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Politics Briefing: Mélanie Joly says a no-fly zone over Ukraine remains a 'red line' Canada is not prepared to cross – The Globe and Mail




Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says a no-fly zone over Ukraine remains a “red line” Canada is not prepared to cross as the country is invaded by Russia, but that there are other helpful measures to consider.

Ms. Joly told a forum Friday at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy that NATO has concluded a no-fly zone would trigger an international conflict.


“That’s the red line we don’t want to cross. We will do everything possible in our power just next to that red line” she said. “We can’t cross it.”

However, Ms. Joly added that there needs to be a way for Ukrainians to defend their airspace, and she cited the use of such tools as anti-missile weapons, drones and cameras to defend their airspace.

“A lot of the fight is happening there,” she said.

As recently as this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during a speech to Canadian parliamentarians, requested the creation of a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has ruled out the idea.

On another tactic, Ms. Joly was asked about the prospect of Russia using chemical or nuclear weapons during the continuing conflict.

“I think there is a real security threat, and that is why this is the utmost priority of my team and I, of the Prime Minister, because this is the biggest security threat since the Second World War,” she said.

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.


RCMP REVERSES JOB DECISION INVOLVING UKRAINIANS – The RCMP has reversed a decision to let go of more than a dozen Ukrainian nationals who were working on a police training mission in Kyiv, a move that would have left them without any income as Russia pounds the capital with daily bombings and artillery fire. Story here.

$36M TO DEAL WITH OTTAWA PROTEST – Local leaders in Ottawa are being told that the city’s response to the three-week convoy protest last month cost municipal coffers over $36-million. Story here.

NO DECISION ON RELEASING REPORT ON EX-UNIFOR PRESIDENT – Unifor’s leadership team told staff at an internal meeting Thursday morning that they were still debating whether or not to make public the findings of a report into the conduct of former president Jerry Dias, according to sources who were present at the meeting. Story here.

COVID-19 BLIP POSSIBLE – Canada’s top public health officials have suggested the country is unlikely to be caught up in the new wave of COVID-19 cases around the world, but could instead see a “blip” this spring. Story here.

NEW NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM IN THE WORKS – Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for emergency preparedness are working to launch a new national flood insurance program to protect homeowners in high-risk flood zones. Story here.

NEWFOUNDLAND GOVERNMENT OPENS OFFICE IN POLAND – The Newfoundland and Labrador government is opening an office in Poland to help Ukrainians fleeing Russian attacks relocate to Canada’s easternmost province. Story here.

ONTARIO NEW DEMOCRAT BARRED FROM RE-ELECTION BID – The Ontario NDP says it will not allow four-term Hamilton MPP Paul Miller to run for the party in the upcoming election, citing “unacceptable” information uncovered during vetting. Story here from Global News.

GOVERNOR-GENERAL HAD A MESSAGE FOR THE QUEEN – Governor-General Mary Simon says she told Queen Elizabeth this week that Canada’s history books should be rewritten to reflect the facts about the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous people. Story here from CBC.

PREMIER STEFANSON APOLOGIZES – Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson is apologizing for congratulating her son’s high school hockey team in the legislature chamber after being asked to answer to a woman’s death. Story here from CBC.


I WON’T TOUCH EXISTING GUN LAWS: CHAREST – Conservative leadership candidate Jean Charest said Thursday he wouldn’t touch Canada’s existing gun laws – including when it comes to a ban on “assault-style” firearms. Story here.

AITCHISON TO LAUNCH CAMPAIGN – It’s official. Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison will launch his campaign to lead the federal Conservative Party in Huntsville on Sunday at 1 p.m. Mr. Aitchison, who has been Conservative labour critic, detailed some of his leadership ideas in a Toronto Sun column here.


TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The House of Commons is not sitting again until March 21. The agenda for Monday, at this point, is here.

NEW JOB FOR O’TOOLE COMMUNICATIONS LEADER – Josie Sabatino, the former communications director for ex-opposition leader Erin O’Toole, has joined Summa Strategies Limited in Ottawa as a senior consultant. In a LinkedIn posting, Ms. Sabatino said she will use her past experience on Parliament Hill to work to help clients navigate the complexities of government.


On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Elizabeth Renzetti is a columnist for The Globe who has been reporting on and off on violence against women for over 30 years, and discusses the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence, how to recognize coercive control and the debate over the criminalization of it. The Decibel is here.


In the Ottawa region, the Prime Minister held private meetings, and spoke with Micheál Martin, the Taoiseach – the Prime Minister and head of government – of Ireland. The Prime Minister also chaired a meeting of the Incident Response Group on the situation in Ukraine.


NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Toronto, visited small businesses with NDP Member of Provincial Parliament Jill Andrew, and met with volunteers at Ms. Andrews’s campaign office. He also visited a small business with MPP Faisal Hassan and hosted a small business round table.


New data from the Angus Reid Institute finds higher approval numbers for most of Canada’s premiers, including Ontario’s Doug Ford, who – less than three months before an expected provincial election – rises 13 points. Nova Scotia’s Tim Houston also springs well forward, up 16 points. Details here.


Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how the world has changed so our policies on defence, the economy and beyond will have to as well: “What has yet to be fully understood is what a permanent rupture has just occurred in the world order. Unlike the pandemic, there can be no going back to the status quo ex ante. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has become not merely a source of instability or the occasional outrage, but an existential threat; even if it can be returned to its cage in the short term, it will be the work of decades to contain it. Predictions of Mr. Putin’s imminent demise will, I’m afraid, prove illusory, and whoever succeeds him could in any case be as bad or worse. This is not a short-term crisis, but a long-term one. One consequence of this, clearly, will be a requirement – no longer a request – that Canada improve its contribution to the collective defence of the democracies: an increase in defence spending from its current 1.4 per cent of GDP to at least 2 per cent, and probably beyond that. (In the days of Lester Pearson, the great peacemaker, it was closer to 4 per cent.)”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on commodity markets possibly allowing Canada to afford both guns and butter: “The irony is tragic, but the war that has choked off Russian and Ukrainian exports could provide Canada with revenues to upgrade its defences, if the Liberal government has the will. Russia’s wanton invasion of Ukraine revealed how dangerously our military has been run down. Defence Minister Anita Anand made the humiliating admission Wednesday that Canada exhausted its surplus armament capacity when it sent a few antiquated anti-tank missiles and sundry additional supplies to Ukraine. “We need to make sure we do retain capacity here for the Canadian Armed Forces should the need arise,” she told CBC.”

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on radical change being overdue for the Thunder Bay Police Service and board: It is hard to watch what has unfolded in Thunder Bay. The findings of “systemic” racism in the simultaneous underpolicing and overpolicing of Indigenous people; the ways that the board failed to do its job, which is to police the police; the cannibalization within the force, featuring officers filing complaints about superiors at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario; yet another round of provincial investigations; senior level officers being removed – it all must stop.”

Rona Ambrose, Frank McKenna and Colin Robertson (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how, to truly support our allies, Canada needs a C.D. Howe moment: “This courageous effort, and the heroic sacrifices of the Ukrainian people, must be matched by a herculean effort by allies around the world to supply the war effort. And so Canada – endowed as we are with an abundance of food and energy – cannot respond as if things are business as usual. We have already opened our doors to the displaced, but we also have the oil and gas Europe needs and, like Ukraine, we are a breadbasket to the world. Canada must be part of the solution to help our friends and allies. Throwing up our hands wasn’t an option in 1939 – and is not an option now. Harnessing our natural resources to do so, including oil and gas, hydroelectricity, uranium and critical minerals, requires a strategic approach.”

Steve Paikin (TVO) on what you do when your conflicts of interest are a family affair: When you have a problem, Robert F. Kennedy used to say, hang a lantern on it. This column is my lantern. I’m now in my 40th year as a working journalist in the province of Ontario. In that time, I’ve met a lot of people inside and outside politics. I’ve also had numerous family members and friends who’ve been active in politics, which often makes things very interesting – and very sticky.”

Russell Wangersky (Saskatoon StarPhoenix) on how Pierre Poilievre’s attack show threatens to split Conservatives: “The Conservative leadership campaign will run for the next six months, with ample opportunity for personal attacks to become deep-seated antipathy. The risk is that the successful Stephen Harper model of bringing all manner of conservatives into the same big tent may be replaced by a spread-out field of competing and varied pup-tents. That’s a very bad thing not only for conservatives, but for the country I’m often accused of being a liberal, and to a degree, that’s fair, because my ideals do trend to the left. (At the same time, never towards any particular party.) But I think the Conservatives absolutely have to have a candidate who can win across the country, not just in areas that already vote Conservative. (If he wins, Poilievre may be able to revamp himself – but it won’t be easy.)”

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Post Politics Now: Biden to press for democratic renewal in speech to global summit – The Washington Post



Today, President Biden will address a global Summit for Democracy that his administration is hosting this week. Biden is expected to call for up to $690 million in new funding for his initiative for democratic renewal, which aims to support democracy and fight corruption worldwide. The guest list has raised some questions: The United States did not invite Turkey or Hungary, a reflection of how it views both nations’ democratic decline in recent years. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to participate despite intense controversy over his effort to assert greater control over Israel’s judiciary.

In New York, a grand jury examining whether former president Donald Trump should be charged with violations of state law for hush-money payments made to an adult-film actress in 2016 is not expected to meet again on the investigation this week.

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‘The empire strikes back’: Brits laud diversity in UK politics – Al Jazeera English



When Humza Yousaf became Scotland’s new leader this week, the world of British politics entered a new era of diversity.

With Pakistani-origin Yousaf in charge at Holyrood and Rishi Sunak, whose ancestors hail from India, leading at Westminster, it could be said that the United Kingdom is blazing a new trail in post-colonial history.

“The empire strikes back,” tweeted Jelina Berlow-Rahman, a human rights lawyer in Glasgow, after Yousaf’s victory.


Rahman, the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, sees the moment as one of triumph which fuelled pride in her own parents, who worked hard to give their children a better start in life.

“It’s harder for people from an ethnically diverse country to prove themselves and integrate, especially when they’re from a visible minority,” she told Al Jazeera.

Raised in London, human rights lawyer Berlow-Rahman moved to Scotland to study.

But unlike Yousaf, who backs Scottish independence, she doesn’t want the UK to break up, so would be unlikely to support his Scottish National Party.

She also isn’t a fan of Sunak’s right-wing Conservative government, which is pushing through controversial legislation aimed at cracking down on asylum seekers arriving across the English Channel.

She wonders if Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman, whose Indian-origin parents came from Kenya and Mauritius, feel that, as minorities, they have to prove themselves to their party.

“It’s their way of doing it,” she said. “Sometimes the language and manner could be toned down.”

From across the political divide, Foysol Choudhury, the Bangladesh-born Labour member of the Scottish Parliament, said that Yousaf’s rise to power is a proud moment for the South Asian community.

“I know how difficult it is to be a minority and to go into politics,” he said. “It’s something to be celebrated. I’m really proud of him.”

To make a difference, Yousaf should stand up for his own ideas, he said.

But even though those ideas will inevitably differ from his own, he will always be up for a chai with his old friend.

Often, they are joined by Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader born to Pakistani Muslims.

“A lot of the time, after the debates, we’ll walk out together and talk about other things,” he said.

“It shows we’re all human.”

For Qasim Hanif, Glasgow-based convener of Scots Asians for Independence, the prospect of a Scots-Pakistani and a British Indian negotiating the partition of the UK is too compelling to ignore.

“In 1947, the British Empire would not have foreseen this,” he said. “Some of those colonialists would be turning in their graves.”

Yousaf says he wants to convince a “sustained majority” before firing the starting gun on “indyref2” – the second referendum being proposed by the Scottish government on secession.

The last vote, in 2014, saw most Scots vote to remain.

The 2016 European Union membership referendum, however, swayed opinion.

While the majority in England voted to quit the bloc, most Scots had wanted to remain in the EU – a schism which saw the Scottish independence movement regain momentum.

Hanif believes Yousaf was right to ditch his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to turn the next UK general election into a de facto referendum.

“He knows how to play politics. If he calls a de facto referendum, he will already be on the back foot,” he said. “The UK establishment will tie you up in legal battles for years and years.”

But he hopes Yousaf will go straight into battle, lodging his legal challenge to the UK government’s Section 35 veto on Scotland’s controversial gender reforms, which will make it easier for people to change their recognised gender.

“They need to respect the will of the Scottish Parliament,” he said.

As an opening gambit, it’s a high-risk move.

Some, not least within Yousaf’s own party, question the wisdom of doubling down on a dossier that bedevilled Sturgeon’s last weeks in office.

Yousaf has been derided as a continuity leader of a party that has grown complacent after 16 years in power.

But his trenchant defence of the party’s progressive values has reaffirmed the SNP’s manifesto, bringing the growing chasm between Scotland and England into sharper focus.

As a French citizen who arrived in Scotland post-Brexit, Assa Samaké-Roman is acutely aware of the diverging paths of the two nations on immigration.

“What the Tories are doing in government is dog whistles to the far right,” said the journalist. “In Scotland, they’re not having that.

“This is the point of Scottish independence. The SNP is campaigning to escape the cruel social and immigration policies that Scotland didn’t even vote for,” she said.

In her view, Sunak’s Tories at Westminster represent a “toxic brand of Britishness”.

By contrast, Scotland espouses civic nationalism.

“That means even if I’m only here a few years, I’m as legitimate a Scot as anyone else,” said Samaké-Roman.

Scotland’s first Muslim leader

As the first Muslim to lead a Western democratic nation, Yousaf’s victory has resonated beyond the UK.

“As a French citizen, I’m thinking: ‘wow, this is where Scotland is’,” she said. “I can’t even imagine having a Muslim president in France because there’s so much Islamophobia.”

But Yousaf will not be in for an easy ride.

Like the rest of the UK, Scotland has emerged bruised from a double whammy of COVID and Brexit.

He will be entering office in fire-fighting mode, tackling the continuing fallout over a ferries procurement fiasco – now five years late and 240 million pounds ($300m) over budget – record hospital waiting lists and cost-of-living pressures.

He also inherits a party in crisis.

During the leadership contest, it was revealed the SNP’s top brass had misled the press over a 30,000 drop in membership figures, a scandal that led to the resignation of chief executive Peter Murrell, Sturgeon’s husband.

And police are currently investigating the loss of 600,000 pounds ($740,000) in funds from party coffers.

Newly elected Scottish National Party (SNP) Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) Humza Yousaf (C), smiles as he walks downstairs after the oath and affirmation ceremony at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland on May 11, 2011 [File: David Moir/Reuters]

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Justin Trudeau has let Beijing deep into Canadian politics



As hard as it is to conceive of him as such, as the longest-serving head of government in the G7 Justin Trudeau is now one of the world’s elder statesmen. He has achieved this exalted status despite innumerable scandals rocking his government, on issues ranging from corruption to “blackface” to bullying to sexual misconduct, many of which would have felled a lesser politician.

But his lucky streak may finally be ending. For the past month, Ottawa has been riveted by a series of explosive allegations about Chinese interference in Canadian politics, from illegal campaign donations to disinformation campaigns, allegations leaked to the media by members of Canada’s usually docile intelligence service reportedly angry with the government ignoring their reports.

Since then, the allegations have expanded to include accusations of improper relationships between Liberal politicians and the Chinese government. Only last week, Han Dong, a Liberal MP, resigned his party’s whip to sit as an independent to contest allegations that he advised a Chinese diplomat to delay the release of the “Two Michaels”, the Canadians arrested by China in retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou of Huawei, for political reasons. Mr Dong denies the allegations, and has stated that he is planning to “begin legal action to its fullest extent” against their publisher.

But what is most damaging for Mr Trudeau and his Liberal government is not so much the acts of foreign interference themselves, bad enough though they are, as the accusation that he wilfully turned a blind eye to what was happening. And little wonder: a Chinese consul was allegedly caught on tape as saying that “The Liberal Party of Canada is becoming the only party that the PRC can support”, as opposed to the opposition Conservatives, who have taken a much more hawkish line on China.


Mr Trudeau’s reaction so far has been to refuse to hold an inquiry into Chinese interference and to accuse his opponents of trying to discredit Canada’s democracy, not to mention anti-Chinese racism. Liberal MPs have filibustered parliamentary committees to stop further investigation and in an attempt to prevent Katie Telford, Mr Trudeau’s powerful chief of staff, from being summoned to testify to Parliament about what her boss knew about the allegations of Chinese interference, and when.

His appointment of David Johnston, a well-respected former governor general, as “special rapporteur” on foreign interference in Canada did little to calm the waters. A card-carrying member of Canada’s cosy establishment, Mr Johnston is a family friend of the Trudeaus, not to mention a former neighbour and a member of the Trudeau Foundation.

Mr Trudeau’s public praise of China’s “basic dictatorship” and his familial antecedents aside (his prime ministerial father was an early Western enthusiast for Mao’s China), his government’s record on China since he became prime minister does not inspire confidence.

He had to fire John McCallum, his own appointee as ambassador to China and former Cabinet colleague, after the latter publicly contradicted his own government’s position and sided with China on the Meng extradition case.

But now, there are signs that all of this is too much, even for Mr Trudeau’s allies. Last Thursday, the House of Commons passed a motion calling for a full public inquiry into Chinese political interference in Canada, with every party except the Liberals voting in favour.

Though the motion is not binding, what is notable is that the New Democratic Party, who are in a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals, voted for it, enabling it to pass. The NDP has said it will not bring down the government over this issue; but the Liberals may well think that a snap election is their only way out of the mess of their own making.

Few seriously think that Mr Trudeau is a Chinese agent, an accusation in the more feverish corners of the Internet. But the best that can be said of his conduct over China is that he has been one of the West’s useful idiots.


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