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Supreme Court ruling on carbon tax offers support to key piece of Liberals’ climate-change plan

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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.

Canada’s Supreme Court has upheld the federal government’s right to impose minimum carbon-pricing standards on the provinces.

Thursday’s long-awaited ruling offers support to a key piece of the federal Liberal government’s climate-change plan amid speculation that a federal election looms.

In a 6-3 decision, the court stressed Ottawa’s authority under Canada’s 1867 Constitution to legislate on matters of national concern – and the provinces’ inability to fight global warming effectively on their own.

And the majority ruling, written by Chief Justice Richard Wagner, describes climate change as a “threat of the highest order to the country and indeed the world.”

Globe and Mail justice reporter Sean Fine reports on the ruling here.

And there is a primer on the issue here.

The federal Liberal government seized on the ruling as a validation of their climate-change policies.

“This decision is a win for the millions of Canadians who believe we must build a prosperous economy that fights climate change – many of whom participated in the courts’ hearings,” Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in a statement.

In a reference to a vote by Conservative party delegates at a policy convention last week, Mr. Wilkinson said, “There should be no question as to whether climate change is real, or whether climate action is the right thing to do for the planet, for jobs and as human beings – only Conservative politicians are disputing that.”

At the convention, 54 per cent of attending delegates voted against a resolution that would have included the line “climate change is real. The Conservative Party is willing to act” in the Tories’ official policy document.

Responding to the ruling, Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole said that a Conservative government would still repeal the carbon tax as promised.

“We will protect the environment and fight the reality of climate change, but we won’t so it by making the poorest pay more,” Mr. O’Toole said in a statement.

“The Supreme Court recognized that policies related to emission reduction touch on federal and provincial jurisdiction. Conservatives prefer a collaborative approach to tackling climate change to make progress while also helping maintain a strong economy.”

Mr. O’Toole repeated his commitment to release a “clear and comprehensive” climate plan. He has said the party will do so soon, before an expected federal election.

In Toronto, federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said she was encouraged that the Supreme Court has validated climate change as real, requiring a co-ordinated response across Canada, with a “critical role” for the federal government.

“We now know that we have a partner in the Supreme Court, that they recognize the seriousness, the urgency of the matter and the need for co-ordination and collaboration across levels of government,” Ms. Paul told a news conference.

Columnist’s Comment, Campbell Clark: “When the Supreme Court declares that the federal government’s carbon-tax legislation is not only constitutional but also a necessary measure to address a threat to humanity, it is obviously a victory for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberals. But to really judge the short-term political implications, keep your eyes on the small-c conservative premiers who took the feds to court: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, and Ontario’s Doug Ford. It is their tone that matters: will they ease off, or go back to fighting carbon taxes tooth and nail? The federal Conservative Leader, Erin O’Toole, doesn’t want climate change to be a central issue in the next election campaign. But will influential conservative premiers be sending message that it is time to compromise, or time to fight?”

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Protecting Canadian businesses/intellectual property: The federal government is stepping up efforts to protect Canadian intellectual property and strategically sensitive businesses from falling into the hands of foreign governments and their proxies. Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne has unveiled revised guidelines laying out new areas of concern for Ottawa as it scrutinizes foreign takeovers and investments in key sectors of the economy as well as funding of high-end research.

COVID-19 Vaccines: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is concerned by new trade controls on COVID-19 vaccines, but said his government will ensure that reported restrictions on exports from India and the European Union won’t affect Canada’s vaccine supply.

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Military Investigation Reviewed: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has asked the acting chief of the defence staff to review an investigation into allegations of misconduct in the Royal Canadian Navy. The request follows a report published Tuesday by Global News stating an internal probe into sexual-misconduct allegations against senior naval officers had wrapped up before all witnesses or complainants were spoken to and that investigators concluded no wrongdoing took place.

Ontario Budget: Ontario will spend billions more fighting the health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and is projecting deficits into the last half of this decade, pushing up debt levels to unprecedented heights. The province’s second pandemic budget forecasts a $33.1-billion deficit in 2021-22, falling from the record $38.5-billion worth of red ink caused largely by expenditures to combat COVID-19 in 2020-2021.

Anti-Asian Racism: From The National Post: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he believes a “confluence of events” that includes the COVID-19 pandemic and a more aggressive China on the world stage are contributing to rising rates of anti-Asian racism in Canada

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds private meetings as well as discussions with David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group. The Prime Minister also hosts a virtual meeting with Jewish community leaders.

LEADERS’ DAYS

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Green party Leader Annamie Paul holds a news conference in Toronto to react to the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax.

OPINION

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on daunting financial challenges for Ontario spotlighted by the provincial budget:Ontario’s fiscal situation was dire before the pandemic; it has grown much worse because of the pandemic; and it is going to get still worse after the pandemic is long past. That, mind, is the optimistic scenario – which is to say, the scenario on which the Ontario government has chosen to base its latest budget.

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on why the Conservatives need to act as if they intend to form government:But the next election, whenever it will be, will likely occur in a climate distinct from the ones of the past. We will ostensibly be much closer to pandemic recovery, meaning there will be something of a general aura of optimism – even euphoria – in the air. Indeed, by then, whatever stumbles the federal government experienced in procuring vaccines early relative to peer nations might well be forgotten – or at least obscured by the joy of being able to eat in a restaurant without the gentle hum of anxiety in the background – leaving Mr. O’Toole with the challenge of getting Canadians to pay attention to a promise of change when things, compared to the recent past, will seem pretty good.”

Don Martin (CTV) on the looming federal election: “Circle June 14 on your calendar as election day.”

READERS’ POLITICAL NEWSLETTER QUESTIONS

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We recently asked Politics-Briefing newsletter readers if they have any questions for the bureau. Thank you to reader Marie Cocking of Vancouver, who sent in our first question.

Marie writes: As I understand the Canadian parliamentary system, budgetary allocation decisions must be made in Parliament. How long, then, can a government go without introducing a budget and still be said to be governing with the confidence of the House?

We asked Bill Curry, who covers finance, to answer.

Bill Curry: “Thanks for the question. The last federal budget was tabled on March 19, 2019. Researchers at the Library of Parliament recently went through all federal budget dates since Confederation and found that this is the longest gap between budgets in Canadian history. The fact that this happened during a period in which the Liberals only hold a minority of seats in the House of Commons shows that a budget is not technically necessary for a government to maintain the confidence of the House. While a budget puts all of the government’s spending plans into a single package, what MPs actually vote on to approve spending are called supply bills. Each department produces spending requests – which are called estimates – for Parliament to review and approve. After MPs have had a few weeks to review the estimates – which can include calling public servants and ministers to explain this spending – the government introduces a supply bill that is based on the estimates. (For anyone who wants more information on this, the process is explained here. The House has continued to approve supply bills throughout this period without a budget, which is why the government maintains the confidence of the House and the operation of government continues. As we recently wrote , however, the lack of a budget means MPs have to approve piecemeal spending plans without the benefit of an overarching budget plan.”

READERS’ POLITICAL NEWSLETTER QUESTIONS

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.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

Source: – The Globe and Mail

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Prince Philip took a keen interest in Canada, but stayed above politics, former GGs and PM say

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When former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien met the late Prince Philip for the first time, he told him that for an Englishman, his French was very good.

“He said ‘I’m not English and I’ve spoken French since before you were born,’” Chrétien told the Star Friday, commenting on his many encounters over 50 years with the Duke of Edinburgh.

“He was not dull, let me put it that way,” Chrétien said. “He had some strong views. Sometimes he had to show discipline to not speak up more than he would have wished.”

Philip, born in Greece in 1921 and husband to Queen Elizabeth II for over 73 years, died at the age of 99 on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he first met Philip when he was a little boy, described him as “a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others.”

Former prime ministers and governors general spoke of a man who understood his role and knew not to get involved in politics, but who was very knowledgeable about Canada and took a keen interest in the country’s success.

“I was always impressed by their knowledge,” Chrétien said of Philip and the Queen, Canada’s head of state.

He said he can recall Philip asking about the prospect of Quebec separating from the rest of the country. “Not in a very political fashion, just in terms of interest. Of course he was interested to not see Canada break up. He would certainly say that to me.”

 

Statements from former prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper highlighted Philip’s devotion to the Canadian armed forces and charitable organizations, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, an international self-development program for young people.

Former governors general David Johnston and Michaëlle Jean, through their role as the Queen’s representative in Canada, were also able to get to know Philip more intimately, particularly at the Queen’s Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland.

Jean recalls being “overwhelmed” by all the protocol recommendations ahead of a Balmoral visit with her husband and six-year-old daughter prior to taking office in 2005, only to find Philip and the Queen greeting them at the door, with Philip paying special attention to her daughter.

“The memory I keep of Prince Philip is that of an affable, caring, elegant and warm man,” Jean told the Star, adding he was a man who was very attentive to detail.

She recalled attending a barbecue on the Balmoral estate, just the four of them, and Philip telling her, “Don’t forget to congratulate Her Majesty for her salad dressing, because she made it herself.”

What Jean also saw was a man sometimes hampered by the limitations of his role, like when he talked about one of his favourite topics, the environment.

“He said ‘I do a lot about it, I raise awareness, I take actions…I feel that whatever I do, no one cares,’” Jean recounted. “What I got from that is how lonely he felt…There was a sense of not feeling appreciated in proportion to his contributions, a feeling of being misunderstood.”

Johnston, who succeeded Jean, said Canada’s constitutional monarchy — where the head of state is politically neutral and separate from elected office — is an “important and precious” form of government, and Philip was key to making it work.

Philip showed leadership as a servant, Johnston said, “not taking centre stage, but by ensuring that the Queen and the monarchy were front row and centre.

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“He played such an important structural role, and did that with great diligence and commitment. He was selfless in that respect,” Johnston said in an interview.

For Matthew Rowe, who works on the Royal Family’s charitable endeavours in Canada, the Duke of Edinburgh’s political value to Canada was precisely that he was not political — that he, along with the rest of the monarchy, provided a stabilizing force outside of the partisan fray.

He was dynamic, irascible, exasperating, intriguing. And he was always three steps behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth, who utterly adored him throughout their 73-year marriage, flaws, faux pas and all.

“His presence, and the role of Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family, has been to be able to represent the nation, to represent Canadian interests, and commemorate Canadian achievements without being tied to a particular political ideology or regional faction,” Rowe, who met Philip at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in 2010, said in an interview.

 

Philip’s role meant he could speak more frankly than the Queen in public, and spoke “quite thoughtfully” about the constitutional monarchy in Canada, said University of Toronto history instructor Carolyn Harris.

At a press conference in Ottawa in 1969, Philip famously said that the monarchy doesn’t exist “in the interests of the monarch…It exists solely in the interest of the people. We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

Philip had a good, joking relationship with Johnston’s wife, Sharon. He recounted how the two joined the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral in August 2010, prior to Johnston’s swearing-in later that year.

One evening, they were returning to the castle from a barbecue at a renovated shepherd’s hut on the estate — just the four of them, the Queen driving with Johnston in one land rover, and Philip driving with Sharon in the other ahead of them on narrow, highland roads.

“We were coming home at about 10 p.m., as black as could be, he and Sharon were ahead, kind of weaving, and we could hear these gales of laughter coming out. They were cracking jokes at one another,” Johnston said.

“I had a vision of him going over the edge and down half a mile into the valley, and my first thought is: Do the Queen and I rustle down to rescue them?”

Chrétien said “it must be terrible” for the Queen to now find herself alone after a marriage that lasted for more than 70 years. He noted it’s been almost seven months to the day since he lost his wife, Aline.

 

“It’s a big change in life but she’s an extremely courageous person and she will face the situation with the strength that she has been able to show to the world for the almost 70 years she’s been queen,” Chrétien said.

With files from Alex Boutilier and Kieran Leavitt

 

 

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After warning, McConnell softens posture on corporations’ taking political stances

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., softened his stance on corporations’ getting involved in politics Wednesday, a day after he warned companies not to weigh in on hot button issues.

“I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are,” McConnell told reporters. “My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill.

“They got intimidated into adopting an interpretation … given by the Georgia Democrats in order to help get their way,” he said.

McConnell was referring to a controversial voting law recently passed in Georgia, which came about in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of falsehoods about the election result in the state last fall.

The law led the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola — which are based in Atlanta — to condemn the measure. And last week, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest. The game will, instead, be played in Colorado.

In recent weeks, McConnell has excoriated corporate America for boycotting states over various GOP-led bills. He said Tuesday that it is “stupid” for corporations to take positions on divisive political issues but noted that his criticism did not extend to their donations.

“So my warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell said in Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s not what you’re designed for. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of one of America’s greatest political debates.”

Major League Baseball’s decision drew the most outrage from Republicans, as Trump called for a boycott of baseball and other companies that spoke out against the Georgia law. McConnell said Tuesday that the latest moves are “irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.”

McConnell, long a champion of big money in politics, however, noted Tuesday that corporations “have a right to participate in a political process” but said they should do so without alienating “an awful lot of people.”

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said. “I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don’t like a particular law that passed. I just think it’s stupid.”

Source:- NBC News

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Facebook Removes 1,000 Fake Accounts Seeking to Sway Global Politics

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(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc. said it removed 14 networks representing more than 1,000 accounts seeking to sway politics around the world, including in Iran and El Salvador, while misleading the public about their identity.

Most of the removed networks were in the early stages of building their audiences, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Tuesday. Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday, part of its monthly reporting on efforts to rid its platforms of fake accounts, represents one of the larger crack downs by the company in recent months.

“We have been growing this program for several years,” said David Agranovich, Facebook’s global threat disruption lead. “I would expect to see this drum beat of take downs to continue.”

In one example, the company removed a network of more than 300 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and the photo-sharing app Instagram that appear to be run by a years-old troll farm located in Albania and operated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq opposition group. The group appeared to target Iran, but also other audiences with content about Iran, according to a report released by Facebook.

The group was most active in 2017, but increased its activity again in the latter half of 2020. It was one of a handful of the influence campaigns that likely used machine learning technologies capable of creating realistic profile photos to the naked eye, Facebook said in the report.

The company also removed 118 accounts, eight pages and 10 Instagram accounts based in Spain and El Salvador for violating the company’s foreign interference policy. The group amplified criticism of Henry Flores, a mayoral candidate in Santa Tecla, El Savador and supportive commentary of his rivals, the company said.

The social media giant also took down a network of 29 Facebook accounts, two pages, one group and 10 Instagram accounts based in Iran that was targeting Israel. The people behind the network posed as locals and posted criticism about Isreali prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Facebook. The company also took down networks based in Argentina, Mexico, Egypt and other nations.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said the company has improved its ability to identify inauthentic accounts, but said bad actors continue to change their strategies to avoid Facebook’s detection.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Source:- BNN

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