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Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 8, 2016. Photo by Blair Gable (Blair Gable For The Globe and Mail)
Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 8, 2016. Photo by Blair Gable (Blair Gable For The Globe and Mail)

Politics Briefing

Judge urges Ottawa to look into mefloquine Add to ...

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By Chris Hannay (@channay)

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING

> The former head of the inquiry into the Somalia Affair says it is worth looking into the role mefloquine, an antimalarial drug, played among Canadian troops who took it.

> In other drug news, the federal government has gone from spending $400,000 to $20-million on medical marijuana for veterans in just the past three years, Vice reports.

> A Crimean activist, who says he endured two years of torture, is urging Canada to do all it can to slow Russian aggression against Ukraine. The Trudeau government, for the first time since the election, sent a Canadian official to Russia for a high-level talk about the situations in Ukraine and Syria.

> A Canadian held in Chinese jail says she was coerced into giving a bribery confession.

> Journalists say they need more protection from police.

> Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose says Justin Trudeau is spending too much time with billionaires, and that the Liberal infrastructure plan will give too much control to foreign investors.

> The NDP say they now favour a national referendum on electoral reform.

> A Liberal MP in B.C. is urging the Trudeau government not to approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

> Former Republican presidential aspirant Rick Santorum told an Ottawa audience last night that they have nothing to fear from the new President. “When Trump talks about ripping up NAFTA, Trump is not thinking of Canada, he’s thinking of Mexico,” the former senator said. Any changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement will be small, the Liberals say.

> The Royal Canadian Geographic Society is recommending the government name the gray jay as Canada’s national bird.

> And James Cowan, former leader of the Liberal senators, says he is not happy with how Mr. Trudeau has shaken up the chamber. “We are not a new layer of the civil service with Senator Harder at our head. We are not a $90-million debating club. We are not a council of elders. We are not some sort of advisory panel. We are one of the two chambers of Canada's Parliament, a foundational political institution that is independent of the elected House of Commons and independent of the government,” he told CBC.

A DIRTY WORD

Just what can a member say in the House? “Fuddle duddle” may be too far, but the line was newly tested with this exchange on Tuesday. Here is an abridged transcript from Hansard.

Calgary MP Michelle Rempel, speaking to a weakened economy in Alberta: Why is the government not talking about how to retain skilled labour? Why is the infrastructure minister not talking about how to implement infrastructure funds and get construction workers back to work in Alberta? Why does the government treat Alberta like a fart in the room that nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge? That is where my constituents have been with the present government for over a year. We are tired of it.

B.C. MP Elizabeth May, rising on a point of order: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I hate to interrupt my friend in her speech, but I heard her say a word that I know is distinctly unparliamentary, and I think she may want to withdraw it. The word was f-a-r-t.

Ms. Rempel: Are you serious, Mr. Speaker? Is my colleague actually serious? I just gave an impassioned speech about supporting Alberta jobs, and that is what the leader of a political party stands and says? No, I do not withdraw it.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): “Diplomacy isn’t a reward for friends. It’s to protect interests, and nudge progress, and that means talking to troublemakers. This is a world where Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a willing spoiler, China is rising and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is a surprise package who questions the value of alliances, admires Mr. Putin and promises a me-first, unilateralist United States. There’s more reason for Canada to expand diplomacy and try to promote international rules.”

Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail): “There is no understating the significance of the anti-globalization backlash in U.S. and British politics. These aren’t just any two countries. The United States and Britain have been the guarantors of the international order since the Second World War. Their “special relationship” led to the end of the Cold War and the growth in world trade and investment flows that lifted living standards almost everywhere and ensured the global peace. When these two turn inward, the whole world must watch out. ”

Michael Byers (Globe and Mail): “The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, has just picked a fight with Donald Trump by signalling her intent to investigate U.S. personnel for torture. … Canada will be caught in the middle of this battle, as both a long-time champion of the ICC and a close ally of the United States, including in Afghanistan where the alleged crimes were committed. Our government needs to decide, and quickly, whether to dive for cover or defend international criminal law.”

Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star): “It is a testimony to the magnitude of the shift in the tectonic plates brought about by the U.S. outcome that there is not an international forum and precious few of the world’s capitals that are not scrambling to pick up the post-election pieces.”

Dan Delmar (Montreal Gazette): “Media echo chambers on both ends of the political spectrum are being duly credited by opposing forces with easing Trump’s ascension. Quebec, too, is home to a panoply of such echo chambers, even in mainstream media. The rhetoric contained within them may not be as dramatically tribal and hateful as those south of the border, but they do routinely disregard dissenting views, alienating and silencing political opponents.”

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