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politics briefing

Conrad Black sits down for an interview with The Globe and Mail.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail


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

The Globe Politics newsletter is back. We're 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.


> The Prime Minister is headed for New York (again). Justin Trudeau's office announced this morning that he'll lead Canada's delegation to the United Nations General Assembly next week, on Sept. 19 and 20. While there he will also attend U.S. President Barack Obama's leaders' summit on refugees.

> The Canada Revenue Agency has launched a review of the actions of B.C. real estate speculators after a Globe investigation.

> Canada's cultural industry is producing quality content, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly says – the problem is just getting it in front of people. Ms. Joly made the comments as the federal government opens its consultations.

> Privacy experts say Canada must constrain the government's use of portable surveillance devices that can pull data from smartphones without their owners knowing.

> A secret United Nations report accuses a Canadian arms company of skirting sanctions in Sudan, CBC reports.

> And Jason Kenney, the Calgary MP (for now...) running to be leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, was the best fundraiser in last year's federal election. Elections Canada data show the former defence and multiculturalism minister's riding association raised $461,979 in individual contributions last year. The runner-up, the Liberal association in Orleans (Ottawa), raised $298,328.


By Laura Stone (@l_stone)

The Conservative caucus is meeting in Halifax beginning today to talk, among other things, the upcoming leadership race.

And when it comes to who should be the next leader, it appears Conrad Black has a preferred candidate – at least on the lunch circuit.

The media baron recently sent out an email inviting guests to a Toronto luncheon for Maxime Bernier, the libertarian Quebec MP running to replace Stephen Harper as head of the Conservative party.

The luncheon takes place next Thursday, Sept. 22, at The York Club, a private establishment in tony Yorkville.

When asked about the luncheon, Mr. Black replied in an e-mail that he doesn't really know much about the Conservative leadership race.

"Maxime Bernier is an old friend whom I have not seen for many years, and John Reynolds [Mr. Bernier's campaign co-chair] and I are introducing him to some people in Toronto," he wrote. "I understand John is doing something larger for him later in the day. I'm afraid I don't have enough knowledge or opinions on this subject for an interview."

He does, however, have enough friends to throw him a lunch.

And for but a brief moment on Monday it appeared undeclared and undecided frontrunner Peter MacKay was set to announce his bid on Saturday at a legion in Stellarton, Nova Scotia.

Until, that is, it turned out to be Pictou Centre's annual roast beef dinner and official nomination event for local MLA Pat Dunn.

Mr. MacKay then put an end to the rumours by announcing in a late-day statement that he's not running for leader "at this time."

Let the 2019 speculation begin.


> Medical tests for two – stat: The Globe and Mail's John Ibbitson says Hillary Clinton's bout of pneumonia – and more importantly the non-disclosure for two days – "renders legitimate what was, until now, a ridiculous conspiracy theory" about the health of the Democratic candidate. But Donald Trump, Ibbitson notes, is not exactly svelte, and would be the oldest president to enter the White House. Both sides, he says, "should immediately agree to have their candidate vetted by an independent medical team and the results publicly released. In this case, both Mr. Trump – by deliberately making health an issue – and Ms. Clinton – by inadvertently doing the same – have lost all right to privacy over their bodies." In The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland says the focus on both Clinton's health and honesty, "has confirmed again that she is judged by not one but two double standards. The most obvious is gender." The other, Freedland says, is that "Clinton is judged as a politician, held to the standards expected of a serious elected official. Her opponent is not." And, just in case you were wondering what happens if a candidate did have to drop out of the presidential race, Vox explains the procedure.

> Empathy deficit: Elsewhere in The Globe, Sarah Kendzior says Hillary Clinton has a redemption problem. By describing many supporters of Donald Trump as "deplorables", Clinton, ironically, "made the same mistake as her own detractors: assuming to have insight into the emotions and experiences of people she does not know. … to psychoanalyze voters is an insult. … It comes across not as empathy, but as cold classification from a distant elite." Also, on 'deplorables,' New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait with two well-timed posts that get to the heart of problems with the U.S. media's treatment of the two presidential candidates. Here, he asks why Clinton is getting skewered for honesty: "The national media has spent a year and a quarter documenting ... the rabid, anti-intellectual nationalistic bigotry of Trump's hard-core fanbase. But it has taken Hillary Clinton's affirmation to transform this by-now-banal observation into a scandal." Then, he looks at a New York Times public editor's post to examine the problem of false equivalency, "journalists treating dissimilar situations as similar, in an attempt to balance out their conclusions" in their coverage of the two candidates. He points to a situation where "one candidate's evasive use of a private email server looms larger than the other's promise to commit war crimes?"

> Elsewhere: Roger Simon in Politico wishes Hillary Cllinton "would hold a sit-down, no-holds-barred, no time-limit news conference about this and all other subjects, rather than the ridiculous cat-and-mouse game she is playing with the press." Michael Gerson in The Washington Post: The self-refuting idea that America needs Donald Trump as a savior. David Brooks in The New York Times says the election campaign is rolling along "an avalanche of distrust," with two candidates who "ultimately hew to a distrustful, stark, combative, zero-sum view of life."


André Picard (Globe and Mail): "This lack of public disclosure Canada-wide is troubling. It's also a reminder that as much as the federal government would like to put the divisive assisted-death debate behind it, there is still much work to do, beginning with the drafting of regulations that flesh out the legislation."

Nik Nanos (Globe and Mail): "The caution for the Conservatives is that a leadership bid focused on issues of race, ethnicity and what makes for a Canadian misses the point of what Canadians usually associate with the Conservatives – controlling taxes, smaller government and working to create jobs. This is akin to McDonald's taking hamburgers off the menu and focusing on salads. Salads are not part of its core promise to customers." (for subscribers)

Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star): "Why does [the Site C case] matter? Trudeau has made a lot of promises to Canada's indigenous people but this is the first time the rubber hits the road on a major energy project. The Liberal government will need a lot of aboriginal goodwill if Trudeau is to be able to claim that he has acquired a so-called social licence for one or more pipelines to be built over his tenure."

Neil Macdonald (CBC): "Asking new immigrants if they believe in the few truly universal values Canada stands for should be unremarkable. It's at least as sensible as making them swear allegiance to a foreign queen and 'all her heirs and successors.' But the longer the values list gets, the shakier and more jingoistic it gets, and sooner or later you start regarding yourself as 'exceptional,' and start demanding that your politicians declare it true. The way our neighbours do."