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Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien looks on ahead of the delivery of the Speech from the Throne in the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada December 4, 2015. (Chris Wattie/REUTERS)

Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien looks on ahead of the delivery of the Speech from the Throne in the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada December 4, 2015.

(Chris Wattie/REUTERS)

Politics Briefing

Chrétien causes brief kerfuffle among diplomats in China Add to ...


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.

Justin Trudeau says Hunter Tootoo resigned by choice (CP Video)


>The House of Commons is back in session today after the lengthy summer break. John Ibbitson looks at a few of the first issues on the governing Liberals’ plates, including pipelines and pot. The Liberals are returning with a new House Leader. Justin Trudeau, however, will miss the House’s opening: he’s in New York today, where he is set to address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

> Will this fall be the time for a legislative catch up? According to a Huffington Post count, the Trudeau government’s first months in office produced the fewest new laws of any recent government. By a National Post count, however, the Liberals have produced quite a few cheques.

> Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the Liberals will impose a national minimum carbon price for provinces that don’t adopt their own climate plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Some premiers will not be pleased.

> Hunter Tootoo wants back into the Liberal caucus. “We know we have to earn our way back in, but it’s up to us to work hard and show we’re working hard to prove ourselves again to get that opportunity,” executive assistant Henry Wright told The Hill Times.

> The cost of the prime minister’s security detail is averaging about $2-million per month.

> In Policy Options, Conservative MP Garnett Genuis notes that Tories break rank on votes more often than Liberals or New Democrats (a finding that lines up with research The Globe did in 2013), and tries to puzzle out the reason why.

> A former top bureaucrat is suing the CBC because of a story about the taxes he paid (or allegedly didn’t) on his 47-foot sailing boat.

> And why do law firms, such as Dentons, like stocking up on ex-politicians? “This is not about influencing legislation. You hire a lobbyist to do that,” said Dentons chairman Joseph Andrew. It’s that, unlike lawyers, they appreciate the big picture. (for subscribers)


By Chris Hannay

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Canada this week, but it was a meeting with former prime minister Jean Chrétien earlier this year that created a brief kerfuffle among some of Canada’s diplomats.

According to newly disclosed e-mails, when Mr. Chrétien visited China in April on behalf of the Dentons law firm for whom he works, he may not have given the local mission much notice that he was coming.

“I have learned that a mtg with President Xi or Premier Li may have been requested for Mr. Chrétien,” wrote Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s ambassador to China, in an email just a few days before the April 19 meeting. “If it were to materialize, I would accompany him to that mtg.”

Mr. Saint-Jacques delayed some of his own travel plans to go with Mr. Chrétien to the meeting with one of China’s leaders. Later that day, an aide in the Global Affairs minister’s office asked what involvement the local diplomatic mission had had.

“I do recall, from years gone by, that there was a tradition of ex-PMs informing sitting PMs of any international trips during which a former PM might meet a serving politician of significance,” wrote Graham Shantz, a top Global Affairs public servant and former ambassador to Spain, in an e-mail. “Of course I would not expect to be made aware of whether or not this tradition was followed in this case (or if indeed it is still a tradition).”

Cindy Termorshuizen, the deputy head of mission at the embassy in Beijing, said Mr. Chrétien reassured Mr. Saint-Jacques that he had, indeed, spoken to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before making the trip and that he was in China on “private business.”

The documents were obtained by the Conservative Party through access-to-information laws and given to The Globe and Mail.


> How we got here: The Globe and Mail’s Joanna Slater travelled to Luzerne County, Pa., where anxiety over immigration stoked by economic despair has made Donald Trump the man to beat in November. “This small county, known for its green rolling hills and proud industrial past, demonstrates why Mr. Trump – arguably the most implausible major-party candidate in American history – has a plausible chance of becoming the next president of the United States. And it provides a possible glimpse of a rocky global future in which nationalist discontent, fuelled by genuine economic anxiety, may well upend business-as-usual politics.”

> Spoiler alert: The Globe’s David Shribman says third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are polling significantly high enough to potentially disrupt the election. “As the struggle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tightens ... the significance of outside candidates, especially Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, is becoming clearer.”

> Birtherism is here to stay: At Politico, Issac Bailey explains why birtherism isn’t going away: “Now I think I understand better. Birtherism, like a criminal justice system with racial disparities at every level, means that to be black in America is to forever be suspect.”

> One nation, united in idiocy: Matt Taibbi, in Rolling Stone Magazine, pushes back against media navel gazing over ‘false balance’ in coverage of Trump vs. Clinton and puts the blame squarely on U.S. voter: “Audiences have consistently rejected smart, responsible journalism in favor of clickbait stupidities ... [If Trump is elected] it'll be because we're a nation of idiots, who vote the same way we choose channels: without thinking.”

> Trump’s wall to victory: At the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza says Donald Trump may have the momentum at the moment, but his prospects to reach 270 Electoral College votes are still dim. “Republicans’ problem: Their party starts in a significant electoral-college hole, fueled by several states with large populations — California, New York and Illinois, to name three — that are among the most reliably Democratic in the country.” ... The Upshot has new in-depth polling data out of Florida that shows Trump leading in this must-win state. “The reason: White voters favor him by a large margin.”


Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): “Foreign diplomats report that politicians back home show an unusual interest in Mr. Trudeau. Where Canada’s government was seen as boring before, now it’s keenly watched. In France, the magazine l‘Obs carried an article about Mr. Trudeau’s Canada with the headline, ‘Another Politics is Possible.’ That’s partly because the opposition the centre-left faces in the United States and Europe isn’t the same as it was. It’s not free-market, free-trading, tax-cutting conservatives they are most worried about – it’s the close-the-borders, send-back-the-immigrants politicians.”

Justine Hunter (Globe and Mail): “One of the most significant events on the busy schedule for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Canada will take place in a private sitting room with the province’s top aboriginal leaders – a reconciliation ceremony that will be saturated with symbolism.” (for subscribers)

Denise Balkissoon (Globe and Mail): “It’s harvest season and our stores and farmers’ markets are bursting with the Earth’s bounty. It’s the best time to crunch into local apples and slice ripe tomatoes – and to reflect on the people who grew them. Especially because 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, which brings 30,000 labourers annually from Mexico, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries to reap and sow our crops.”

Heather Mallick (Toronto Star): “[The U.K. Labour Party] was injured, but it need not split, it need not die. Post-Harper Conservatives, watch and learn. Don’t let Doug Ford wedge his foot in the door, or Brad Trost, or Leitch for that matter. New Democrats, don’t let Thomas Mulcair hang around like a wretched dinner guest. Stay normal and democracy will thrive. Ukip and Trump are waiting at the door.”

Kelly McParland (National Post): “University is, by definition, a place where different, and sometimes obnoxious, opinions can be aired. It is the very basis of democratic freedom, the clash of ideas that leads to understanding, awareness and — with any luck — to human progress. It is unfortunate that so many campuses continue to embrace a preference for deliberate ignorance. Students need exposure to ideas if they are going to develop the ability to think critically for themselves. Perhaps it’s the professors they need protection from.”

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