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By Chris Hannay (@channay)
Ottawa may have gotten a taste of the sarlacc pit yesterday, and it's not the only bit of Star Wars business going on in Ottawa.
According to ethics disclosures, Justin Trudeau was given a copy of "The Force Awakens" script – the seventh Star Wars movie, released last year – signed by writer/director J.J. Abrams. U.S. President Barack Obama gave Mr. Trudeau (a big fan of the sci-fi franchise) the gift, along with a sculpture, a photograph and toys for the children, during the state visit to Washington in March.
Mr. Trudeau and his family gave the Obamas a sculpture and indigenous clothing.
The personal touch of this particular gift is no doubt a sign of how close the two world leaders are. Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Obama will see each other again at the end of the month, when the President comes to town for the North American Leaders' Summit in Ottawa on June 29. Mr. Obama is expected to address parliamentarians while he's in town.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IN OTTAWA
> The Senate has voted to remove the provision in the Liberals' assisted-dying bill that patients must be near death – a change so significant that the legislation will be sent back to the House of Commons, with little sign the two chambers can ultimately agree on a bill. Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia have joined Alberta in issuing clear directives that physicians involved in the now-legal procedure will not be prosecuted.
> China needs to change the way it treats journalists, the Prime Minister says, after the country's foreign minister berated a Canadian reporter in Ottawa recently. However, in a Chinese-language opinion piece, Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan seemed to defend the Chinese record on human rights.
> A special committee of Liberal ministers is carefully studying the question of which fighter jets Canada should buy, with options to be presented soon to the full cabinet.
> The Liberals will finally introduce a long-promised spy-oversight bill in days, the Ottawa Citizen is reporting.
> Municipalities are testing new modelling software to help them adapt to rising flood risks, and the program comes from none other than the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which is trying to mitigate its own rising payouts. (for subscribers)
> Newfoundland and Labrador: A filibuster on the province's budget that began on Monday afternoon is into hits fourth day, and protesters were thrown out of public galleries yesterday. Separately, the Liberals say they will introduce a provincial "sunshine list" – disclosure of the highest of public salaries – with legislation this fall.
> Alberta: Fire fighters who came from South Africa to help with the Fort McMurray blaze have gone on strike, saying they aren't being paid enough.
> Saskatchewan: Premier Brad Wall says the energy industry is facing an "existential threat" from oil activists.
WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT
Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "Buying two half-fleets is more expensive and less efficient than buying a full fleet. An "interim," stopgap order for a few planes tends to lock in the final decision. Once you have, say, 20 Super Hornets, it's far cheaper to complete the fleet by buying 45 more of the same plane than it is to pick another plane. The independent panel that reviewed the previous government's decision to buy F-35s came to clear conclusions that for Canada, with a small air force and varied missions, a mixed fleet would be a waste." (for subscribers)
Gordon Gibson (Globe and Mail): "Ottawa has to say yes or no to Kinder Morgan by next December. What to do? Here's the political problem: The pipeline ends up in Burnaby, B.C., near the head of Burrard Inlet. Large tankers have to transit two tidal narrows to get from there to the open sea. The people of Greater Vancouver have been pretty well convinced that extra traffic is a terrible risk. They have been much influenced by two mayors, dour Derek Corrigan of Burnaby and the handsome [Gregor] Robertson of Vancouver. The current Liberal government has 15 local MPs that they would rather keep. The New Democrats are ferociously opposed. Local aboriginal groups take the same view. Feelings are high. How will Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finesse this one?"
Susan Delacourt (iPolitics): "Many members of the public cringe at the prospect of cozy dealings between politicians and the press in Ottawa. The pop culture panel on CBC Radio's Q show Wednesday morning picked up on that theme, with more than one panelist suggesting that Canadian journalists are all too friendly with the politicos in Ottawa, especially with the current guy in the PMO. They asked how these social events serve voters or consumers of political media. Good question. Well, first of all, I think we should dispense with the idea that these gatherings are a break from business on the Hill. They're work for all those attending, from both sides of the political-media divide."
Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star): "The Conservatives believe the first-past-the-post system serves their party best. In the face of overwhelming popular pressure for a referendum, they figure Trudeau would abandon his bid to change the voting system rather than put it to a pan-Canadian vote. They may well be right. The option of a national referendum is a can of worms that any moderately sane government would think twice before opening."
Andrew Coyne (National Post): "Senators are vowing to rewrite Bill C-14, federal legislation legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, from top to bottom, and refusing to pass the bill until their amendments are accepted by the Commons. An excited Sen. George Baker predicts "this could go on forever." The bill may have passed the House of Commons by a vote of 186 to 137, but what are the wishes of MPs or the public which elected them compared to those of people who once contributed to the Liberal party or kept quiet about a Conservative scandal?"
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