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Politics Briefing: Doug Ford is new leader of Ontario Tories

Doug Ford and Jag Badwal, head of the provincial Progressive Conservatives, react in Markham, on March 10, 2018.

Fred Thornhill/REUTERS

Good morning,

Doug Ford, former city councillor and brother of former controversial Toronto mayor Rob Ford, is the new leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives. The win was not easy – disputed ballots dragged out counting on Saturday, and it appears that Mr. Ford did not win the popular vote of party members nor a majority in the most ridings. (He did, however, win the points system the party uses to select its leader.)

With polls showing big leads for the Ontario PCs heading into the June 7 election, there is a good chance that Mr. Ford could become the province's next premier. However, given how past Ontario elections have played out, predicting the winner before the actual vote takes place is probably a mug's game.

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This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa, Mayaz Alam in Toronto and James Keller in Vancouver. If you're reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

Editor's note: the Politics Briefing newsletter on Thursday, March 8, said there has been just one female Speaker of the Senate, Muriel McQueen Fergusson. In fact, there have been two: Ms. Fergusson was followed by Renaude Lapointe in 1974.

CANADIAN HEADLINES

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada will not allow the threat of steel and aluminum tariffs to throw off talks about the North American free-trade agreement. "This episode has not changed our NAFTA negotiation position," she said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will spend the day in Quebec visiting plants and workers in the aluminum industry.

Liberal MPs from rural ridings expressed concern about the party's upcoming gun legislation at a recent caucus meeting, the Hill Times reports. MPs told the paper that Mr. Trudeau was "vitriolic" in his response to their concerns.

The Stoney Nakoda First Nations are seeking to become Indigenous Guardians of the Banff national park, encouraged by new funding in the Liberals' recent budget for Indigenous communities to lead conservation projects.

Alberta's threat to restrict or block oil shipments to B.C. and potentially other provinces related to the ongoing fight over the Trans Mountain pipeline has prompted fears it could hurt the industry and prompt legal challenges. Premier Rachel Notley says she'll introduce legislation that will allow the government to use oil exports to dissuade other provinces from getting in the way.

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Opponents and supporters of the pipeline held rallies in the Vancouver region over the weekend to both advocate for and against the Trans Mountain pipeline. Read more about why people on both sides came out.

And some communities that depend on the RCMP for their municipal policing say they're rethinking their relationship with the national police force, especially with the potential that unioniation could drive up costs.

Shachi Kurl (The Globe and Mail) on what comes next in Ontario: "That candidates often defy the odds bears reminding. Christy Clark's political comeback in 2013 is legendary. Greg Selinger recovered from an insurmountable deficit in 2011, to say nothing of the Ontario Liberals' own ability to pull rabbits out of hats, twice. If there is one thing we've learned, elections have become less like the long-distance running Ms. Wynne excels at, where endurance, experience and a large lead favour the winner, and more like the Ford family's beloved football, where anything can happen in the last 10 minutes of play. Game on."

Lori Turnbull (The Globe and Mail) on the PCs: "The party needs a strategy for, literally, keeping it together. Mr. Ford must make clear his genuine desire to build a team around him and to strike a positive, constructive tone with caucus members, who just want to put this whole thing behind them and get to the business of campaigning and, perhaps, governing. If the party itself is divided by Mr. Ford's victory, it can't expect Ontario to make him its premier."

Marcus Gee (The Globe and Mail) on Doug being Doug: "Remember what everyone said when Mr. Trump won his famous victory. He may mellow with time. He may become more presidential once he bears the burden of office. The apparatus of government will keep him in line. Cooler, cleverer heads around him will prevail. They said the same sorts of things when Rob Ford came to office. They will no doubt say the same things as his handlers polish and burnish Doug into something that looks like a possible premier. Don't believe it for a second. Just as Donald will always be Donald, Doug will be Doug."

Adam Radwanski (The Globe and Mail) on higher stakes: "Now, courtesy of Doug Ford winning the pre-election contest to replace Mr. Brown at the Tories' helm, the election promises to be something much more important: a referendum on whether Ontarians are prepared to embrace a style of government more visceral and unpredictable and resistant to political and institutional norms than any they have had before."

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Chris Selley (National Post) on Doug Ford as leader: "But members will get over a screwed-up convention. June 7 is a long way away. And there is no reason Ford can't win. He ran a relatively calm, measured campaign. He stuck to his talking points. On occasions when the campaign was said to get "ugly," it certainly wasn't ugly by Ford's standards."

Robyn Urback (CBC) on the next election: "If there's one thing the Liberals know how to do, it's how to run a laser-sharp attack campaign. Unfortunately for the PCs, out of all of the possible candidates, Ford provides the most ammunition."

Globe and Mail Editorial Board on supply management: "Free trade's benefits are spread widely across society, but it leaves pockets of victims, too. Ending supply management abruptly risks being a prime example of that. But by doing it generously, Canada could show voters at home and abroad that it's possible to have globalization with a human face."

Clint Davis, Jessica Shadian and Mead Treadwell (The Globe and Mail) on the Arctic: "In the 21st century, the question is whether the United States, Canada and Greenland, in co-operation with local and global investors, will seize the opportunity to imagine, build and finance our own long view for the North American Arctic. If we don't seize the moment, we may watch from the shoreline as the rest of the world forges ahead in making the Arctic a global trade route, linking Europe and Asia while passing us by."

Margaret Wente (The Globe and Mail) on the opioid crisis: "Naloxone is no magic bullet. The overwhelming lesson of the opioid crisis is how intractable it is. There are no quick wins and no easy fixes. Another example: when the formulation of OxyContin was changed to make it more tamper-resistant, opioid-related deaths did not decline, as expected. People just switched to heroin."

Richard Poplak (The Globe and Mail) on Export Development Canada: "When parliamentarians do the math, they'll find that Export Development Canada is the vast Death Star in the middle of the Canadian economy, lending money to companies that have behaved poorly abroad. It is destructive to both Canada's reputation, and its vaunted values. However inadvertently, EDC has become a vehicle for shunting millions, maybe billions, of clean Canadian cash into the very depths of the global dark economy. It's time to clip its invisible wings."

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney: "Before he came along, Ms. Notley eschewed angry, populist rhetoric. Now, she's become the master of it. She can't afford to look weak on this file. So if Mr. Kenney suggests using government dump trucks and road pavers to block the Trans-Canada Highway so semis from B.C. can't get to locales east of the Rockies, Ms. Notley has to propose using government dump trucks, road pavers and rented combines to do precisely the same. It's a game. Who can come up with the biggest threat? Who can best evoke tough-talking leaders of the past? Yes, there is a pipeline project resting in the balance here. But what's really at stake, what Ms. Notley and Mr. Kenney are really fighting over, is the future leadership of the province."

Help The Globe monitor political ads on Facebook: During an election campaign, you can expect to see a lot of political ads. But Facebook ads, unlike traditional media, can be targeted to specific users and only be seen by certain subsets of users, making the ads almost impossible to track. The Globe and Mail wants to report on how these ads are used, but we need to see the same ads Facebook users are seeing. Here is how you can help.

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES

Chinese President Xi Jinping is one step closer to lifetime rule, after the country's rubber stamp parliament approved changes to the constitution that abolished term limits. In the past five years Mr. Xi has fashioned the Communist Party in his image and has worked to return China to a strongman state. The constitutional amendments are just the latest changes from Mr. Xi to China, which now calls itself a "democratic dictatorship." One thing it's doing to cement Mr. Xi's unparalleled status in the country: stepping up internet censorship of criticism of the leader.

China says that it will not start a trade war with the U.S., but says that it will "resolutely defend the interests" of its people. "There are no winners in a trade war, and it would bring disaster to our two countries as well as the rest of the world," Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan said.

There's another special election to watch in the U.S. and this time it's in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional district. The stakes could not be higher with a pivotal midterm election season looming in November and the makings of a Democratic wave growing. This district is one that voted overwhelmingly for U.S. President Donald Trump and Mitt Romney but recent opinion polls show the race to be a statistical tie. The district, in Pennsylvania's southwest, is in the heart of coal and steel country.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party, has proposed renaming the party the "National Rally" to help shed the party's image of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry. "Our goal is clear: power," Ms. Le Pen told the party faithful in a speech that denounced immigration, globalization and the European Union. The party also said it is cutting all ties to its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, Ms. Le Pen's father.

And some Israeli politicians are speculating that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to dodge corruption probes currently targeting him by calling a snap election.

David Shribman (The Globe and Mail) on this week in Washington: "Everywhere in American politics, there is upheaval, and at the centre is President Donald Trump. This is the week Washington and the world will seek answers to some of the most vital and pressing questions prompted by Mr. Trump's ascendancy."

Antulio Rosales (The Globe and Mail) on Maduro and Venezuela: "The current economic crisis has been used as an opportunity to manipulate the poorest people's needs for political support and discipline. Contrary to the government rhetoric, Mr. Maduro's government has reduced or eliminated the policies of social protection. They have centered their social policy in a militarized food-distribution network geared toward political control."

Julia Rampen (The Globe and Mail) on Brexit and Scotland: "For now, though, the Scottish government's focus is on what it already has. The devolved nations are locked in a battle with the British government over where powers returning from Brussels should be located. The Scottish Parliament is expected to defy Westminster and vote to use its emergency powers to take direct control over fishing, agriculture and other repatriated powers. The dispute is likely to end up in court. And at this stage, perhaps the judges and constitutional technicalities are the Scottish Parliament's best hope. Scots have long known that a bigger neighbour, however unsavoury, is likely to get its way in the political boxing ring. In that way, at least, Scotland is just like Canada."

Lisa Gabriele (The Globe and Mail) on Hope Hicks: "Who is she? Why does she remain silent? Now that she knows the truth about him, will she betray him? These questions continue to swirl around U.S. President Donald Trump's former communications director, Hope Hicks, after her quietly devastating exit from the White House."

Wenran Jiang (The Globe and Mail) on Trump and Kim: "The United States, on the other hand, has been unable to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power after decades of alternating between sanctions and negotiations. If Mr. Trump is to reverse what he calls the failed policies of his predecessors, he should now seriously consider giving Pyongyang what it wants, something reasonable by international standards. This means that Washington must stop pursuing military solutions, halt joint military exercises in the region, give up the temptation of regime change, be ready to negotiate peace and give North Korea diplomatic recognition. This will face resistance from hawks of the U.S. military-industrial complex, and suspicion from those who do not trust the North Korean regime for good reasons."

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