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Politics Briefing: Inquests to look into Saskatchewan stabbing rampage, suspect's death in police custody – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Two public inquests are to be held into the stabbing rampage in Saskatchewan this month that left 10 people dead, plus the suspect and his brother, the province’s chief coroner says.

“The events that occurred require a methodical and complete investigation. With the suspect deceased, there will not be a public criminal trial,” Clive Weighill told a news conference on Wednesday in Regina.

One inquest will be held into the 11 deaths on the James Smith Cree Nation, northeast of Saskatoon, and in the nearby village of Weldon on Sept. 4, and the other is to focus on the death of suspect Myles Sanderson in police custody days later. Eighteen people were injured.

RCMP named Mr. Sanderson’s brother, Damien Sanderson, as a suspect in the stabbings and his body was one of the 10 found on the First Nation. Police said he died of wounds that were not self-inflicted, and his brother was also considered a suspect in that death.

The tragedy drew national attention and calls for Indigenous-led policing. Patty Hajdu, the federal Minister for Indigenous Services, visited the James Smith Cree Nation to express support.

“Without a public hearing of the facts, it will leave many questions unanswered from the families involved and the public pertaining to the circumstances leading to the deaths,” said Chief Coroner Weighill.

He said the jury in the proceedings will be entirely comprised of Indigenous persons. He added that the process will be “totally public” and held as close as possible to the James Smith Cree Nation.

“I would like to remind the families and the public that an inquest is not designed to find fault. It is a hearing to establish the events leading to the death, find a medical cause of death, the manner of death and provide recommendations from the jury to prevent similar occurrences,” he said.

He said the proceedings could begin in late spring or the summer of 2023, and his service will move as quickly as possible to facilitate the process. “It takes time to put the picture together. The last thing we want is to put out some preliminary information and then witnesses at the inquest give different information,” he said. “It’s prudent to make sure we have all the information, everything is gathered in a proper form and then presented at an inquest.”

Also, federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino is pledging to “work around the clock” to table legislation this fall declaring Indigenous policing an essential service. 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

HOME OWNERSHIP AT A LOW – Canada’s homeownership rate dropped to 66.5 per cent last year, new census data show, the lowest level since the turn of the century as more Canadians became renters. Story here.

SENATOR SENT INAUTHENTIC DOCUMENTS TO AFGHANISTAN FAMILY – A Canadian senator sent documents to an Afghan family attempting to flee Afghanistan that were not authentic despite having the appearance of official Canadian government documents. Story here.

BANK OF CANADA STILL COMMITTED TO CONTROLLING INFLATION – The Bank of Canada is pushing back against the idea it will need to cause a recession to get prices under control, while assuring financial markets it will take “whatever actions are necessary” to bring inflation back to target. Story here. Meanwhile, Canada’s annual inflation rate fell for a second consecutive month in August, a sign the Bank of Canada’s campaign to restrain price growth through much higher borrowing rates is having its intended effect. Story here.

FORTIN DENIES ALLEGATIONS – Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says he is not guilty of sexual assault and never had any physical contact with a woman who made detailed allegations against him in court this week. Story here.

KENNEY-LINKED FUNDRAISING ARM TARGETING SMITH – A political fundraising machine founded to support Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s push for office has spent thousands of dollars campaigning against Danielle Smith, the perceived front-runner in the race to succeed him as United Conservative Party leader. Story here.

TOP CIVIL SERVANT WEIGHS IN ON REMOTE WORK – Canada’s top bureaucrat recently asked employees in the powerful Privy Council Office to come to the office two days a week, allowing full-time remote work only under “exceptional circumstances.” In an interview with Policy Options, Privy Council Clerk Janice Charette extended her vision for the PCO to the rest of the public service, saying she believes the hybrid formula is the way of the future for government office work. Story here from Policy Options.

FAMILIES WON’T BE PENALIZED IF THEY DON’T USE FULL DENTAL BENEFIT – The federal government says it won’t come calling if parents don’t spend every cent of their dental-care dollars on their children’s teeth, but Canada Revenue Agency will check in to make sure the program isn’t abused. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected order of business at the House of Commons, Sept. 21, accessible here.

PM HEADED TO JAPAN – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be travelling to Japan from Saturday to Sept. 28 to attend the funeral of former Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo, who was assassinated on July. 8. He will also meet with current Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, and with Canadians supporting security and peace in the region.

WILKINSON IN PITTSBURGH – Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is in Pittsburgh attending the Global Clean Energy Action Forum through to Friday.

DIPLOTMATIC DEVELOPMENTS – Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has announced new ambassadors to Tunisia (Lorraine Diguer), Mozambique (Sara Nicholls) and Portugal (Élise Racicot). Meanwhile, new diplomats from Paraguay, Ethiopia, Georgia, Estonia, Egypt, France, and Cyprus will, on Thursday, be presenting their credentials to Governor-General Mary Simon at Rideau Hall.

THE DECIBEL

In the final days of a chaotic government effort to rescue people from the Taliban last summer, Senator Marilou McPhedran and one of her staff members sent travel documents to a family attempting to flee Afghanistan. The documents, called facilitation letters, were supposed to help the Afghans bypass checkpoints that had been set up around Kabul’s airport, so they could catch one of the last evacuation flights out of the country. A year later, the people who received those documents are still stuck in Afghanistan. And the Canadian government has at last explained why: The facilitation letters they received from the senator and her office were not authentic, and the people named on them had not been approved to come to Canada. On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Parliamentary Reporter Marieke Walsh explains what happened, how government officials are responding, and what this means for the people still stuck in Afghanistan. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in New York for the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, attended a meeting of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy entitled “Financing Ocean Solutions for People and Planet: Delivering on SDG 14,” then attended a meeting of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group and Caribbean partners on the situation in Haiti. The Prime Minister also held a meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, and was scheduled to meet Maia Sandu, the President of Moldova, as well as Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, attend a pledging event for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, hold a media availability and attend a reception for delegation heads given by U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet holds a news conference on Parliament Hill.

NDP Leader Jagmeet SIngh attended the NDP caucus meeting, held a media availability and attended Question Period. He was scheduled to also speak with former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

No schedules provided for other party leaders.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Vladimir Putin is running out of options in Ukraine: ”He believed that China and India, the two largest economies that haven’t imposed sanctions on Russia, and whose leaders share various degrees of antipathy to a U.S.-led world, would unconditionally back his adventure. But just last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear that they’re unhappy, and they’d like the war to end. His underestimation of his opponents, his overestimation of Russia’s military might, and the increasingly lukewarm support from two key allies have diminished Mr. Putin’s plans. At home, he now finds himself facing disgruntled hardliners urging him to pursue a wider war by mobilizing the Russian population, and liberal critics who have seized on his sudden vulnerability to openly call for his resignation. Abroad, he is more isolated than ever, and escalating the war won’t win him any new friends. Not in Europe. Not in New Delhi. Not in Beijing.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how a lacklustre campaign is shining a spotlight on François Legault’s shortcomings: ”Something has happened to François Legault on the way to his easy re-election. The 65-year-old Coalition Avenir Québec Leader’s once most oft-cited political strengths – his fatherly demeanour, his simple way of speaking, his nostalgic vision of Quebec society – have increasingly come to be seen as liabilities that make him look out of touch with the modern realities of his pluralistic province. “Between simplicity and simplism, there is nevertheless a line that [Mr. Legault] too often has a tendency to cross,” Le Devoir columnist Michel David wrote this month. “He is not lacking in common sense, far from it, but his binary vision of things sometimes prevents him from grasping the reality in all its complexity, to the point of negating it.”

Éric Blais (The Record) on Conservative Party of Québec Leader Éric Duhaime & Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the federal Conservatives: Quebec’s new conservative dynamic duo: “Save for a dramatic faux pas by gaffe-prone Premier François Legault, Duhaime is expected to get between zero and five seats. Still, the political landscape in Quebec will look quite different this time around. Duhaime’s presence in the National Assembly would create a new dynamic and give his party both the respectability it craves and the visibility it needs to keep growing. Poilievre would have an influential ally in Quebec and a brand extension to amplify his message; someone who can localize what it is to be a conservative and normalize Poilievre. While Quebeckers have the highest negative views of Poilievre, three years is an eternity in politics.”

John Michael McGrath (TVO) on how the Ontario Liberals don’t have an heir apparent – but these three names keep coming up: “Building a party that can win an election in 2026 means not just taking the defeats of 2018 and 2022 seriously but also trying to come up with an answer for why voters have embraced alternatives to the Liberals in every province but one (Newfoundland and Labrador) – and why the federal Liberals continue to struggle even against lacklustre opposition.”

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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Chinese politics has become even more of a black box under Xi Jinping – The Globe and Mail

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Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Sept. 16.Sergei Bobylev/The Associated Press

It should be easy to prove a coup hasn’t taken place.

Over the weekend, however, as unfounded claims Chinese President Xi Jinping had been deposed spread first from Chinese dissident outlets to Indian media and then across Twitter – based on non-existent or willfully misinterpreted evidence – even respectable China watchers were cautious in their debunking: This almost certainly isn’t happening, but we can’t say for sure.

“The inherent opacity of the system just gives these rumours more room to spread, even if not based on reality,” said Washington-based analyst Bill Bishop.

Mr. Xi hasn’t been seen for a few days, most likely because he is in quarantine after returning from a trip to Central Asia last week – he similarly disappeared from public view after a visit to Hong Kong in July. On Sunday, state news agency Xinhua included him in a list of senior cadres attending next month’s Communist Party Congress.

Yakabuski: The ‘friendship’ between Xi and Putin has hit a rough patch

Tiny island on Taiwan’s frontier with China wants peace – and return of mainland tourists

At that meeting, far from being overthrown, Mr. Xi is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as leader. There are no serious challengers, and he could yet stay in power for another decade.

Even that prediction, however – while the consensus view among analysts – is ultimately a guess based on pronouncements in Chinese state media, Mr. Xi’s own actions and perceived Party norms – many of which have already been broken during Mr. Xi’s decade in power.

“This is analysis imposed on a system by people who have no experience inside the system,” said Drew Thompson, a senior fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. “It’s a political black box at the top.”

Mr. Xi’s fate ultimately rests with the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee and a handful of retired Party grandees. Outside that circle, few others know what is going on, whether Mr. Xi is truly in the position of strength he appears to be or frantically making deals and compromises to stay the course.

We may get some clarity at the Party Congress itself, but what goes on behind the scenes will remain shrouded in secrecy.

This applies both to foreigners and ordinary Chinese, who often have scant insight into how key decisions are made on their behalf. But as China faces growing challenges and the spectre of conflict rises with its neighbours and rivals, the lack of transparency becomes more dangerous.

“Beijing’s radical opacity has real-world consequences,” Richard McGregor, an expert on Communist Party politics at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, wrote recently. “How would Xi, for example, make any decision to invade Taiwan? What would happen if the military pushed back? Could the politburo vote to overrule Xi? Does Xi feel pressure from the public to take the island?

“Almost anything China does has global fallout these days, but its internal debates and its decision-making processes are almost entirely hidden,” he added.

Mr. Thompson, a former U.S. Defence Department official, said that even during the Cold War, Washington and other Western powers had greater insight into how decisions were made in the Kremlin, and what to look out for, but “we don’t have any of that with China.”

“So we’re ripe for misperception, for misunderstandings and miscalculations, because we don’t know how they’re signalling,” he said.

Nigel Inkster, a former director at British spy agency MI6, now an analyst with London-based Enodo Economics, agreed Chinese politics can be remarkably hard to parse, even for those who make a career of it.

“We have a number of areas where China seems to be saying one thing and doing another and it can be genuinely be very difficult to work out what their intentions are,” he told The Globe.

Because of the opaque nature of Chinese elite politics, theories about the Party’s functioning depend on historical analyses, which are not always good at predicting the future, or even elucidating the present.

During Mr. Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao’s two terms as Chinese leader, there was much focus on supposed factions within the Party, and a perceived tussle for power between Mr. Hu’s Communist Youth League allies and the “Shanghai gang” around former leader Jiang Zemin.

But Mr. Xi upended this model. Many of his key allies have been linked to factions believed to be in fierce opposition to each other – either he has negotiated (or forced) a peace between warring sides, or the divides were never as great as outsiders once believed.

David Shambaugh, a long-time scholar of the Communist leadership, favours the latter interpretation.

“Since 1989, I don’t think factions have been a very useful or even identifiable thing when it comes to studying Chinese politics,” he said. “We just can’t clearly identify them.”

Even settled history when it comes to China often isn’t as certain as is presented.

Former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping is often credited – by both Chinese and foreign sources – with kick-starting capitalist reforms and encouraging collective leadership within the Party in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Recent research has challenged both claims. Not only do many now credit Mr. Deng’s predecessor Hua Guofeng with key economic policies, but, as academic Joseph Torigian writes, “the Deng era was emphatically one of continued strongman rule.”

If we are only now understanding one of the most scrutinized periods of modern China – that which followed Mao Zedong’s death – hope of gleaning what is currently happening within the Party’s top ranks can sometimes seem next to impossible.

So inevitably, in the run-up to major events like the Party Congress, we enter the “silly season” of Chinese politics, when rumours abound – and people start shouting coup just because Xi Jinping stayed inside for a few days.

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55 Tufton Street: The other black door shaping British politics – BBC

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On a rainy afternoon earlier this month, Liz Truss walked through the famous black door of No 10 Downing Street for the first time as prime minister.

But under a mile away, there’s another black door that’s had a lasting effect on the previous decade in British politics – and looks like being influential under this administration too – No 55 Tufton Street.

The building houses organisations including the TaxPayers’ Alliance and the Global Warming Policy Foundation – and is the former home of many others, such as Vote Leave and Brexit Central.

Just hours after Liz Truss made her first speech on the steps of Downing Street, she announced that her new economics adviser would be Matthew Sinclair, a former chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

And a couple of weeks later, the new chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, delivered the most consequential financial statement for a generation, ripping up decades of economic orthodoxy.

He was pictured celebrating with Mr Sinclair – a man who made his name working behind that other black door.

The influence of TaxPayers’ Alliance began in 2008, when the financial crash led to bank collapse around the world.

“If you didn’t want that to happen in the UK, you had to get growth higher,” says Andrew Lilico, chairman of Europe Economics and Matthew Sinclair’s former boss.

“One way you could get growth high was just to get spending down and it might not be a very pleasant way of getting growth higher, but needs must in these kinds of circumstances.

“There was a TaxPayers’ Alliance report called How to Save £50 billion, which to some extent breached the dike on where things were going. And very shortly after that, others all chimed in. So quite quickly there were proposals for cutting spending by £150bn and £200bn.”

In 2010, David Cameron became prime minister and ushered in a new age of austerity.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance was no longer a fringe group frustrated with the Conservatives’ approach to the economy. Instead, they became a key public backer of the government’s approach to the economy.

“The newspapers or the broadcast media would have a spokesperson from an organisation, it could be the TaxPayers’ Alliance, it could be another think tank,” says Nicky Morgan, a Treasury minister in the coalition government.

“As a minister, if you’re going to advance a difficult or a controversial idea, it’s no surprise that before you announce such a thing, what you try to aim for is that phrase ‘rolling the pitch’. You’ve got people outside saying, ‘this is what we need’. So when you announce it, one hopes that it’s going to be well received.”

Donor anonymity

But the organisations at No 55 had started to attract controversy too.

Many of them have a long-standing policy of protecting the anonymity of their donors, something the Lib Dems wanted to change.

The coalition government did change the rules on lobbying. But the BBC understands the Lib Dems wanted those changes to go further – and to include think tanks, which do not come under lobbying rules.

Few would suggest that David Cameron and his chancellor George Osborne were Tufton Street’s natural allies – one senior member of Osborne’s Treasury team describes the TaxPayers’ Alliance as “a bit of a joke”. But they were useful in helping sell those austerity policies to the public.

After the 2015 election, David Cameron pledged to hold a referendum on EU membership – and that’s when the relationship changed.

Vote Leave, which would go on to become the official leave campaign, was originally based at No 55 as well. Andrew Lilico, who was Vote Leave’s chief economist in the latter days of the campaign, says the think tanks there were natural Brexiteers.

“I think that they are people who are quite optimistic about what the market can achieve. And they’re quite pessimistic about grand state projects.

“So the European Union, as a supranational, multinational body would be an iconic example of something that they would be sceptical about.

“Matthew Elliott, in particular, who’s the chief executive of Vote Leave, comes directly out of that that setting. He was the chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.”

Vote Leave sign

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After the Leave campaign won the referendum, the fight shifted again. The battle over how exactly to define Brexit had begun.

“People thought that the referendum would be the end of it, and of course in many respects it was just the beginning of the argument,” says David Jones, minister for exiting the EU from 2016.

“Vote Leave wound itself up so there was there was nobody there. A number of other organisations did spring up to fill that vacuum.

“And Brexit Central was a very important one.”

Headed up by Jonathan Isaby, another former chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Brexit Central also ended up being based at 55 Tufton Street.

“So it became almost required reading for those who were on the pro-Brexit side of the argument,” says Mr Jones. “Every day you’d check in at Brexit Central and see what they were reporting.”

Going mainstream

Boris Johnson’s victory in 2019 – and his pledge to take the UK out of the EU’s single market and customs union – was another huge moment for Tufton Street.

After the financial crash, once-fringe views on public spending had become mainstream – and now the same happened with Brexit.

The apparent influence made the argument around who funds these groups rear its head again.

But while privately critical of where the money comes from, the Labour Party hasn’t made it a public priority to reform the rules governing this area of politics.

Until now.

“55 Tufton Street shouldn’t have any more influence than any other street in the UK,” says Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader.

“That street seems to dominate particular policy and what’s happening in government and legislation and it’s not transparent enough.

“Labour would consult on the wider definition of what lobby groups are – so that would include what is currently known as think tanks because we don’t believe that the definition is wide enough, but also around transparency around where their funding comes from as well.”

The BBC did ask representatives from the organisations mentioned for an interview, but no-one came forward.

Angela Rayner

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Labour may want to change the rules – but for now, that’s not in their gift.

Instead, last week’s financial statement seemed to confirm that Liz Truss is more aligned with the ideas floating around No 55 than any of the previous recent occupants of No 10.

So what sort of new policies might the government start to enact?

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has had a long-running campaign to crack down on paid time off for trade union officials, including when Mr Sinclair was chief executive.

The new Business Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, met the TPA in March.

The BBC has used a freedom of information request to discover that the meeting was called to discuss paid time off for trade union officials – something Liz Truss has now pledged to crack down on.

Still, no one can be sure exactly what will take place behind the famous black door of No 10 over the next few years.

But perhaps by paying closer attention to what’s happening behind the other black door, we might get a good idea.

‘The Other Black Door’ will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 20.00 BST on Monday 26 September, and will also be available on BBC Sounds.

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Politics Podcast: Why Biden’s Unpopularity Doesn’t Seem To Be Tanking Democrats – FiveThirtyEight

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FiveThirtyEight

 

A president’s approval rating is traditionally tied to how his party performs in a midterm election, but Democrats have been outpacing President Biden in the polls for months. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses how Biden’s approval rating may impact the midterm election and how the Democrats’ performance in November could influence the president’s 2024 reelection plans.

The team also debates whether tracking Google search terms over time is a better barometer than traditional polling when it comes to understanding the issues shaping American voting patterns. Lastly, politics reporter Alex Samuels and visual journalist Elena Mejía break down their reporting on how Black voters are changing the political landscape of Georgia.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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