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Politics Briefing: Extra staff hired to process passport backlog, Trudeau says

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Hello,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is doing what it can to deal with the massive surge in applications for passports as Canadians seek to travel amidst the easing pandemic.

“I understand there are people dealing with delays. We are doing our utmost to try and expedite the processes because, yes, Canadians want to travel, and we want to welcome people to Canada as well,” Mr. Trudeau said Monday.

“We still have to tread carefully because of COVID but we are setting up the necessary measures to accelerate the processes for passports.”

Mr. Trudeau was appearing at a news conference with visiting Chilean President Gabriel Boric when a journalist raised the travel issue.

The Prime Minister said 500 additional staff have been hired to work in passport offices, and 40,000 passports are being processed each day.

Michelle Carbert reported here in May that the union representing Canada’s passport officers says its members are facing verbal abuse, stress and long hours as they continue to respond to an overwhelming surge in applications prompted by an uptake in travel after the lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions.

During Monday’s news conference, Mr. Trudeau also denounced China’s recent actions toward Canadian planes participating in a multilateral UN mission over the Pacific Ocean to enforce sanctions against North Korea.

Last week, the Canadian military accused Chinese planes of not following international safety norms on several occasions and putting a Canadian crew at risk

“China’s actions are irresponsible and provocative and we will continue to register strongly that they are putting people at risk while at the same time not respecting decisions by the UN,” Mr. Trudeau said. Story 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

SPOTLIGHT IN QUEBEC TEACHER IN BILL 21 SPOTLIGHT – The Quebec teacher removed from her classroom over the province’s Bill 21 says taking off her hijab to keep her job would send wrong the message to students. “I am always about encouraging kids to find their own identity, and grow on their own terms, and that nobody should dictate who they are,” Fatemeh Anvari, a teacher in Chelsea, Que, said in an interview. “I wouldn’t have been me in my class.” Story here.

POILIEVRE CAMPAIGN CLAIMS 300,000-PLUS SIGNUPS – Pierre Poilievre’s campaign to lead the federal Conservatives has shaken up the race, saying it has signed up more than 300,000 new members, but his rivals insist that the battle to succeed former leader Erin O’Toole is far from over. Story here.

EX-ALBERTA FINANCE MINISTER BEGINS LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN – Alberta’s former finance minister officially launched his campaign to succeed Premier Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party over the weekend by stressing the need for unity and warning against the dangers of division. Story here.

SUPREME COURT CHIEF CALLS FOR VIGILANCE – Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner says the court has to be vigilant. “As soon as an incident occurs that can attack judicial independence, we must react, we must denounce,” he said during an interview with Radio-Canada. Story here.

TAX-EVASION CHARGES AGAINST FORMER MP DROPPED – All charges against former Calgary MP Rob Anders have been dropped on what was supposed to be the first day of a two-week tax evasion trial. Story here.

HALF THE QUEBEC LIBERAL CAUCUS NOT SEEKING RE-ELECTION – Former Quebec cabinet minister Kathleen Weil will not seek re-election in the provincial election this year, and is the 13th Liberal — half of Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade’s caucus — to announce they will not run again. Story here from The Montreal Gazette.

PUBLIC SERVANT ON TRIAL FOR LEAK -The trial of a federal public servant accused of leaking cabinet secrets about a shipbuilding project is set to begin this morning. Story here.

VETERAN MANITOBA MINISTER LEAVING POLITICS – Scott Fielding, Manitoba’s Natural Resources Minister and a former provincial finance minister, is leaving politics to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, June 6, accessible here.

UKRAINE AMBASSADOR AMONG DIPLOMATS PRESENTING CREDENTIALS – Ukraine’s ambassador-designate to Canada is among seven new heads of mission who were scheduled on Monday to present their credentials to the Governor-General. Kovaliv Yuliya arrived in Canada on March 29 after being appointed Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada. She has held a number of positions in the public sector including being deputy head of the Ukraine president’s office in charge of economic policy development. Details here. Other mission heads are from Cuba, Ecuador, Portugal, Poland, Japan, and Pakistan.

COMPETITION OPEN FOR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE ON COMBATTING ISLAMOPHOBIA – On Monday, Housing and Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen invited applicants to submit their candidacy for the new position of Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, which has been posted on the Governor in Council Appointments website. The deadline for submitting applications is July 6.

ANAND IN THE U.S. AND SINGAPORE – Defence Minister Anita Anand is travelling, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to NORAD Headquarters in Colorado Springs on Tuesday for a series of briefings and meetings with officials, and then headed for Singapore June 9-12 to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue – a defence summit for Asia involving Asia’s during which ministers from more than 50 nations discuss and debate the region’s most pressing security challenges.

JOLY IN L.A. – Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is going to Los Angeles from Monday to June 10, to join Prime Minister Trudeau at the ninth Summit of the Americas. While in California, she will hold a North American Foreign Ministers’ Trilateral Meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, to discuss mutual efforts on global security issues as well as progress towards the next North American Leaders’ Summit.

DUCLOS HAS COVID-19 – Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a tweet posted on Saturday. “As per public health guidelines, I will be isolating for 10 days,” Mr. Duclos wrote.

THE DECIBEL

Monday’s edition of The Globe and Mail features Rollie Pemberton, the Edminton-born rapper known as Cadence Weapon, who won the Polaris Music Prize in 2021, and is known for his music with a political bent. Edmonton’s poet laureate in 2009 has written a non-fiction book, Bedroom Rapper: Cadence Weapon on Hip-Hop, Resistance and Surviving the Music Industry that charts his path through the music industry. He joins Globe Associate Arts editor Aruna Dutt for a conversation on creativity in the pandemic and emerging with a new album – and now a book – to live audiences. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

In the Ottawa, the Prime Minister held private meetings as well as a bilateral meeting with Chilean President Gabriel Boric, made an announcement with the president, and was scheduled to participate with the Chilean president in a Q&A discussion with local high-school students on the environment and climate change, leadership, democracy, and gender equality.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh met with a delegation from the National Council of Canadian Muslims, and spoke on the anniversary of the fatal attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario before heading into Question Period. He was also scheduled to deliver remarks on the National Council of Canadian Muslims advocacy day march.

No schedule released for other party leaders.

TRIBUTE

IN HONOUR OF DECEASED PARLIAMENTARIANS – On Monday, families, friends and colleagues of the 35 former parliamentarians who have died between July, 2021 and April, 2022 gathered in the Senate chamber for a memorial service held by the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. The names of the deceased are here.

VETERAN B.C. POLITICIAN DECEASED – Jack Weisgerber, a former Social Credit cabinet minister in British Columbia and member of the legislative assembly from northern B.C., has died. Story here from The Vancouver Sun.

PUBLIC OPINION

Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians were comfortable or somewhat comfortable with a deal that could see the federal NDP prop up the minority Liberal government until 2025, a new survey says. Story here.

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on why francophone Quebeckers should worry about Bill 96: So for a moment, let’s put aside questions about minority rights or language laws – important as those things are – to recognize there is something else going on in Bill 96. It’s something that should worry a francophone Quebecker as much as any anglo: Mr. Legault’s government believes it should be able to make laws that are protected from judicial review. And that isn’t limited to language, or culture, even if in this case it is tucked into a language law. In Bill 96, Mr. Legault and his language minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, have created a surprisingly wide inspection power. It gives the Office québécoise de la langue française the power to enter any building other than a “dwelling house” where there are activities governed by the language law, or where documents or property related to it “may be held,” to get information.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how British Columbia’s health crisis keeps getting worse:This is a story to watch in Canada, as B.C.’s primary care system finds itself “teetering” – Mr. Horgan’s word, not mine – on the verge of calamity. If that seems too strong a word, consider some of the things that have happened recently. There has been a wave of resignations among health care workers in northern B.C., including half of the doctors in the intensive care units of the area’s biggest hospitals. These physicians tendered their resignations in a display of frustration over how overworked and understaffed hospitals in the region are. There is already a well-documented doctor shortage, not just in the north but virtually everywhere in the province. More than a million British Columbians are without a family physician, with tens of thousands of new people pouring into the province each year, exacerbating the problem.”

Sheila Das (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on why the English language is not the menace it’s made out to be: “Bill 96, which recently passed, greatly reduces the use of English in legal and medical services and diminishes learning in English at CEGEPs for all students, except for anglophones with historical rights. The fact that this bill is discriminatory, meaning it goes against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is readily acknowledged by those who proposed it when they invoked the notwithstanding clause. But is it necessary? Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language, is already doing the job of advancing French in the province. Multiple studies show that public use of French has been slowly on the increase, as anglophone bilingualism has reached 70 per cent. Those are the facts. But frightening narratives easily overshadow the numbers.”

Graham Fraser (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on whether Quebec Premier François Legault is the political heir of René Lévesque or Maurice Duplessis?: “Both men grew up in predominantly English-speaking communities – Lévesque in New Carlisle, and Legault in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Both created new parties, bringing together different streams of Quebec nationalists. Both have presided over the introduction of legislation intended to protect the French language, which disrupted and unnerved the English communities of Quebec. But there are also differences, and they are striking. Lévesque grew up completely bilingual and went to work as a broadcaster for the American military during the Second World War; his English was comfortable and colloquial, and he wrote warmly of his English-speaking colleagues. By contrast, Legault had a hostile relationship with his English-speaking neighbours – he writes about the neighbourhood fights in his memoir Cap sur un Québec gagnant – and is uncomfortable in English. In his book, in which he lists virtually all the people he worked with before entering politics, there are no anglophones.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on the rise and fall of Jason Kenney’s leadership, and what comes next: “What’s next? Travis Toews is the designated ‘establishment’ candidate — he will get organizational and financial support from Kenney backers, or so the Kenney loyalists hope. It’s not necessarily the best look. I doubt this will be a cakewalk for social conservative Toews, even though many UCP members would welcome a premier from outside Calgary. Brian Jean and Danielle Smith are in the race. So is northern MLA and fierce Kenney critic Todd Loewen. Leela Aheer will join next week. I don’t have a clue as to who’s going to end up in the premier’s chair. There’s no saying the leader has to come from the UCP caucus or government. It could be an unexpected outsider. Or it could be, say, a female moderate from Calgary.”

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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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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'We need a fresh approach': Harvey wants to do politics differently if she heads NDP – News Talk 980 CJME

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Sitting on the patio of a Regina coffee shop, Kaitlyn Harvey was animated and passionate, talking about what she feels are the problems in Saskatchewan politics and how they should be fixed.

Harvey answered questions in a wide-ranging way, cramming in a TedTalk’s worth of information in a way that only people excited by their topic do.

When asked what she was reading or watching these days, Harvey didn’t name a book but instead began talking about research and reports she has been going through both as part of her political aspirations and her day job as a lawyer.

“I’ve got a lot of research that I’m doing, so I don’t really read a whole lot of fiction. Lots of non-fiction, lots of news but then also looking at reports — that’s what I read for fun,” she said, then started laughing. “I’m a bit of a nerd.”

Getting down to the brass tacks of her run to lead the Saskatchewan NDP, Harvey got more serious.

“What I’m offering is a different approach than what the NDP has offered in the past,” she said. “It still recognizes those values of community, those values of taking care of our most vulnerable … and so that’s why I am running for the NDP because of those values. But the way that I am proposing to do politics is different.”

Harvey said the old approach of politics as performance, of talking but not getting anything done, isn’t working.

“When I say we need to do things different, I mean we need to do things differently,” said Harvey.

Right now, Harvey believes that when young people watch the proceedings in the legislature — if they do — all they’re seeing is people shouting.

“(It’s) a bunch of people just standing there, yelling back and forth at each other and spitting things and not actually addressing these very real issues. And then people wonder why our youth don’t go out and vote,” said Harvey.

Harvey believes people are sick of the status quo and that things will look a lot different in the legislature come the next election in 2024.

“I don’t know what it’ll look like but I’m pretty confident that if I’m successful in this NDP race, there’ll be a lot more NDP seats,” said Harvey.

Harvey doesn’t like the idea of left or right in politics. What she wants is for people to come together to seriously tackle the issues.

The biggest issue for Harvey is climate change; it’s what spurred her into politics in the first place.

The reality hit home for Harvey 10 years ago when she was in a co-op program at Environment Canada and was working on a mapping project with climate data.

“The numbers that I was seeing (and) that I was coming across … (it) was just terrifying to see what our future is going to look like, and the range of possibilities ranging from scary to catastrophic,” said Harvey.

Harvey went into law to study policy and is now making the push into politics because she doesn’t see the action needed to deal with climate change.

“We are two decades, easily, behind other countries (and) other places in the world in terms of our acceptance of the very real risks to our people (and) to our society from climate change. We aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities that we have to be leaders. We’re wasting opportunities and potential,” said Harvey.

Harvey said climate change is a fact and shouldn’t be politicized, but it is in Saskatchewan and it’s tearing apart the province.

“When they tell us that we have no choice, that we have to settle for this conflict, that we are divided, that we are an oil and gas-only type of place, like, are you kidding me?” said Harvey.

However, Harvey said she’s not anti-oil and she’s not looking to kill industry and put people out on the street.

“When people use the term ‘just transition,’ that actually means something. It means that the people who are going to be asked to transition to local renewable, sustainable, good-paying jobs are given the supports that they need to make that transition,” said Harvey.

“It’s not a negative attack on anybody’s personal identity or I’m trying to blame them for climate change or something like that. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a fact that we need to start doing things differently.”

Harvey said there are a lot of other ways Saskatchewan could bring in money and other industries to expand into that won’t contribute to climate change, and she knows that’s something youth of this province want.

“We need a fresh approach and I think that will resonate with people and get more people to come out and support the party when they see that we’ve actually got some really good ideas and they’re backed up by science. They’re backed up with the numbers,” said Harvey.

Unlike her competitor, Carla Beck, Harvey hasn’t held provincial office before — she ran as an NDP candidate in the 2020 election but lost. However, she doesn’t see that as a problem.

Harvey points to her work as a lawyer, putting herself through law school as a single mother and the volunteer and community work she’s done, saying she’s good at handling a lot of things and learns quickly.

“When I see what our politicians are doing I think, ‘Oh boy, I could do that.’ It’s not that hard, it’s not rocket science … it’ll be new but I’m a pretty quick study,” said Harvey.

Harvey said she does have respect for everyone in the NDP caucus and the work they’re doing.

A win for Harvey in the leadership race would be historic on two fronts: She would be the first woman elected to the NDP leadership in Saskatchewan and the first Metis leader of a major party in the province.

“It would be just the greatest opportunity of my life to be able to serve and provide my skills, my energy, my experience, to the people of Saskatchewan,” said Harvey.

If she doesn’t win, the province won’t have heard the last of Harvey. She has announced her intention to seek the NDP nomination to run in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection which will be held at some point soon.

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