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Politics Briefing: Police warn Ottawa convoy protesters to leave or risk arrest – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Protesters blockading downtown Ottawa for almost three weeks were issued orders to leave immediately by patrolling police officers.

“You must leave the area now,” reads the flyer given to protesters on Wednesday, the 20th day of the capital-city blockade. “Anyone blocking streets, or assisting others in the blocking streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested.”

The notice was updated from one issued by police last week that was less forceful. It warns that a criminal charge could mean they are denied entry to the United States, their licences could be revoked and vehicles seized.

Police dropped the flyers on the windshields of trucks, campervans and other vehicles jamming the Ottawa core. Parents with children in the blockade are also being warned that they could be separated from their kids if police action begins.

Parliamentary Reporters Marieke Walsh, Kristy Kirkup, Michelle Carbert, Janice Dickson and Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife 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 signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

PROTEST

FEDS PROCEED WITH EMERGENCIES ACT POWERS – The federal government is pushing ahead with sweeping Emergencies Act powers that could ban gatherings around legislative buildings and national monuments, even as police announce resolutions of border blockades in Alberta and Manitoba. Story here.

CANADA BANKS TAKE MEASURE OF EMERGENCY POWERS – Canada’s largest banks held a flurry of meetings and calls on Tuesday as they tried to grasp how far the federal government expects them to go in wielding emergency powers to cut off financial support for blockades that have disrupted Ottawa and major border crossings. Story here.

RCMP HAS A MESSAGE FOR CRYPTOCURRENCY EXCHANGES – The RCMP is asking cryptocurrency exchanges to stop facilitating transactions with cryptocurrency accounts connected to convoy protests. Story here.

TOW-TRUCK INDUSTRY PREDICTS RESISTANCE TO FORCED RECRUITMENT TO CLEAR BLOCKADES – The tow-truck industry says the federal government will be met with resistance if it tries to use Emergencies Act powers to force operators to clear blockades and protest sites against their will. Story here.

THIRTEEN PEOPLE FACE MURDER, WEAPONS, MISCHIEF CHARGES IN ALBERTA PROTEST – Four Alberta men are in custody accused of plotting to murder RCMP officers and nine other people are facing weapons and mischief offences as part of what RCMP say was a significant and organized threat by a heavily armed group at the Coutts border protest – and the first public steps in a continuing RCMP investigation into illegal activity at the blockade. Story here.

CROSBIE SUPPORTS FREEDOM CONVOY -The former leader of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Progressive Conservative party has donated money to the protest movement gripping parts of Ontario, saying he supports the Freedom Convoy’s calls for reduced public health restrictions. Story here from CBC.

MEANWHILE

INFLATION HITS THREE-DECADE HIGH – Canadian inflation hit a new three-decade high in January, heaping more pressure on the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates for the first time since the COVID-19 crisis started. Story here.

OTTAWA EASING BORDER RESTRICTIONS – Ottawa is easing border restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, who soon will no longer be required to take a molecular COVID-19 test before arriving in the country, and dropping its recommendation that Canadians avoid international travel for non-essential purposes. Story here.

KENNEY CALLS BYELECTION – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has called a by-election that will feature his own candidate campaigning to topple him as leader. Story here.

FORMER QUEBEC CABINET MINISTER COMES TO CHAREST’S DEFENCE – Former provincial cabinet minister Lise Thériault on Wednesday passionately defended the reputation of former Quebec premier Jean Charest, telling reporters that neither she nor her colleagues were “corrupt.” Story here from The Montreal Gazette.

THIS AND THAT

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

SENATE RETURNS – In a statement, the Senate speaker says the Senate is being recalled to sit on Friday, Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. for the consideration of public business and, in particular, the declaration of emergency made pursuant to the Emergencies Act. The Senate was supposed to return on Feb. 22.

BYRNE TAKING A BREAK FROM CURSE – Jenni Byrne is taking a break from the Curse of Politics podcast to help MP Pierre Poilievre’s bid to win the leadership of the federal Conservative Party. “For the first time in a while, I am actually back working on a campaign,” Ms. Byrne said in a video posted online. She said she thought it unfair to many people, including listeners and her co-hosts if she stayed on the podcast while she is more in a “campaign mode” than a “Jenny mode.” She added, “It’s not forever. It’s for the next few months.” The video is here.

JOLY TO GERMANY AND FRANCE – Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is travelling to Germany and France to reiterate Canada’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity with international partners. Her trip, which begins Feb. 17 includes attendance at the Munich Security Conference, the world’s largest conference on security, and meetings with French Foreign Minister Le Drian. Ms. Joly returns on Feb. 22.

Q&A -FORMER RCMP DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ON THE CHALLENGE FOR POLICE IN OTTAWA – Pierre-Yves Bourduas, a former RCMP deputy commissioner of federal, international and protective policing, who lives in the nation’s capital, speaks to the challenge facing police in Ottawa as they move to deal with protesters.

Q-What challenge do the police face dealing with these protesters in Ottawa that they may not have faced elsewhere in Canada?

A-It’s the urban environment first and foremost. If you recall, the Windsor police took 48 hours to clear a large street. It was pretty much an open area. They had lots of officers. They managed to control the crowd. Ottawa? It’s a whole different dynamic. You don’t have a single leader. You have different leaders, with different profiles, and that is what is going to be the challenge tactically and strategically for police who are going to deploy and eventually have to clear these areas.

Police officers have to factor in extremist views that have been expressed by some of the organizers. And you have an additional layer of complexity because you have children involved. Things could become volatile and could be out of the control of parents or police officers.

Q-What challenge will the children present?

A-Tear gas, for example. This could create a problem. It’s volatile. All over the country, people will be watching the way this unfolds. Police will have to be as diplomatic as possible, avoid confrontation.

Q-How will police deal with some of the challenges you mentioned in terms of moving through this urban environment filled with trucks?

A-Intelligence. They have had 20 days to observe who are the movers and shakers in this siege, and now they will have to act on hopefully very accurate intel and decide what kind of action they should put in place to bring this to a successful and hopefully peaceful solution.

Q-The West Block of Parliament is full of MPs, staff, journalists, probably into the wee hours. What complication does Parliament Hill raise in all of this because people are coming and going?

A-If I were in charge of the strategic deployment, I would deploy when you have the least number of people around, for a number of reasons. You want, maybe, to resort to the surprise element. If you need to act, you need to act quickly. The problem is the big trucks that are jamming the Parliament. That should have never ever been allowed. These trucks should have never been allowed to move on Wellington.

Q-How concerned are you about the volatile nature of the whole thing?

A-I am very concerned. I will not hide that fact. There are some elements that are quite radical there. It’s the fragmentation and the elements within this siege that trouble me because there are elements that have clearly and publically declared they wouldn’t hesitate to resort to violence if need be. That’s why I am deeply concerned about what I am looking at.

Q-As someone who lives in the Ottawa region, how has this protest affected you? Have you been down to see it yourself?

A-Every weekend, since it started. The first weekend, I skated down the Rideau Canal to observe what was going on. I was completely baffled by seeing police officers not reacting to the anarchy to a certain point. This thing started going sideways from the first weekend. Police were never able to regain any control because of passive policing.

Last weekend, I gave a television interview for the Telejournal, and we did it on the street in front of CBC on Queen Street. I was with a seasoned journalist. And we had two bodyguards. We were yelled at around the issue of fake news. One of the protesters approached me, yelled in my face while I was doing the interview. He came about two or three inches from my face to yell at me. I experienced first-hand how this has been a total loss of control and anarchy for the downtown people. I empathize with them and this thing needs to come to an end, hopefully peacefully.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

THE DECIBEL – On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Globe sports reporter, Rachel Brady, in Beijing covering the Olympics, talks about why the Canada and the U.S women’s hockey teams keep meeting in the finals – it’s the sixth time these teams have met in an Olympic final – what needs to be done for women’s hockey to continue to grow and why there are still so few opportunities outside of the Olympics for these elite athletes.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister attended the national caucus meeting, was scheduled to attend Question Period, and also chair a meeting of the Incident Response Group on the continuing blockades.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet held a news conference, and attended Question Period.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh attended the NDP national caucus meeting, then held a news conference. He also attended Question Period.

No schedule released for other party leaders.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how, if this is a national emergency, make it limited, localized and brief: The Ottawa occupation must be resolved and removed. But reasonable people can ask whether police already have enough legal tools to do that. To the extent the use of the Emergencies Act is carefully tailored to the time, place and scope of the illegal activity targeted, it may be justified. The threat currently appears relatively small, and highly localized. Within seven sitting days, the Trudeau government must come before Parliament with a motion to confirm the declaration of emergency. It could be in a position to close the book on the act even sooner.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how, in Question Period, an unprecedented step meets routine politics:It’s high time that something be done about the blockades. But you would expect the opposition to demand to know the basis on which this extraordinary step had been taken. You might think the Prime Minister would make a stirring statement to justify it. You should hope the Justice Minister, David Lametti, would be forced to stand up to defend, in detail, the legal basis for this move. You might expect the opposition to grill the government about those important legalistic things because the answers have to be heard. But Parliament didn’t live up to those expectations.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on how, by invoking the Emergencies Act, the feds go from no action to the nuclear option:It is true that the situation in downtown Ottawa is much more complicated. There are kids among the protesters, and potentially, also a cache of deadly weapons. The police are outnumbered, and it’s not easy to clear a site where protesters are holed up in 10-tonne semis, especially when tow truck operators have refused to haul away the trucks out of concerns over retribution. No one should be under any illusions that there is a simple solution to an occupation that has been years in the making, particularly when extremists have committed to staying put until the government has been ousted and replaced. But the complexity of the situation doesn’t in and of itself justify the federal government’s decision to opt for one of the most extreme options it has at its disposal.”

Irwin Cotler and Yonah Diamond (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Beijing’s Games of Shame show how far China’s government has fallen: “What we were already witnessing in 2001 and 2008 was China’s pervasive assaults on human rights, which fly in the face of the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. What we are seeing today, as China hosts the games for a second time in 14 years, is the utter betrayal and abandonment of the Olympic Charter.”

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Politics Podcast: Who Will Win The GOP’s Senate Primary In Pennsylvania? – FiveThirtyEight

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FiveThirtyEight

 

Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon are holding primary elections on Tuesday. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses the the most anticipated contests — the Keystone State’s Republican Senate and gubernatorial races — and previews other races we’re watching, including the Republican gubernatorial primary in Idaho, where the lieutenant governor is challenging the sitting governor for the GOP nomination, and the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, where Rep. Madison Cawthorn is facing seven challengers from his own party after revelations of numerous scandals.

The team also looks at FiveThirtyEight’s latest collaboration with Ipsos, in which Americans are asked about the issues they care about the most in the run-up to the midterms. The first poll is all about inflation.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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'Replacement' conspiracies driving gunmen creep into mainstream politics – CNN

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(CNN)Critics are drawing parallels between the pattern of racist gunmen citing fears of a conspiracy to “replace” Whites with rhetoric pushed on Fox and by some Republican politicians.

The mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday was not the first such event in recent years in which a White gunman, who allegedly posted a White supremacist manifesto online, targeted the Black or immigrant community.
It’s not the second. Or the third.
Overtly racist lone gunmen motivated by such hate have, in recent years, targeted a Black church in South Carolina, a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and immigrants at a Walmart in El Paso. Read CNN’s report.
Some apparently drew inspiration from a shooting by a White man in New Zealand who targeted mosques, killing 51, and published his own manifesto about “The Great Replacement.”
Now, Buffalo.
Get the latest on:
  • The Buffalo shooting and the victims: 10 people were killed at a supermarket and authorities say it was hate crime. The gunman exchanged fire with and killed an armed security guard.
  • The shooter: The suspect is 18-year-old Payton Gendron, who traveled from another New York county hours away and livestreamed the attack on the social media platform Twitch.
“Replacement theory” motivation — According to a 180-page document posted online, attributed to Gendron, he was fixated on what’s known as “replacement theory” — the idea that Whites are being slowly and intentionally replaced by minorities and immigrants.
Variations on this basic idea — that Whites are being replaced by some sort of minority-driven conspiracy — have made their way into more than just the musings of gunmen.
The Fox and GOP version of replacement theory. Critics say it is dangerously close to xenophobic rhetoric finding its way into the mainstream of American politics.
Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, pointed the finger squarely at her party’s leadership Monday morning, saying it has “enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”
And after the shooting in Buffalo, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican who has split with his party by criticizing former President Donald Trump, tried to make a connection between an old Facebook ad published by Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, and replacement theory.
“Did you know: @EliseStefanik pushes white replacement theory? The #3 in the house GOP,” Kinzinger said on Twitter, linking to media coverage that the congresswoman’s Facebook ads received in 2021, including a critical editorial from a local newspaper.
The Facebook ads from her campaign last September suggested Democrats wanted to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants to create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.
CNN has reached out to Stefanik about Kinzinger’s comment.
Replacement pattern. That ad is part of a larger narrative.
Tucker Carlson, the Fox host, has pushed the idea that Democrats want to import new voters to dilute the votes of other Americans, presumably Whites like him.
Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio and City University of New York media studies professor James Cohen wrote a CNN opinion piece last year about how the concept of replacement theory has festered in US politics for decades, but has recently become easy to decode in segments on Carlson’s show and in remarks by lawmakers. Read more.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza has documented how the concept of replacement theory has been mentioned by lawmakers like GOP Rep. Scott Perry, who said this at a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting in April of 2021:
“For many Americans, what seems to be happening or what they believe right now is happening is what appears to them is we’re replacing national-born American — native-born Americans to permanently transform the landscape of this very nation,” the Pennsylvania Republican said in reference to the number of people trying to enter the country at the United States’ southern border.
“Uncomfortably” close. This is not to say Perry’s comment, Carlson’s broadcasts or Stefanik’s ad are the same as what’s represented in the writings, allegedly from Gendron or other gunmen. They’re not. But it is also impossible to deny certain parallels in the language.
“This tension, this frustration, this fear sits not that far from our mainstream politics,” journalist Wesley Lowery said on CNN’s Inside Politics Sunday.
“One thing is unquestionably true,” he added. “Very often the rhetoric in our politics sits uncomfortably close to the rhetoric that these kind of terrorists espouse.”
Pledges to fight racism. But how? President Joe Biden, who is headed to Buffalo on Tuesday, pledged to fight racism.
“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” he said in a statement on Saturday. “Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”
Race is enmeshed in US politics. Political rhetoric often feeds replacement fears by highlighting racial divides that are enmeshed in American life and politics.
The issue of immigration will loom over this fall’s midterm elections as Biden struggles with how to end Trump-era immigration policy that has kept US borders largely closed.
The related issues of voting rights and election security often pit GOP-led states like Georgia, Texas and Florida against big cities with their large minority populations.
Seeking accountability from social media companies. Democratic politicians like New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued Sunday that social media companies should bear some responsibility.
“This spreads like a virus,” Hochul told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” She said CEOs of social media companies must look a their policies and do more to take racist content down.
“They have to be able to identify when information like this — the second it hits the platform, it needs to be taken down, because this is spreading like wildfire.”
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla who has been in the process of buying Twitter, has said he would go in the opposite direction. He’s a self-described free speech absolutist and would allow more, not less, speech online.
Buffalo and gun laws. The gun control debate has shown us that even tragic shooting after tragic shooting will lead to very little concrete action so long as a minority of senators, locked together, can stop any legislation
New York already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and Hochul said she would look to close loopholes in state law that she said allowed magazines like the one apparently used in Buffalo across state lines.
Separately, Bash asked Pelosi if Democrats should place higher priority on passing gun safety measures like a stricter background check proposal passed by the House that was stalled in the Senate. Pelosi argued the math makes passing such bills a challenge.
“The fact is the 60-vote majority in the Senate is an obstacle to doing any, many good things, unfortunately, and again, we are not going away until the job is done,” Pelosi said.

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Ukraine won the 2022 Eurovision because of politics – The Washington Post

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Even before this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, commentators claimed that if Ukraine took home the trophy, it would not be for the quality of its folk-rap entry, “Stefania.” Instead, it would be a sign of European support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.

The Eurovision Song Contest allows countries to enter songs — but also to vote for the songs entered by other countries (each country nominates a jury of representatives to vote on its behalf). Several country representatives didn’t exactly try to hide their sympathy for the Ukrainian cause. When Poland’s representatives were asked for their jury vote, they mentioned “artistic creativity” — but also the bravery of Ukrainian fighters.

And it’s true: Ukraine’s victory on Saturday was political. This doesn’t make it unusual. Eurovision has always been about politics, even if the European Broadcasting Union (the organization that runs Eurovision) sometimes claims the opposite.

Past Eurovision songs have taken aim at Russia

In the past, Russia’s neighbors have weaponized Eurovision songs to retaliate against Russian actions. In 2007, Ukraine submitted a song called “Dancing Lasha Tumbai.” In Ukrainian, the pronunciation sounds very much like “Russia Goodbye.” After Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, that country tried the same trick with a song called “We Don’t Wanna Put In” — coincidentally pronounced in the song like “we don’t want a Putin.” It didn’t work; the entry was promptly disqualified. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Ukraine’s entry was a song about the Soviet deportation of Crimean Tatars. The song, entitled “1944,” also won the contest.

An analysis of voting patterns demonstrates that Russia, too, has engaged in Eurovision politics. Since Russia first entered the contest in 1994, its entry has frequently finished in the top five. Is that due to the quality of its entrants? Maybe, but many watchers also have noted how Russia almost always collects “douze points” (12 points: the maximum) from Belarus and other allies. This year, Russia was banned from participating.

Not all of the politics is about Russia’s actions

So, would Eurovision be apolitical if Russia’s ban from the contest became permanent? Hardly. While many of the recent political scandals have involved Russia, it’s not the only country that sparks controversy.

Israel’s participation in Eurovision means that many Arab countries do not participate, even though Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan are all eligible. Morocco’s first and only appearance in the contest was in a year Israel did not participate. In 2005, Lebanon withdrew rather than broadcast the Israeli entry.

Nor have Western European nations avoided politics. 1974’s Eurovision might be best known for introducing the world to ABBA. The Portuguese entry was more politically consequential: It served as a signal for coup plotters to begin the overthrow of Portugal’s authoritarian regime. Nor was that all; Italy censored its own entry that year, for fear that listening to “Sì” too many times would influence voters to vote “sì” (yes) in a referendum the next month to make divorce legal.

Eurovision has been political from the start

None of this is entirely surprising. Eurovision — and the European Broadcasting Union — was founded in the aftermath of World War II. The aim was to promote European cooperation. If it gave European nations a way to compete without guns and bombs, that was all to the good. There are worse ways for nations to vie for supremacy than with song and dance.

Given these foundations, it is safe to say that “Stefania” is not undermining any proud vision of political neutrality in Eurovision. It is very likely that Ukraine did win because of the Russian invasion — but it will be neither the first nor the last time that Eurovision expresses politics through the medium of a song contest. The solidarity that other European countries have expressed with Ukraine, and their implicit condemnation of Russia’s invasion, is not out of keeping with the contest’s political beginnings.

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