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Politics In A Pandemic – Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Canada – Mondaq News Alerts

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Politics In A Pandemic

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Episode 21: Politics in a Pandemic – As Erin O’Toole
takes office as Leader of the Opposition and the Conservative Party
of Canada, host Adam Goldenberg speaks with McCarthy
Tétrault’s panel of Strategic Advisors, The Honourable
Jean Charest, The Honourable Wayne Wouters and Paul Zed, about what
a new opponent means for the Trudeau government’s pandemic
response and what we can expect to see in this fall’s Throne
Speech and the next federal budget.

McCarthy Tétrault LLP is providing this podcast as a
public service, and while it may contain legal information, it is
neither legal advice nor a legal opinion, recommendation or
statement of policy of McCarthy Tétrault LLP.


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Essential Politics: The domino effect of Ginsburg's death – Los Angeles Times

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Good morning and welcome to our newest edition of the Essential Politics newsletter. I’m Laura Blasey, an editor on the newsletters team, and I’m writing to you from The Times’ Washington bureau.

Each Wednesday, we’ll bring you the best work from The Times’ state, national politics and election teams, stories that will take you beyond breaking news. Don’t worry — we’ll continue to send you smart analyses from our Sacramento and Washington bureau chiefs on Mondays and Fridays. This new edition will offer another angle, so you won’t miss a thing on the road to November and beyond.

This week’s big story: The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday has opened a new front in an already contentious presidential election and a new conflict between congressional Republicans and Democrats. President Trump and Joe Biden aren’t the only ones vying for a win in November. Nor is the only question which man should be the one to name her replacement. Times reporters Janet Hook and Jennifer Haberkorn write that, like a chain of dominoes, the showdown over the vacancy could have ramifications that ripple and reshape Senate races as partisan lines harden among voters. Let’s get started.

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A court vacancy’s fallout

By November, voters will choose a president and which party controls the Senate. Republicans now hold 53 seats, while Democrats have 45, plus two seats held by independents who caucus with them. With 35 seats up for grabs, most of them held by Republicans, the majority is very much at stake.

The outcome remains unpredictable and tied to Trump’s fate: Many Republicans will prevail or fall with him. In politically polarized times, fewer voters than ever are inclined to pick a president from one party and a senator from another. And few issues could be more polarizing than a debate over replacing a Supreme Court justice, especially when early voting for the next president has begun.

“It’s another wild card,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, told The Times. “It certainly is something that our candidates — and the candidates on both sides, for that matter — are going to have to manage, because both sides are going to be heavily invested in the outcome of this decision.”

Hook and Haberkorn write about how the Republicans’ at-risk senators are maneuvering in the wake of Ginsburg’s passing. Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado must woo centrist and independent voters in states that lean to the left, a delicate task that had them focusing on less divisive local issues until this week. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Joni Ernst of Iowa, among others, are locked in tight races in states where Trump remains popular; they need to energize their states’ voters on the right. There’s also Doug Jones, the lone Democrat up for reelection in a conservative state, Alabama, now more endangered than before.

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Another issue is at play in the court battle: healthcare, a core part of the Democratic platform, especially amid the pandemic. The court is due to take up a case pivotal to the future of the Affordable Care Act just a week after the election.

Still, even among those in tough reelection fights, Republicans see far more to be gained by sticking with the president and supporting his bid to fill the court seat as soon as possible. If they back away from him, they fear, they will lose conservative voters without picking up many liberal ones, Hook and Haberkorn wrote. Collins is the only Republican up for reelection who has said Trump should not pick a nominee before the election; the second party defector, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is not on the ballot.

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The view from the Supreme Court

— President Trump said Monday he is likely to name a replacement for Ginsburg on Saturday. Senate Republicans appear increasingly likely to have the votes needed to confirm his choice, barring some revelation, Haberkorn writes. On Tuesday, Trump critic Mitt Romney joined his party colleagues in saying he is willing to consider Trump’s nominee, regardless of the looming election.

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— In 2016, nine full months before that year’s presidential election, Republicans argued that a vote on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee would deprive Americans of the chance to have a say in who should fill the seat. Arit John compared their statements then and now and found that when it comes to being consistent, several Senate Republicans are not.

— Biden, having served in the Senate for decades, knows the thorny politics of Supreme Court nominations perhaps better than anyone, writes Melanie Mason. He not only helped shepherd Ginsburg’s nomination in 1993, he was involved in at least 14 others.

— ICYMI: Del Quentin Wilber took a look at Trump’s likely finalists, Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa. Both would push the court further to the right.

From The Times archives

The front page of the Los Angeles Times on June 15, 1993.

(Los Angeles Times)

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The battle to replace Ginsburg stands in stark contrast to her nomination and confirmation. In June 1993, the political climate surrounding the court was less charged, and Ginsburg’s reputation was as a centrist judge, not the liberal icon she became. The Times announced her nomination with the headline “Clinton Picks Moderate Judge Ruth Ginsburg for High Court.” The Times’ David Savage wrote in his analysis that Ginsburg was considered “an articulate moderate jurist.” She came with support from Justice Antonin Scalia, who reportedly quipped that if he had to spend the rest of his life on a desert island with a liberal, he’d choose her.

Weeks later, on Aug. 4, The Times reported she’d been approved “swiftly and with remarkably little dissension” by a Senate vote of 96-3 — “the most agreeable Supreme Court confirmation process in recent history.” Three Republicans voted against her over her pro-abortion-rights stance.

The latest from the campaign trail

— Unlike most states, Maine and Nebraska can split their electoral votes, awarding a vote to the winner in each House district. That has made one rural congressional district in Maine into a tiny battleground for the Biden and Trump campaigns, Janet Hook writes.

— From 2020 reporters Evan Halper and Seema Mehta: With the help of lots of cash from Californians, including past Republican donors, Joe Biden is eclipsing President Trump in fundraising as they head into the final stretch.

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Cindy McCain has endorsed Biden for president. It’s a stunning rebuke of President Trump by the widow of the Republican Party’s 2008 nominee.

— The first debate is Tuesday. White House reporters Eli Stokols and Noah Bierman report that Trump and Biden are taking very different approaches to preparing.

The view from California

— Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday defended his efforts to fix an outdated state unemployment benefits system that has delayed payments to tens of thousands of Californians who have lost their jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

— L.A. County’s Project Roomkey, a $100-million-plus program to repurpose hotels and motels emptied by the coronavirus as safe havens for homeless people, is ending after months of mixed performance. An official said the program is being squeezed by uncertain funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which pays about 75% of its cost.

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How to protect yourself from the stress of politics – Medical Xpress

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We interrupt your latest binge of breaking political news, fear-provoking campaign commercials and angry posts from your favorite pundit to report that politics can be stressful.

That stress can be bad for your health. But—some good news here—you can take steps to manage it.

If the election has your heart racing and stomach churning, you have company. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey for July, 77% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans said the political climate was a significant source of stress.

A study published last September in the journal PLoS ONE hinted at the toll such stress can take: Roughly a fifth or more of 800 respondents reported losing sleep, being fatigued or suffering depression because of politics. More than 11% said politics had hurt their physical health at least a little.

That’s a lot of stress-sick people, said the study’s lead author, Kevin B. Smith, the Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Chair of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“You’re talking about tens of millions of people who say, ‘I’m losing sleep because of politics. I’ve lost a friend because of politics,'” Smith said.

Melissa DeJonckheere, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, had similar findings in a smaller survey that questioned 14- to 24-year-olds about the 2016 presidential election. Before the election, 86% reported issues such as anxiety, fear or the feeling that things were out of their control. About a fifth reported physical problems—not being able to sleep, and even nausea.

It was a nonpartisan problem, she said. “Even people who said that they don’t follow politics, or they’re explicitly not interested in any of the candidates, were still having negative emotional responses to the election.”

That research, published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health in 2018, noted that stress in youth has been linked to cardiovascular disease, depression, substance abuse, behavioral problems and more in adolescents, plus problems in adulthood.

Smith, who has done extensive work on the biology of political behavior, said the question of whether political stress affects us differently than other types of stress hasn’t been answered. But he suspects a few modern factors might be making things worse.

“We have an incredibly polarized political environment right now,” he said. And thanks to smartphones and computers, we’re constantly soaking in it.

“It’s just omnipresent in our lives,” he said. He contrasted it to the stress that comes from, say, being a football fan. He is one, and every year, “I produce a lot of stomach acid over the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff chances. But the football season ends, and that stress goes away.

“The political season never ends.”

Politics always comes with a degree of stress, but the many challenges the country faces in 2020 would seem to make this election more anxiety-producing than most. People of every political stripe have strong opinions about the pandemic, the economy, race relations, the Supreme Court vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and any number of other issues that are important to them.

The anxiety is not always accidental. Campaigns can feed off of fear, said Dr. Robert Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. After all, they’re trying to make voters choose sides.

Couple that with the divisions that have been fanned about how to respond to the coronavirus, he said, and “our bodies are much more in chronic fight-or-flight mode than they probably were before the pandemic.”

To cope, Waldinger—who is also a Zen priest—recommends regulating your exposure to the constant stream of scary .

“One of my meditation teachers has a quote that I really like. She said, ‘Your mind is like tofu; it tastes like whatever you marinate it in,'” he said. He stays informed by reading the newspaper in the morning, later listens to a little radio, but avoids TV entirely. “And I try my best to stay away from the news feed on my phone.”

However you choose to get news, “be careful and be deliberate,” Waldinger said. “And don’t do it late in the day as you’re wanting to settle down and sleep.”

DeJonckheere said unpublished findings suggest that her young participants found relief by becoming more civically engaged.

“The youth in our study talked about taking on activist roles, volunteering, taking more classes to learn about how politics affects them,” she said. She thought that could be particularly important for people who are too young to vote, because it could give them a sense of control and purpose, which can help reduce and improve mental health.

Finding common ground with neighbors is a good idea, Waldinger said. “I’m not going to change the minds of my neighbors who are on the other side of the divide. But they’re still my neighbors.” Connecting around a cause such as a walk to end hunger could benefit everybody.

And don’t let political dramas divide you from family, he said. “I would say, see the culture wars as the enemy, the thing to be fended off.”

Because, he said, “This moment is going to pass. We don’t know what it’s going to morph into, but it’s not going to stay the same.”


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Stressed out: Americans making themselves sick over politics


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Horgan says election will create stability, opposition calls it ‘politics at its worst’ – Energeticcity.ca

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B.C. Premier John Horgan called a snap fall election on Monday, a move widely determined to be taking a bet he can gain a majority government despite the risk it could alienate voters by taking them to the polls during the pandemic.

 Reaction from B.C.’s opposition parties to the writ being dropped was scathing.

Calling the move cynical, BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said Horgan was putting politics before people by calling an election during the pandemic.

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“For no good reason whatsoever, we’re now being forced into a general election that nobody in British Columbia wants except the NDP,” Wilkinson said Monday.

The NDP also passed legislation providing for fixed election dates, the next slated for October 2021, he added.

“And now (Horgan) has torn it all to shreds for his own personal interest,” Wilkinson said.

The NDP leader announced the election will take place Oct. 24, with advance polls starting seven days prior.

Horgan is hoping to capitalize on his current popularity due to his handling of the pandemic, said Hamish Telford, a University of the Fraser Valley political science professor.

“I think the principal reason for holding the election now is that they are riding very high in the polls,” Telford said Monday.

Horgan was ranked the country’s most popular premier with an approval rating of 69 per cent, according to a poll released Monday by Maru/Blue Canada Inc.
The NDP leader said he struggled with the decision to hold an election, but emphasized it would lead to stability and certainty for the next government dealing with the pandemic in the coming year.

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“We can either delay that decision and create uncertainty and instability over the next 12 months … or we can do what I believe is always the right thing and ask British Columbians what they think.”

The public has been broadly supportive of the B.C. government’s handing of the pandemic, particularly in the early months of the public health emergency, Telford said.

However, as winter approaches and the health crisis and economic repercussions deepen, Horgan’s popularity will likely begin to slide, Telford said

“From here on in, things are going to get more difficult,” he said.

This month, B.C. has been recording some of the highest daily case numbers since the start of the pandemic, and flu season is around the corner, Telford added.

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“So, I think Horgan wants to go now, rather than later,” he said.

Plus, the NDP leader might be anticipating, and want to avoid coinciding with, a federal election next year, Telford added.

The premier had led a minority government with a support agreement in place with the BC Green Party. But to obtain a majority, the NDP must win at least four additional seats above the 41 seats they have now, Telford said.

B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, new to her role as of last week, said Horgan was putting his political fortune ahead of the health and safety of British Columbians.

Premier Horgan has a stable government, said Furstenau, in a statement Monday.

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“I met with him on Friday and made it clear that we were willing to continue to work together in the best interest of British Columbians,” Furstenau said.

“For the next month, his ministers will be on the campaign trail instead of working with the Provincial Health Officer to manage this pandemic, which as we know changes daily.”

“This is politics at its worst,” she added.

Wilkinson put it down to misplaced politics saying people are worried about their jobs, kids and health due to the pandemic and that it was a time for stability, not politics.

“We’ve all got to wonder about the current premier, who has an ironclad deal with the Green Party to govern for another 13 months,” Wilkinson said.

Horgan’s move to call an election to obtain a majority government entails considerable risk, Telford said.

“The risk is that the gamble won’t pay off,” Telford said.

“Yes, he’s riding very high in the polls, but when I look at the election map, it’s difficult to see where the NDP can pick up seats that gets it to a majority.”

Though it’s seeking increased stability, the NDP might end up with another minority government, but this time without the guaranteed cooperation of the Greens at a time when the pandemic’s impacts will be more significant, Telford added.

“It could precipitate something of a political crisis,” he said.

B.C. recorded 366 new COVID-19 cases over the previous three days, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported on Monday afternoon.

Henry acknowledged the election announcement, but stated the province’s pandemic response would continue uninterrupted.

She and deputy health minister Stephen Brown will continue to be in close contact with Adrian Dix, health minister previous to the election call, and Carole James, the cabinet member not running in the election, acting as caretaker for government affairs during the election campaign, said Henry.

This will ensure ongoing management of any issues arising due to the pandemic, she added.

Work has also been done with Elections BC throughout the pandemic to prepare for safe elections, Henry said.

“The guidelines that we’ve come up with include how political parties and their candidates need to keep themselves, their staff and volunteers, and their community safe during the campaign,” Henry said.

There will also be measures during the election process to ensure everybody remains safe, she added.

Henry said she plans to meet with B.C. Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman Tuesday to provide the public with more details about the COVID-19 safety election plan.

Rochelle Baker/Local Journalism Initiative/ Canada’s National Observer

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