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.
Ottawa is deploying up to 225 Canadian soldiers to Britain where they will train new recruits that have signed up to defend Ukraine from Russia’s military assault.
Defence Minister Anita Anand announced Thursday that the first contingent of about 90 Canadian soldiers, from 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Edmonton, will head to southeast England next week. There, they will teach frontline combat, including weapons handling, battlefield first aid, fieldcraft and patrol tactics.
Also on Thursday, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada is scheduled to testify on her government’s opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to circumvent sanctions against Russia.
Mr. Trudeau in early July carved out a loophole in sanctions on Moscow to allow the import, repair and export of Russian pipeline turbines.
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CROMWELL TO REVIEW HOCKEY CANADA – Former Supreme Court of Canada judge Thomas Cromwell will lead an independent review of Hockey Canada’s governance amid calls for a change in leadership of the governing body for its handling of recent allegations of sexual assault against players. Story here.
TARIFFS TO BE CUT – The U.S. Department of Commerce is lowering tariffs against most Canadian softwood producers by half, but the long-running trade dispute lingers. Story here.
UNAWARE OF INTELLIGENE REPORTS: JOLY – Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says she and her department were unaware of intelligence reports delivered weeks before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in which diplomats in Kyiv were told Ukrainians who worked for the Canadian embassy there were likely on lists of people Moscow intended to detain or kill. Story here.
SCHOLZ URGES RUSSIA TO TAKE TURBINE – German chancellor Olaf Scholz paid a visit to a Russian pipeline turbine released from Canadian export controls, but now stranded in Germany amid a standoff with the Kremlin. He urged Moscow to take back the gear, which it had said was needed to bring shipments of natural gas to Germany back to previous levels. Story here. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada was to make clear her country’s disappointment over Ottawa’s decision to allow the return of equipment to a state-controlled energy giant in Russia despite war-related sanctions. Story here.
NOTLEY BLAMES UCP FOR HEALTH OFFICERS’ BIG SALARY – Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says the United Conservative Party government, particularly former finance minister Travis Toews, must bear the responsibility and fallout for the record-setting, six-figure bonus payment to the Chief Medical Officer of Health. Story here.
HORGAN QUIPS ABOUT NEWSPAPER APPEAL FOR DOCTOR – British Columbia Premier John Horgan suggested the approach of a Victoria couple who placed a newspaper ad to find a family doctor could be one of his next steps to press the federal government to increase health funding. Story here.
CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is campaigning virtually. Roman Baber is campaigning in Brockville and Kingston. Jean Charest is in Montreal. Leslyn Lewis is in New Brunswick, visiting Moncton and Quispamsis. Pierre Poilievre is in Brandon and Winnipeg.
FINAL OFFICIAL DEBATE – Jean Charest took on absentee candidates in the final Conservative leadership debate, declaring that showing up for such events is a show of respect for the party members who will choose the new leader. Story here.
DEBATE DETAILS – Canadian Press reporter Sarah Ritchie was the pool reporter for the debate, providing details from the debate studio for colleagues in the parliamentary press gallery. Given the size of the studio where the three candidates and moderator were placed, there was only room for one journalist. Among Ms. Ritchie’s observations:
– ”The room is small. In front of the centre table are six DSLR cameras on tripods, with camera operators crouched on stools behind them. They have very little room to move and had to rearrange lighting before the debate began because a candidate knocked over a light trying to get to the table.”
– ”Before things got started, Jean Charest remarked that the setup is “bizarre” and said “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
– ”All three candidates have papers in front of them. Charest is writing himself occasional notes with a black Sharpie.”
– ”Charest and Aitchison chat about learning to speak French during the break. … Aitchison tells Charest, “I’m getting better, like I was almost able to capture some of the things you’re saying” in French.
THIS AND THAT
The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.
NEW DIPLOMATS – Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has announced the appointment of 11 new ambassadors as well as a high commissioner and consul-general. New ambassadors are en route to such counties as a El Salvador, Latvia and Senegal. Details here.
FREELAND IN DARTMOUTH – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, in Dartmouth, N.S., visited a Canadian freight company, Armour Transportation Systems, met with truck drivers and workers, and held a media availability. She was also scheduled to host a roundtable with energy industry representatives to discuss opportunities in Atlantic Canada to advance energy security.
MILLER IN MUSKEG LAKE CREE NATION – Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, in the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, and Kelly Wolfe, chief of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, concluded the 1919 Soldier Settlement Specific Claim.
MENDICINO AND RODRIGUEZ IN MONTREAL – Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, in Montreal, announced $41.8-million to the Quebec government to support gun and gang violence prevention and intervention activities in municipalities and Indigenous communities across the province. Also present: Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who is the Quebec lieutenant for the government.
PETITPAS-TAYLOR IN KENSINGTON – Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, in Kensington, Prince Edward Island, announced support for community organizations.
ST-ONGE IN MISSISSAUGA – Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge, in Mississauga, announced the fourth national-level organization to receive funding from the Community Sport for all Initiative.
VANDAL IN THOMPSON – Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal, also responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, in Thompson, Man., officially unveiled the new PrairiesCan service location in the community and announced $2,350,435 for seven projects in communities across northern Manitoba.
Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcasts features Globe health reporter Wency Leung, answering questions from listeners about monkeypox as cases climb worldwide. Ms. Leung walks listeners through what we know so far – including the severity of the disease, who it’s affecting, and the availability of vaccines today. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
The Prime Minister is on a two-week vacation in Costa Rica.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was scheduled to hold a media availability on fixing Canada’s heath care system, with Ontario Nurses’ Association President, Cathryn Hoy.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how the federal Conservative Party is about to become Pierre Poilievre’s personal property: “Pierre Poilievre’s decision to boycott Wednesday night’s leadership debate confirms the schism between his faction of the Conservative Party and the more moderate faction led by former Quebec premier Jean Charest. This could be seen as bad news for the party. Traditionally, the conservative coalition has been strongest when Blue Tories and Red Tories work together. But the years of conservative rift and reunion, of Reformers and Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance and the reunited Conservative Party are ancient history. None of it matters any more. The Conservative Party is about to become the personal property of Pierre Poilievre.”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how Quebec anglophones, feeling forsaken by the provincial Liberals, weigh their options: “Ms. Anglade is clearly in a pickle. A June Léger Marketing poll had the QLP at 10 per cent support among decided francophone voters, compared with 50 per cent support for the CAQ. Ms. Anglade desperately needs to move the needle before Oct. 3 if the QLP has any hope of preserving any of the ridings with francophone pluralities that it now holds, including her own Montreal seat. Fully 13 of the QLP’s sitting MNAs have opted not to run again, leaving many of those seats up for grabs by other parties. So far, Ms. Anglade has focused on pocketbook issues to woo anglophones and francophones alike. The QLP is promising to cut income taxes for the middle class, eliminate sales taxes on basic food and hygiene necessities and freeze Quebec’s already low electricity rates. In her efforts to rebuild her party in French Quebec, however, Ms. Anglade has left many anglophone voters feeling forsaken.”
Tahara Bhate and Kevin Wasko (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how supporting nurses must be an immediate priority as emergency departments are in crisis: “After 2 1/2 years of hearing that our health system is under threat, both governments and the public have responded with indifference to the current crisis. But our new reality is beyond sobering – for the first time, we are facing the spectre of preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. The same focused crisis response seen early in the pandemic is now needed again. As terrible as that time was, there was a mobilization of system transformation on a scale we could have only imagined: We saw overnight adoption of virtual care, clinicians and nurses working to their fullest possible scope of practice, new types of clinics launched within days and a true, system-wide response to a singular problem. That urgency and unity of purpose is what is needed now, both in terms of funds and the political and administrative will to do things differently.”
Charles Burton (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit has brought the thorny `one China’ debate into sharp focus: “As a sovereign nation, Canada should not be taking direction from China or be intimidated into shunning Taiwan’s democratic regime. Canada must retain its ability to negotiate bilateral trade and other matters of critical geostrategic interest, including global health, airspace, and climate change, with Taiwan directly. We need to have the courage to calmly make this clear to Beijing. But, inexplicably, Canada has had no ambassador to China in place since Dominic Barton decamped from his Beijing post in December, 2021. Our voice in Beijing is now muted. Even more worrying is an ongoing internal debate over whether Canada’s long purported Indo-Pacific policy reset is stagnating.”
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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