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Immigration Minister Chris Alexander answers a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, May 25, 2015. Former immigration minister Chris Alexander is widely expected to enter the federal Conservative leadership race. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander answers a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, May 25, 2015. Former immigration minister Chris Alexander is widely expected to enter the federal Conservative leadership race. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Politics Briefing

Getting crowded? Tenth candidate jumps into Conservative leadership race Add to ...

POLITICS BRIEFING

By Chris Hannay (@channay) and Rob Gilroy (@rgilroy)

The Globe Politics is pleased to include a roundup of news and opinion on U.S. politics, through until this year’s election in November. As always, let us know what you think of the newsletter. Sign up here to get it by e-mail each morning.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IN OTTAWA

> The Prime Minister’s top aides say they are setting an example by paying back tens of thousands of dollars they received as part of their expenses for moving to Ottawa. Gerald Butts, the Prime Minister’s principal secretary, gave a full accounting of the moving expenses on his Facebook page.

> Chinese Premier Li Keqiang defended the death penalty when he and Justin Trudeau were pressed on the possibility of a Canada-China extradition treaty. Mr. Li continues his Canadian trip by travelling to Montreal today.

> Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef says she is in the process of correcting her official documents – including her information on the parliamentary website – after it was revealed she was born in Iran, not Afghanistan.

> Mr. Trudeau’s new requirements for Supreme Court justices are unfair because they require candidates to be bilingual, say two prominent indigenous leaders.

> A senator has reported herself to the chamber’s ethics watchdog.

> At least four federal departments or agencies have been found not paying their interns, including Global Affairs.

> And a sign of the times: the Toronto District School Board says it will begin each school day with a declaration that students are on traditional, unceded territory and acknowledge First Nations peoples and their land.

CONSERVATIVE RACE GETTING CROWDED

Can they all fit on one stage? Even with party heavyweights Peter MacKay and Jason Kenney declining to run, there is no shortage of Conservatives willing to jump into the race to permanently replace Stephen Harper.

It’s tough to keep track of all the candidates – some have filed their official papers, others have not – but former immigration minister Chris Alexander appears to be the 10th publicly declared contender. The former ambassador to Afghanistan lost re-election last year against Liberal Mark Holland, who he had defeated in the 2011 vote.

For those keeping tally at home, there are five official candidates so far, all of whom are currently sitting as members of Parliament: Maxime Bernier of Quebec; Michael Chong, Tony Clement and Kellie Leitch of Ontario; and Deepak Obhrai of Alberta. All but Mr. Obhrai were cabinet ministers in the former Harper government.

There are a number of other interested candidates who have declared, but not yet filled out the paperwork (or handed in their $100,000 deposits, half of which is refundable). There is Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost, who hopes to capture the party’s social-conservative wing, and former Ontario MP Pierre Lemieux, who would be one of the few in the race who are fluently bilingual. There are also the very longshot candidates: Winnipeg doctor Dan Lindsay and Toronto consultant Adrienne Snow.

And then, of course, there is also Saskatchewan MP – and former speaker of the House of Commons – Andrew Scheer, who quit his shadow cabinet duties to lay the groundwork for entering the race. He is not yet declared, however, that he will run. “I've been very encouraged by the feedback I've received and I'd like to continue to put together a team to continue exploring making a leadership run,” he said earlier this month. If – or when – Mr. Scheer jumps in, that will make 11.

U.S. ELECTION 2016

> Trump blows the dog whistle, again: The Globe’s John Ibbitson says Donald Trump’s national “stop and frisk” proposal – unveiled as tensions remain high in Charlotte, N.C. – is nothing more than blatant racism. “You have to admire his nerve. Donald Trump has perfected a unique strategy of advancing racist policies while claiming those policies will protect the very people they target.”

> The great divide: The recent tightening of polls has given observers the impression that political competition is a defining characteristic of the United States. But Lee Drutman, writing in The New York Times, says if you “look at the majority of states and congressional races ... a different picture emerges: In most places, meaningful two-party electoral competition is nonexistent. Rather than being one two-party nation, we are becoming two one-party nations.”

> The Clinton plan for America: Huffington Post takes a really deep dive into Hillary Clinton’s policy agenda and discovers a platform that’s probably as much or more progressive than Bernie Sanders’. But, if she’s elected, “The danger here for Clinton is also the danger for liberalism itself – that a lack of major progress on the nation’s core economic challenges will leave voters even more convinced that government cannot, or will not, solve their problems.”

> Just the facts please: Poynter, the U.S.-based monitor of journalism, says it may be a bit too early to concede that we’re living in a post-factual world. “A new study indicates that people can learn what’s true and what’s false after reading fact checks of political claims. And, perhaps more surprisingly, they learn those facts even when they run counter to their political preferences.”

> What, me worry?: U.S. political scientist Dan Drezner, a regular contributor to The Washington Post, says there’s a “freakout gap” in his household with the polls tightening. “As it turns out, I’m one of those pundits who would be super-scared about a Trump presidency but has not been terribly perturbed by the narrowing in the polls in recent weeks.” Drezner lists his reasons why he thinks Hillary Clinton still has a decided advantage.

> Just watch her: She may not have the comedic timing of Barack Obama, but Hillary Clinton holds her own by playing it straight with Zach Galifianakis. This might be the best outreach to younger voters of her campaign.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): “There are rules you have to follow, and rules that you control. The rules that allowed Justin Trudeau’s two most senior aides to claim more than $200,000 in relocation expenses gave the Prime Minister total discretion. That’s what makes Mr. Trudeau’s defence of the payouts – over two days – so maddening. The sums weren’t paid out because of the rules. They were paid out because the PM said it was okay.” (for subscribers)

Henry Yu (Globe and Mail): “The word ‘foreign’ is an interesting word. It means different things to different people. In your mind’s eye, whom do you see when you think of the term? What colour is their hair? What language are they speaking? Years ago, there was an advertising campaign from one of our major national breweries featuring a series of people stating ‘I am Canadian.’ The images, one after another, featured no visible minorities. Have we left behind the conflation of ‘foreign’ with being non-white?”

Don Martin (CTV): “There are growing signs [the Liberal] government is having commitment issues. It vows peacekeeping but can’t figure out where. It talks climate change, but sticks with Harper-era targets and uncertain implementation. It promises a booster shot of healthcare funding but won’t say if conditions will be attached. And on its signature pledge to roll out immediate ‘shovel-ready’ stimulus to build much-needed infrastructure, work is proceeding at a snail’s pace.”

Michael Den Tandt (National Post): “The Liberals’ historical Achilles’ heel, after all, is profligacy. Grits are arrogant wastrels, goes the narrative. This was the storyline that won Brian Mulroney a majority in 1984 and put Harper in power in 2006. And it is the narrative Trudeau’s Liberals are now feeding, as they rack up a list of spending mini-scandals they could easily have avoided, with the application of humility and common sense.”

Éric Grenier (CBC): “Though few aspirants to the job [of Conservative or NDP leader] — whether now or in the future — will publicly admit such a thing, there is no doubt that it is part of the calculation. But it isn't defeatism to believe that the odds are in favour of Justin Trudeau's Liberals being re-elected in 2019. It is the safer bet, according to past history.”

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Follow us on Twitter: @rgilroy, @channay

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