO general, was voted Czech president on Saturday, beating billionaire ex-prime minister Andrej Babiš.

With the ballots from 97% of almost 15,000 polling stations counted by the Czech Statistics Office, Pavel had 57.8% of the vote compared with 42.2% for Babiš.

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Though Czech presidents wield little day-to-day power, Pavel will have influence over foreign policy and government opinion, as well as the power to appoint prime ministers, constitutional judges and central bankers.

True to his military past, he has vowed to bring “order” to the Czech Republic, a 10 million-strong EU and NATO member, hammered by record inflation and economic turmoil due to the Ukraine war.

“I can’t ignore the fact that people here increasingly feel chaos, disorder and uncertainty. That the state has somehow ceased to function,” Pavel said on his campaign website.

“We need to change this,” he added. “We need to play by the rules, which will be valid for everyone alike. We need a general sweep.”

From Communist to war hero

Following in his father’s footsteps, Pavel underwent a military education in former Czechoslovakia, which was then ruled by Moscow-backed communists.

He joined the Communist Party, like his billionaire rival Babiš, and soon rose through the army ranks, studying to become an intelligence agent for the oppressive regime.

Critics fault him for his communist past, though Pavel has defended himself by saying party membership was “normal” in his family and called it a “mistake”.

When the Iron Curtain crumbled in 1989, Pavel chucked out his party ID but went ahead with the intelligence course.

Amid the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Pavel — trained as an elite paratrooper and holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel at the time — helped evacuate French troops stuck in the midst of combat between Croats and ethnic Serb paramilitaries in Croatia, earning him the French Military Cross for bravery.

“We got into several tense situations and he always managed them with deliberation and calm,” said retired Czech general Aleš Opata, who served with Pavel.

He later studied at military training schools in Britain, gaining a master’s from King’s College London.

After his country joined NATO in 1999, Pavel soon climbed through the alliance’s ranks, becoming its top military official in 2015. 

With a chest full of decorations, he retired in 2018.

What are his political views?

Pavel ran as an independent and was the strongest of the three candidates backed by the liberal-conservative coalition SPOLU of now-former President Miloš Zeman.

He has argued for better redistribution of wealth and greater taxation of the rich while also supporting progressive policies on issues such as same-sex marriage and euthanasia.

Positioning himself as a counterweight to populism, Pavel anchors the Czech Republic in NATO and wants to align his country with the European Union.

“The main issue at stake is whether chaos and populism will continue to rein or we return to observing rules… and we will be a reliable country for our allies,” he said after narrowly winning the first election round.

A staunch supporter of Ukraine, Pavel’s political rivals have alleged he would drag the country into a war with Russia.

“I know what war is about and I certainly don’t wish it on anyone,” said Pavel. “The first thing I would do is try to keep the country as far away from war as possible.”

Often sporting jeans and a leather jacket, Pavel is a polyglot, speaking Czech, English, French and Russian, and loves motorcycling.

He holds a concealed weapon licence, allowing him to carry a firearm, and he is married to a fellow soldier, Eva Pavlová.

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Canadian and American Politics

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THIS SURVEY EXPLORES CANADIANS’ AND AMERICANS’ PERSPECTIVES ON CANADIAN AND AMERICAN POLITICS.

Our latest North American Tracker explores Canadians’ and Americans’ perspectives on Canadian and American politics.

It examines Canadians’ federal voting intentions and Americans’ approval of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.

Download the report for the full results.

This survey was conducted in collaboration with the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) and published in the Canadian Press. This series of surveys is available on Leger’s website.

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Would you like to be the first to receive these results? Subscribe to our newsletter now.


CANADIAN POLITICS

  • The Conservatives and Liberals are tied: if a federal election were held today, 34% of Canadian decided voters would vote for Pierre Poilievre’s CPC and the same proportion would vote for Justin Trudeau’s LPC.

AMERICAN POLITICS

  • 42% of Americans approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president.
  • 40% of Americans approve of the way Kamala Harris is handling her job as vice-president.

METHODOLOGY

This web survey was conducted from January 20 to 22, 2023, with 1,554 Canadians and 1,005 Americans, 18 years of age or older, randomly recruited from LEO’s online panel.

A margin of error cannot be associated with a non-probability sample in a panel survey. For comparison, a probability sample of 1,554 respondents would have a margin of error of ±2.49%, 19 times out of 20, while a probability sample of 1,005 respondents would have a margin of error of ±3.09%, 19 times out of 20.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS THE RESULTS FOR THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS AND MORE!

  • If federal elections were held today, for which political party would you be most likely to vote?  Would it be for…?
  • Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president?
  • Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Kamala Harris is handling her job as vice president?​
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Legault won’t celebrate 25 years in politics

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Premier François Legault does not intend to celebrate his 25-year political career this year.

He became Minister of Industry in Lucien Bouchard’s PQ government on Sept. 23, 1998, but was elected on Nov. 30 of the same year as the representative for L’Assomption, the riding in which he is still a member.

In a news conference on Friday at the end of a caucus meeting of his party’s elected officials in a Laval hotel, the CAQ leader said that neither he nor his party had any intention of celebrating this anniversary.

“I don’t like these things,” he said.

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He pointed out that he is still younger than the former dean of the National Assembly, François Gendron. And smiling, he alluded to the U.S. President.

“I’m quite a bit younger than Mr. Biden, apart from that!” he said.

Legault is 65 years old, while the President is 80.

However, Legault is now the dean of the House. According to recent data, he has served as an elected official for 20 years, 6 months, and 27 days so far.

The premier was quick to add, however, that he has taken a break from politics.

He resigned on June 24, 2009 as a member of the Parti Québécois (PQ), then in opposition. But he was elected as an MNA and leader of the then-new Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) on Sept. 4, 2012.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 27, 2023.

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