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Politics Briefing: Trudeau unveils federal funding for Algoma in election-style announcement – The Globe and Mail

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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.

In an election-style announcement Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled more than $400-million in federal funding for Algoma Steel to help the company produce steel in a more climate-friendly manner.

Mr. Trudeau, who has largely been based in Ottawa during the pandemic, travelled to the Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie to make the announcement, tying it into his government’s climate-change policy.

It all led a reporter to ask why, given the tone of the proceedings, Mr. Trudeau didn’t just call an election so he could stop using taxpayer resources to make announcements.

The Prime Minister did not directly address the issue about pre-writ electioneering.

He said the government has not just been managing the pandemic, but making announcements on how to bolster the economy with specific supports to industrial sectors such as the manufacture of zero-emission vehicles, and electric buses.

“We have been demonstrating that as we move forward, investing in the economy and the environment at the same time is something every government should be doing, and we have been doing it for the past six years, and we’re going to continue doing it,” he said.

The announcement comes amidst speculation that Mr. Trudeau will call an election this summer or in the fall, seeking to transition his minority government to a majority.

Monday’s commitment is for $420-million so Algoma can retrofit their operations and phase out coal-fired steelmaking at their facility in Sault Ste. Marie.

“As the world transforms towards lower emissions, investments like this create jobs, create sustainability, and create a better future for us all,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“We have realized it’s so important to fight climate change, but unlike others, like the Conservative Party, we have always known that fighting climate change is an opportunity to create good jobs and prosperity.”

The shift to an electricity-based process is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 900,000 passenger vehicles — almost the number of such vehicles in Toronto — off the road by 2030, said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT LIBERAL PARLIAMENTARY SPENDING- A U.S. data software company that runs Liberal digital voter outreach has been paid $1-million from parliamentary funds since 2016 to exclusively handle constituency case work for party MPs, raising more questions about whether taxpayer dollars are being used for election-related activities.

EASING OF TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS – After nearly 16 months of rigid travel restrictions, Canada is finally starting to loosen the rules – but only for a specific few. Effective Monday, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents – those who have had a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada – will be able to skip the 14-day quarantine.

SENATE MAY BE RECALLED – Leaders of the various groups in the Senate are discussing a government request to recall the chamber after senators faced criticism for recessing for the summer without passing a bill that would effectively ban the practice of conversion therapy.

DROP IN PARTY FUNDRAISING Federal parties appear to have seen a drop in their fundraising in 2020, a year when the pandemic dented donations of all kinds and made parties rethink some of their traditional fundraising tools. Details here.

THE GLEN CLARK STORY – Whatever happened to Glen Clark, the feisty former NDP premier of British Columbia? He was the last B.C. NDP leader to lead his party to a majority before John Horgan accomplished the same last year. Mr. Clark’s win was in 1996. Reporter Brent Jang brings us up to date on Mr. Clark in a new feature headlined: The billionaire and the socialist: No longer the odd couple, believe it or not. The story is here.

KENNEY CONCERNED ABOUT HARASSMENT OF MINISTER – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he’s concerned people will hesitate to run for public office or take jobs as public servants in the wake of harassment linked to a fringe candidate in Calgary’s mayoral race. The concerns came after Health Minister Tyler Shandro and his family were swarmed at a Canada Day event. From The Edmonton Journal.

ELECTION FORECAST INTEL:

Philippe J. Fournier reports in Maclean’s that the latest round of federal polling until the summer break and perhaps the election writ is drawn up in August shows the Conservative Party and its leader Erin O’Toole falling further behind the governing Liberals. Story here.

The Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board on why an early election is a bad plan: “Canada’s newly shaven Prime Minister ended June by dodging questions about a possible election call later this summer. Yet there is a growing possibility that Canadians won’t see Parliament return Sept. 20. Even with a few Liberal bills awaiting Senate sign-off, the political calculation may be irresistible to Justin Trudeau. But the idea of an election is not irresistible to Canadians, exhausted as they are by the last 18 months. As political manoeuvres goes, calling one would be tone-deaf. Just leave the voters alone.”

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister visits Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. After private meetings, the Prime Minister and Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, tour the Algoma Steel Inc. facility, then make an announcement and hold a news conference. The Prime Minister also visits the Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig Centre of Excellence in Anishinaabe Education.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet continues a tour of the Quebec North Shore with a stop in Baie-Comeau, and a meeting with the chief and band council of the Pessamit First Nations community.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Burnaby, B.C., holds a news conference, visits a hotel workers picket line and holds a community discussion with young people seeking to pay student debt.

PUBLIC OPINION

The late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who served as Canada’s prime minister for more than 15 years and died more than two decades ago, remains more popular nationally than the current office holder, his son Justin, a new survey suggests. From The Montreal Gazette.

OPINION

The Editorial Board of The Globe and Mail on why Ottawa needs to start collecting all the taxes it’s owed: As the pandemic recedes, and pandemic debts loom, collecting taxes owing will be a critical source of much-needed revenues. It is also the right thing to do. Most people pay their taxes. The return on investment of greater enforcement is obvious.”

Dean Beeby, Justin Ling, James. L. Turk and Wesley Wark (Contributors to The Globe and Mail) on shortcomings in The Treasury Board review of the Access to Information Act: Today, we have an access to information system in name only. A lack of firm timelines means requests regularly stretch on for months, if not years. Broad exemptions mean crucial information is withheld from the public. A culture of secrecy in many departments undermines the act almost entirely. The Office of the Information Commissioner is underresourced to handle the deluge of complaints. The current review process is not going to fix all that. Unlike in past consultations, the Treasury Board is not releasing any kind of green paper or other consultative document to chart a course for the reforms, nor has the government sought independent expert advice.”

Bernadette Hardaker (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on why, amid shameful residential-school revelations, she cannot remain a Catholic: If every one of the 12.8 million Catholics in Canada contributed a toonie today, then the church would have the $25-million it promised to raise from Canadian Catholics after signing a side deal as part of the Indian Residential School Survivors Agreement in 2005. Instead, after raising less than $4-million, a court ruled that because of a miscommunication, the church could walk away from the rest of the compensation it owed. Asking all Catholics to help is a great idea, but don’t ask me – I won’t be dropping anything into the collection basket any more. I’ll be donating directly to an Indigenous agency, because the only kind of Catholic I am now is a former one.”

John Vaillant (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on how the forest fire that destroyed Lytton, B.C. could happen anywhere: “Most cities and towns in Canada are far more vulnerable to fire than we want to admit. Glenn McGillivray, managing director at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction in Toronto, has been saying this for years. “There are so many of these little towns that are exposed,” he told me. “Too many to list.” It isn’t just the little towns.”

Murray Mandryk (Saskatoon Star-Phoenix) on Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe providing an important moment on residential schools: “Premier Scott Moe showed great leadership on one file this week and not-so-great leadership on another. One suspects it’s the great leadership moment for which he will be better remembered. It was a truly meaningful gesture — the kind of moment that, time often proves, makes a province better.”

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

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Is Kamala Harris Really Bad at Politics? – Bloomberg

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Who was the runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020?

The reason the topic comes up is that opponents of Vice President Kamala Harris seem to have settled on an attack line against her: As a Washington Examiner columnist argued a few weeks ago, she’s “bad at politics.” It’s something that I see pretty often in reader emails and on Twitter, mostly from Republicans but in some cases from liberal Democrats. There’s no surprise here; the vice presidency makes everyone look bad, and the idea that the first Black and Asian-American woman to hold this office is not up to the job is consistent with certain stereotypes. 

It’s also preposterous. Yes, once nominated almost anyone can win a general election, and perhaps every once in a while a nomination is just luck — in fact, I’ve argued that Donald Trump’s first nomination was largely a fluke. But Harris managed to work her way up in local and state politics in California, without money or family connections on her side, winning multiple nominations. That’s the mark of a good politician. So, for that matter, is securing the vice-presidential nod. Using presidential nomination results as evidence of a politician’s weakness is like criticizing someone for failing to medal in the Olympics; just getting into the competition is usually evidence of considerable ability.

Granted, after entering the contest, Harris dropped out before the first vote in Iowa. But whether we should consider her effort a flop gets back to the question I started with: Who was the runner-up to Joe Biden? 

You can make the case for several candidates. Bernie Sanders is the most obvious one, given that he finished second in delegates, states won and overall votes. But there’s reason to think he wasn’t the candidate who came closest. The evidence suggests that a solid majority of Democratic party actors, and perhaps of voters overall, was prepared to support anyone but Sanders. If that’s the case, then he really had only a small chance of winning and I’m not sure it makes sense to call him the runner-up.

If not Sanders, who? Pete Buttigieg at least managed to win an important state — Iowa — and finished second in New Hampshire. But Buttigieg sparked even less enthusiasm among party actors than Sanders did. There’s even a case to be made for Amy Klobuchar or Elizabeth Warren. Both had some backing from party actors; both had occasional (albeit small) surges of support among voters. Suppose that their strong debates right before the New Hampshire primary (for Klobuchar) or Nevada (for Warren) had taken place in November or December, in time for them to really capitalize on it? It’s not hard to imagine Klobuchar or Warren, rather than Buttigieg, emerging from the pack in Iowa, and perhaps either senator would’ve been better positioned to take advantage of it.

The counterargument is that none of these candidates had any Black support, and without that they were doomed in South Carolina and in most of the rest of the primaries. We don’t get to rerun the contest to see whether Representative James Clyburn would’ve endorsed whoever looked most viable after the Nevada caucuses. But Harris, despite her early exit, may have been closer to the nomination than she’s usually given credit for. She did enjoy a brief polling surge after a strong early debate, which turned out to be mistimed. And she won some party-actor support. Perhaps there are fewer what-ifs involved in projecting her into the nomination than there are for some of the other also-rans.

You certainly don’t have to buy that argument — I’m not sure I do — to concede that the vice president has some valuable political skills. Mostly, however, I think the question about the runner-up is useful because answering it involves thinking carefully about what really goes into winning presidential nominations, and helps clarify what we really know and what we’re not sure about. 

1. Paul Musgrave on the Olympics and nationalism

2. Kim Yi Dionne and Laura Seay at the Monkey Cage on three new books on Kenya.

3. Good Dan Drezner on the historical and current importance of Fox News.

4. Kevin Drum also on Fox News.

5. Sahil Kapur and Benjy Sarlin with good speculation about Mitch McConnell’s thinking about infrastructure.

6. And Jamelle Bouie on voting-rights history.

Get Early Returns every morning in your inbox. Click here to subscribe. Also subscribe to Bloomberg All Access and get much, much more. You’ll receive our unmatched global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, the Bloomberg Open and the Bloomberg Close.

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Infrastructure Bill Shows That US Politics Are Not (Yet) Broken – Bloomberg

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As President Joe Biden moves toward another legislative victory — namely, the $550 billion infrastructure bill — it’s worth asking what its success says about American politics. Mostly it’s good news, whether or not you agree with the policies of the Biden administration.

The most enduring truth is that the median voter theorem, as social scientists refer to it, continues to explain a lot of political outcomes. In an era supposedly marked by gridlock and polarization, a centrist infrastructure bill is on the verge of passage.

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Politics and drama as Biles, Belarus and New Zealand's Hubbard in focus – Reuters

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TOKYO, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Three women dominated the focus at the Olympics on Monday – U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard – as politics and personal issues played out at the Tokyo Games.

China’s team sprinters took the first gold on offer in the track cycling programme, powering to victory and helping solidify China’s leading medal haul. In gymnastics, American Jade Carey won the gold medal in the women’s floor event.

In athletics, Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan unleashed her sizzling pace in the final lap to leave a gaping distance to the chasing pack and claim the women’s 5,000 metres gold, kicking off her bid for an unprecedented Olympic treble.

Biles will compete in the balance beam competition, officials said on Monday, in what would be the superstar gymnast’s last chance for gold in Tokyo after pulling out of other events citing mental health issues.

Biles shocked the world last week when she withdrew from several events, putting a focus on athletes’ mental health and deepening the drama at a Games that have seen plenty of controversy.

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was granted a humanitarian visa by Poland after taking refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo. She had refused her team’s orders to board a flight home early from the Games on Sunday.

Tsimanouskaya plans to leave for Poland in the coming days, a Polish deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, told Reuters. She is “safe and in good condition” after walking into the embassy on Monday morning, he said.

New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday by becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games, but suffered disappointment with an early exit from the women’s +87 kg final after failing to make three lifts. read more

USA Gymnastics said Biles will take part in the balance beam final and they were “excited” about the prospect.

The 24-year-old Biles, who won four golds at the 2016 Rio Games, dropped out of the all-around, floor exercise, vault and asymmetric bars finals in Tokyo.

STRICT MEASURES

The Games are taking place without spectators and under strict measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic, an unprecedented event in the history of the modern Olympics.

The Tokyo Olympics have already been hit by public opposition, as polls have shown that most Japanese people oppose holding the Games amid the worsening pandemic.

China has pulled ahead on the medals tally with 29 golds, followed by the United States with 22 and Japan on 17.

Even as Biles stole the spotlight, China’s Liu Yang, South Korea’s Shin Jea-hwan and American Carey all claimed gold in gymnastics.

China’s cycling team sprinters, Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi, broke their world record in the first round and although they were fractionally slower in the final, it was enough to beat Germany and retain the title.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Floor Exercise – Final – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – August 2, 2021. Simone Biles of the United States looks on REUTERS/Mike Blake

Fans are allowed into the venue, which is outside Tokyo and the only indoor arena at the Olympics to permit spectators.

POWERED BY COFFEE

Dutchwoman Hassan began the day by falling on the last lap of her 1,500 metres heat, only to spring up and charge through the field to finish first.

Fuelled by caffeine, she returned to the track in the evening and was in total control of a slowly-run 5,000 metres, sitting in the pack before unleashing her trademark last-lap burst.

“Before the race here I didn’t even care. I was so tired. Without coffee I would never be Olympic champion,” she said.

In the 100 metres hurdles, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn won the first Olympic gold medal in athletics for Puerto Rico at the Games.

She exploded off the blocks to finish in 12.37 seconds despite hitting one hurdle, beating American world record holder Kendra Harrison who came in second with 12.52.

Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece won the men’s long jump in spectacular fashion as he leapt 8.41 metres in his final attempt to snatch the gold medal from Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria.

Tentoglou was the world leader coming into Tokyo with an 8.60 metres leap at a domestic competition in May but struggled to find his form and was outside the medals positions as he hit the runway for the final time.

The World Cup-winning United States suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat by Canada in the women’s soccer tournament semi-finals, with Jessie Fleming grabbing the winner with a 75th minute penalty.

PROTEST AND SPORT

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is meanwhile looking into the gesture U.S. shot putter Raven Saunders made after the silver medallist raised her arms in an X above her head on Sunday, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told a briefing.

Saunders later said the gesture was intended as a sign of support for the downtrodden, while the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said it did not breach IOC rules.

While the IOC forbids overt political expression or interference, last month it relaxed its Rule 50 that prevented athletes from protesting. Athletes are allowed to make gestures on the field, providing they do so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.

However, the threat of sanctions remains if any protests are made on the podium during the medal ceremony.

“Let them try and take this medal,” Saunders said in a late night post on social media in an apparent reference to the IOC’s rules restricting protests.

Reporting by Reuters Olympics Team; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Ken Ferris

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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