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Politics Briefing: 'We cannot let Ukraine down,' Trudeau says, calling for unity in European Parliament address – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there is no choice for the West but to prevail over Russia over its aggression against Ukraine.

“We cannot let Ukraine down. They are counting on us,” Mr. Trudeau told the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday.

It’s the beginning of a visit by Mr. Trudeau to the Belgian capital – the Prime Minister’s second visit to Europe in a month – that will also see Mr. Trudeau attend a NATO summit and G7 Heads of State and Government Meeting.

The Prime Minister called for continued humanitarian aid, the continued supply of military equipment and lethal aid to Ukraine and further “unprecedented” sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin “and his enablers” in Russia and Belarus. He also said some thought should be given to investing to rebuild Ukraine after the conflict.

“We must ensure that the decision to invade a sovereign, independent country is understood to be a strategic failure that carries with it ruinous costs.”

The Prime Minister said President Putin has thought democracy weak. “He saw our disagreements as weakness. But what he has never understood is that the rigours of debate—that forceful civic engagement—makes us strong. And that democracy, at its best, will always be stronger than authoritarianism.”

At one point, Mr. Trudeau – denouncing “cynical populists” in current anxious times trying to exploit citizen anxieties – referred to recent blockades in Canada to protest pandemic restrictions which ended up leading the government to invoke the Emergencies Act.

“Even in Canada, where 90 per cent of people are vaccinated, and our motto is peace, order and good government, we saw anti-vaccine and anti-government protests devolve into illegal occupations of our communities and blockades of our borders. The leaders of these convoys were effective in turning citizens with real anxieties against the system best suited to allay their concerns.

“But democracy isn’t a game.”

Mr. Trudeau noted that Canada, like many European countries, has made massive investments to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was the right thing to do to protect our people, and it was the necessary thing to do to ensure a strong and robust economic recovery. We know that when we invest in people, including the most vulnerable, and when we grow the middle class and make life more affordable, everyone benefits. And democracy benefits.”

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES – LIBERAL/NDP DEAL

NDP SUPPORTS HIGHER MILITARY SPENDING – The New Democrats say they won’t stand in the way of higher military spending to confront the Russian threat as long as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approves billions of dollars in new social programs as part of a deal to prop up the minority Liberal government until June, 2025. Story here.

NDP MP EXPECTS ACTION ON PHARMACARE – NDP health critic Don Davies says he expects the Liberal government to make good its renewed promise to deliver national pharmacare, but perhaps not all at once. Story here.

HEALTH-CARE ADVOCATES SUPPORT DEAL – Health care advocates are applauding a Liberal-NDP deal promising dental care for lower- and middle-income Canadians as well as progress toward universal pharmacare, saying the programs are long overdue and could have significant downstream impacts on health care costs and outcomes. Story here.

GLOBE AND MAIL EXPLAINER – What is the Liberal-NDP deal? The suply-and-confidence agreement explained. Check here.

OTHER HEADLINES

MAIL-IN BALLOTS INSTEAD OF IN-PERSON VOTE FOR KENNEY LEADERSHIP DECISION The contentious April 9 party vote to determine the fate of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership has been changed from an in-person vote to mail-in ballots, with the president of Alberta’s United Conservative Party linking the shift to the unexpected crush of people signing up to vote in Red Deer to decide whether Mr. Kenney should stay on as party leader. Story here.

QUEBEC BUDGET CUTS DEFICIT, INCREASES SPENDING – Quebec has reduced its deficit while increasing spending and keeping tax rates flat thanks to a strong economic performance during the pandemic, a windfall its government is using to send taxpayers direct cash payments in an election-year budget. Story here.

ALBERTA OPPOSITION MEMBER DEFENDS HACKING GOVERNMENT WEBSITE – An Alberta opposition legislature member under RCMP investigation after admittedly hacking into a government health website using some of Premier Jason Kenney’s personal information says he felt a professional responsibility to do it. Story here.

MANITOBA PCS WIN BYELECTION – Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservatives held on to one of their long-time strongholds by a narrow margin in a provincial by-election Tuesday.

LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE PENALTY FACES LEGAL TEST – Canada’s life-without-parole penalty faces the first test of its constitutionality at the Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday, in the case of Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered six Muslim worshippers at a Quebec City mosque in 2017. Story here.

DOCUMENTS SHED LIGHT ON BID TO REMOVE HILL MEMORIAL – The federal government had originally hoped to remove a Parliament Hill memorial dedicated to Indigenous children who died and went missing from residential schools months earlier than actually happened last year, according to newly released documents. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March 23, is accessible here.

HANN LEAVES CPC – Cory Hann has left his role as director of communications for the Conservative Party of Canada. “It never quite hit me just how long I’ve been in the role until someone recently pointed out to me that our party just marked the 18th year anniversary of its founding…and I’m in my ninth year as its director of communications,” Mr. Hann said in a statement. “So, with a new interim leader firmly in place (the fifth leader to lead this party since I’ve been here), and with the third leadership election I’ve had a front row seat for now off the ground and underway, it feels like an appropriate time to vacate my seat at the party and allow for someone with fresh perspective to take over. While I have no immediate plans for what’s next, I expect I’ll still be watching this all with great interest. Can take the boy out of politics, etc.”

REYNOLDS BACKING BROWN -John Reynolds, a former MP and co-chair of the national Conservative campaign for the 2006 federal election that saw Stephen Harper become prime minister, is backing Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown in his bid to lead the Conservative Party. Mr. Reynolds has been named national campaign co-chair for Mr. Brown. The other co-chair is Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner. In a statement issued Wednesday by Mr. Brown’s campaign, Mr. Reynolds said, “Mayor Brown is a true Conservative with a record of achievement in government to prove it. He will restore fiscal sanity in Ottawa, champion religious freedom, and give Justin Trudeau the fight of his life.”

THE DECIBEL

On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Lori Turnbull – the director and an associate professor at the School of Public Administration at Dalhousie University – talks about the partnership agreement announced this week between the federal Liberals and NDP, what this deal is really about, how it affects the Liberal, NDP and Conservative parties, and what it means for the future of Parliament. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister arrived in Brussels, and was scheduled to meet with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, and to deliver an address to the European Parliament. The Prime Minister was also scheduled to meet with Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin, and to deliver brief remarks, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, at the European Commission headquarters. The Prime Minister was also scheduled to attend a working dinner with President von der Leyen.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh attends the NDP national caucus meeting.

No schedule released for other leaders.

PUBLIC OPINION

FURTHER RUSSIAN INVASION WOULD PROMPT CANADIAN SUPPORT FOR DECLARING WAR ON RUSSIA – Canadians strongly back hitting Russia with more punitive measures for its invasion of Ukraine but are hesitant to go to war over the conflict, which has already killed hundreds of civilians and laid waste to major Ukrainian cities. However, a new Nanos Research poll for The Globe and Mail says a majority of Canadians would support declaring war on Russia, along with NATO, if Moscow were to invade yet another country. Story here.

OPINION – LIBERAL/NDP DEAL

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finding another way to neuter Parliament: So if it doesn’t guarantee a stable Parliament, and the programs the Liberals and NDP will collaborate on would have happened anyway, what exactly is the purpose of the deal? For that you have to look at the part where the NDP and Liberals will use their combined majority to control parliamentary committees, in order to prevent the Conservatives from using tactics to stall legislation, and so that the committees can “continue their essential work.” It was various committees that brought so much heat on Mr. Trudeau in 2020 that he prorogued Parliament. Now it appears he doesn’t have to worry about that for the next four years. Mr. Trudeau loves to claim that the Conservatives are obstructionist, and have prevented Parliament from doing its job. He did it in January, and he did it again in the text of the deal with the NDP, implicitly accusing the Official Opposition of causing “parliamentary dysfunction.” But there simply isn’t any evidence of that.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Prime Minister Trudeau making a deal to solidify his legacy on the left: This Prime Minister’s legacy was never going to be about balanced budgets or spending restraint. Even now with a Russian invasion of Ukraine, it’s not going to be about increasing Canada’s military spending – even if that is to be expected in the next budget. Mr. Trudeau will surely see his potential legacy as revolving around climate-change policy and social programs, in particular the $10-a-day child-care program now being put into place. Those things can be swept away if he loses power in a year, but in 3 1/2 years, they will be harder to uproot. The Liberals didn’t need this deal right now. No one, especially the NDP, is about to trigger an election. But Mr. Trudeau saw the chance for an agreement that promised the time and space to work on that legacy without the threat that he will find himself, say, fighting an election over inflation in 10 months – and he grabbed it.”

john Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the opportunity that lies ahead if Conservatives can get their act together:The supply-and-confidence agreement between the Liberals and the NDP presents a splendid opportunity for the federal Conservatives, if they can let go of their anger. By 2025, if the accord survives that long, many Canadians will be sick of the higher taxes, chronic deficits, federal-provincial squabbling over dental care, ever-worsening housing-crisis and general exhaustion of a Liberal government that will have been in power for a decade. Not to mention Aubergine-gate. More on that later. The Conservatives will have 3 1/2 years to craft a brand and a program suited for government. Right now, however, they are too angry to think clearly. They are too much the party of protesting truckers, of rural resentment, of a knee-jerk populism that seeks to fight battles already lost. The next leader must transform the Conservatives from angry into sensible.”

Brian Topp (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s deal with the Liberals being one big bet: In avoiding the temptations of oppositionist political populism (which is rotting and marginalizing our convoy-embracing Conservative Party before our eyes), and instead advancing proposals for change and reform, Mr. Singh and the federal NDP are putting themselves forward as a party of government – a party that can get results. Where do they go with that? First, they go to Quebec. This accord gives Mr. Singh and his team a chance to return to the offer Mr. Layton made to progressive Quebeckers, many of whom have once again temporarily parked their votes with an increasingly improbable Bloc Québécois, which frames federal politics as a looting expedition. Quebeckers know their country can’t run that way. They’ve been waiting for a better offer.”

Paul Wells (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s deal with the NDP allowing him to get back to sunny ways: Not everything can be an outrage. A confidence agreement between the Liberals and the NDP would be compatible with parliamentary rules. It would have precedent in Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia, and in several parliamentary systems abroad. Five of the last seven Canadian federal elections have returned minority governments. It was only a matter of time before this common method of managing minority governments got road-tested in Ottawa. As a bonus, a Liberal-NDP deal calls a bluff. A bunch of Canadians spent 2021 complaining about an unnecessary early election. It would be a bit rich if we spent 2022 complaining about a mechanism for avoiding early elections.”

Sabrina Maddeaux (The National Post) on how the so-called leftist pact could be the best thing to happen to the federal Conservatives: “The deal struck by Singh presents a chance for Conservatives to expose leftist economic hypocrisy and position themselves as the solution. All but eliminating the NDP’s position as a viable option on the left, it could very well accelerate the move of populist-minded young voters to the right. To do that, however, they need to stop ranting about nonexistent socialism that does little to nothing to scare voters under the age of 50 and focus on the very real opportunity they’ve been handed. At his best, Pierre Poilievre may be the best-positioned Conservative leadership candidate to do so with his economic chops and ability to make a political point sting. A couple years as leader may even soften his sometimes too-sharp edges. On the other hand, this longer timeframe likely spells bad news for Jean Charest, who will be rounding his late 60s by the time 2025 comes around and be even less appealing to younger voters.”

Tom Mulcair (CTV News) on how Prime Minister Trudeau’s deal with the NDP is quite a coup: “The important question is: who got what and in exchange for what? On the Liberal side, the answer is easy. They get a full mandate and control 100 per cent of government with less than ⅓ of Canadians’ votes. For the NDP, they get a couple of concrete things they’ll be able to point to at the next election like dental care for kids (promised for this year) and anti-scab legislation in federally-regulated industries. That last one is huge from a labour point of view. Trudeau somehow forgot to mention it during his news conference.”

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Ontario Liberal Leader tries to make himself known, says his politics are personal – Cornwall Seaway News

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TORONTO — Anyone who has heard Steven Del Duca speak during this election campaign likely knows he has two daughters in public school, two elderly parents who want to age at home, and that his Saturday mornings include grocery shopping for his family.

Weaving in personal touches to speeches is a tried and true political tactic, but the Ontario Liberal leader says his politics come from his personal life.

“Family is really the centre of everything…so it’s just a very natural, I guess, lens for me to view those issues,” he said in a recent interview. 

Del Duca’s focus on home care comes not only from his 83-year-old Italian-born father and his 80-year-old Scottish-born mother, but also his grandparents, all of whom lived past 80 — one to 97 — and stayed in their own homes. 

Education policy is important to Del Duca as the father to two daughters, Talia, 14, and Grace, 11, but he also mentions a teacher who kept him on track as he was drifting in his final year of high school.

By that time, he was already actively engaged in politics and didn’t have much interest in what the school curriculum had to offer in social sciences, and the teacher worried that his grades wouldn’t be able to get him into university.

So she developed two large research projects that he could do as independent studies and got the principal to sign off on it.

“I loved it because it gave me a chance to actually take what I was doing in reality, fuse it to with what I was reading and learning about and kind of taking a run with it,” Del Duca says.

“I don’t know how it would have worked out otherwise.”

Thirty years later, he’s taking a run at much bigger projects: the premiership and rebuilding the Ontario Liberals four years after their walloping that saw them lose official party status. 

One of Del Duca’s oldest friends, Anthony Martin, has known him since the two were in Grade 3, and is not surprised to see him running for the province’s top job. Martin says his friend was always well informed about current events for his age, but once he was bitten by the political bug, that was it.

“He said he wanted to be premier, because, he thought that was where you could do the most good and make the most change in people’s lives,” Martin said.

Del Duca’s interest in politics was first sparked at age 14, when his older sister gave him “The Rainmaker,” the autobiography of legendary Liberal organizer Keith Davey, for Christmas. 

He has since asked his sister why she settled on that present, a peculiar selection for a young teen, and “she can’t remember what possessed her to get that specific book.”

Regardless, Del Duca was hooked. He was then reeled in a few months later when a cousin invited him to a nomination meeting. It turned out to be a hotly contested race, with an incumbent being challenged for a federal Liberal nomination.

“I felt the electricity in the room,” he says.

Later that year was the 1988 election and Del Duca volunteered for the Liberals, knocking on the doors of voters who found a 15-year-old wanting to talk to them about free trade on the other side.

At age 48, Del Duca still likes talking, and he has developed a particular style. On the campaign trail he looks straight into the camera, delivering his words with a measured cadence that generally comes from reading prepared remarks. 

Except there is no teleprompter in sight.

Del Duca says it’s partly due to him being quite hands on with platform development, but the seed was planted at his own nomination meeting in 2012. 

He was being acclaimed to replace Greg Sorbara, who was retiring. Del Duca had actually written speeches for Sorbara, though he eschewed speaking notes.

“(It) used to drive me crazy,” Del Duca says. “He’d say, ‘Steven, this is such a beautifully written speech. I’m not using it.’”

Ahead of the nomination meeting, Sorbara told Del Duca not to use a written speech, but rather a single page of bullet points to “frame the mind.”

He was unsure about speaking off the cuff in front of so many people, and brought both his speech and his page of bullet points to the banquet hall. But after sitting in the parking lot and mulling it over, he left his speech in the car.

“It went fine,” Del Duca says. “That was really good advice Greg gave me…Even if you get back in the car afterwards, or you’re back at the office and think, ‘Oh shoot, I was gonna say those two things, but I didn’t,’ it’s OK. You connect with the audience far, far better.”

He would go on to spend nearly four years as transportation minister and a few months as economic development minister.

Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi, who served in cabinet with Del Duca, says he is someone who was always prepared, and can disagree with others cordially. The two have known each other since they were in the Liberals’ youth wing together, and Naqvi says personally Del Duca is a devoted family man.

Del Duca’s younger brother was killed in a car crash in 2018, and Naqvi says he was impressed by how Del Duca faced the tragedy.

“There were times of course he was fragile, but then he was also there for his parents, who lost their son,” Naqvi says. 

“He was there for his sister-in-law, who lost her husband. He was there for his niece and nephews, who lost their father and of course, provide support for his family as well. Really, I was incredibly impressed by his strength, his calmness and his resiliency.”

Del Duca was chosen as party leader just days before the first COVID-19 lockdown.

March 7, 2020 was, in hindsight, not the best time for a mass gathering, and the timing was especially poor for Del Duca, who needed to spend the next two years both rebuilding the party from its disastrous 2018 election showing and introducing himself to voters.

But the new Liberal leader was one of the last things on voters’ minds as they dealt with devastating effects of the pandemic, and it has left Del Duca still fairly unknown, said Chris Cochrane, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

“It’s made life difficult for (him),” he said.

During last week’s debate, Del Duca came across as someone who had a good grasp of policy, but when it comes to a unique and easily identifiable charisma, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford has him beat, Cochrane said.

“Doug Ford has a presence, a way of speaking, mannerisms, everything about him, that sends a message automatically, no matter what he says to the people he wants to vote for (him) that he’s one of them,” he said.

“As soon as you see (Ford) and you hear him speak, it’s unique to him…Jean Chrétien, for example, also had that, in the past. Del Duca doesn’t have that.”

But those who know him say he has a good sense of humour, trading dad jokes and offering up self-deprecating remarks.

He has also tried to cultivate a relatable image, often appearing in public wearing a suit with sneakers and ditching his signature black-rimmed glasses after getting laser eye surgery just before the campaign.

“I figured it was easier than trying to grow my hair,” he quips.  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

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Politics Briefing: Conservative leadership candidates to face off in French-language debate – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

The six candidates to lead the federal Conservative party will be making their case to win the race at a French-language debate Wednesday night.

The debate in the Montreal suburb of Laval is the second organized by the party committee managing the race after a previous debate, in English, held in Edmonton on May. 11.

The event will be a kind of political homecoming for candidate Jean Charest, the premier of Quebec from 2003 until 2012. The other candidates in the race are Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre as well as former Ontario legislature member Roman Baber, and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown.

In recent days the candidates have been in Quebec preparing for the debate.

Mr. Charest and Mr. Poilievre are fluent in French as is Mr. Brown. It remains to be seen how the other candidates will make their points during the debate, which begins at 8 p.m. and runs for two hours.

The moderator is Marc-Olivier Fortin, a former Conservative Party regional councillor and national councilor for the party.

The debate comes a week before the June 3 deadline for selling party memberships, an exercise that has dominated the candidates’ time as they seek to rally support in the race. The winner will be announced by the party on Sept. 10.

When the leadership committee announced its debate plans in April, it said it was reserving the right to add a third debate in early August, but there has been no decision announced on such a gathering.

Please watch The Globe and Mail for coverage on Wednesday’s debate. There’s also an explainer here on the leadership race, with information on the candidates, and more details on the race itself.

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

OTTAWA NOT RULING OUT COURT ACTION ON QUEBEC LANGUAGE LAW – Federal Justice Minister David Lametti says his government is not ruling out a court challenge to Quebec’s newly adopted language-reform law. Story here. Meanwhile, there’s more from Quebec correspondent Eric Andrew-Gee on the law, which is the largest expansion of Quebec’s language laws in more than 40 years. Story here.

TRUDEAU FORCED TO CANCEL APPEARANCE AT FUNDRAISING EVENT – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was forced to cancel plans to attend a fundraising dinner in Surrey, B.C. on Tuesday after two speakers at the event said protesters hurled racial slurs at the mostly South Asian attendees entering the venue. Story here. Meanwhile, Mr. Trudeau says Canada Border Services Agency will be the department that decides whether Iran’s men’s soccer team is allowed into the country for a game next month. Story here.

CANADA SHOULD HAVE BEEN INCLUDED IN TRADE TALKS: BUSINESS LEADERS – Canadian business leaders say Canada should not have been left out of the launch of new American-led trade talks about the Indo-Pacific region. Story here.

PROSPECTS TO SUCCEED KENNEY CONSIDER OPTIONS -The race to replace Jason Kenney as United Conservative Party leader and Alberta Premier has two entrants so far along with a number of cabinet ministers who, when asked if they plan to run, delivered answers ranging from maybe to a hard no. Story here.

ONTARIO ELECTION – Ontario election today: The main party leaders are all holding in-person events for the first time in days. There’s a profile here of Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, who says his politics come from personal life as he makes a run for premiership. TVO looks here at what women and racialized candidates face on the campaign trail. And check Vote of Confidence, The Globe’s Ontario election newsletter.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The House has adjourned until May 30.

ANNUAL TEDDY WASTE AWARDS – The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has released their 24th annual Teddy Waste Awards, highlighting the “best of the worst” in government waste. Details here.

ALGHABRA IN NEW BRUNSWICK Transport Minister Omar Alghabra is in Saint John, N.B., announcing new funding for the port of Saint John and for the railway system in New Brunswick.

BLAIR IN INDONESIA – Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair is in Indonesia, leading a Canadian delegation at the seventh session of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction from Wednesday to May 28.

MENDICINO IN HALIFAX – Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino made a crime-prevention announcement in Halifax.

THE DECIBEL

Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast features children’s rights and technology researcher Hye Jung Han , an advocate with Human Rights Watch, and lead researcher on a new report that found that some online learning platforms are tracking children in ways they say actively or passively infringe on a child’s privacy rights. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

In Saskatoon, the Prime Minister held private meetings, met with long-term care home residents, and was scheduled to make an an announcement on long-term care with Saskatchewan Seniors Minister Everett Hindley and hold a media availability. The Prime Minister was also scheduled to meet with students from the University of Saskatchewan College of Agriculture and Bioresources as well as researchers from the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan. And the Prime Minister was scheduled to visit a local daycare facility and meet with families to discuss early learning and child care.

LEADERS

No schedules released for party leaders.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how, with Bill 96, François Legault is trying to tiptoe out of Canada’s constitutional order: It was always assumed that, if Quebec ever left Canada, it could only happen through the front door, and only if a clear majority could be persuaded to vote “oui” to an unambiguous referendum question. Such a result being of no interest to a majority of Quebeckers, Canada needs to recognize the fact that the current government of Quebec is trying to tiptoe out the back door. It is doing so by poking ever larger holes in Canada’s constitutional order, which protects fundamental rights, and replacing it with a parallel regime where the executive can curb rights and meddle in people’s lives with little to no judicial oversight.”

David Shribman (The Globe and Mail) on how, in a country where mass shootings are the norm, Americans have moved beyond outrage: This week, the country seems to be past outrage, living in some emotional netherworld where logic, and pronouncements from faith leaders, and the screeches of pain and horror and fear, have no purchase, and where a generation of young people has been reared with the peculiar and perverse assumption that this is normal. Because it has become normal.”

Eva Jewell and Ian Mosby (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how reconciliation can’t be achieved with only symbolic gestures: We write an annual report for Yellowhead Institute on Canada’s implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. When these calls were first released on June 2, 2015, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau – before he became Prime Minister – promised that his party would complete all 94 if elected. But the reality has proven to be much different. According to our most recent analysis, Canada has completed only 11 of the 94 calls to action over the last seven years. While overall progress has been glacial, last year we found that in the three weeks following the Kamloops revelations, Canada completed three calls to action – more than in the previous three years combined.”

Jillian Oliver (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Australia’s `teal wave’ is a wakeup call for Canada’s Conservatives: “The results should be a wake-up call for Canada’s federal Conservatives, whose leadership candidates are pledging to roll back Canadian climate policies if they were to form a government. Their presumed frontrunner, Pierre Poilievre, has said he wants to “build pipelines in all directions” and eliminate Canada’s price on carbon. His main challenger, Jean Charest, would not honour Canada’s emission-reductions commitments to the UN and instead reinstate weaker climate targets from more than a decade ago.”

Tom Mulcair (The Montreal Gazette) on how Quebec’s Bill 96′s passage to be followed by holy chaos: The first big chapter of the Bill 96 saga has come to an end with the bill’s adoption by the National Assembly. By a linguistic quirk, on the anglo side it will always be called Bill 96 (like “Bill 101,” which actually became a law in 1977). On the franco side it will get a promotion to being called Loi 96 (Law 96). One way or the other, it’s on its way to court, where it is likely to get eviscerated, much to the quiet delight of separatists, who will see that as further proof Quebec independence is the only way forward. Bill 96 is overtly unconstitutional. It creates outrageous powers of search and seizure for language police who could inspect a company’s computers looking for inappropriate use of English. This is Keystone Kops material, but the Coalition Avenir Québec government has its spokespersons out there denying that Bill 96 actually says what it says in black and white.”

Murray Mandryk (Saskatoon StarPhoenix) on how Saskatchewan’s next NDP leader must depart from the approach of outgoing leader Ryan Meili: “In what turned into a bit of an exit interview Thursday, outgoing NDP Leader Ryan Meili was asked what advice he had for his successor. Don’t be your own attack dog on every issue, Meili essentially told reporters in his last scrum at the legislature as Opposition leader. Leave it to others to carry the attack and present your broader, more positive vision as to where your party is going. It was sage counsel for either Carla Beck or Kaitlyn Harvey, vying to become the next NDP leader of what is now a 12-member opposition rump. It also pretty much sums up most — if not all — of the problems of not onlyMr. Meili’s leadership but what’s ailed the Saskatchewan NDP for the past decade and a half.”

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Charest, Poilievre stress divergent visions in Conservative leadership debate

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LAVAL, Que. — Two front-runners in the federal Conservative contest kicked off the race’s only French-language debate Wednesday night with differing visions of Canada, with Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre stressing freedom and former Quebec premier Jean Charest pitching unity.

“My legacy will be the freest country in the world where people will be able to control their lives, including their health decisions,” Poilievre said in his opening statement, highlighting “freedom of speech without censorship by the state or the woke movement.”

Charest said he hopes his legacy as Tory leader would be uniting his party and vaulting it to majority government.

“We will leave a more prosperous country to our children and a united country to our children,” said Charest.

The event took place in Laval, Que., north of Montreal, as a deadline approaches for candidates to have supporters signed up as party members to be eligible to vote in the contest.

Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton, Ont., who can also speak French, stressed winning “in urban areas,” which he noted remains a challenge for Conservatives. Brown has spent the race campaigning against a controversial secularism law in Quebec that prohibits some public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols on the job, which he says is an affront to religious freedom.

Candidates took the stage after a language reform bill passed Quebec’s legislature that critics say goes too far in protecting the French language by potentially denying the province’s anglophones the ability to access services like health care in English.

Scott Aitchison, an MP from rural Ontario who’s running, released a statement ahead of Wednesday’s event pledging that a government led by him would work with Quebecers to see the new language bill and province’s religious symbols law repealed.

He called Premier François Legault’s language reform “divisive” and said the bill is “designed to exploit frustrations by discriminating against the English speaking minority in Quebec.”

“Government policies that unite francophones and anglophones are what Canada needs. We cannot allow fear and anger to win in this country,” Aitchison said.

Other candidates staked out positions on matters relevant to Quebecers and the party’s membership in that province as well.

Brown, who is promising to fight Quebec’s religious symbols law in court, said on Wednesday he would get rid of the country’s existing firearms law and replace it with a new one that better balances protecting Canada’s streets with respecting the rights of its citizens.

The Liberal government’s approach to firearms, which includes a regulation banning so-called assault-style weapons, has been a source of frustration for Conservatives, many of whom represent gun owners.

Another rallying cry for Conservative leadership hopefuls Poilievre, Lewis and Roman Baber is to end all remaining COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.

Baber is the Independent Ontario MPP whose opposition to a provincial lockdown got him booted from Premier Doug Ford’s caucus. His campaign announced Wednesday that he had won the support of Daniel Bulford, one of the leaders of the weeks-long convoy protest that jammed the streets of Ottawa in February.

Among the themes expected to be discussed during the debate were immigration, health, the party’s future and winning more seats in Quebec.

The latter has been a long-standing issue for the party, which currently only holds 10 of the province’s 78 seats, while the governing Liberals have 35 and the Bloc Québécois boast 32.

Since the Conservative Party of Canada formed in 2003, the most seats it has been able to hold has been 12 under former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Former Tory leader Erin O’Toole tried to change that during last year’s federal election by making numerous campaign stops in Quebec and promising to enter into a new contract with the province that would better respect its areas of jurisdiction.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

— With files from Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa

 

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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