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Politics Briefing: Trudeau says Tofino trip timing 'was a mistake' – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized for a controversial vacation trip to Tofino, B.C., that began on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation last week.

At his first news conference today since returning from a break in the Vancouver Island community, Mr. Trudeau addressed the issue of the trip.

“Travelling on Sept. 30 was a mistake, and I regret it,” Mr. Trudeau said at the news conference, convened to discuss federal policy on mandatory vaccinations. “I was in error to choose to travel on that day.”

Asked by a journalist whether anyone encouraged him not to go, Mr. Trudeau replied, “How it happened is far less important than that it happened.”

Mr. Trudeau has faced sustained criticism from Indigenous leaders and opposition parties for making a decision to fly to Tofino on Thursday, which was the first time that the country formally honoured survivors of residential schools and those who died while attending the institutions.

The Prime Minister thanked Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir for taking his call over the weekend so he could apologize directly for not being there with her community on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. He said he plans to visit the Kamloops-area community soon.

Mr. Trudeau was asked about why his itinerary for the day had initially said that he would be in Ottawa before eventually being corrected to mention Tofino. “The itinerary said that I had private meetings and I had calls for a number of hours that day with survivors of Indian residential schools,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Parliamentary Reporter Kristy Kirkup reports here on Mr. Trudeau’s comments today.

The Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland also talked about plans that will see travellers boarding a flight from a Canadian airport, or taking a VIA Rail train, required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test as of October 30.

Parliamentary reporter Marieke Walsh and senior parliamentary reporter Steven Chase report here on that part of today’s news conference.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

NDP HOLD CAUCUS MEETING – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will tell the first meeting of the NDP caucus today that pursuing Indigenous rights – including access to clean drinking water – will be a key priority for the party in this Parliament. Also, the NDP has requested an official inquiry into what it calls “numerous and systemic failures of election officials” in last month’s federal election. Story here.

ERIN O’TOOLE TOUTS CAUCUS SUPPORT – Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said on Tuesday he has enough support from his caucus to keep his job, even as his elected caucus members voted to give themselves the power to oust him as leader and one MP advocated for the party membership to hold a speedy vote on Mr. O’Toole’s future.

ECHAQUAN FAMILY ANNOUNCES LEGAL ACTION – Joyce Echaquan’s family said Tuesday it would launch legal action against the hospital where she died, hours after a Quebec coroner said a combination of “undeniable” systemic racism and health-care system failings contributed to her death.

CANADA TO FALL SHORT OF EMISSIONS GOALS: REPORT – Canada is on pace to fall well short of its emissions goals, according to a new government-funded report that says the country’s current strategies will reduce its greenhouse gas output by only 16 per cent, relative to 2005 levels, by 2030 – a far cry from the 40-per-cent cut that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised.

CORRECTION: Yesterday’s Politics Briefing newsletter said Conservative incumbents Blake Desjarlais and James Cumming lost their seats in Edmonton, while fellow incumbent Jag Sahota lost in Calgary. In fact, Mr. Desjarlais is the NDP member who beat Conservative incumbent Kerry Diotte in Edmonton-Griesbach.

NEW JOHN IBBITSON BOOK

John Ibbitson, Ottawa-based writer-at-large for The Globe and Mail, has a new book in the works.

Doug Pepper, the publisher of Signal/McClelland & Stewart, has announced his company has acquired the world rights to The Duel: Diefenbaker, Pearson and the Making of Modern Canada by Mr. Ibbitson.

The book, to be published in the fall of 2023, tells the story of the two prime ministers – John Diefenbaker, a Progressive Conservative, and Lester B. Pearson, a Liberal. A statement from the publisher notes the two were children of the Victorian era, who led Canada into the Atomic Age as prime ministers – fighting each other relentlessly, but together shaping the Canada we live in today.

“Several years ago I got it into my head that we needed to look again at the prime ministerships of John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson,” says Mr. Ibbitson, whose previous 10 books include a biography of former prime minister Stephen Harper.

“This has been a labour of love for me, so it’s wonderful that McClelland & Stewart will be bringing it out in two years under Doug Pepper’s guidance. This will be our fifth collaboration, and I couldn’t be happier.”

HOW TO BE A PRIME MINISTER

From Governing Canada, A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics by Michael Wernick (Published by On Point Press, an imprint of UBC Press)

This week, the Politics Briefing newsletter is featuring excerpts from Governing Canada, a new book by Michael Wernick, the former clerk of the privy council. Our focus is a key chapter, Advice to a Prime Minister. (Parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup reported on the project here.)

In today’s excerpt, Mr. Wernick makes the case for change in a prime minister’s inner circle:

“You will not be successful if you hang on to the same closed circle of close advisors and confidants for your whole time in office. There is an inevitable drift into a comfort zone and a form of groupthink that can create blind spots and put you at risk. Sometimes, sudden departures come along perhaps due to a political crisis or a personal choice to leave and you lose one of your core team. But you will tend to want to stay with the people that you started with for too long, especially if your government is doing well. If you are doing badly in the polls, you can expect your ministers and caucus members to start grumbling about those in your inner circle and perhaps starting to spin against them with journalists. It can be a precursor to grumbling about you.

“Succession planning is rarely done well in the political business, but try to pause at key points, perhaps during the summer recess of Parliament, and think about when would be the best time to swap out key players and who might be an option to bring in.”

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister, joined by the Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 situation and holds a media briefing.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, holds a news conference in Ottawa and then attends the first NDP caucus meeting since the federal election.

No schedules issued for the other federal leaders.

OPINION

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the question of whether other parties will follow the Conservative move to take power back from their leader: While Conservatives at large ponder whether to ditch Erin O’Toole as leader or keep him, the party’s parliamentary caucus has just made a decision of much greater import: it has given itself the power to dismiss the leader – and thus transformed the office itself. Meeting for the first time since the election, the Conservatives held four votes, as all parties are required to do by the Reform Act, 2014. The votes are to decide whether to accept the four powers conferred upon party caucuses by the Act: the power to decide who sits in caucus, to choose a caucus chair, to remove the leader, and to choose an interim leader.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the perils of Tories failing to learn from their past:Nonetheless, there is only one path to power for Conservatives: marrying rural old Canada to immigrant, suburban new Canada. Mr. O’Toole gets that. His strategy was sound; he just failed to execute. There is no better education in politics than to lose an election. This is Mr. O’Toole’s opportunity to learn and to grow. But if the caucus and the party membership don’t give him that opportunity, if Mr. O’Toole becomes another Manion or Bracken or Clark or Scheer, then the Conservatives will deserve the fate that history says awaits them.”

Jo Ramsay (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on the fixes Elections Canada needs to institute so outdated ballots don’t misguide voters: “An effective solution to inform voters of late-stage changes in an electoral race could be to place a large, accessible notice board outside of every polling station, displaying updates such as disavowed candidates or other ballot inaccuracies in real-time. Another initiative could be to provide clear and publicly accessible methods for groups of private citizens to advocate or trigger a local by-election in situations similar to Spadina-Fort York, where there is mass dissatisfaction with the elected candidate. Both of these proposed changes would serve to maintain faith in our electoral system and quell community frustrations in the event ballots cannot be updated.”

Josée Legault (Le Journal de Montreal) on the chilling report on Joyce Echaquan: “Here, as elsewhere in Canada, there is hope. Many Quebecers and Canadians are experiencing a sincere awakening of consciences about the plight of First Nations. Will their policymakers follow the same pace? It will have to be. The worst mistake would be to get stuck in a Manichean struggle that condemns us to go around in circles. Because those who reject the notion of systemic racism are not “racist” and those who claim to be so are not woke or “Québécophobes.”

Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. Please note, it is 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.

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Bosnia’s political crisis: What you should know, in 600 words – Al Jazeera English

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Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing a political crisis that some fear could lead to armed conflict, little more than 25 years after the Bosnia war ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, announced this month that the country’s Serb-run entity, Republika Srpska, will quit key state institutions to achieve full autonomy within the country, in violation of the 1995 peace accords.

Dodik has been threatening the secession of Republika Srpska from Bosnia for the past 15 years and his latest statements have fuelled concerns that an armed conflict could be reignited.

Here’s what you need to know:

How did the crisis start?

The crisis began in July when Valentin Inzko, then the high representative, banned genocide denial and established war crimes, as well as the glorification of war criminals.

Serb representatives responded by boycotting central institutions. Dodik has since been seeking to withdraw the law, threatening Republika Srpska’s secession.

What’s happening now?

Earlier this month, Dodik said that Republika Srpska is pulling out of three key state institutions: the armed forces, top judiciary body and tax administration.

On October 12, Dodik said the Bosnian judiciary, security and intelligence agencies will be banned from operating in Republika Srpska.

Instead, “Serb only” institutions will replace these bodies in the entity by end of November.

“We want our authorities returned to us [the regional parliament] … This isn’t anything radical,” Dodik said. “This is for strengthening the position of Republika Srpska.”

On Wednesday, the Republika Srpska assembly adopted a law establishing its own medicine procurement agency, the first of its proclaimed agencies to operate separately from the state-level one.

Is secession on the cards?

Dodik insists “this isn’t secession” and “there is no possibility for war”, but he told media on October 14 that seven European Union countries support Bosnia’s dissolution, adding “friends” have promised help to the entity in case of “Western military intervention”.

“This is secession in all but name. And he’s testing the waters,” according to political scientist Jasmin Mujanovic.

Why is this alarming?

When recently asked by a reporter how he plans to throw out members of state services – judges, prosecutors, members of armed forces – from the entity’s territory, Dodik referred to “1992 as the Slovenes did it”, referring to the use of violence during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Emir Suljagic, director of the Srebrenica Memorial Centre, wrote in a column for Anadolu Agency on Sunday that “mono-ethnic institutions like the ones Mr. Dodik plans to re-create” were vehicles for genocide in the 1990s.

“Police, military, intelligence, and security services were at the centre of organised and systematic violence against non-Serbs. These institutions considered Bosniaks’ existence an existential threat,” Suljagic wrote.

“If we fail to deter these threats, the ultimate price we will pay is another Srebrenica [genocide].”

What can be done?

Partners who accepted the duty to protect peace 26 years ago and have the power to take action must do so, Ismail Cidic, head of the Bosnian Advocacy Center, told Al Jazeera.

Critics found the joint US-EU statement on Wednesday underwhelming, as it called for “all parties” to respect state institutions.

“I understand that ‘both-sideism’ is always a safe option for every diplomat, but the consequences of such an approach are well known from the 1990s,” Cidic said.

“If they are not willing to react because of the people of Bosnia, they should do it at least because of the leaders in their countries who cannot afford yet another refugee crisis or a Russian-backed conflict right next to the NATO borders.”

Pro-Bosnian political leaders and state institutions “must be prepared for dangerous scenarios”, he said.

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Doug Ford says Ontario opposition playing politics over his 'bang on' comments about immigrants – CTV Toronto

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he believes opposition parties are playing politics over his comments on immigrants and said he’s been told his remarks were “bang on.”

Ford was asked on Wednesday by Brampton East MPP Gurratan Singh in Question Period whether he is ready to apologize for the comments that “play into racist stereotypes about new Canadians.”

“Those comments were hurtful, divisive, and wrong,” Singh said.

Ford responded to Singh by saying he has been “inundated with messages from your community, the Sikh community, that said ‘You were bang on.'”

The comments about immigrants were made in Tecumseh while Ford was speaking to reporters about a labour shortage on Monday.

“We’re in such desperate need of people from around the world,” he said. 

The premier then specified that he only wanted “hard-working” people to come to Ontario.

“You come here like every other new Canadian. You work your tail off,” Ford said. “If you think you’re coming to collect the dole and sit around, it’s not going to happen. Go somewhere else.”

On Wednesday, Singh asked Ford if he was ready to apologize, adding the comments were “just plain wrong.”

“Stop playing politics and let’s speak the truth,” Ford responded to Singh. “You know the backbone of this province are great hard-working immigrants.”

“My phone is blowing up all night, all day, day before, from immigrants telling me their story … I’m the biggest pro-immigrant premier we’ve ever seen here.”

Ford told Singh he will “go to his community and door knock and see the response from the Sikh community.”

He said he’s been told already by the Sikh community that his comments were “bang on” and that he needs to “stay focused.”

Many Ontario politicians spoke out and demanded Ford apologize on Monday.

Ford was asked on Tuesday by the NDP to apologize for the “discriminatory” comments. He did not, and instead used the opportunity to say he is “pro-immigration.” 

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How green politics are changing Europe – BBC News

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The Greens

An ocean of conservative blue blankets the electoral map in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria.

And yet the conservative vote actually fell across Germany in last month’s federal vote, while the Greens achieved their biggest success yet,.

In an election dominated by climate change, a speck of green has made a ripple in Bavaria. For the first time a Greens candidate was directly elected to represent Bavaria in the federal parliament.

It is symbolic of the creeping rise in support for European green parties, from Hungary to Finland.

Bavaria's electoral map

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The new MP, Jamila Schäfer, beamed with satisfaction when she recalled her surprise victory in Munich-South, by a wafer-thin margin of 0.8%. Only once before had the CSU lost the constituency since 1976.

“This is a major sign of change,” Ms Schäfer told the BBC.

A campaign ‘close to the people’

The Greens won 14.8% of the vote nationwide, appealing beyond their eco-protest roots with Annalena Baerbock standing as candidate for chancellor. Now they are in talks to share power as part of a three-way coalition.

Greens co-leaders Angelina Baerbock (L) and Robert Habeck (R)

Getty Images

Ms Schäfer, 28, is the Greens’ deputy federal chairwoman and typifies a party that has undergone a national makeover after years of power-sharing in several German states (Länder).

She rose through the ranks of Green Youth, taking part in school strikes against education reforms, long before Swedish activist Greta Thunberg made her name by skipping classes for climate protests.

Climate change was consistently ranked as the most serious facing Germany in opinion polls ahead of the election.

Even so, Ms Schäfer targeted her “close-to-the-people” campaign in Munich-South on housing, pensions and taxes.

Green shoots of success

Once ridiculed by many as idealistic hippies, Green parties increased their vote share in 13 European countries at the most recent national elections. In six of those countries – Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden – green parties have a share of power in coalition governments.

A map showing the countries where green parties hold power

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In all those cases, the Greens are pressing their partners to adopt more ambitious targets for lowering carbon emissions. Elsewhere, the green mayors of Amsterdam and Budapest are aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050 and 2030 respectively – to balance the greenhouse gases emitted and absorbed by their cities.

Despite last month’s election success for the German Greens, even co-leader Ms Baerbock admitted they had failed to live up to early opinion poll ratings: “We wanted more. We didn’t achieve that.”

Given the urgency of curbing emissions, what’s holding the Greens back?

Trust and fear of change

One explanation is that mainstream parties across Europe have elevated climate change to the top of their agendas.

“If you’re concerned about the climate, it doesn’t follow that you’re going to vote green,” Adam Fagan, a political scientist at King’s College, London, said. “It means you’re going to scrutinise the manifestos of the main parties for their green credentials.”

A map showing the percentage of votes for green parties in recent European elections

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Green parties tend to do better in countries with more proportional systems, as used by the European Union for its parliamentary elections. For example, the Greens/EFA bloc gained 25 seats with 10.8% of the vote in the 2019 election to the European Parliament.

“People think putting the Greens in power [in the EU] is less dangerous,” said Philippe Lamberts, co-president of the Greens/EFA.

“From the right and the left, there’s always a question hanging over us: can you really trust the Greens with the economy?”

National election results suggest the answer is no.

To reduce emissions, the Greens say big structural changes to the economy are needed. While those reforms are necessary, they scare people and put them off voting green, Ms Schäfer said.

“They’re worried they’ll be the losers of big transformation,” the MP said. “It’s a lack of control that people are afraid of. But we need to convince people that our politics is not about giving up control.”

‘Killing the planet’

It’s even more difficult in Southern and Eastern European countries, where support for green parties is fragmented or non-existent. Surveys show that climate change is far from a top priority in post-communist countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania.

Voters and political parties there are generally more concerned about economic development or migration, leaving environmental issues to civil society groups.

Mr Lamberts believes voters find the message that their country’s model is “killing the planet” unpalatable.

Unlike in many of the other former Soviet-bloc states, green parties have made inroads in Hungary.

Gergely Karácsony

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The green LMP party has won seats in three consecutive national elections since 2010, while Dialogue received 11.9% of the vote in an alliance with the Hungarian Socialists in 2018.

Dialogue’s success came under the leadership of Gergely Karacsony, who was elected mayor of Budapest in 2019.

He defeated the nationalist incumbent by rallying opposition parties behind his liberal platform, and promising solutions not only to environmental issues, but economic and social ones too.

“In Hungary today, there are three different crises. A democratic crisis, a social crisis and an environmental crisis,” Budapest’s mayor told the BBC. “The advantage of the green movement is that we have proposals for all three.”

He linked green policies such as urban foresting and carbon-free public transport to Hungary’s poor record on air quality and other environmental problems.

Particularly in post-Soviet countries, the mayor said, social justice must go hand in hand with the green transition.

“We cannot put the costs of sustainability on disadvantaged segments of society.”

Jamila Schäfer speaking at an event

Andreas Gregor

What worked in Budapest may not necessarily follow elsewhere, but green candidates have achieved electoral success where they have channelled voter discontent, united the opposition and diversified their offer beyond the environment.

If the Greens can build on these gains, there is a future for them in coalitions, Professor Fagan said.

“Green politics in Europe is getting bigger and stronger, and I’m sure it will grow in the coming years,” Ms Schäfer said.

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