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Trudeau seeks ‘Team Canada’ approach with provinces on vaccine distribution




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 says criticism of his government’s pandemic response reflects the tense times, and that he takes no offense at it.

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“We’re in a situation where everybody is exhausted, not just families, workers, small businesses, front-line workers, but also leaders. This has been a very, very long year. As a federal government, we’ve not engaged in pointing fingers or laying blame, or judging,” he told a Tuesday news conference.

“Have we done everything perfect? No. Of course not,” Mr. Trudeau said, but added, among other measures, the government is trying to bolster vaccine supplies, and help provinces get them out in support of a “Team Canada approach.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has previously criticized the ability of the federal government to secure sufficient vaccine doses. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has also been critical of Ottawa.

The Prime Minister said he would, later Tuesday, be speaking to Mr. Ford, likely about what spikes in cases mean for hospitals, and the importance of vaccinating as many people as possible. Mr. Trudeau also said he would be holding talks with all premiers on Wednesday about pandemic support.

He warned that Canadians need to hold on through the continuing third wave. “COVID-19 isn’t done with us yet,” he said.

Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said that if his party forms government, there will be a public inquiry on every aspect of the pandemic response.

During a news conference, Mr. O’Toole also said the government should appoint a special monitor from the Office of the Auditor General to track the pandemic response to ensure “valuable lessons learned ” are captured for future use.

“When the pandemic is over, we need answers, we need to know what worked and what didn’t. We need complete transparency and accountability.”

Health Minister Patty Hajdu, asked about the issue of an inquiry, said a review is a necessity.

“The Prime Minister and I have both said that every country should do a full review of their pandemic response when we are though this crisis. Clearly every country has a lot to learn, including Canada, and we have committed to that,” she told the same briefing Mr. Trudeau attended.


Gig workers and EI – The place of gig workers has become a key issue in continuing deliberation on how the decades-old employment insurance system will be updated. There is general agreement that the social safety net program created eight decades ago needs to be adapted to cover gig workers when they fall on hard times. The April 19 budget could signal where the government is heading, particularly as it lays out federal expectations for premiums paid by employers and employees, and benefits to be paid out, over the coming years.

Digital immunity certificates – The Ontario government considered plans to issue digital “immunity certificates” to people as they received their COVID-19 vaccinations, handing them a pass that could be stored on their smartphone and potentially checked by long-term care home attendants, employers or airline staff.

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New Democrats vet resolutions – Rank-and-file New Democrats have begun voting on hundreds of motions that include a call for a 100-per-cent tax on billionaires and the removal of all statues honouring Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The party will hold a convention this weekend to come up with planks for a platform Leader Jagmeet Singh can take into a possible election campaign this year.

Worker transitions – Three-quarters of the Canadians employed in oil and gas could lose their jobs as the country pursues aggressive climate targets, according to a new report that warns governments must develop worker transition plans now to prevent disastrous consequences.

From The National Post: Liberals will debate proposals to create a network of high-speed rail lines across Canada, a green new deal for the country and a universal basic income at the party’s virtual convention this week.


Private meetings. News conference with, among others, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam, on the COVID-19 situation. The Prime Minister also virtually hosts the Prime Minister’s Science Fair, where he will meet with the winners of the 2019 Canada-Wide Science Fair.


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Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole holds a news conference. Also delivers remarks to an event held by the Terrace (B.C) and District Chamber of Commerce.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul holds a virtual roundtable and media availability on essential workers and vaccine prioritization.


The latest 338Canada projection puts the Liberals as 50-to-one favourites to win the most seats in a federal election and the Conservatives failing to turn the tide postconvention. “The Liberals have slowly creeped back up above the majority threshold (of 170 seats), but barely.”


The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Canada’s housing frenzy: “What’s happening today is strong demand – powered by ultralow interest rates, Canadians hungry to buy and a market psychology of buyers desperate to get ahead of rising prices by buying ASAP – smashing up against a low supply of homes for sale. In this unhinged market, there are many dangers, from overindebted buyers to a broader economy that is overreliant on real estate and would be shaken by a sudden fall in prices or jump in interest rates.”

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Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on the continued failure of governments to effectively deal with the pandemic: “Every time someone talks about how “Canada” is doing in its fight against COVID-19, I stifle an eyeroll – as if we’re one amorphous country battling this disease. That, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. There hasn’t been anything resembling a cohesive response to the virus and its mutant relatives. We might as well have been 13 separate countries. It’s pretty much been a jumbled, disjointed mess from the start.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the prospect of Mark Carney entering elected politics: “Mr. Carney has been away from the Bank of Canada for eight years. He is superbly qualified for public office. He has views on the role of markets and governments in combatting climate change. If he wants to enter the arena, good on him. The political class in Canada needs all the talent it can find. That said, Mr. Carney should bear a few things in mind (and is certainly already bearing them). First, he could seek to become a Liberal member of Parliament, only for the Liberal Party to lose the next election. Would he enjoy four years on the backbench?”

Source: – The Globe and Mail

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Mail-in delays and recounts: Canada’s election tallying drags on.



Three days after Canada‘s federal election, the final tally of seats remained unclear on Thursday, with mail-in ballots still being counted in some regions and at least one electoral district facing an automatic recount.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were handed another minority mandate late on Monday, in an election that ended with all the major parties holding virtually the same number of seats they had before the vote was called.

A handful of seats remain too close to call, as election workers across the country continue to count ballots. Those tight races will not meaningfully impact the overall outcome.

“We’re on pace to have all results within five days of polling day, and the majority should be in by the end of today,” said Natasha Gauthier, an Elections Canada spokesperson.

The count is taking time due to both coronavirus protocols and the fact that votes are being counted locally while being monitored by political party representatives.

Trudeau will not speak to media until the results are all in, a Liberal spokesman said.

As of 1:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday (1730 GMT), the Liberals were elected or leading in 158 of the 338 seats. The official opposition Conservatives were leading in 119, the left-leaning New Democrats in 25 and the Greens holding just two. The Quebec-focused Bloc Quebecois looked set to take 34.

Graphic: Canada‘s provisional election results:

One electoral district faces an automatic recount, which occurs when the race is decided by less than 0.001% of all votes cast. Parties can also request recounts in very close races after the count is finalized.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Ocean politics, DNA history and the climate experiment: Books in brief –



To Rule the Waves

Bruce D. Jones Scribner (2021)

The oceans are the key zone for potential military confrontation; some 85% of global commerce relies on them; around 90% of global data flows along undersea cables; oceans are central in the global fight over climate change. Those four simple facts are analysed in this penetrating historical and political study. Author Bruce Jones, director of the project on international order at Washington DC think tank the Brookings Institution, fears future oceanic conflict, especially now that COVID-19 has amplified existing international tensions.

The Secret of Life

Howard Markel Norton (2021)

The 1953 discovery of DNA’s double-helix structure might be one of science’s most fascinating and oft-told stories. Yet much about it is still contentious — even who termed it “the secret of life”. Historian of medicine Howard Markel’s fine book focuses on the role of Rosalind Franklin, whose X-ray crystallography image of DNA — crucial to Francis Crick and James Watson’s breakthrough — was used without her permission. A hesitant Watson tells Markel that he was “honest but … you wouldn’t say I was exactly honorable”.

A Biography of the Pixel

Alvy Ray Smith MIT Press (2021)

Pixel is short for ‘picture element’: a misleading etymology, writes computer scientist Alvy Smith, who co-founded Pixar Animation Studios in 1979. Pixels are invisible, like computer bits, and not to be confused with “the little glowing areas on a screen, called display elements”. Hence this book’s technical core: how the former is converted to the latter, and the thinkers who paved the way. These range from Alan Turing to the undersung graphics mathematicians involved in the films Monsters, Inc., Toy Story, Finding Nemo and more.

Our Biggest Experiment

Alice Bell Bloomsbury Sigma (2021)

Climate campaigner and science writer Alice Bell’s nuanced and accessible history of the climate crisis describes the legacy of scientists including Eunice Foote, the first to warn that increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide would affect global temperatures, at an 1856 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. By ignoring Foote’s insight for so long, “we’ve inherited an almighty mess”, concludes Bell. But “a lot of tools” can alleviate the effects of global warming, if used wisely.

Being a Human

Charles Foster Profile (2021)

Vet and barrister Charles Foster won an Ig Nobel Prize for living in the wild as various animals, as described in Being a Beast (2016). In his latest book — controversial, yet oddly compelling — he lives as if in the upper Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Enlightenment periods, and compares human consciousness in each. Ancient hunter-gatherers, he argues, were superior to modern urban-dwellers for their “cosmopolitanism” and “motion”. He savages written language, invented post-Neolithic, for its “wholly spurious authority” over experience.

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An anti-green backlash could reshape British politics – The Economist



WHATEVER A British voter’s natural political hue—Tory blue, Labour red or Liberal Democrat orange—these days it ends up green-tinged. The Tory government talks effusively about “building back greener”. Labour wants a “green industrial revolution”. Liberal Democrats have used their position as the third party to argue for everybody to go further and faster. And then there are all the people who want to raze the carbon economy to the ground the day after tomorrow: not just the Green Party but also extremist groupuscules such as Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain.

Which leaves a gap in the market for something different: anti-green politics. Brexit transformed Britain by tapping into ordinary people’s resentment of distant elites, and anti-greenery could do the same. Environmentalism is driven by populists’ two big bogeymen, scientific experts and multilateral institutions. Green campaigners vie to befuddle the public with acronyms and jargon. Multilateral institutions override democratic legislatures in order to co-ordinate global action. In the public mind, greenery is coming to mean global confabs that produce yet more directives, and protesters who block city centres and motorways.

Greenery suffers from the classic problems of technocratic policymaking, namely offering distant rewards in return for immediate sacrifices and imposing uneven costs. Over-50s, the most reliable voters, won’t be around to see the world boil. Poorer people are likely to suffer more than richer ones from the green transition, not just because they have less disposable income but also because they are more likely to work in the dirty economy. The impression of injustice is reinforced by the fact that many of the most vocal green activists have a material interest in the green economy as bureaucrats, lobbyists and entrepreneurs.

A fuel-price rise in 2018 inspired France’s gilets jaunes; Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland and Finland’s Finns Party have lambasted green hysteria. In Britain, by contrast, anti-greenery is still nascent. Some on the Tory right have complained that their party is in the grip of the green lobby. A few MPs in the “red wall”—once-safe Labour seats in northern England that turned Tory over Brexit—have warned that green levies on driving could see those voters switch back again. The closure of some London streets to through-traffic has sparked protests.

But such rows are about to get a lot louder. Turbulence on the global energy market is drawing unflattering attention to British energy suppliers, which are struggling with the transition from coal- and gas-fired plants to renewables. The more the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, says about there being “absolutely no question of the lights going out”, the more consumers will worry. And other environmental policies on the horizon will also hit them hard. From 2030 the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned. The electric cars that will replace them are rapidly improving, but not yet as cheap or as convenient. For city-dwellers it is hard enough to find parking without having to look for a charging-point too, and long journeys require planning.

Since the discovery of gas in the North Sea in 1965, most British homes have used the fuel to heat their homes. But the government plans to take gas-fired boilers off the market in the coming years, to be replaced by hydrogen boilers or heat pumps. The date for the switchover is slipping, since neither technology is ready for mass roll-out. Air-source heat pumps are larger than gas boilers, produce lower temperatures and cost much more. People’s enthusiasm for greenery may reach its limits if familiar, well-functioning products are replaced by more expensive, inferior ones.

In the past decade climate-change denialism has given way to something cannier and harder to pin down. Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party and a major force behind Brexit, claims that he is as green as the next man—indeed that he voted for the Green Party back in the 1980s—but that he’s in favour of “sensible environmentalism” rather than the establishment kind that taxes “poor people to give money to rich people and big corporations while China’s going to ignore it all”.

Anti-greens are also seeking to reshape politics indirectly: not just by creating new parties, but by changing the hue of the established ones from inside. For neither of Britain’s biggest parties is as deep-dyed green as they appear to onlookers. The Conservative Party certainly has big names who preach environmentalism, like Zac Goldsmith, an aristocratic Brexiteer. But it has always also been the party of homeowners who care about their energy bills, motorists who want to get the last mile from every gallon and older people who don’t want to change their ways. More recently, they have been joined by red wall voters with little spare cash. Labour, for its part, is an uneasy coalition of graduates, who cheer every green initiative, and lower-paid workers, who are nostalgic for the days of well-paid jobs in heavy industry and primarily concerned with making ends meet.

Hot air emissions
How to avert an anti-green backlash? Politicians need to avoid unforced errors, such as making everyone rip out perfectly good boilers before replacements are ready. They need to shield vulnerable groups from the costs of the energy transition, remembering how the mood turned against globalisation when politicians failed to honour promises to compensate the losers. They need to see the world through the eyes of people who accept that climate change is a problem but must ceaselessly struggle to get by in the here and now. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, won easy applause at a UN round table on climate action this week by expressing frustration that the “something” the world is doing to limit global warming is “not enough”. The audience he really needs to convince is the one that laughed along to his provocations before he re-entered Parliament in 2015, such as mocking wind power as too weak to pull the skin off a rice pudding.

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