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Politics Briefing: One year after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban – The Globe and Mail

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Friday’s Politics Briefing failed to deploy due to a programming error. We apologize for missing it.

Hello,

One year ago, Afghanistan was taken over by the Taliban. Since then, The Globe and Mail’s Janice Dickson has been writing about the challenges faced by Afghans trying to make their way to Canada, including through a special immigration program for Afghans who worked for Canada’s diplomatic and military missions in the country, along with their families.

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Today, she brings the story of a young man named Usman and his father, who once guarded Canada’s embassy in Kabul. A week ago, Usman’s father made a rare trip outside their home to pick up some food – and has not returned. Usman fears the Taliban have taken his father and may be coming next for him and his family.

Usman said he has e-mailed Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) countless times on his father’s behalf over the last year. So far, he has only received auto-replies.

In another story, Dickson, along with Goran Tomasevic and Sharif Sharaf, detail the struggles of Afghan girls and teachers at one school – after the Taliban banned schooling for girls after grade six. One 14-year-old girl said in a phone interview that she has always dreamed of a career in economics. But she’s in sixth grade and, in a few months, her education will come to an end.

“Maybe in three or four years I will also marry. I don’t know. This is a very awful thought for me. But it could be my future, like other women,” the girl said.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for 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

GOVERNANCE ISSUES KNOWN – Before Hockey Canada became engulfed in controversy this year over its handling of sexual-assault allegations, the government had concerns about its board of directors, including aspects of transparency and accountability within the organization, according to documents obtained by The Globe. Story here.

BLOCKADES COST BILLIONS – Newly-disclosed cabinet documents show that Ottawa produced an internal estimate in February of the GDP impact of countrywide blockades – figures Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland did not provide when asked during a June committee hearing. The estimate showed that the Canadian economy was losing between $2.6-billion and $5.2-billion a week. Story here.

ARRIVECAN GIVES ONE-TIME EXEMPTION – The Canadian government is allowing COVID-19-vaccinated travellers entering the country by land border a one-time exemption from quarantine, testing and fines if they fail to enter their information on the ArriveCan app. Story here.

STRUGGLES TO FIND A FAMILY DOCTOR – More Canadian seniors are finding themselves without a family doctor amid a shortage of primary-care physicians, compelling some older adults to seek private support as advocates highlight serious health consequences. Story here.

RUSHDIE ON ROAD TO RECOVERY – Author Salman Rushdie is “on the road to recovery,” his agent said Sunday, two days after he was stabbed ahead of delivering a lecture in upstate New York. Story by the Associated Press here.

POWER OUTAGE INVESTIGATED – The City of Toronto is investigating a power outage that left many in the downtown core without electricity for several hours on Thursday. Story by the Canadian Press here.

INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE EXEMPTION DISCUSSED – Senior civil servants discussed offering possible exemptions to federal employees who already speak one Indigenous language from having fluency in both English and French, according to new documents. Story by the Canadian Press here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

MPs OFFER STATEMENTS ON AFGHANISTAN – Liberal MPs referred to the “hardships endured by the Afghan people, with some having undergone harrowing journeys to flee the country and countless others living in fear of persecution and retribution,” and highlighted the thousands of Afghans who have been brought to Canada. NDP MPs, meanwhile, brought up issues with the Liberal government’s program to bring Afghans to Canada who served with Canada’s diplomatic or military missions. “Instead of expediting processing, the Liberal government made the application process confusing and full of bureaucratic red tape,” their statement read. Conservative MPs said that “the Liberals failed to plan for an evacuation of our partners in Afghanistan and continue to struggle to provide thousands of Afghans safe entry into our country.”

NATIONAL ACADIAN DAY MARKED – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement noting the day, writing, “Acadians have always shown courage, resilience, and perseverance. For more than 400 years in North America, they have built a strong and dynamic identity, which they have safeguarded in the face of adversity and hardship. This Acadian identity, deeply rooted in our history, inspires people far beyond the borders of Acadie.”

COMMITTEE MEETS ABOUT POSSIBLE INTERFERENCE – Tomorrow, the House standing committee on public safety and national security will meet for the second day of a study into “allegations of political interference in the 2020 Nova Scotia Mass Murder investigation.” They are set to hear from RCMP and Department of Justice officials. Hearing information is here.

THE DECIBEL

Why do CEOs get paid so much? David Milstead, The Globe’s institutional investment reporter, takes Decibel listeners inside the complex world of executive pay. Episode here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister is holding private meetings in the National Capital Region today.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

TRIBUTE

Bill Graham was old school. The former Liberal cabinet minister loved politics, loved the Toronto riding he represented through five elections, loved being out and about in the world, loved gossip and good stories, which he could tell better than just about anyone,” wrote John Ibbitson in his obituary of the respected politician, who died last weekend. Obituary here.

OPINION

Mellissa Fung (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on the fight to get Afghans out of the country, amid bureaucratic delays: “During those frantic first days and weeks of the Taliban’s return to Kabul, I made hundreds of calls, to people I knew and to people I didn’t. I wasn’t alone; journalists, aid workers and former military members the world over were similarly desperate to do what we could to evacuate those at risk. It seemed surreal that this work was left to us, but we found ourselves desperately trying to organize convoys and flights, and madly filling out spreadsheets for manifests.”

Rahela Nayebzadah (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on Afghanistan’s descent into the ‘dark ages,’ a year after the West’s withdrawal: “Society needs to come together to support those the West left behind. Afghans in Western countries, especially, need to come together. We need to push political leaders into fighting for women’s rights in Afghanistan and accepting more refugees. Recently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that spots for the special Afghan immigration program are nearly full. Millions of Afghans will die at the hands of the Taliban if Western countries do not accept more refugees.”

Adnan R. Khan (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Afghanistan is in a similar place as it was in the mid-1990s: “It truly has been a year of rude awakenings in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban conquered the country on Aug. 15 last year, the situation has devolved to a point where we are now seeing the re-emergence of an Afghanistan that existed in the mid-1990s: an emirate of fear where terrorist groups are again allowed to flourish and basic human dignity is denied to most of the population. That’s not what we were told would happen when the U.S. struck a deal with the Taliban that would allow it to end the longest war in U.S. history.”

Asuntha Charles and Reyhana Patel (The Hill Times) on the need for Canada to allow aid to flow to Afghanistan: “We have united in launching the ‘Aid for Afghanistan’ public campaign to remove these barriers, including the amendment of the Criminal Code, to allow humanitarian organizations to resume their programs. Ultimately, we want our government—and Canadians at large—to understand that this issue is not about the Taliban, religion, or party politics. It is about Afghanistan being on the brink of mass starvation, where 22.8 million people—through no fault of their own—are suffering and in desperate need of urgent help.”

Samra Habib (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on partition’s ‘cruel legacy:’ “Many of us born after Partition have experienced intergenerational trauma. How does so much loss, fear, grief and disconnection manifest in the bodies and lives of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who lost so much? It’s something I often wonder about as I try to unearth the origins of some of my own fears and anxieties. Hopefully, a surge in conversations around the impact of Partition, 75 years later, will help us examine what has been passed down to us.”

David Boyd, Kai Chan, Amanda Giang, and Navin Ramankutty (Contributed to The Globe and Mail): on the need for Canada to take action on the right to a healthy environment: “The world’s future became a little bit brighter recently. On July 28, for the first time in history, the United Nations General Assembly recognized that everyone, everywhere, has a right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Now it’s time for Canada to step up and take action to ensure that right for all its citizens.”

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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We need a law against lying in politics

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Of all the lies she’s told in her political career, Danielle Smith’s latest might be the biggest yet. After insisting it was the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) that “asked for us to do a pause” on renewable energy development last year, it turns out the AESO’s CEO was actually opposed to it all along. In an email that came to light through a freedom-of-information request from The Narwhal’s Drew Anderson, AESO CEO Mike Law indicated that he was “not supportive” of the idea. “A ‘closed for business’ message to renewables will be reputationally very challenging for the province,” he wrote.

This is already having a number of potential negative outcomes for Alberta, from the independence of its supposedly independent electricity market operator to the damage this decision is doing to investment in the province. This week alone, TransAlta announced the cancellation of its 300-megawatt Riplinger wind farm in Cardston because of the new provincial regulations and put three additional renewable energy projects on hold.

Sady, this probably won’t negatively impact Smith’s popularity. We’ve come to expect our elected officials will lie to us, and they’ve been more than happy to live up — or down — to that standard. When Pierre Poilievre and his Conservative MPs tell bald-faced lies, whether it’s about the carbon tax or the treatment of drugs in B.C. (they’ve been decriminalized, not “legalized”), most of us — journalists and non-Conservative MPs included — have almost become accustomed to them by now.

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In fairness, the same holds true for the lies being told by those on the other side of the House of Commons, even if they happen with far less frequency. We’re all increasingly numb to the cost of these lies, big and small, and the corrosive impact they have on our political discourse and the decisions that flow from it.

This isn’t unique to Canada, of course. Politicians lie everywhere. But at least one politician is willing to do something about it. Adam Price, a Welsh parliamentarian and former leader of the centre-left Plaid Cymru party, recently tabled an amendment to that country’s broader election reform act proposing that it be made illegal for an elected official or candidate to “wilfully mislead the parliament or the public.” Opinions, beliefs, and other non-factual statements would be exempt from this proposed law that has the support of Wales’ Liberal Democrats and Tories.

This isn’t Price’s first rodeo here. He became famous for trying to impeach former British prime minister Tony Blair for lying about the Iraq war, and he clearly still believes in the importance of politicians telling the truth. “If a doctor lies, they are struck off,” he told CBC’s As It Happens. “If a lawyer lies, they are disbarred. And yet we seem to have tolerated a democratic culture where politicians can lie with impunity. Well, that’s got to stop.”

Donald Trump’s arrival on the political scene in 2016, and his well-documented status as the world’s most voracious liar, created a permission structure for other aspiring liars to test their own limits. So, too, has the decline of conventional media and the rise of a right-wing information ecosystem that holds the truth in nearly as much contempt as the journalists who try to inform it. And while those trends are most visible in American politics, where everything (including the lies and the liars) is bigger, they can clearly be seen in ours as well.

It’s entirely possible such a law would fail to pass constitutional muster in Canada, although, if Poilievre is willing to pre-emptively invoke the charter, then maybe Justin Trudeau could do the same here. But maybe as a first step, his government could establish an officer of Parliament charged with cataloging lying offences and identifying the politicians responsible for them. If former Toronto Star reporter and U.S. fact checker extraordinaire Daniel Dale is looking for an opportunity to return home, this might be the perfect job for him.

The cynics will surely suggest that this wouldn’t have any meaningful impact on our political discourse, much less the natural inclination of politicians to bend the truth of any given situation to their advantage. They might be right. But at a moment where misinformation is more widespread than ever, and where democratic institutions are increasingly coming under attack, we at least ought to have the courage to find out.

 

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Politics: Donald Trump faces off with Stormy Daniels in the New York trial’s latest developments

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This week, Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz discuss Stormy Daniels’s testimony in Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial; marijuana rescheduling; and the media’s role and responsibility in defending democracy.

Here are some notes and references from this week’s show:

Josh Gerstein for Politico: Stormy spoke. Trump fumed. Jurors were captivated – but also cringed.

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Ivana Saric for Axios: Status of Trump’s criminal cases

Li Zhou for Vox: Marijuana could be classified as a lower-risk drug. Here’s what that means.

Sam Tabachnik for The Denver Post: Black market marijuana grows are popping up faster than law enforcement can take them down. But is legalization the cause?

John Ingold for The Colorado Sun: What have we learned about the arguments for and against legalized marijuana in the past 10 years?

Nathaniel Meyersohn for CNN: The dark side of the sports betting boom

C-SPAN: President Biden Remarks at White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Ben Smith for Semafor: Joe Kahn: ‘The newsroom is not a safe space’

Dan Pfeiffer for Message Box: Why Biden Won’t Do a New York Times Interview and A Response to the Editor of the New York Times

Matthew Yglesias and Brian Beutler for the Politix Podcast: The Times, They Aren’t A Changin’

Charles Homans for The New York Times Magazine: Donald Trump Has Never Sounded Like This

Eli Stokols for Politico: The Petty Feud Between the NYT and the White House

Here are this week’s chatters:

Emily: Vision: A Memoir of Blindness and Justice by David S. Tatel

John: Gina Kolata for The New York Times: Locks of Beethoven’s Hair Offer New Clues to the Mystery of His Deafness

David: Randy Yohe for West Virginia Public Broadcasting: W.Va. Gubernatorial Campaign Attack Ads Vilify Transgender Children and Kyndall Cunningham for Vox: The Drake vs. Kendrick Lamar feud, explained

Listener chatter from Justin and Katie in Columbus, Ohio: Keziah Weir for Vanity Fair: The Vatican’s Secret Role in the Science of IVF.

For this week’s Slate Plus bonus segment, David, John, and Emily talk with Emily Lawler, Detroit Free Press. See Emily Lawler for the Detroit Free Press: Voters’ voices in Saginaw CountyJohn Wisely: Legal troubles don’t dampen Trump enthusiasm as he visits Michiganand Paul Egan: As Trump visits, Michigan bellwether Saginaw County is feeling its political juice. See also Arpan Lobo: Michigan lawmaker says ‘illegal invaders’ landed at DTW. They were NCAA basketball teams.

In the latest Gabfest Reads, John talks with David E. Sanger about his new book, New Cold Wars: China’s Rise, Russia’s Invasion, and America’s Struggle to Defend the West.

Email your chatters, questions, and comments to gabfest@slate.com. (Messages may be referenced by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Cheyna Roth

Research by Julie Huygen

 

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Barron Trump Is Officially Entering Politics

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Graduation

The former president’s youngest child will serve as a Florida delegate at this year’s Republican National Convention

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Donald Trump’s youngest son is officially making his foray into his family’s political mafia.

The Republican National Convention has selected Barron Trump, the 18-year-old son of the former president, to serve as a delegate for the state of Florida at this year’s GOP presidential nomination convention this summer— where he is expected to vote for his father.

Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is serving as co-chair of the Republican National Committee and, according to a list of delegates obtained by several news outlets, the convention will be a family affair. Three of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Tiffany Trump, have also been tapped to serve as delegates for their father.

While Trump’s youngest child has been out of the spotlight both during and after his father’s presidency, Trump himself has clearly grown more comfortable leveraging Barron’s name as a political weapon.

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Last month, Trump repeatedly claimed that Judge Juan Merchan — who is overseeing his ongoing criminal hush-money trial — had barred him from attending Barron’s high school graduation ceremony later this month, despite the judge having submitted no such order.

On April 30, Merchan ruled that the court would be excused on May 17 to allow the defendant to attend his son’s graduation. But despite his public griping that securing permission was ever even a question, Trump has already packed the day of his son’s milestone with campaign events. According to Minnesota news station KFGO, Trump will headline the Republican Party of Minnesota’s annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner that same night.

 

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