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Ottawa feels heat over move to undo Conservative changes to environmental rules

SIMON DOYLE

The Liberal government is feeling pressure from industry over a campaign pledge to restore regulations surrounding project permits and environmental assessments after a series of changes by the Conservative government in 2012.

The Trudeau government is planning to launch a consultation on the environmental assessment process, possibly this summer, and lobby groups are anticipating possible changes such as the relisting of specific rivers and navigable waters that the Harper government had removed from regulations.

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NDP faces another debilitating battle for its soul

JEFFREY SIMPSON

Tom Mulcair was in fighting form this week. Doing what comes naturally, the NDP Leader flayed the Liberal government with his finest prosecutorial style, the one he had used as leader of the opposition so effectively against the Harper Conservatives.

Behind and around him, New Democrat MPs leaped to their feet and clapped, for Question Period is at heart a show. This was the Tom Mulcair they had thought would lead them to power. When the election dashed that hope, a bunch of the MPs and half the party kicked him like a wounded dog.

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The sorry state of freedom and democracy

Jeffrey Simpson

The Trudeau government tends to see the world through the prism of its own “sunny ways.” Alas, many parts of the world are not terribly sunny these days. Freedom and democracy, values that we associate with peace and security, are in retreat.

Yes, there have been encouraging examples of democratic elections challenging or turfing authoritarian and/or inept leaders, as in Nigeria, Venezuela, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Argentina, in a completely fair election, changed governments, turning away from the Peronistas who had led the country for too long. Even Bolivian President Evo Morales lost a referendum on a constitutional change that would have allowed him to seek yet another term.

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Trump, Clinton: And then there were two (almost)

David Shribman

David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of U.S. politics.

One campaign done. Another not quite so – but almost.

There remains virtually no obstacle to the presidential nomination of Donald Trump; Senator Ted Cruz’s suspension of his campaign assured that. The obstacle to the nomination of Hillary Clinton is mostly symbolic; though Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont vowed to take the fight to West Virginia this week, her surprising loss in the Indiana primary almost certainly will be regarded as an inconsequential diversion on the march to her coronation at the Democrats’ midsummer convention in Philadelphia.

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The death of the old boys’ club is better late than never

JOHN IBBITSON

The Auditor-General slapped the federal government’s wrists Tuesday for being chronically tardy in making certain public appointments. But the criticism masks a larger, and happier, truth.

Patronage is a dying vice in the federal government. Yes, a prime minister chooses whom he chooses, when making Governor-in-Council appointments, as they’re called. But we have largely said goodbye to the era of “jobs for the boys,” and the Trudeau administration is going even further to ensure a meritocratic process.

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Why two international trade deals are in limbo

JEFFREY SIMPSON

Canada finds itself in the odd and slightly uncomfortable position of waiting on two large trade deals, one in the Pacific region and the other with the European Union.

The Liberal government favours both deals, the negotiations for which began long ago under the Harper Conservatives. No domestic opposition of consequence exists, apart from the usual grumblers who don’t like free trade, period, but who are are no longer consequential, except in their own minds. Neither deal, however, is a sure thing, for reasons that have nothing to do with Canada.

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Vocal in opposition, Liberals turn quiet on fate of jailed Saudi blogger

CAMPBELL CLARK

Less than a year ago, Liberal MP Marc Garneau stood up in the Commons to demand prime minister Stephen Harper personally contact the King of Saudi Arabia to seek the release of blogger Raif Badawi, a man sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for suggesting a few modest reformist ideas.

On Wednesday, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals will mark six months in power, but their zeal for prime ministerial intervention has markedly declined. Mr. Trudeau hasn’t stepped into the case. Instead, the Liberals have decided it’s better to keep their diplomacy relatively quiet, and go slowly.

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Conservative Party digs a deeper basement

Nik Nanos

Nik Nanos is The Globe and Mail’s pollster and chairman of Nanos Research.

Since their defeat in the last federal election at the hands of the Trudeau Liberals, the Conservatives have been consoled by the view that their “basement” in popular support was a robust 32 per cent. New research conducted by Nanos suggests that the basement is noticeably lower now.

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Oft-forgotten Indiana now crucial testing ground in U.S. election

DAVID SHRIBMAN

David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of U.S. politics.

The stridently right-wing John Birch Society was born there and the Ku Klux Klan flourished there. Its state university has one of the most distinguished classical-music programs in the United States and its capital city has one of the country’s most beloved Jewish delicatessens. Its politics are so ferocious – so competitive – that nearly three decades ago the lower house was divided precisely equally between the two parties and thus the leadership alternated between two men. They were called the stereo Speakers.

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Trudeau waiting for Bombardier’s controlling owners to blink

CAMPBELL CLARK

For months, Justin Trudeau’s government has been locked in a staring contest with Bombardier Inc. Now the Liberals have a little more time to wait for the company’s controlling family to blink.

Bombardier, the Montreal-based planes-and-trains maker, wants $1-billion in public money. But the government doesn’t like the idea that the Beaudoin-Bombardier family will keep the majority control that it retains through multi-vote shares.

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Why a carbon tax is better than cap-and-trade

JEFFREY SIMPSON

Finally, after years of delay, Canada seems ready to place a price on carbon that contributes to global warming.

Holdouts remain, as in Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. There are still pockets of resistance on the right in the media and politically, although Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown recently endorsed a carbon tax.

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Italy is making strides on its long road back

JEFFREY SIMPSON

No penalty exists for political imitators, so when an Italian cabinet minister declares that “Italy is back,” the Trudeau government lacks any claim for copyright infringement.

Back from what, we might ask of today’s Italy. Back a little from a long period of very slow growth, bordering on recession. Back from unemployment of 12.8 per cent, but still at 11.5 per cent. Back definitely from swinging-door governments – 63 of them in 70 years – to the current one of stability and reasonable popularity, led by Italy’s version of Justin Trudeau, centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

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Three lessons to draw from the Saudi arms deal controversy

COLIN ROBERTSON

A former diplomat, Colin Robertson is vice-president and fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, and senior adviser, Dentons LLP.

All arms sales are controversial, but when the buyer is a country with a human-rights record like Saudi Arabia’s and the deal is worth billions, the public scrutiny rightfully reaches a new level.

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Primary wins put Trump, Clinton tantalizingly close to victory

David Shribman

David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of U.S. politics.

They haven’t reached the finish line yet but Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump can see it from here.

It is visible beyond the Ohio River on the western shoulder of Pennsylvania and is coming into focus on the Susquehanna on the state’s eastern shoulder. It can be seen from the farmlands of the state’s agricultural interior and from the peaks of its rocky ridges and soaring peaks, if not from its anthracite coal mines.

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Will Obama’s stance help Britain to think clearly about the EU?

JEFFREY SIMPSON

It was always evident that successive U.S. administrations opposed Quebec secession. Every serious U.S. foreign-policy analyst who thought about the matter – and few did, it should be said – concluded that a united Canada best served American interests.

American presidents tended to walk a bit on eggs when addressing the Quebec issue, in case they were seen as excessively interfering in a Canadian decision. The most decisive pro-federalism statement came from president Bill Clinton at a conference at Mont-Tremblant in October, 1999. Then-Parti Québécois premier Lucien Bouchard attended but was reduced to spluttering, so passionately and persuasively had Mr. Clinton defended federalist principles. The president (who had thrown away his State Department speech) never mentioned Quebec, but everyone in the hall got the message.

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Nik Nanos: What Trudeau needs to learn from Harper and the Duffy trial

Nik Nanos

Nik Nanos is The Globe and Mail’s pollster and chairman of Nanos Research.

The Duffy trial was not only a verdict on the lack of criminality of the charges levied against Senator Duffy, it’s a lesson for all of Canada’s political parties.

In today’s turbocharged social-media political frenzy, the fast and furious response might make some feel good but it carries risks. This is especially true for any government and was the trap the Conservatives fell into.

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Pennsylvania is a political jigsaw puzzle

DAVID SHRIBMAN

David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of U.S. politics.

Tuesday’s confrontation in the fight for the White House has been played out in a state so broad, so fractured and so lacking in political unity that the five candidates vying for their parties’ presidential nominations in the Pennsylvania primary might be forgiven for thinking they have been competing in several different places at once.

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Trudeau responsible for halting runaway Senate gravy train

CAMPBELL CLARK

Senator Mike Duffy’s expense scandal is now Justin Trudeau’s problem.

Not in the literal sense, of course. Mr. Duffy, acquitted last Thursday, is free to take his seat in the Senate and move on. But the unfinished business of reining in senators’ opportunities to use public money loosely, to stop the unseemly practices that drive Canadians crazy – that’s on Mr. Trudeau now.

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Liberals hire tech entrepreneur for senior role shaping policy

Simon Doyle

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains has hired tech entrepreneur Nathon Gunn as his top innovation adviser as the minister’s office develops a broad strategy to help industries confront rapid technological change in all sectors, from renewable energy to manufacturing.

The co-founder of startups Bitcasters Inc., Social Game Universe and LightningPlatform.com will be playing a senior advisory role in the Liberal government’s aim to create jobs by helping companies innovate amid technological disruption and a shifting global economy. The Liberal budget plan said the government wanted to “redesign and redefine how it supports innovation and growth.”

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Duffy's acquittal the ultimate payback on Harper's PMO

CAMPBELL CLARK

‘Wait,” Mike Duffy said in his last speech in the Senate, back in 2013, when he claimed Stephen Harper’s PMO had railroaded him. “There is even more.”

He wasn’t kidding. On Thursday, Justice Charles Vaillancourt acquitted Senator Duffy on all 31 charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. And in a sense, he convicted Mr. Harper’s PMO.

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