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.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says criticism of his government’s pandemic response reflects the tense times, and that he takes no offense at it.
“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.
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.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
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.
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.”
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?”
David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on interprovincial trade barriers: “While tariffs between provinces are prohibited under the terms of Confederation, provinces still throw up walls of regulations, government procurement restrictions and licensing requirements that drive up the cost and complication of doing business across provincial borders. Statistics Canada has estimated those barriers are equivalent to a nearly 7-per-cent tariff.”
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Prince Philip took a keen interest in Canada, but stayed above politics, former GGs and PM say
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.
“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.
“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.
After warning, McConnell softens posture on corporations’ taking political stances
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
Facebook Removes 1,000 Fake Accounts Seeking to Sway Global Politics
(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.
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