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Some concerned UCP putting politics ahead of public health with vaccine passport survey – CBC.ca

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Some Albertans are concerned the United Conservatives are politicizing COVID-19 vaccine passports, after launching a feedback survey on the subject that asks for donations once filled out.

Vaccine passports — proof of vaccination that allows people to visit places or events where the risk of transmission is high — have been a topic of discussion for months. British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario have announced vaccine passports.

The United Conservative Party launched a feedback survey in July to learn how supporters felt about vaccine passports. But many Albertans only recently became aware of the survey, and some feel the party is letting politics dictate how to approach a public health issue.

“What we’ve seen throughout this pandemic is a really problematic situation, where politics, rather than public health, has driven vaccine passports,” said Lorian Hardcastle, an associate professor in the University of Calgary’s faculty of law and Cumming School of Medicine.

“I don’t want the government to care what their voters think about vaccine passports. I want their No. 1 concern right now to be their evidence.”

The “no vaccine passports” survey states that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney stands against mandating vaccine passports and that they would violate individuals’ privacy rights. The party also doesn’t want the federal government to step in on this matter, as health care is a provincial responsibility.

Alberta has the lowest vaccination rates in the country among people aged 12 or older, according to CBC News’ vaccine tracker. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The survey asks, “Do you stand against domestic vaccine passports in Canada?”

Respondents can select one of three answers: yes, no, or unsure. They then must fill in contact information to submit their answer.

Once someone clicks submit, they are directed to a page that thanks them for the feedback and asks for a donation to the party. An email is also sent to the respondent with the same.

“We issued that survey back in July to hear more from people. The survey is not new,” a party spokesperson told CBC News in an email.

The spokesperson did not provide answers to several questions posed about the survey. CBC News requested an interview with someone from the party but has not heard back.

Political parties use feedback surveys to learn how supporters feel about actions and issues. Asking for donations that will eventually be spent on advertising and political campaigns is also common, explained John Church, a health policy expert at the University of Alberta.

Survey respondents receive an email, shown here, after submitting their feedback on vaccine passports. (Nicholas Frew/CBC)

The Opposition NDP has also released how it would approach vaccine passports, he said.

“That’s a pretty normal process. And it takes on greater importance when you can’t physically get together with these people in the same way that we would under normal times,” Church said.

UCP has obligation to protect

Awareness of the survey comes amid an escalating fourth wave of COVID-19 in Alberta. Health officials are working to free up space in the health-care system, while vaccine uptake has relatively plateaued since the end of July.

Provincially, nearly 71 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and up have received two doses of vaccine, while nearly 79 per cent of eligible people had received the first jab as of Sept. 9.

Both rates are the lowest in the country, according to the CBC News vaccine tracker.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro has recently been pressed on whether the government will implement vaccine passports, as data shows vaccine uptake rises in jurisdictions that announce that initiative.

British Columbia’s government reported a big increase in interest in the vaccine after announcing a program to require proof of vaccination for a range of social and recreational activities.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, has said the decision in this province falls on politicians. The UCP has balked at the concept.

Church said the party is politicizing the issue by appealing to supporters and arguing vaccine passports infringe on individual freedoms while failing to explain the obligations of governance.

He said that as the party in power, the United Conservatives have a responsibility to protect Albertans when they are all threatened, and that a global pandemic would qualify as such an emergency.

“Whatever individual freedoms you might have, you have to put those freedoms on hold for the good of everybody at that moment in time. That is what freedoms mean in liberal democracies,” he said.

Instead, the government is pandering to a small portion of Albertans refusing “to do the right thing for the benefit of everyone,” he said.

Opposition NDP deputy leader Sarah Hoffman believes the survey, and asking for donations, is offensive. (John Shypitka/CBC)

Alberta NDP deputy leader Sarah Hoffman said she finds the survey and donation request offensive.

“That’s cold and cruel, and it is harmful for people who are counting on the government to actually show some leadership,” Hoffman said.

“It’s disrespectful of all those people in hospital right now fighting for their lives. It’s disrespectful of everyone who works in health care, who are beyond exhausted and continuing to get pushed to the brink.”

Hardcastle said the UCP government ought to review the impact vaccine passports have had on uptake in jurisdictions that have implemented them, then emulate the strategy that works best.

She said she believes the government will have to implement them eventually. If it does, the public will be more reluctant than if the United Conservatives had been open to the concept from the jump, she said.

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Politics This Morning: Final pieces of 2021 vote puzzle expected today – The Hill Times

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‘These are big shoes,’ Yasir Naqvi said of previous MPs who represented Ottawa Centre, Ont.
As of press deadline on Sept. 21, the Liberals had won or were leading in 156 ridings, the Conservatives 121, the Bloc Québécois 32, the NDP 27, and the Green Party in two.
Difficulties with voting captured the attention of Canadians on Twitter, as many complained of long lines, being turned away at polls and issues with Elections Canada’s website.

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Politics Briefing: Meet the new Parliament, same as the old Parliament – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

With remarkable precision, Canadian voters are sending MPs back to Ottawa in virtually identical numbers to the party standings in August when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau triggered a snap federal election campaign.

Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals were re-elected Monday for a third time and a second consecutive minority government.

As of Tuesday morning, the Liberals were leading or elected in 158 seats, followed by 119 seats for the Conservatives, 34 for the Bloc Québécois, 25 for the NDP and two for the Greens. The People’s Party of Canada did not win any seats and PPC leader Maxime Bernier finished a distant second to the Conservatives in the Quebec riding of Beauce.

The Liberal gain of one will likely change as the 158 seats includes Kevin Vuong in Spadina–Fort York, who currently has a narrow lead over the NDP candidate. The Liberals disassociated themselves from him late in the campaign after a dropped sexual assault charge was revealed. Should Mr. Vuong win, he will likely sit as an independent, but the Liberal Party did not immediately comment on the situation when asked Tuesday morning.

The most dramatic statistics in Monday’s results are the projected seat changes compared to party standings in the House of Commons before the election. As of Tuesday morning, the Liberals are up one seat (including Mr. Vuong), the Conservatives are down two, the Bloc is up two, the NDP is up one and the Greens are down one.

Those statistics do mask the fact that parties saw some incumbents defeated, but made up for that with gains elsewhere.

For instance, two Liberal cabinet ministers were defeated: Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan lost to the Conservatives in the Nova Scotia riding of South Shore-St. Margarets, and Women and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef lost to the Conservatives in Peterborough-Kawartha.

Yet the Liberals may have made two notable gains in Alberta, where it had been shut out entirely in 2019. Liberal candidate George Chahal won the riding of Calgary Skyview, while Liberal Randy Boissonnault currently has a very narrow lead in Edmonton Centre.

Given the need for regional representation, at least one of the two Liberals from Alberta would be promoted to cabinet. This would create challenges, however, for Mr. Trudeau’s efforts to have a gender-balanced cabinet.

Unlike past elections, it will take a few more days until final results are known. Elections Canada received more than one million mail-in ballots this year, which is far higher than normal. The option was promoted as an alternative for Canadians who did not wish to vote in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elections Canada spokesperson Matthew McKenna said the counting of those mail-in ballots will begin Tuesday.

“We expect the vast majority to be counted and posted by tomorrow (Wednesday), but there may be further delays in some ridings,” he said in an e-mail.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. Filling in today is Bill Curry. 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

Canada federal election results: Justin Trudeau’s Liberals win third consecutive election, fall short of a majority: Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a third straight election on Monday, but fell short of the majority they sought in the snap vote and will return to government with what will effectively be a status quo Parliament.

The Liberal victory left Erin O’Toole’s leadership of the Conservative Party in jeopardy. The Tory leader rose to the helm of the party last year promising to deliver in seat-rich Ontario but he struggled in the campaign with questions on how he would handle the pandemic and wavered on key platform pledges.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have a minority again. What now? The new(ish) Parliament explained: After Sept. 20′s election, the balance of power in the House of Commons is largely unchanged between the Liberals, Conservatives, Bloc, NDP and Greens. Here’s what the results show and what leaders say they’ll do next.

After failing to secure majority, Trudeau will face questions within his caucus: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took a risky political gamble, triggering a snap election during the fourth wave of the pandemic in pursuit of a new majority mandate. He ended winning another minority mandate instead.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s ideology shift was not enough to surpass Liberals: Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole steered his party back toward the ideological centre of Canadian politics in 2021 and made this shift a key selling point during the five-week election campaign. But it was not enough to win Canada’s 44th general election as Justin Trudeau’s Liberals will form the next government.

Jagmeet Singh still holds balance of power after 2021 federal election but NDP doesn’t make major seat gains: The NDP under leader Jagmeet Singh will be returning to Ottawa with its balance of power position intact, but the party’s hopes of major seat gains came up short.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Justin Trudeau takes a selfie with a supporter at the Jarry Metro station in Montreal on Sept. 21, 2021, after the Liberals won a minority government the day before.

CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeted commuters at a subway station in his Montreal riding of Papineau, where he was re-elected Monday. The Liberal Leader is not scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday.

LEADERS

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is scheduled to hold a news conference at 4 p.m. ET in Ottawa.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is scheduled to hold a news conference at 9:30 am PT (12:30 ET) in Vancouver.

Itineraries for Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet and Green Party leader Annamie Paul were not immediately available.

OPINION

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Erin O’Toole and the Conservative Party brace for an ugly war over his shift to the left: “There is little doubt Mr. O’Toole is girding for an internal fight, one that could get very loud and very messy and has the potential to lead to a complete fracture of the conservative movement.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) If this election was a test of leadership, all of them failed: “None of the front-running candidates in this election campaign ventured to engage with challenging ideas, or dared step offside of politically advantageous positions. That bodes poorly for whatever faith the public should have in the capacity of the next government, whatever its specific composition might turn out to be, to capably deal with whatever crisis comes next – be it climate change, or an aging population, or another pandemic – just as long as the tough but necessary decisions risk political penalty.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on A battle between fear and loathing that both sides lost: “Consider: Had the election been held on schedule, two years from now, the pandemic would (please God) have been long over, the mass vaccination program, with its associated mandates, a distant memory. Without the oxygen of this approaching “tyranny,” Maxime Bernier’s campaign might never have got off the ground. But call an election in the fevered atmosphere of a public-health emergency; spend the entire campaign insisting on the very policy, vaccine mandates, you had previously rejected as “divisive”; steer your campaign straight at the PPC, literally and figuratively, and who knows what profitable mayhem you can create?”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) Trudeau had just enough resilience to return to office, but doubts about his intentions remain: “He looks the same, still, at 49. But six years ago the Justin Trudeau of 2015 was a figure who for many seemed to symbolize good intentions, even for some who weren’t sure about his politics or ability. The 2021 Mr. Trudeau pulled through a campaign in which he had trouble convincing folks he had the right motivations.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) Erin O’Toole tried to refashion the Conservative movement and deserves another chance to lead: “Moderate suburban voters will support Conservative government. We know that because most provincial governments are conservative, of one stripe or another. Many would vote Conservative federally as well, if they could trust the party: a Conservative Party of fiscal responsibility and individual freedom; a party that takes pride in our country while recognizing where we have fallen short; a party that supports business but understands the vulnerability of workers, that protects property but cares for the earth. Mr. O’Toole bet big that he could build and sell such a party. It didn’t work this time. But he could still be the next prime minister, perhaps sooner rather than later.”

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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Liberals' bank surtax is 'pandering politics': Former RBC CEO – BNN

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A former chief executive of Royal Bank of Canada said the federal Liberals’ plan to slap a surtax on big bank and insurance profits “makes no sense” and called the move a purely “political decision.”

“That type of policy is pandering politics,” said Gord Nixon, who is also chairman of BNN Bloomberg parent company BCE Inc., in an interview Tuesday. “It might sell well in terms of achieving votes but it doesn’t make any sense from a policy perspective.”

The Liberals proposed a three-per-cent additional tax on profits that exceed $1 billion for Canada’s biggest banks and insurance companies as a way to help pay for new program spending, although some Bay Street analysts feel the plan lacks crucial details.

Nixon implied he isn’t necessarily surprised politicians took aim at big banks given his prior experience as RBC’s CEO and president from 2001 to 2014.

“Why the banks? Other than they’re an easy target,” he said. “The banks always deal with political issues.”

He said there are a few sectors, such as technology and grocers, that fared much better than banks and insurers through the COVID-19 pandemic, which suggests the targeted tax has political undertones.

“The banks actually didn’t do very well during the pandemic. You look at the three-year returns on banks, they’re up less than five per cent. The S&P is up close to 15 per cent,” he said. “I’m not suggesting there’s hardship there. But their earnings were very strong the last two quarters, largely because they were reversing a lot of loan losses that were taken when the pandemic first hit.”

Instead of a bank tax, Nixon would rather see policies that help attract business investment and talent, something he felt the campaign platforms proposed by Canada’s major political parties lacked.

“A lot of the issues that needed to be discussed were not necessarily discussed. And I think clearly, the result is that there is no mandate, if you will, given to the Liberal Party.”

Another one of Nixon’s concerns is the ballooning federal debt burden. The Conservative Party was the only major federal party to propose bringing the budget back to balance within a decade.

“We can’t just spend and spend and push that problem down the road. One of the problems of politics – and it’s all political parties – is it’s very easy to spend when you don’t have to live with the consequences of that spending for many years down the road. But there’s always a day of reckoning,” he said. “That day of reckoning is ultimately going to appear whether it’s through higher inflation or anemic economic growth.”

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