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.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is working to deal with the “appalling” overrepresentation of Indigenous women in federal prisons as part of justice reform.
Mr. Trudeau was asked about the matter Tuesday while in St. John’s at the beginning of a visit by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
He told a news conference that his government has made significant investments in reconciliation that have had an impact, but there is much more to do.
“Recent reports have just been appalling in seeing the overrepresentation, particularly of Indigenous women in our criminal system,” Mr. Trudeau said.
He said that’s one of the reasons the government has moved forward on such files as eliminating mandatory minimums, which he noted lead to an overrepresentation of marginalized and vulnerable people in the criminal system.
“This is one thing we’re doing but we know there is much more to do and we will because tackling systemic injustice, systemic discrimination which is real is long hard work that we are committed to.”
On another note, Mr. Trudeau says it was not “a very good idea” for Soccer Canada to invite the Iranian men’s soccer team to Canada for a friendly soccer game given the Canadians who died on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 when it was shot down on in 2020 after taking off from Tehran, by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Story here.
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KENNEY IN WASHINGTON FOR SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney appeared Tuesday before a U.S. Senate committee on energy and natural resources in Washington and to make a pitch: Help get another pipeline built to further fortify North American energy security. He was there on the same day that federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson was to make a virtual appearance before the gathering. Story here.
GOOGLE ESCALATES ONLINE NEWS ACT OPPOSITION – Google is ramping up its opposition to the federal government’s Online News Act, warning the proposed new law would “break” its popular search engine. Story here.
ROYAL VISIT BEGINS – The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are in Newfoundland and Labrador at the beginning of a three-day tour that will also include stops later this week in Ottawa and the Northwest Territories. Story here. There’s a Globe and Mail explainer here on the visit. Meanwhile, monarchists in Canada say they’re disappointed with what they call the federal government’s “lacklustre” plans to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, an event that honours the sovereign’s remarkable seven-decade reign. Story here from CBC.
CHINA-CANADA COMMITTEE RELAUNCHED – MPs have voted to re-establish a special committee on Canada-China relations. Story here from CTV.
PLANS FOR $789-MILLION MUSEUM IN B.C. CAUSE A STIR – British Columbia’s new Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said that, if he becomes premier‚ he would halt plans by Premier John Horgan’s NDP government to build a new Royal B.C. Museum, expected to cost about $800-million, calling it a “billion-dollar vanity project.” Story here.
N.B. LIEUTENANT.-GOVERNOR SPEAKS OUT ON APPOINTMENT RULING – New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Brenda Murphy has broken her silence on a recent Court of Queen’s Bench ruling that said her appointment to the role as a non-French speaker violated the Charter or Rights and Freedoms. Story here from CBC.
ONTARIO ELECTION – Ontario’s opposition leaders took aim at Doug Ford’s handling of the pandemic and his $10-billion proposed Highway 413, among other subjects, at the province’s televised debate Monday, with some of the tensest clashes over COVID-19 and climate change. Story here. Meanwhile, Queen’s Park reporter Dustin Cook reports here on five highlights from the debate.
CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is in Vancouver where he released a foreign policy and national defence platform that includes Canada spending 2 per cent of its GDP on defence, per NATO’s benchmark. Patrick Brown is campaigning in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. From Montreal, Jean Charest released a “safer communities” platform that includes stronger sentences for crimes motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, language, or other forms of hate. No events are listed for Tuesday on the websites of Roman Baber, Leslyn Lewis or Pierre Poilievre.
POILIEVRE ON `WHITE REPLACEMENT THEORY’ – Leadership contender Pierre Poilievre has denounced the “white replacement theory,” which was believed to be a motive for the May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., as “ugly and disgusting hate-mongering.” Story here. Meanwhile, former Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservative leader Ches Crosbie is supporting Mr. Poilievre’s leadership bid. Story here from CBC.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, May.17, accessible here.
POLITICAL BOOK COMPETITION – The winner of the Shaughnessy Cohen Price for Political Writing will be handed out Tuesday night at the first in-person Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa in two years. The prize, named for the late Windsor-area MP, Elizabeth Shaughnessy Cohen, honours a book of literary nonfiction on a political subject relevant to Canadian readers that can influence thinking on Canadian political life.
This year’s finalist books, and their authors, are:
China Unbound: A New World Disorder by Joanna Chiu.
Flora! A Woman in a Man’s World by Flora MacDonald and Geoffrey Stevens.
Indian in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power by Jody Wilson-Raybould.
The Next Age of Uncertainty: How the World Can Adapt to a Riskier Future by Stephen Poloz
The Two Michaels: Innocent Canadian Captives and High Stakes Espionage in the US-China Cyber War by Mike Blanchfield and Fen Osler Hampson
Please watch the globeandmail.com for news of the winner.
SAJJAN IN BERLIN – International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan is travelling to Berlin to attend the G7 Development Ministers’ Meeting from Wednesday to Thursday. Topics on the agenda include the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing global food security crisis.
On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Report on Business reporter and columnist Tim Kiladze explains why there is so much uncertainty as global markets falter, how inflation and interest rates are playing into it and why investors should prepare for more than a short-term market blip. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
In St. John’s, the Prime Minister held private meetings, and, with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey visited a local child-care facility and held a media availability. The Prime Minister also attended the official welcome ceremony for the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet holds a news conference on the protection of the French language before attending Question Period.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was scheduled to hold a news conference about his party’s plan to deal with oil and gas prices, participate in Question Period, and speak, in the House of Commons, about what his party described as the NDP’s “plan to help Canadians.”
No schedule provided for other party leaders.
Alex Bozikovic (The Globe and Mail) on how diversity is the key idea of the winning design for Ottawa’s Block 2: “Architecture won a rare victory in Ottawa this week. On Monday, Public Services and Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi announced the results of an international design competition for so-called “Block 2,” a complex of two office buildings on Wellington Street that will serve Parliament. The winning design, led by David Chipperfield Architects (DCA) of London and Toronto’s Zeidler Architects, will have to work hard. With a structure of mass timber, it will provide committee rooms, support space and 150 offices for parliamentarians. But the project also promises to deliver the most interesting and thoughtful public architecture Canada has seen in a generation.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how it’s time for potential political leaders to say which conspiracy theories they reject: “Last week, Conservative leadership candidates stood on a debate stage answering yes-or-no questions in a lightning round, before fielding a series of getting-to-know-you questions: What are you reading? What was the last TV show you binged? Which historical figure would you invite for dinner? But there’s a more critical getting-to-know you question anyone aspiring to lead a national party should answer right now: Which conspiracy theories do you reject? In 2022, Canadians need to know – and not just to know whether potential political leaders have gone down rabbit holes.”
John Doyle (The Globe and Mail) on how the cultural ignorance of the Conservative candidates is a revealing insult: “The Canadian film and television industry generates about $9.5-billion a year in production volume. It employs about 120,000 full-time and many more part-time or in connected roles. Those are people concerned about their jobs, mortgages and inflation. They also make phenomenally successful TV. Have these candidates not heard of Letterkenny, Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek, Alias Grace, Frontier, Transplant and a dozen more? Their taste is in their mouths and their ignorance an insult to a Canadian industry and Canadians.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the two factors that could shake up the Ontario election now that the debates are finished: “And despite the rantings in much of the mainstream and social media, this Progressive Conservative government is anything but a hotbed of conservative ideology. It has invested, not only in roads, but in transit, education and health care. That only leaves Mr. Ford’s populist personality as an issue. But polls show that he is in fact the most popular of the three major party leaders. The PC Leader is not out of the woods yet – far from it. Polls also show that about half of all voters feel it’s time for a change of government in Ontario. But to these eyes, nothing happened in the debate to galvanize that discontent. All it did was make Mike Schreiner look real good.”
Hamed Esmaeilion (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canada’s World Cup friendly match against Iran is an insult to the victims of PS752: “I recognize that Canada Soccer is striving to increase the sport’s popularity in Canada, where it lags behind other activities such as hockey. Indeed, it has been wonderful to see the successes of Canada’s national women’s team growing that popularity and attracting a large youth following over the years. My daughter Reera was among the young Canadians inspired by the women’s team, and she joined the Richmond Hill youth club, playing left defence every week in her club’s practice sessions. But that was before Reera and her mother – my wife Parisa – were killed when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a ruthless and destructive military organization, shot down their passenger plane. The incident left them and 174 other passengers dead, many of whom were Canadian.”
Julia Malott: Nope, parents are not ‘fascists’ for being skeptical of gender politics
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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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