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O’Toole says the Conservatives are ready for the challenges of an election during the pandemic



Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says his party is ready for the challenges of an election held during the continuing pandemic.

“Will we be ready? Absolutely. I’ve been an opposition leader in a minority parliament in a pandemic,” Mr. O’Toole told a news conference on Tuesday. “We’ve had to be ready at every step.”

His comments come amid the expectation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will call an election later this summer or in the fall.

But Mr. O’Toole said the party was ready to go this past spring, preparing an approach informed by how U.S. President Joe Biden connected with voters during the American campaign last year.

The Tory Leader said he is prepared to use a mix of outreach using a party studio in Ottawa where Tuesday’s news conference was held as well as some form of traditional campaign tour that would take the Leader out across the country.

“We’re going to respect all provincial and municipal rules with respect to health restrictions,” he said, referring to the tour.

On Tuesday, Mr. O’Toole talked about part of his offer to Canadian voters, promising Canada Emergency Preparedness Plan to protect the country from COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Pieces of the plan include working with pharmaceutical companies to escalate domestic manufacturing of critical medicines and active ingredients, working with the United States to strengthen the North American supply chain, and calling an immediate public inquiry into the government’s pandemic response.

The Tory Leader said the federal Liberal government was late to act on the border and securing vaccines.

“I think Canadians are happy we’re finally emerging several months later than countries that were a little more prepared, but I think anyone running to lead this country has to show a commitment that we never make the mistakes that were made this last year by the Trudeau government,” he said.

Later Tuesday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc was asked at a news conference about Mr. O’Toole’s criticism of the federal government’s pandemic management.

Mr. LeBlanc said the government recognized that Canada had found itself in a “difficult situation” due to the long-term decline of the biomedical manufacturing capacity to produce vaccines.

As a result, he said the government has been working with the industry to bolster production and that, on another note, the government is committed to a review of the handling of the pandemic.

“We will make sure that a national government never finds itself in this situation again,” said Mr. LeBlanc. “Mr. O’Toole is arriving, in fact, at the same conclusion our government arrived at months and months ago.”


GUILBEAULT SEEKS SENATORS HELP – Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is asking senators to focus on passing Bill C-10, broadcast legislation that has sparked controversy, a day before the Senate is set to break for the summer.

MCKENNA’S EXIT – Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna said Monday she will not run in the next election in order to spend more time with her family and on the fight against climate change.

CARNEY WARNING ON DIGITAL CURRENCIES – Commercial banks could face a period of disruption and heightened competition as digital currencies upend payment systems and undermine existing models for bank funding, Mark Carney- the former governor of the Bank of Canada and Bank of England – told a group of leading central bankers on Monday.

PAUL SAYS SHE’S CLEAR -The leader of the federal Green Party says she no longer has to follow through on an order of her party’s federal council that directed her to repudiate a former aide who criticized members of caucus.

CONCERNS ABOUT BLACK ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM – Some Black businesspeople say a new federal government program meant to bolster Black entrepreneurship is hard to access, offers unclear repayment terms and asks invasive questions about applicants’ sexuality. From CBC.

CANADA SHOULDN’T CRITICIZE CHINA: SENATOR – In a provocative speech in the upper house on Monday, Independent Senators Group Leader Sen. Yuen Pau Woo said Canada should avoid criticizing China for its human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims because our country has mistreated Indigenous peoples. From CBC.

NOVA SCOTIA MLA CONSIDERS HER OPTIONS – Former Nova Scotia PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin hasn’t decided whether she’ll fight to keep her job as MLA now that she’s an Independent. But she says she is certain of one thing. She says she had nothing to do with the protest that shut down traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway most of last Wednesday. From CBC.

THE MOST EXPENSIVE B.C. ELECTION EVER – Vaughn Palmer of The Vancouver Sun writes about recent disclosures from British Columbia’s chief electoral officer about the 2020 provincial election, which turns out to have been the most expensive in B.C. history. It cost 30 per cent more than the last vote, in 2017. “Basically everything cost more – staffing, supplies, space, printing, advertising, mailing, and so on” Column here.


The Prime Minister speaks with the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. He also participates in a fireside chat with Charles Milliard, president and chief executive officer of the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec. And he participates in a virtual conversation with Melissa Grelo, co-host of CTV’s The Social, as part of a virtual event celebrating Filipino Heritage Month in Canada.


Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet continues his summer tour of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole makes an announcement in Ottawa.


Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how Catherine McKenna and half of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first. 2015 cabinet are now going or gone: “Mr. Trudeau’s government has, in one way or another, chewed up a lot of its shiny pennies. It’s not about the rate of turnover. Former PM Stephen Harper lost as many ministers, though not so many front-bench leaders. But a lot of Mr. Trudeau’s symbolic stars have been ground out of the game in the past six years. As has the symbolism of a cabinet team driving an agenda.”

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on uncertainty over the end of the COVID-19 pandemic: Closing quickly and reopening slowly is the best way to avoid new waves of infection. That lesson, which dates back to the early days of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, remains true. If Canada wants to avoid a fourth wave, we need to heed that warning. Don’t throw away your masks, but wear them in select settings. Have larger gatherings, but don’t overdo it. Head back to restaurants, but don’t recycle the plexiglass barriers quite yet. Travel again, but get tested, before and after.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney considering a cabinet shuffle and a summer of silence.: “The UCP government badly needs two things: a cabinet facelift for post-pandemic times and a summer stretch of deep public silence. UCP insiders judge — correctly, I think — that the public is sick of regular COVID-19 news conferences and proclamations. Kenney has been very public for more than a year. He’ll talk about any issue from many angles. He has probably uttered as many official words in two years as the voluble Ralph Klein emitted in 14. As a result, he’s overexposed. People connect his face and voice with bad news. The premier and the public need a break.”

Steve Paikin (TVO) on an appropriate new name for Ryerson University: “It was two and a half months ago that the university renamed its law school after Canada’s first Black MP and cabinet minister, Lincoln Alexander. Ryerson received a ton of positive publicity after that move. What if Ryerson took a page out of WLU’s playbook? Changing the iconic blue, yellow, and white RU-logo signs all over campus would no doubt cost millions of dollars. But what if the RU could stay, except that the “R” would stand for something else?”

Mark Sutcliffe (The Ottawa Citizen) on why he supports renaming Ottawa’s Sir John. A Macdonald Parkway: “There will be people who will decry this as an example of “cancel culture.” But nothing is being cancelled here. Macdonald is and always will be our first prime minister and his record speaks for itself, both for better and for worse. History is not changed by the naming or un-naming of a road, airport or building. Such honours are subjective to begin with; there are many other Canadians after whom the parkway could have been named. No one’s rights are trampled upon if they don’t have a road named after them or a statue erected in their honour.”

Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It’s not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.

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Italy’s Mr. Fix-It Tries to Fix the Country’s Troubled Justice System — and Its Politics, Too – The New York Times



The issue has become a test for whether Prime Minister Mario Draghi can really change Italy.

LODI — If there is one person who does not have to be persuaded of the need for Italy’s urgent push for judicial reform — which Prime Minister Mario Draghi has staked his leadership on — it is the former mayor of the northern town of Lodi, Simone Uggetti.

Early one morning, Lodi’s financial police knocked on his door, hauled him off to prison, strip searched him and put him in a small cell with a convicted murderer and a drug dealer. It was the start of a five-year ordeal — over the awarding of city contracts, worth 5,000 euros, to manage two public pools — that was used by his political opponents to destroy his career, his credibility, his reputation and his family.

“Who are you? You’re the mayor who got arrested, all your life,” Mr. Uggetti said this week, still visibly shaken by the experience, which ended only in May when an appeals court absolved him, saying no crime had ever taken place. He wept in court. “It was the end of a nightmare,” Mr. Uggetti said. “Five years is a long time.”

Such cases are all too common in Italy, where the far-reaching power of sometimes ideologically driven magistrates can be used to pursue political vendettas or where businesses can easily become ensnared in cumbersome and daunting litigation that is among the slowest in Europe.

Mr. Draghi is so convinced Italy’s courts need fixing that he has said he is willing to risk his government’s survival on the issue, by putting to a confidence vote new legislation that would shorten civil and criminal proceedings. Without speedier trials, he argues, all the economic renewal and political change required in Italy will not come — and there is a lot that needs changing.

Elisabetta Zavoli for The New York Times

On Thursday evening, the government announced it had reached a unanimous agreement with a broad array of interests in the government. A vote will take place in coming days.

“The objective is to guarantee a speedy justice system that respects the reasonable duration of a trial,” Marta Cartabia, Italy’s justice minister, said Thursday night after the announcement. “But also guarantees that no trial goes up in smoke.”

The issue has become the first major test, beyond vaccinations, of whether Mr. Draghi, a titan of the European Union who helped save the euro, can leverage his formidable Mr. Fix-It reputation and the grand political coalition behind him to solve a long-festering problem that has threatened the democratic process and economy in Italy, the last of Europe’s major powers to escape far-reaching overhauls of its postwar systems.

Mr. Draghi’s gambit has all the potential to change a country where, as the saying goes, “you aren’t anybody unless you are under investigation.” It is nothing less than an attempt to restore Italians’ confidence in their political leaders and institutions after decades of anti-establishment vitriol, angry headlines and social media invective.

The threat of endless litigation, Mr. Draghi has argued, scares off foreign investors, constrains growing Italian companies, and could even keep Italy from meeting the requirements imposed by the European Union to gain its share of a more than 200 billion euro post-Covid recovery fund.

“Justice is one of the keystones of the recovery,” said Claudio Cerasa, the editor of il Foglio, a newspaper that has emerged as the voice of protecting the rights of defendants, and also frustrated accusers, from slow and politicized justice. He said Mr. Draghi “depoliticizes the conflict and brings it on a different level, which is the Draghi trademark, he transforms everything into common sense.”

Still, it is no easy task. But Mr. Draghi is betting that, after many decades, the political winds around the issue have shifted in his favor.

Justice emerged as perhaps the central theme of contemporary Italian politics in 1992, when the watermark Clean Hands investigation exposed complex, vast and systemic corruption that financed the country’s political parties.

The scandal came to be known as Bribesville and brought down a ruling class, marking the end of Italy’s First Republic after World War II.

Prosecutors became public heroes and, capitalizing on the spreading impression that all politicians were guilty of something, stepped into the power vacuum.

But so did Silvio Berlusconi, the brash media mogul, who became prime minister and a constant target of prosecutors who investigated him for corruption and other crimes. He portrayed them as politically motivated Communists, or “red robes,” and almost always beat the rap by running out the clock and reaching a statute of limitations.

That infuriated magistrates and eventually fueled a “hang ’em all” populist backlash led by the anti-elite Five Star Movement, which once again depicted the political establishment as a corrupt caste.

By 2018, Luigi Di Maio, one of its leaders, made lists of all rival candidates under investigation and called them “unpresentable.” The media splashed accusations and leaked investigations on front pages, and then barely mentioned or buried dropped charges or acquittals.

Max Rossi/Reuters

Now, that anti-establishment season seems to be waning, and populists have apparently made the calculation that, electorally, “lock-em up” no longer pays.

Mr. Di Maio, who led j’accuse Five Star protests against Mr. Uggetti and once rode the popular anger to victory in national elections, is now contrite. Now Italy’s foreign minister, he wrote an apology in Il Foglio to Mr. Uggetti after his acquittal in May for the “grotesque and indecorous manner” he behaved.

But Mr. Cerasa, Il Foglio’s editor, suspected that the change may be more tactical than heartfelt. He said that parties that wielded the judicial system as a weapon also felt its scorpion sting while in power, and faced a barrage of civil and criminal cases.

But something else has changed: Mr. Draghi has now become the organizing force of Italian politics.

With hundreds of billions of euros of E.U. assistance hanging in the balance, and a pandemic still in the air, establishment chops and palpable sanity are in high demand. Mr. Draghi is seen to have both and has seized the moment to consolidate power.

Gregorio Borgia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

No political novice, Mr. Draghi appears to have the support to pass his judicial legislation — and to put Italy on more solid footing by baking lasting change into the system.

The government’s agreement on the legislation includes Five Star, which had expressed concerns about letting criminals off the hook, but which ultimately agreed to withdraw their proposed amendments. Other backing came from the nationalist League party of Matteo Salvini; Mr. Berlusconi’s party on the right; the liberal Democrats on the left; and Matteo Renzi, the former prime minister.

Not everyone is enthusiastic, though.

Marco Travaglio, the editor of Il Fatto Quotidiano, which has deep ties to magistrates and has served as a megaphone for Five Star’s aspersions, has been lashing out and angrily resisting what increasingly feels like the end of an era in Italian politics. This month he mocked Mr. Draghi as a privileged brat and characterized his justice minister, Ms. Cartabia, a former president of Italy’s constitutional court, as a rube who “cannot distinguish between a tribunal and a hair dryer.”

But for the most part, people are on board with Mr. Draghi, and Mr. Uggetti hoped that the prime minister would bring more balance to the system that nearly ruined him.

Elisabetta Zavoli for The New York Times

Mr. Uggetti now works as the chief executive of a tech firm outside Lodi developing business management software. “I’m rebuilding my life,” he said.

Still, he misses being mayor. As he walked around the pool that was the source of his judicial nightmare, and which is now an empty ruin, he ticked off all the things he would fix (bike paths and roads), and pointed out historical tidbits (a bridge where Napoleon won a major battle, a statue of a scientist) as if he still represented the town.

He considered running for mayor again a possibility. But there was another possibility too. In Italy, a higher court can overrule an appeals court, cancel an acquittal and put a person on trial again. That higher court still has time to decide to retry him.

“They have the power to say ‘No, this appeal sentence is no good,’” he said, shaking his head. “I really hope that it finishes here.”

Emma Bubola contributed reporting from Rome.

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Totalenergies CEO says its decision to exit Petrocedeno not linked to politics – Reuters



A general view of a logo on the TotalEnergies headquarters in the La Defense business district in Paris, France, July 28, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS, July 29 (Reuters) – TotalEnergies said on Thursday that the sale of its 30.3% stake in Petrocedeno was not linked to the political situation in Venezuela, its chief executive said.

Patrick Pouyanné was speaking during an analyst call.

Reporting by Benjamin Mallet. Editing by Jane Merriman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Independent MP Derek Sloan hopes his new political party ‘excites’ Canadians about politics – Global News



Independent MP for Hastings Lennox and Addington, Derek Sloan, has confirmed to Global News that he is in the process of trying to launch his own political party. The MP says it will be called the “True North” party, pending Elections Canada Approval.

“I think Canadians are disenfranchised with the current political landscape, and I’m hoping to excite Canadians about politics and about Canada and to really get people happy again about Canada and hopeful,” said Sloan.

A spokesperson for Elections Canada said that they are working to ensure all requirements under the Canada Elections Act are met, in order for Sloan’s party to become official.

Read more:
Tory caucus to meet Wednesday to determine fate of MP Derek Sloan

In the meantime, Sloan has been spending time outside of his riding during the pandemic, making a number of trips to Western Canada.

Sloan explained that his travels are necessary in order to promote his “movement” on a national scale.

“Right now I believe for the sake of our riding, I need to sort of boost the popularity of this movement across the country,” said Sloan.

Sloan became an independent MP earlier this year when he was removed from the Conservative Party of Canada.

Former conservative senator, Hugh Segal, says Sloan’s move to create a new party could negatively impact his former party.

“If he’ll be more to the right, he’ll obviously be taking some votes away from the Conservatives at that far right-winged edge in his constituency and other constituencies where there may be candidates for his new party,” said Segal.

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Liberal Mike Bossio lost his seat to Sloan last election, and will be trying to win it back during the upcoming election.

Bossio believes Sloan has become a polarizing figure in the riding due to his views (ranging from abortion and LGBQT2 issues, to COVID-19 and vaccines.)

“He has a very different worldview that he’s been sharing with Canadians. It’s certainly not a view that I share in any way, shape or form, I think that it’s a toxic and dangerous view,” said Bossio.

Sloan says while he’s starting to build momentum for his new party in Western Canada, his intention to run in his own riding has not changed.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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