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Politics Briefing: Ottawa addressing inflation challenge on several fronts, including through fiscal restraint, Freeland says – The Globe and Mail




Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland outlined Ottawa’s plan for dealing with inflation Thursday, pledging to focus on fiscal restraint, boosting productivity and delivering on recently promised programs that will help Canadians afford higher prices.

The package of measures add up to $8.9-billion, she said, but all of that spending was previously announced and accounted for in previous budgets.


Those measures include a range of enhanced benefits to individuals through programs such as the Canada Workers Benefit, a 10-per-cent increase to Old Age Security for seniors over 75, and increased funding for child care and rent support. The minister also noted that many federal income support programs such as the Canada Child Benefit, the goods and services tax credit, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors are designed to automatically increase in line with inflation.

Deputy Ottawa Bureau chief Bill Curry and economics reporter Mark Rendell report 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 sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


SUPREME COURT SECURITY NEEDS TO BE TAKEN MORE SERIOUSLY: CHIEF JUSTICE – Canada’s chief justice says the safety of the Supreme Court of Canada building needs to be taken more seriously following this winter’s convoy protest in downtown Ottawa. Story here from CBC.

RECORD COMPLAINTS ON HANDLING OF ACCESS REQUESTS – The federal information watchdog fielded a record number of complaints last year about the way government bodies handled requests for documents despite years of promises from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reform the system. Story here.

NO COMPENSATION FOR CIVIL SERVANTS ON UNPAID LEAVE – Civil servants who were placed on unpaid leave for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be compensated for eight months of lost pay now that the vaccine mandates are being suspended, the federal government said in the face of union demands. Story here.

ONLINE STREAMING BILL MUST MOVE QUICKLY: RODRIGUEZ – Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says it is “important” that the Liberal government’s online-streaming bill moves through Parliament quickly, shrugging off the Conservatives’ accusations that the legislation is being rushed through committee in an “undemocratic” way. Story here.

JEAN RUNNING FOR UCP LEADERSHIP; NOTLEY ACKNOWLEDGES VOLUNTEER ISSUES – Brian Jean, the co-founder of Alberta’s governing United Conservative Party, has officially launched his campaign to become the next leader, saying it’s imperative the party get back on track by listening to people and fighting for a better deal in Confederation. Story here. Meanwhile, Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley, a week after acknowledging her party is investigating allegations of mistreatment of volunteers, said Wednesday there are problems. Story here.

RCMP UPDATING CORE VALUES – The RCMP is updating its statement of “core values” for the first time in a quarter century by adding references to “reconciliation,” “diversity,” “honour” and “empathy.” Story here from CBC.


CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is in Ontario. Patrick Brown in Hamilton and London, Ont., where, according to a tweet, he spoke to the city’s Macdonald-Cartier Club. Jean Charest is in Montreal. Leslyn Lewis is in her Haldimand-Norfolk riding. Pierre Poilievre is in Ottawa. There is no word on Roman Baber’s campaign whereabouts.

BROWN CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR DEPARTS POST – Patrick Brown’s campaign to lead the Conservatives will survive the departure of his campaign co-chair, a campaign spokesperson says.

Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner is leaving the Brown campaign to focus on the possibility of seeking the leadership of the governing United Conservative Party in Alberta.

But Chisholm Pothier, the communications director for the Brown campaign, says nothing has changed “organizationally” with Ms. Rempel Garner’s exit. “We have an organization of over 1000 individuals across the country, in every province and territory and most ridings in this country. We have an senior campaign team with a huge amount of experience,” Mr. Pothier said in a statement.

In a Wednesday night tweet, Ms. Rempel Garner said she is giving a leadership bid “serious consideration” after being encouraged to seek the job, which is being vacated by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney after he won 51.4 per cent support in a recent membership confidence vote. She said she will decide based on further conversations about the possibility. “As such, I will no longer be participating in the federal Conservative leadership race so that I can focus on how to best serve my province.”

Meanwhile, the federal Conservative Party is investigating allegations that Patrick Brown’s leadership campaign has been reimbursing the membership fees paid by individuals who agreed to join the party. Story here.


TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, June. 16, accessible here.

PM TRAVELS – Between June. 23 and June 30, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, the G7 Summit at Schloss Elmau, Germany, and the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain. He will also participate in an official bilateral visit hosted by Pedro Sanchez, the Prime Minister of Spain. The commonwealth meeting runs from June 23 to the 25th. The G7 Summit runs from the 26th to the 28th. The NATO summit runs from the 28th to the 30th. After the NATO summit, the Prime Minister will participate in the official visit hosted by Prime Minister Sanchez on June 30.

JACZEK ON BLUESFEST – Helena Jaczek, minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario, announced Thursday over $10-million to support Ottawa Bluesfest − a 10-day, multi-staged music festival that is one of the city’s top attractions – and three Ottawa-based tourism operators.

CHANGE OF ARMY COMMAND – In Ottawa, there’s a change-of-command ceremony for the Canadian Army as Lieutenant-General Jocelyn (Joe) Paul assumes command of the Canadian Army from Major-General Michel-Henri St-Louis, in a ceremony presided over by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre.


On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, columnist Tim Kiladze talks about declines in cryptocurrencies and why, even with a sector that has constant ups and downs, this crash matters and what retail investors with money caught up in crypto should do. The Decibel is here.


The Prime Minister holds private meetings and speaks with Rwanda president, Paul Kagame, and the commissioner of official languages, Raymond Théberge.


Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet has meetings in the riding of Laurentides-LaBelle

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, accompanied by NDP MP Lori Idlout (Nunavut), was scheduled to meet with staff and elders from Nunavut at the Larga Baffin facility in Ottawa, and to speak about the need for long-term care services in Nunavut. The NDP leader was also scheduled to participate in Question Period.

No other party leader schedules released.


A study on public perception of the news industry found that more people are avoiding the news and that Canada is among the countries with higher levels of trust in media. Story here.


Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how it’s not just Marco Mendocino playing bob and weave with the Emergencies Act: “If you’re a cabinet minister, you get used to playing the partisan game of bob and weave at parliamentary committees. Maybe Liberal ministers are having a hard time understanding that the committee reviewing the use of the Emergencies Act isn’t the same thing. So somebody – specifically somebody named Justin Trudeau – should be telling them in loud clear terms: This is different.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on Ottawa’s oil and gas emissions targets hinging on hopes and miracles: “When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault released Ottawa’s targets for greenhouse-gas emissions for the oil and gas sector in March, they insisted there would not need to be a trade-off between “clean air and good jobs, a healthy environment and a strong economy.” They called their blueprint “an ambitious and achievable sector-by-sector approach” for reducing Canada’s overall emissions to 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Despite the upbeat presentation, not many observers bought the government’s line that Canada’s oilpatch could cut its emissions by 81 megatonnes, or 42 per cent, within eight years – at least not without slashing production and incurring all the negative consequences that would entail for the Canadian economy.”

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how it’s not enough for Toronto police to release data on racism. They have to act on it: “It is time for the Toronto Police Service to stop apologizing about racist policing and start doing something meaningful to address it. The force’s current approaches are clearly not cutting it. Data released Wednesday paint a damning picture of the nature of race and policing in the city, showing that Black people are overrepresented in both use-of-force incidents and strip searches. As the force itself acknowledges, these differences cannot be explained away by the behaviour of the individuals involved, which means responsibility lies with the police. Chief James Ramer points to systemic racism. I’d suggest systemic racism and years of inaction – itself a reflection of systemic racism.”

Hugh Segal (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on the absolute rejection of sedition should be a non-negotiable part of democratic politics: “Whatever the future policy priorities of the federal Conservative party, the core Canadian constitutional values of “peace, order and good government” are non-negotiable parts of our constitutional framework. That framework has no tolerance for the seditious and illegal overthrow of duly elected governments, nor for any candidate who signals so much as an ambivalence toward that threat to our democratic system. Canadian voters should not have any time for any politician who will not denounce sedition and those who proposed it.”

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Julia Malott: Nope, parents are not ‘fascists’ for being skeptical of gender politics



The core issue at hand is preserving their agency and autonomy over the ideological content of their children’s education

In the coming days, Canada will see heightened activity in the nation’s ongoing gender identity politics debate. The “1 Million March 4 Children” protest against how gender identity is taught in schools, is set to occur on Wednesday, with synchronized events in more than 50 cities countrywide. Two days later, separate Toronto rally will spotlight two figures prominent in the gender-critical movement: Chris Elston, colloquially known as “Billboard Chris” for his distinctive method of protesting against childhood medical transition, and Josh Alexander, a Renfrew, Ontario student who was expelled earlier this year after objecting in class to his school’s transgender washroom policy.

Organizers of these events bill them as a defense of the safety and wellbeing of children, though the protesters’ opinions span a wide spectrum of positions. While some desire personal discretion in how matters of gender identity are handled for their own children, others urge broader constraint on transgender-related discussion and accommodations for the entire student body. The perspectives reflect the diverse community backing the movement.


As parents’ voices grow louder, there’s a perception in the progressive left that all of these emerging movements are rooted and inspired by “far-right” extremism. Many in leftist circles suggest that parental rights advocacy is a dog-whistle: a veiled attempt to advance anti-transgender policies. A recently leaked video from an Ontario Federation of Labour meeting offers a glimpse into how some of the province’s most influential union members perceive these protests. As one member notably stated during the meeting: “The fascists are organizing in the streets … . This is far more than a far-right transphobic protest. They’re fundamentally racist, they’re fundamentally anti-union, they are fundamentally transphobic, and it’s just a matter of time before they come for us.”

Such language of a growing fascist movement, evoking images of 1933 Berlin, is more than a little unhinged, particularly when all they are discussing is parents uniting together to demand involvement in their children’s education. As a covert spectator in the union meeting, there was an undeniable sentiment among participants that if not for them democracy would surely collapse.

It’s a grave mistake to deride the parental collective pushing back against the status-quo as fascist sympathizers motivated by transgender hate. A glance past such alarmist rhetoric reveals that — while a fringe group of hate has always existed — the concerns many parents are championing are much more moderate than a “far-right” moniker suggests.

For many parents, the core issue at hand is preserving their agency and autonomy over the ideological content of their children’s education. They want transparency about what is being taught, the option to excuse their child from content they believe doesn’t align with their values, and the discretion to determine age-appropriateness for activities, such as certain reading material or events like drag queen performances at schools. Perhaps least surprisingly, parents want to be involved in the key decisions of their own child undergoing a social transition in the classroom.

Many of these matters have been surfacing in school board meetings for several years, largely to be ignored by Trustees and Education Directors. The shared sentiment among these parents is the perception that the education system increasingly sidelines them, diminishing their role in their children’s upbringing. This sense of alienation is leading a growing number of parents to take a stand, even if it means confronting accusations of extremism.

The matter of social transition behind parents’ backs in particular is so condemning of their role in upbringing that it has thrust the entire gamut of gender identity matters into the national spotlight, revealing just how out of balance transgender accommodation has become. The manner in which the left has responded — by doubling down in their rhetoric and deriding parents as militant zealots, has played powerfully into the rapid growth of this grassroots movement.

Many parents, even amid those who will stand in protest, have little desire to limit other families’ decisions regarding gender teachings and expression for their children. They realize that their objective of ensuring their own parental autonomy is intertwined with safeguarding those same freedoms for other families as well.

Over time, the persistent branding of even modest parental rights positions as far-right extremism does injury. As the left cries foul each time they encounter a perspective they don’t like, they desensitize the meaning in such a label. By regularly branding modest parental concerns as extremist, progressives may very well be shoehorning the adoption and normalization of more hardline positions that do straddle the line of the parental rights of others. As grassroots gain traction, a vocal minority have now taken to calling for sweeping bans on gender affirming teaching and accommodation for all children and families alike within the public education system.

So where do we go from here? What might a balanced approach to parental rights look like within the nuanced landscape of gender identity politics? Fortunately, we need not start from scratch; history offers us a model for the coexistence of diverse ideologies within our educational institutions. Look no further than religion.

For years, Canada has upheld an educational system truly inclusive of students from all religious backgrounds. The classroom approach to religious topics is robust; it sidesteps direct religious instruction, and when religion intersects with the curriculum, it is presented academically rather than doctrinally. Instead of dictating what’s “true” in religious contexts, educators shed light on what various groups “believe,” cultivating an environment of both choice and critical thinking.

Amid religious diversity, we teach acceptance. Students are taught to make space for varied faith expression among their peers, whether through clothing or other customs, and with a strong desire to maintain neutral, religious symbols are not adorned by the institution. The lesson for students is to embrace and include, even where personal beliefs diverge; Meanwhile, the guiding principle for the institution is to avoid actions that display favouritism toward any specific religious doctrine.

Such a solution could address a significant portion of the concerns fuelling the rising parental unrest. Moderate parents would applaud such an education system, and this would still be inclusive of transgender students. But in order for this to be realized, the two factions moving ever further apart will first need to come to the table and talk. Given the recent rhetoric from progressive quarters, the prospect of this dialogue anytime soon appears distant.


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Ex-diplomat says Poland asked him to keep tabs on Alberta politician



A month after Global Affairs Canada told CBC News it was looking into claims that the Polish government asked one of its diplomats in Canada to gather information on a former Alberta cabinet minister, the dismissed consul general at the centre of the affair says he still hasn’t heard from the department on the matter.

Andrzej Mańkowski told CBC News the only official he has heard from is a B.C. bureaucrat who asked him to return his diplomatic licence plates and identification.

“[Officials with Global Affairs] haven’t tried talking to me,” he said.

Mańkowski showed CBC News a copy of a letter dated Aug. 31 he received from B.C.’s Chief of Protocol for Intergovernmental Relations Lucy Lobmeier asking him to turn in his identity card and to return his diplomatic plates “within 30 days of this letter.” She also thanked him for his service.


Mańkowski alleges he was dismissed from his post in late July after he refused to carry out orders from the Polish government to gather information about Thomas Lukaszuk, a former deputy premier of Alberta who often provides commentary to CBC News about the province’s politics.

“It’s clear that Polish diplomacy during Communist times, the main responsibility was to collect information, to gather information on some Polish representatives abroad,” Mańkowski said, adding he felt as if the request was a throwback to that time.

“The analogy’s extremely evident.”

Last month, Global Affairs Canada said it was taking the allegations seriously.

Spying allegations ‘out of this world’: ambassador

In August, Lukaszuk said he believed he had been targeted by Poland’s department of foreign affairs over his activism against a controversial Polish pastor, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who has private radio and television stations in Poland.

Rydzyk, who has ties to the Polish government, has been criticized for delivering sermons featuring homophobic and anti-Semitic views and for preaching against the European Union.

Lukaszuk also shared what he said were encrypted messages Polish government officials sent to Mańkowski asking him over the course of a year to prepare notes on the former Alberta politician.

CBC News has not independently verified these messages were official government communications. Mańkowski did not dispute their veracity in his interview.

“Asking for my opinion about Lukaszuk was just a kind of trap, was just a political test of my loyalty,” he said.

Polish Ambassador to Canada Witold Dzielski has dismissed the claim that his government tried to get a diplomat to keep tabs on a former Alberta politician. (Darryl G. Smart/CBC News)

Poland’s Ambassador to Canada Witold Dzielski called the allegation “totally absurd.”

“The idea of Polish diplomacy spying on a former provincial politician … it’s really out of this world,” Dzielski said.

He said he has never met Lukaszuk and did not know of his previous career in politics before Lukaszuk emailed him about an unrelated consular matter long before the reports about Mańkowski came out.

Dzielski said that if the notes cited by Lukaszuk are real, they were leaked illegally because they would constitute private diplomatic communications.

The affair has captured attention in Polish media, where the story first broke.

In July, Polish opposition politicians cited the messages released by Lukaszuk when they asked Piotr Wawrzyk, a secretary of state in the government’s foreign affairs department, whether Mańkowski was dismissed because he refused to spy on Lukaszuk.

In reply, Wawrzyk said the government could recall a diplomat who refused to carry out an assignment.

Wawrzyk, who was also a deputy foreign minister, has since been fired himself over an unrelated matter both local media outlets and Reuters have linked to a clandestine scheme awarding migrants visas in exchange for cash.

On Saturday, The Associated Press noted he had been hospitalized following an apparent sucide attempt. 

“The minister, Wawrzyk, was laid off because of a totally different subject,” Dzielski said.

He pointed out that those documents were cited by opposition politicians in the context of a heated election campaign.

Dzielski� also said it’s normal for diplomats to be asked to gather information on notable members of diaspora communities.

‘A very marginal conversation’

“We are working very closely with them,” he said. “It is obvious and natural, and it is an element of diplomatic workshops, that we provide and we build ourselves opinions about the quality of cooperation with particular actors.”

He said Global Affairs has spoken to him about the allegations. “We had a very marginal conversation on this which reflects the level of seriousness of this topic,” he said.

A NATO member, Poland has worked closely with Canada to help out its neighbour Ukraine ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year.

Asked for comment, Global Affairs said in a media statement it “continues to work closely with security and intelligence community partners to assess the situation and identify next steps as appropriate.”

The department said last month it had contacted Lukaszuk and that it took the responsibility of protecting Canadians from “transnational repression” very seriously.



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Put politics aside to solve housing crisis, or your kids might never own a home: Raitt




The Current20:05Putting politics aside to tackle the housing crisis


Political leaders of all stripes must find a way to work together to solve the housing and climate crises impacting Canadians, says former Conservative MP Lisa Raitt.


“Toronto is the best example. NDP mayor, provincial premier who’s Conservative, federal Liberal who’s the prime minister,” said Raitt, co-lead of the new non-governmental Task Force for Housing and Climate, which launched Tuesday.

“And if they don’t figure this out, one voter is going to punish them all.”

The new task force is concerned with accelerating the construction of new homes, while ensuring that’s done in a sustainable way. In a press release, the group of former city mayors, planners, developers, economists and affordable housing advocates said it intends to convene until April 2024 to develop policy recommendations. The work is supported by the Clean Economy Fund, a charitable foundation.

Raitt held several senior cabinet posts under former prime minister Stephen Harper. But as co-lead of the task force, Raitt said she won’t engage in the political partisanship that she thinks “poisons the well” around these issues.

“Part of the reason why we’re coming together as the task force is to have a real pragmatic and practical conversation about these issues instead of weaponizing it into a political arena, and finger pointing back and forth,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.

Trudeau pledges more housing as pressure mounts over affordability


Justin Trudeau announced funding to build more housing in London, Ont., as he and Liberal MPs kicked off their caucus retreat. The agreement comes as the government faces growing pressure to help make housing more affordable.

Canada needs to build an extra 3.5 million new units by the end of the decade, over and above what’s already in the works, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. A report this week showed rental costs have increased 9.6 per cent from Aug. 2022 to 2023, to an average now of $2,117 a month.

This week, the federal government announced it would cut the federal goods and services tax (GST) from the construction of new rental apartments, in an effort to spur new development. The Liberal government also pledged $74 million to build thousands of homes in London, Ont., — the first in what it hopes will be a series of agreements to accelerate housing construction.

Speaking in London on Wednesday, Housing Minister Sean Fraser called on municipalities to “legalize housing,” urging them to remove “sluggish permit-approval processes” and zoning obstacles if they expect federal investment in housing construction.

Poilievre slams PM on housing, says Trudeau ‘funds gatekeepers’


Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre took aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s housing plans Thursday, saying the Liberal government’s ‘inflationary deficits’ and ‘taxes and bureaucracy’ are holding back construction of new homes.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre criticized the government’s plans as not going far enough, while pointing out it echoes some of his party’s proposals. He’s proposed measures that tie federal funding to the number of housing starts. Funding would be withheld from cities that fail to increase the number of homes built by 15 per cent, while cities that pass that threshold would receive bonuses.

Poilievre’s proposals also include a “NIMBY” fine on municipalities that block construction because of opposition from local residents, and the sale of 15 per cent of federally owned buildings so the land can be used to build affordable homes.

Don Iveson, former mayor of Edmonton and co-lead of the task force, said he understands why partisan politics can creep into the debate — but Canadians expect more.

He said the task force intends “to help all orders of government” understand what’s needed to tackle these problems from an economic, technical and planning perspective.

“We’re not going to be able to solve the housing crisis [by] building housing the way we built it for the last several generations,” said said Iveson, who was mayor of Edmonton from 2013 to 2021.

A woman stands in the House of Commons in Ottawa, with people sitting in the background.
Lisa Raitt held several senior cabinet posts under former prime minister Stephen Harper. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Your kids need a place to live: Raitt

Iveson said the challenge of scaling up housing construction will require some new ways of thinking.

That might mean a greater emphasis on automation and building houses from components prefabricated off-site, which he described as “essentially a more factory approach” that could also reduce construction costs.

Raitt said the task force will examine where houses are built, and in what kind of density, to ensure scaling up can “get the most bang for the buck.”

That might mean Canadians might need to have difficult conversations, including whether to build multi-storey buildings instead of single-family homes.

Raitt said older Canadians who already own their own homes might not like the idea of taller buildings going up around them, but they should speak to their kids about it.


Strangers buy homes together to combat unaffordable housing.


CBC’s Sohrab Sandhu reports on an unorthodox strategy where some people are deciding to buy homes with strangers.

“They don’t care if it’s going to be four, six storeys in a residential neighbourhood. They just want a place that they know that they can purchase,” she said.

“Talk about whether or not our kids are going to have a place to live, let alone rent, let alone own, let alone a house in the communities where they were brought up, because right now it’s not looking so good.”

Counting the cost of climate change

When it comes to climate change and sustainability, the task force’s goals come down to a “very simple equation,” Raitt said.

“Whatever we’re building now is going to be here in 2050. So if it’s going to be part of the calculation of our net-zero aspirations, whatever they’re going to be,” she said.

She said the task force will work to formulate ways to build housing that take emissions into account, but don’t include prohibitive costs that slow down the rate of construction.

“It’s going to be a little bit more costly to build with climate indications built in … but you’ve got to make sure that there’s policies surrounding that to make sure it still makes it affordable,” she said.


Visuals of homes destroyed by wildfire in Upper Tantallon, N.S.


Officials say the fire, which is burning out of control as of Monday morning, is expected to grow.

Iveson said wildfires, floods, heat domes and extreme weather events are already disrupting the economy, as well as posing huge financial burdens for the Canadians caught up in them.

“Climate change is already costing us a fortune,” he told Galloway.

Building without those climate considerations “maybe seems affordable in the short term, but it’s false economy when it comes to the real costs ahead of us,” he said.



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