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Politics Briefing: Ottawa sending 140 million COVID-19 rapid tests to provinces, territories this month to fight the pandemic – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

The federal government says it will be sending 140 million rapid tests to the provinces and territories this month.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that there will be no guidance on how the tests should be distributed.

During his first news conference of the year, Mr. Trudeau was repeatedly pressed on the issue given concerns around access to tests in various parts of Canada.

“Our job is to procure as many [tests] as we possibly can and get them to the provinces free of charge. They will make determinations around delivering them to people,” said the Prime Minister.

Mr. Trudeau said it’s clear that rapid testing is a tool for getting through the pandemic, and that certain jurisdictions such as Nova Scotia have made extensive use of rapid testing.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, attending the same news conference, said the 140 million adds up to one rapid test a week per person in Canada in January.

Before December, 2021, Mr. Duclos said the government delivered 85 million tests to provinces and territories, with 35 million tests delivered in December.

Reporter Colin Freeze recently looked at the supply crunch for rapid tests in a story here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

DAIRY MARKET RULING – The first dispute settlement panel struck under North America’s revised free-trade deal has ruled that Canada is violating the treaty and must change the way it grants preferential access to its heavily sheltered dairy market. Story here.

CENTRAL FIGURE IN KEY COURT RULING DIES – Delgamuukw, also known as Earl Muldon, died this week at the age of 85. Mr. Muldon was honored with the hereditary name in 1990, seven years before Delgamuukw v. British Columbia made its way to Canada’s highest court, leading to a ruling that defined the grounds for establishing Indigenous rights and title. Story here from The Northern Sentinel

DETAILS OF $40-BILLION AGREEMENT RELEASED – Details of agreements to settle cases of discrimination in the child welfare system for First Nations children have been released, with the federal government agreeing to pay $20-billion in compensation to First Nations children and $20-billion for long-term reform of the First Nations child welfare system under agreements-in-principle designed to settle a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case and separate class-action lawsuits. Story here.

RANKIN STEPS DOWN – Former Nova Scotia premier Iain Rankin says he will resign as leader of the provincial Liberals, less than five months after his party lost to the Progressive Conservatives and failed to win a third-consecutive mandate. Story here. In a statement here, Premier Tim Houston thanked Mr. Rankin for his service.

TRUDEAU `FRUSTRATED’ WITH PARTYING TRAVELLERS – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s “extremely frustrated” with the actions of travellers – some apparently Quebec social-media influencers – on a Sunwing Airlines flight from Montreal to Cancun last month. The travellers were caught on video not wearing masks while in close proximity, singing and dancing in the aisle and on seats. “I can assure you that this is a situation that Transport Canada takes extremely seriously and we are definitely following up on that.” Story here.

PREMIER ACTS ON CABINET MINISTER OVER COVID-19 – Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson says she replaced the province’s former infrastructure minister because of his comments on COVID-19 vaccines. Story here.

SOMALI REGION SEEKS CANADIAN RECOGNITION – Somali’s breakaway Somaliland region is asking Canada for international recognition and aid, saying it’s important for Western countries to support a functioning democracy that’s resisting China’s influence in the Horn of Africa. Story here.

SPECIAL ENVOY CRITICIZES BILL-21 – Canada’s special envoy on combatting antisemitism has sharply criticized as “discriminatory” Quebec’s Bill-21 law banning teachers and some other public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols at work. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons has adjourned until Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. ET.

DEPUTY DEFENCE MINISTER BECOMES PM INTELLIGENCE ADVISER – The deputy defence minister who participated in last month’s government apology to victims of harassment in the military has a new job. Jody Thomas is the new national security and intelligence adviser to the Prime Minister as of Jan. 11. Ms. Thomas, who has been deputy defence minister since 2017, is being replaced by Bill Matthews, the current deputy minister of public services and procurement. He was senior associate deputy deputy defence minister from 2017 until 2019. The shift was announced Wednesday as part of a series of changes to the senior ranks of the public service affecting 18 public servants. Details are here.

O’TOOLE WANTS TO MEET WITH CBC CRITIC – Official Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole said, on Twitter, he wants to meet with the author of the article here for her thoughts on “how to fix the CBC.” In a subsequent tweet, the Conservative Leader wrote, “Even long-time CBC employees know the state broadcaster model is broken and getting worse. I’ll start by cancelling the $675-million Trudeau increase and by reviewing its mandate for the digital age.”

PM-PREMIERS’ TALKS THIS WEEK – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will be convening a call with the premiers this week “to discuss how governments are working together to keep Canadians safe.” The issue came up in a Tuesday phone conversation between Mr. Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan, chronicled in a readout released by the Prime Minister’s Office. The summary also says Mr. Horgan, also chair of the Council of the Federation, and Mr. Trudeau also talked about the impact of the Omicron variant, and the Canada Health Transfer – the federal transfer to provinces and territories that provides health care funding.

THE DECIBEL – On the latest edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Globe science reporter Ivan Semeniuk talks about how scientists map the genomes of COVID-19 variants. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

In Ottawa, the Prime Minister participated in private meetings and addressed Canadians on the COVID-19 situation along with Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Theresa Tam, and deputy chief public health officer of Canada Howard Njoo.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

In Toronto. Private meeting and the Deputy Prime Minister participated in a news conference with the Prime Minister, Health Minister and others on COVID-19.

LEADERS

No schedules released for party leaders.

OPINION

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the possible consequences of expected chaos in American democracy: ”As the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2020, assault on the Capitol approaches, the warnings of where America might be headed have grown darker. The darkest forecasts seem too fantastical to be likely. But if the collapse of American democracy, or at least its degradation into an authoritarian semi-democracy, is not inevitable, neither is it impossible.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on the question of when we admit Canada’s heath care system isn’t working: ”This pandemic should prompt Canadians to reckon with the reality that our health care system isn’t working. Indeed, when a province of millions is brought to a virtual standstill by the prospect of a few hundred additional people in acute care beds, that fact is undeniable. The changes needed to meaningfully improve health care quality and access in Canada have to be substantial, and there are myriad models to consider and explore: the German universal multi-payer system, Japan’s national insurance program, Britain’s system whereby private providers operate alongside the public NHS, to name just a few.”

Daphne Bramham (The Vancouver Sun) on Canada’s China conundrum: “Canadians’ view of the increasingly autocratic and belligerent China has rarely been so negative. Yet, Canada has also never been so reliant on China for trade with both exports and imports rising well above 2019 levels in the first six months of 2021 despite the pandemic, the Cold War over the incarceration of the two Michaels and the unanimous parliamentary condemnation of China’s cultural genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. One of Canada’s biggest challenges in the coming year will be finding a balance between altruism and economics that satisfies both Canadians and the Chinese Communist government.”

Thomas Mulcair (The Montreal Gazette) on possible twists in this year’s Quebec election: “The pandemic may well be behind us by the time next fall’s election rolls around and Legault’s numbers eventually are going to start coming back down to earth, as Bouchard’s did in 1998. There will be a time of reckoning for Quebec’s last-place pandemic performance, but other political questions will also become central to the campaign. Big social issues like affordable housing will be back on the front burner, a subject Québec solidaire will pound. People worried about climate change will see in Quebec’s greenhouse-gas numbers a reason for concern, and both the Liberals and QS will zero-in on that. Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade will do her best to talk about the economy, which remains fragile even if there are hopeful signs of recovery. Language will remain a big issue and an occasion for the Parti Québécois to chip away at Legault’s armour.”

Les Perreaux (Policy Options) on the debate over adaptation to the shifting climate rather than taking difficult steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions: “In reality, adapting to climate change may be nearly as difficult as trying to cut greenhouse gases. The two should go hand-in-hand. Much like the slow movement of global leaders to arrest and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it may be too late to do much of the difficult and expensive mitigation work that would reduce the impact of climate-related disasters. The frequency and cost of those disasters are already growing rapidly. Insured disaster losses in Canada more than quadrupled to $1.9 billion per year in the 10-year period ending in 2018, compared with the previous 10-year period. Annual average federal payouts hit $427 million in the 10-year period ending in 2015, up from $303 million in the previous 10-year period and $56 million before 1994.”

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Politics Briefing: Fate of 24 Sussex subject to consultations between PM, National Capital Commission – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says conversations are continuing with the National Capital Commission about the fate of 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of the prime minister.

The commission, a federal Crown corporation whose responsibilities include managing official residences, has raised concerns about the state of the property initially built in 1868, and refurbished as an official residence for the prime minister in 1950. There is a history of the residence here.

“We are in consultations. We are assessing our options. And when we will arrive at a decision, we will share it with you,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference on Friday.

Mr. Trudeau said the government is engaging with the capital commission and other experts to ensure there is a safe and stable environment for “prime ministers current and future” as well as the interests of Canadians.

Mr. Trudeau and his family have been living in Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall instead of 24 Sussex Drive since he led the Liberals to power in 2015.

“We know that 24 Sussex has been neglected by many generations of politicians and prime ministers over the years,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“Unfortunately, it is in a terrible condition.”

The Prime Minister said the property is an important, historic building but there are concerns about safety.

Asked if he would take a decision during this mandate, and whether he was concerned about criticism of renovating the prime minister’s residence and how much it might cost, Mr. Trudeau said he has no intention in living in 24 Sussex Drive regardless of how long he is Prime Minister.

This week, the CEO of the capital commission said, according to The Ottawa Citizen, that he has been stressing the need for repairs at Canada’s official residences, including 24 Sussex Drive, with federal officials.

The residence was listed as being in “critical” condition in a commission report last year, and requiring $36.6-million in work. The Citizen story is 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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

CANADIAN LOAN FOR UKRAINE – Canada will lend Ukraine up to $120-million as Kyiv readies for possible war with Russia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday. Story here.

TRUDEAU VOWS ACTION ON PEOPLE SMUGGLING – Canada is doing all it can stop people smuggling across the U.S. border after a family of four froze to death in a “mind-blowing’ tragedy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. Story here.

CHAMPAGNE TO EXPLAIN MINE ACQUISITION – François-Philippe Champagne, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, will go before a federal committee as early as next week and answer questions about why Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is allowing the acquisition of Canadian lithium firm Neo Lithium Corp. by a state-owned Chinese mining company without conducting a formal security review.

EXPLANATION FOR CONFUSED STATEMENT – Turmoil and confusion over whether truckers would remain exempt from the vaccine mandate last week stemmed from bureaucrats misinterpreting policy in more than one federal agency – including the one that co-ordinates Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Story here.

HAITI MEETING ON FRIDAY – The U.S. State Department says it is looking forward to a productive meeting today when Central American leaders gather online with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly to talk about the future of Haiti. Story here. Meanwhile, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti is calling for a politically “inclusive accord” to address a deepening constitutional crisis following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Story here.

SASKATCHEWAN TO REDEPLOY GOVERNMENT WORKERS – The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it is looking at redeploying government employees from other departments to help the health-care system. Story here.

FUNDING FOR FIRST NATIONS OMICRON RESPONSE – Indigenous Services Canada says it will provide $125-million in public-health funding for First Nations to bolster their responses to the Omicron variant. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons has adjourned until Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. ET.

CANADA’S FINANCE MINISTERS TALK – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, also the Finance Minister, is hosting a virtual meeting on Friday with provincial and territorial finance ministers.

THE DECIBEL – . In Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Future of Work reporter Vanmala Subramaniam tells us why the trend of hot-desking is gaining traction now. This is the idea that there are no assigned seats in an office. Instead, an employee books their spot through an app before coming in. Ms. Subramaniam also talks about what workers told her about their experience with hot-desking and how hot-desking will transform post-pandemic office life. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister made a virtual announcement along with Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen, and then held a media availability. The Prime Minister delivered remarks at the opening of a foreign ministers’ meeting on Haiti, hosted by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. And he participated in a virtual celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first black MP.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

OPINION

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how the new-era Senate won’t face its real test until we get our next Conservative government: “The real test of the Senate will come when there’s a change in government, when it’s not necessarily a government with whom the appointees agree, ” said Kathy Brock, a political scientist at Queen’s University who has long taken an interest in the Senate. Until we learn how the Red Chamber performs under those conditions, we won’t really know whether it works at all. In 2014, in the midst of the Senate expenses scandal, Mr. Trudeau expelled all Liberal senators from caucus. After he became Prime Minister, he appointed only independent senators, albeit ones who mostly shared a progressive outlook.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney as the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics:So while some will say Mr. Madu’s intentions weren’t malicious or corrupt, it doesn’t matter. He violated a sacred tenet of government. He may have found other means, or avenues, to have this issue addressed that didn’t involve him picking up the phone and calling the city’s top cop. There is, however, another disturbing aspect to this whole affair: The question of what Mr. Kenney knew, and when he knew it. As mentioned, the incident and phone call happened 10 months ago. According to veteran Alberta columnist Don Braid, it was widely known among members of cabinet and discussed in “jocular” terms. It seems inconceivable that if members of cabinet knew about this, Mr. Kenney didn’t also.”

Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on why real men take paternity leave: “You may have seen a recent picture of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a classic new-parent pose, holding his infant daughter while also trying to sneak a peek at his laptop. Unfortunately, this nice moment of paternal devotion has been upstaged by a rocking chair. The $1,895 rocking chair was a gift to Mr. Singh’s wife, and he landed in hot water when he tagged the chair-maker in an Instagram post. He’s now said the couple is repaying the cost of the chair, and the NDP is working with the ethics commissioner on a disclosure. The photo has caused quite a flap. If you travel down the devil’s highway that is Twitter, you’ll see a certain amount of fury directed at Mr. Singh and his fancy rocker. I understand the anger: It was a dumb and possibly unethical move. But really I’m just sad, because this was an opportunity for a progressive politician to take a stand on something that is hugely important, which is the need for new dads to loudly and proudly take advantage of paid parental leave.”

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on how a fire has killed Indigenous children again – because poverty burns through the generations: “Let this sobering truth sink in: First Nations children under the age of 10 are 86 times more likely to die in a fire than non-Indigenous children, according to the Ontario Chief Coroner’s Table on Understanding Fire Deaths in First Nations, which released a damning report last year after studying 56 fire deaths in 29 fires across 20 First Nations over the course of 10 years. How many times must we read about government reports, parliamentary committee hearings or new programs that are needed to fund basic fire safety and infrastructure in First Nations communities? How many times must the Assembly of First Nations and territorial political organizations yell from the rooftops about the need to adequately fund fire safety?”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how taming inflation will be much trickier than stimulating the economy: “If you’ve been in the market for a new refrigerator in recent weeks, you’re likely still suffering from sticker shock. Fridge prices were up almost 14 per cent in December, as Canada’s overall inflation rate hit a 30-year high of 4.8 per cent. Everything is suddenly costing more, from that fridge and the groceries you put in it (up 5.7 per cent) to a new car (7.2 per cent more) and the gas (33 per cent) it likely runs on. From home insurance (9.3 per cent) to shelter costs (5.4 per cent), Canadians are forking out more and more of their income just to cover the basics. Some very smart folks insist this nasty spike in prices is a nice problem to have.”

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Stewart Muir: How eco-advocates worked B.C. politics – Financial Post

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You can choose ancient trees or you can choose jobs, but only bad people opt for jobs — is the preferred mental construct of anti-forestry campaigners

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Last year noisy blockaders descended on Fairy Creek on the south coast of Vancouver Island to stop loggers they claimed were laying waste to irreplaceable old growth forests. What the public did not see behind all the fireworks was a carefully laid advocacy strategy to burrow into the heart of government decision-making and bring about policies, not based on sound science, that will hurt working British Columbians. Forestry accounts for a third of British Columbia’s exports – triple both the tourism sector and also tech and film combined — and benefits at least 130 First Nations.

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Thanks to freedom of information (FOI) requests, I have been able to piece together the story behind the story.

Responding to incidents such as Fairy Creek, B.C.’s NDP government commissioned a review. The first step was a report calling for a “paradigm shift” to protect old growth forests. Next came a deeper dive by an expert panel that resulted in some shocking news for the forest industry: timber access restrictions that could shutter as many as 20 sawmills and two pulp and paper mills, with up to 18,000 jobs being lost. Industry, First Nations and labour unions were furious. Last week, a financial markets analyst told an industry conference that British Columbia forestry is now seen as “uninvestable” due to the uncertainty.

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Hundreds of pages of documents released under FOI reveal that the supposedly impartial expert panel was, in fact, constituted to exclude nearly all viewpoints except those closely aligned to a single organization, the Sierra Club, which has a longstanding axe to grind with the forest industry. The “Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel” was a joint project of environment minister George Heyman and forest minister Katrine Conroy. Correspondence reveals that it was mostly designed and managed by Heyman, who before becoming an MLA was executive director of Sierra Club BC.

Remarkably, four of the five appointees had strong, unmistakeable connections to the Sierra Club. A government official noted that the panel “does not include the full range of views that would be needed for decision making.” It was known that the panel would deliberately ignore “implications for industry; local community interest; First Nations interests and Indigenous knowledge.”

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When the panel’s makeup was announced, a senior forestry official warned: “At a minimum, to be most effective, this Panel should have been comprised of ministry and external experts, in an equal and balanced collaboration that would most effectively deploy the depth of knowledge possessed by the government’s own staff.” Such advice was not heeded, and the appointees insisted their professional opinions not be questioned. Where the panel did seek outside views, only pressure groups aligned with the Sierra Club were invited.

  1. A forest protector walks up to the trees near Port Renfrew, British Columbia, Canada, on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

    Terence Corcoran: How greens are killing the B.C. forest sector

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    William Watson: The new, new, new interventionism

It’s not difficult to imagine what the reaction would have been if members of this advisory group had previously volunteered their time to write a paper on the very same topic as the panel’s business, as three members of this panel had done, but for a forest industry association rather than the Sierra Club, and that association had then built an elaborate PR campaign around the work.

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The individual who emerged as the group’s chief liaison with government, Lisa Matthaus, was not a technical expert at all but rather a former Sierra Club campaigns director now in a senior political operative job with Organizing for Change, an offshoot of MakeWay, the new name of Tides Canada, a longtime advocacy group, which rebranded itself in 2020 after complaining its anti-everything goals had been misunderstood.

Given all this, it was hardly surprising when the panel came back with recommendations that threaten to gut an entire industry. But if the scientific case for radically reducing access to forestry lands was so strong, why rely on such a cooked process? Founding the heralded paradigm shift on fragile legitimacy only risks hardening existing social polarization.

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A zero-sum framing — you can choose ancient trees or you can choose jobs, but only bad people opt for jobs — is the preferred mental construct of anti-forestry campaigners. The enormous conservation strides B.C. has made since the 1990s “war in the woods” are ignored, confirming again that no amount of give and take is ever enough. It’s as if the culture wars raging in university humanities departments had shifted over to the science faculties, with ecologists who believe trees are altruistic beings who talk to each other clashing for supremacy over forestry scientists and professionals who must weigh many factors.

In the end, the insider moves of a narrow interest group snookered the provincial cabinet, MLAs, citizens, and the broader forestry community. Any hope for a balanced outcome now rests with Indigenous leaders, the only group with the political clout to go up against the environmental lobby.

Stewart Muir is a journalist and founder of Vancouver-based Resource Works Society. The full version of this article appears in the latest issue of The Forestry Chronicle, a publication of the Canadian Institute of Forestry.

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Opinion: Jason Kenney has become the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics – The Globe and Mail

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill on Dec. 10, 2019.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

In March of last year, Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu was pulled over in the province’s capital and issued a ticket for distracted driving in a school zone.

A couple of days later, he phoned Edmonton’s chief of police, Dale McFee, to discuss the $300 ticket, which he eventually paid.

The ticket, and the phone call, only recently came to light thanks to the CBC. Things moved quickly after that; Mr. Madu defended himself by saying he didn’t phone Mr. McFee to protest the ticket, but rather to discuss the issue of racial profiling. Mr. Madu is Black. He also wanted to be assured he wasn’t being “unlawfully surveilled,” which some police in the province have been accused of doing.

This week, Premier Jason Kenney expressed “profound disappointment” in Mr. Madu for making the phone call, and asked him to “step back from his ministerial duties” while an independent investigation into the matter is carried out.

Mr. Kenney should have fired Mr. Madu on the spot.

There is almost no circumstance in which Mr. Madu, who is also solicitor-general and responsible for law enforcement in Alberta, could be returned to his cabinet duties, such is the iron-clad rule in politics that elected officials (particularly cabinet ministers) don’t interfere in the administration of justice at any level. It’s an automatic termination offence.

Mr. McFee, for what it’s worth, has corroborated the justice minister’s version of events; that he wasn’t calling to get out of the ticket but to discuss carding, an issue he has championed. And while I may have some sympathy for Mr. Madu on this matter, you do not pick up the phone and call the chief of police to have a conversation about it after getting a ticket.

In a different scenario, maybe the police chief interprets the call as subtle pressure and gets the violation ripped up. The fact that didn’t happen in this case is irrelevant. Cabinet ministers can’t appear to be using their office to exert influence or put their finger on the scales of justice in any way. Especially if you are the justice minister.

So while some will say Mr. Madu’s intentions weren’t malicious or corrupt, it doesn’t matter. He violated a sacred tenet of government. He may have found other means, or avenues, to have this issue addressed that didn’t involve him picking up the phone and calling the city’s top cop.

There is, however, another disturbing aspect to this whole affair: The question of what Mr. Kenney knew, and when he knew it.

As mentioned, the incident and phone call happened 10 months ago. According to veteran Alberta columnist Don Braid, it was widely known among members of cabinet and discussed in “jocular” terms. It seems inconceivable that if members of cabinet knew about this, Mr. Kenney didn’t also.

The Premier should make clear when he found out about the matter; was it only when the CBC story made it public? If Mr. Madu discussed the issue with colleagues, would he not also have notified the Premier’s office of what happened? I would think that most justice ministers in this country would notify their bosses when they have a run-in with police, regardless of how insignificant it was.

At the very least, it’s inconceivable that Mr. Madu’s own chief of staff wouldn’t have been told about it and then passed it along to the Premier’s office. No head of government likes nasty surprises. That’s one of the core rules of being in government, and especially cabinet. If there is a potential for some damaging information to come to light, you alert the top person.

That is why I am highly skeptical that Mr. Kenney only found out about this recently. He’s renowned for his micromanaging tendencies and his insistence that he not be the victim of any unpleasant surprises. It’s virtually impossible to believe he wasn’t aware of this story long before now.

This is, of course, just another illustration of the shockingly poor judgment that members of Mr. Kenney’s cabinet – and the Premier himself – have demonstrated over the past couple of years. Mr. Kenney’s nearly three-year reign of error has been enveloped by melodrama and controversy. At various times his response to the pandemic was atrocious. His response to most internal problems has been to deny and delay until he’s boxed into a corner and is forced to do something. There have been calls for his resignation both inside and outside his party.

Mr. Kenney has become the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics. Like the British Prime Minister, he seems to have put a foot wrong at almost every turn, and come to be seen as a bumbling, incompetent leader. And his handling of this latest imbroglio will do nothing to diminish that image.

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