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Andy Pringle at a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board in Toronto on Thursday June 18, 2015. Photo: Chris Young for The Globe and Mail. (Chris Young For The Globe and Mail)
Andy Pringle at a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board in Toronto on Thursday June 18, 2015. Photo: Chris Young for The Globe and Mail. (Chris Young For The Globe and Mail)

Politics Briefing

Toronto Police board chair steps back from Kellie Leitch campaign Add to ...

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POLITICS BRIEFING

By Chris Hannay (@channay)

> Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some members of his cabinet are in Toronto today to pitch infrastructure investments to private banks, pension funds and international investors.

> Canada’s Kurdish allies fighting the Islamic State in Iraq are being accused of war crimes for destroying Arab homes.

> Health Canada says it now agrees that the antimalarial drug mefloquine can cause permanent brain damage – a drug that Canadian soldiers in the 1990s Somalia mission were forced to take.

> According to documents obtained by The Globe, the RCMP explain why they never charged Nigel Wright and how he was useful to them as a witness against Mike Duffy.

> Kellie Leitch couldn’t make a debate this weekend for Conservative leadership candidates after an apparent break-in attempt at her home. Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai says he’s received racist e-mails after challenging Ms. Leitch’s proposal to screen for “Canadian values.” And the debate audience expressed skepticism about climate change.

> And the years-long legal battle continues for Ottawa professor Hassan Diab as a French judge says there is “consistent evidence” he did not participate in a 1980 Paris bombing. Mr. Diab remains in jail, however, where he has been since he was extradited from Canada two years ago.

PRINGLE STEPS BACK FROM LEITCH CAMPAIGN

By J. Kelly Nestruck (@nestruck)

Toronto Police Services Board chair Andy Pringle says he is no longer involved with Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch's campaign.

Mr. Pringle revealed this after a playwright called for his resignation from another board of directors last week.

Michael Healey, writer of the much-produced play The Drawer Boy, called for Mr. Pringle to resign as chair of the Shaw Festival board of directors due to his fundraising activities for Ms. Leitch, after she wrote in an e-mail to supporters that Donald Trump's victory south of the border was an “an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada, as well.”

“We have racism and sexism and bigotry enough of our own in this country,” tweeted Mr. Healey, who has written a play about former Prime Minister Joe Clark that will be performed the Shaw Festival next summer. “We don't need to import it.”

When reached by The Globe and Mail, however, Mr. Pringle said he was surprised to hear about Mr Healey's tweets – because he is no longer involved in Ms. Leitch's campaign, which includes a controversial proposal to screen immigrants for "Canadian values."

"I think that my support of Kellie is very much old news," he said.

Exactly how old is that news? Mr. Pringle said that once his involvement with Ms. Leitch's campaign became the subject of controversy in Now Magazine, which raised questions about whether his political activities might break the province's code of conduct for police board members, he decided to "disengage" from Ms. Leitch's campaign and partisan politics entirely. That was in "mid-October," he clarified. "As long as I'm chair of the transformational task force that is changing the Toronto police, I'm going to refrain from partisan politics," Mr. Pringle said.

Mr. Healey was happy to hear that. "I thank Mr Pringle for his service to the Shaw Festival, an institution I, like many, value enormously," he said.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): “A week ago, Mr. Trudeau was in control of his agenda. Now, much of it could come under pressure. There’ll be new accusations his climate-change policies will disadvantage Canadian industry when the new president scraps emissions-reduction measures. Anxious business leaders might fear that welcoming Syrian refugees in Canada could lead to U.S. border-screening slowdowns. And it isn’t just the Trudeau agenda, but the Canadian economy, that the PM must protect, because the NAFTA threat Mr. Trump aimed at Mexico might sideswipe Canada.”

Catherine Clark (Globe and Mail): “Canada has a long history of welcoming to our shores people from all around the world who must first pass through our robust immigration or refugee system. We regularly welcome the world’s best and brightest, but also people who would be persecuted or in peril in their homelands. I’m not sure I can think of anything more Canadian: a careful system that screens all applicants combined with a tolerant population welcoming of newcomers. And in Canada, with the exception of our indigenous peoples, we are all newcomers of some sort.”

John Doyle (Globe and Mail): “At an allegorical level, a lot of reality TV is about our social organization – living by rules, peacefully and in harmony – being utterly flimsy and easily giving way to the vicious will to power and, as the editor of The New Yorker put it, ‘disdain for democratic norms.’ All of that umbrage thrown at [Donald] Trump, and the reasons for the scorn, is not explained entirely by reality TV, but in part it is. Everything that is shocking about him was normalized years ago, via reality TV. That’s why he’s president-elect Trump. It’s just that some people weren’t paying attention.”

Simon Houpt (Globe and Mail): “Over the past couple of years, privately owned local news outlets across the country have been shutting down with alarming speed. Many that haven’t closed are consolidating, with no end in sight for cuts to their coverage. For that matter, CBC has severely slashed its local radio and TV news broadcasts. Against that backdrop, it’s hard to see the new move [into opinion] as a wise use of its finite resources.”

Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star): “Behind the stiff upper lip that Justin Trudeau has been keeping in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory, he and his government are no less traumatized by the result of the American election than the majority of Canadians.”

Angelina Chapin (Ottawa Citizen): “Quick message for the Brogressives: Back off and let women grieve. Even better, support them. Of course there are valid criticisms of Clinton and the Democratic Party. But when you inflict your analysis on a woman who is devastated that Americans just elected a man who considers her subhuman, you are being sexist. Plain and simple.”

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