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Politics Briefing: Marijuana users celebrate and B.C. leaders debate

B.C. Premier Christy Clark, left; NDP Leader John Horgan, middle; and B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.

Jimmy Jeong, Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

CANADIAN POLITICS

If you see a haze of smoke float off Parliament Hill today, don't be alarmed: it's not a fire, just some lit spliffs. Today is April 20, or 4/20, the annual day celebrating cannabis culture, and with the Liberals' introduction last week of legislation legalizing recreational marijuana, potheads will have more to celebrate than usual this year. As happens annually, users are expected to gather on the lawn of Parliament today and light their joints at 4:20 p.m. No cabinet ministers, though, are expected to attend.

Meanwhile, in the Conservative leadership race, Kevin O'Leary says he backs the new law. "In order for the Conservative Party to be relevant, to actually build a platform that can remove Justin Trudeau from power in 2019, we have to have a very large tent," Mr. O'Leary told The Globe. Other candidates, such as Kellie Leitch, are against the bill, while some, like Maxime Bernier, prefer not to say.

China is pushing to accelerate free-trade talks with Canada. The two countries will sit down next week for five days for another round of exploratory talks.

Ontario will follow the lead of British Columbia in imposing measures to fight speculation by foreign investors in Canadian housing markets, in an attempt to slow down Toronto's skyrocketing real estate prices.

The Competition Bureau is warning about the dangers of collusion and bid-rigging in federal contracts, as the government ramps up spending on infrastructure by billions of dollars.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper is getting into venture capital.

A think-tank headed by Canada's first Parliamentary Budget Officer has offered the Liberals some fixes to their changing of the job, including giving the role a little more independence.

And focus groups raised a surprising concern with new Canadian banknotes: that Sir. John A. Macdonald's hair was a touch too unruly.

Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail) on the dairy industry: "For decades, Canadian politicians couldn't even consider a deal that touched supply management. Dairy farmers would fight tooth and nail, and they had influence in rural and semi-rural ridings, especially in Ontario and Quebec. Political parties all pledged to preserve it. But that political power is waning. There used to be more than 100,000 dairy farms in Canada, but by 2014 there were only 11,260, according to Statistics Canada."

Sandra Martin (Globe and Mail) on physician-assisted dying: "Maier-Clayton's suicide behooves the rest of us – at least those of us who believe in patient autonomy and think that medicine should be practiced in the best interest of patients – to respect the suffering of the mentally ill. We can't leave it to vote-wary politicians and risk-averse medical associations to campaign for an equitable MAID law."

Mark Kingwell (Globe and Mail) on CBC's The Story Of Us: "I did not appear in the first two episodes, but then I did fleetingly in the third. I remain in a state of anxiety about how later ones might feature my face saying things that will, inevitably, exclude someone or other. You can't say everything at once, alas, and anything you do say is bound to rub someone the wrong way."

B.C. ELECTION

The main party leaders will gather this morning for the first leaders' debate of the campaign. The event, which starts at 8:30 a.m. PT on radio station News1130, will feature BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark, NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver. Follow Globe reporter Ian Bailey on Twitter for highlights from the debate.

Much of the debate will focus on the parties' platforms and exactly how they plan to pay for their promises. The BC Liberals attempted to set the tone early by putting forward Mike de Jong, who has been finance minister since 2012, to deliver a budget-style takedown of the New Democrats' plans. Mr. de Jong claimed the budget has holes that add up to more than $6-billion, though the NDP brushed off the criticism as baseless fearmongering.

The Liberals have returned more than $174,000 in political donations amid a continuing scandal over the party's fundraising practices, which have fuelled a debate about the role of big money in politics and prompted an investigation by the RCMP. The Liberals and the NDP have been reviewing donations after a Globe and Mail investigation found lobbyists and corporate representatives had donated in their own names to the Liberals and then sought reimbursement from the companies they represent. Such donations are illegal. The Liberals had previously said they identified $93,000 of problematic donations, but that figure has now almost doubled. The NDP have returned $10,500 in contributions.

Vaughn Palmer (Vancouver Sun) on the platforms: "The numbers in the government's counter-attack were speculative to be sure. But the speculations were justified by specifics [NDP Leader John Horgan] and his party have not provided and/or matters not fully spelled out in the platform."

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter. 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. Let us know what you think.

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

The United States' booming tech industry seems to be surprisingly -- though cautiously -- embracing the Trump administration's latest immigration reforms, reports Tamsin McMahon, The Globe's new California correspondent.

French voters go to the polls this weekend for the first round of the presidential election. The race so far has been wildly unpredictable -- even more so, perhaps, than the U.S. election last year. The Globe's Paul Waldie lays out the main candidates, out of 11, and what's at stake. The international community is watching in particular the rise of far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

In Britain, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is relying on a rallying cry against the elites to win over voters and Theresa May is hoping to use the campaign to put her own stamp on the Conservative Party.

And Fox News has given Bill O'Reilly the boot after accusations of sexual harassment.

SECUREDROP

Did you know you can share information with Globe journalists with much more security and anonymity than traditional means? Read more about SecureDrop and encrypted communication.

NHL PLAYOFFS

The Ottawa Senators won and are now leading the Boston Bruins three games to one in the series; the Toronto Maple Leafs lost a tight 5-4 game against the Washington Capitals and the series is tied two apiece; and the Calgary Flames have been swept in four games by the Anaheim Ducks, and are the first team eliminated in this year's playoffs.

Written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa and James Keller in Vancouver.

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About the Author
Assistant editor, Ottawa

Chris Hannay is assistant editor in The Globe's Ottawa bureau and author of the daily Politics newsletter. Previously, he was The Globe and Mail's digital politics editor, community editor for news and sports (working with social media and digital engagement) and a homepage editor. More

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