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Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 14, 2017. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 14, 2017. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

Politics Briefing

Liberal support near its lowest ebb since Trudeau took power: Nanos Add to ...

CANADIAN NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Liberal support
is near its lowest ebb since Justin Trudeau’s party won power in the 2015 election, according to the latest Nanos Research tracking polls, though the Conservatives still have a ways to go to catch up.

Candidates for the Liberal nomination in the Markham-Thornhill by-election say it’s hard to compete with Mary Ng, who until recently was working in the Prime Minister’s Office. The “actions of the Liberal Party in this nomination race are very clearly unfair, favouring one particular candidate, and are preventing the residents of Markham-Thornhill with a fair chance to exercise their democratic right to nominate a candidate of their choice,” one rival said in a statement.

Canada’s electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment, is advising the government, political parties and Elections Canada on the risks of hacking.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is in Washington meeting with governors and congressional leaders. She’s the first premier to make the trip since the Trump administration was sworn in.

Kevin O’Leary says he won’t appear at a fundraiser as he runs for leader of the Conservative party without raking in at least $50,000. “You can’t buy access to me. I am just raising money like every other candidate is,” he said.

And Kellie Leitch is drawing attention for an oddly edited video her campaign released.

U.S. NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW

After a chaotic first month in which he has picked a fight with nearly every institution in American politics, Donald Trump will address both houses of Congress for the first time today. Some in the White House are hoping that it will give the administration a chance for a reset. But the format, a sober set-piece address that has traditionally been highlighted by decorum, is a far-cry from his comfort zone, leaving many wondering what to expect.

The White House released the first details of its budget proposal, signalling that defence spending will be increased substantially while foreign aid and funding for the environment will be cut drastically.  The conversation on programs and funding is far from over, with representatives in both houses and on both sides of the aisle expected to offer their own versions before bargaining between the sides occurs. One thing is certain: Mr. Trump is on a collision course with his own party. And The Washington Post released an interactive tool that gives you a chance to balance the budget.

An ‘America First’ trade policy took one step closer to becoming a reality following the fairly smooth confirmation of billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as Commerce secretary. Mr. Ross, whose companies have shipped around 2,700 jobs overseas since 2004, will be in charge of renegotiating NAFTA. Despite his confirmation, question still remain about Mr. Ross’ business ties to Russian oligarchs close with Vladimir Putin, the latest connection between the Trump administration and Russia.

Mr. Trump's environment agency chief Scott Pruitt used a private email for state business while serving as Oklahoma’s attorney-general. During his Senate confirmation hearings he falsely said he had always used a state email account for government business.

And in an interview with NBC, former U.S. president George W. Bush defended the role of the media, criticized Mr. Trump’s immigration ban targeting citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, and highlighted the need for answers on the White House’s contacts with Russia.

LUNCHTIME LONG READ

The Washington Post sent a reporter and photographer to canvass Iowans about President Trump’s first month. “He’s got a lot of controversial stuff going on and rather than thinking it through, I’m afraid that he’s jumping into the frying pan with both feet,” one Iowan told them.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Margaret Wente (Globe and Mail): “No one knows if today’s migrant stream will turn into a flood. It’s still awfully hard to get to Canada illegally. But spring is coming. And asylum-seekers (along with human-smuggling networks) respond to market signals.”

Hugh Segal (Globe and Mail): “What many of the present Conservative leadership candidates seem keen to do is embrace the territory of divisive, wedge politics and seek support of the minority of folks who, whether because of fear, anger or resentment, may live there. That embrace speaks to the worst of Canadian politics, right, centre or left. Playing politics with the Islamophobia motion in the House of Commons is as mean-spirited as it is self-destroying.”

Andrew Coyne (National Post): “In its present form, moreover, with its contempt not just for experts but for the whole notion of expertise, populism has degraded into something closer to nihilism. Skepticism of received opinion has curdled into automatic rejection of anything experts know or believe, or that the media reports: an ordinary alertness to the ways a reporter can get things wrong or the leanings of a particular outlet has been replaced by a childish belief that ‘the media,’ all of it, is engaged in a one-sided conspiracy to deceive the public, of which any story the reader does not like is taken as evidence.”

Rachel Giese (Chatelaine): “At issue is not an open, civil and respectful exchange of ideas. Rather, what the conservative free speech posse wishes to protect is the power to gin up hysteria and insult others, particularly people in minority groups, without consequence or criticism.”

Henry Mintzberg (Globe and Mail): “Bear in mind one clear message of the Trump, Brexit, Bernie Sanders and other votes: that a great many regular people are now prepared to act on the resentment they feel. The trouble is that, not knowing where to turn, many have vented their anger ineffectually. Mr. Trump may prove to be an awful choice for the people who elected him.”

Globe and Mail editorial board: “This appallingly sheltered millionaire is either ignorant of the ominous history of the term ‘enemy of the people,’ or is ignorant of the responsibility he holds as President, and chief defender of the U.S. Constitution, to differentiate his country from one where the leadership would use dangerously autocratic language.”

Jonathan Tobin (National Review): “The GOP knows that its fate in 2018 and beyond will be linked to whether public disapproval for Trump’s behavior and statements becomes so great that it overwhelms the advantages that ought to preserve their power in the next midterm. If Ryan fails on Obamacare and Trump’s antics become too great a liability, we might look back at the protests in the first month of the administration as the turning point that led to eventual Democratic victories.”

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Written by Chris Hannay and Mayaz Alam.

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