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Politics Politics Briefing newsletter: House of Commons reports on harassment

Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Good morning,

When we think of the House of Commons, we think of the green-carpeted chamber where members of Parliament debate legislation (and, for an hour a day, yell at each other). For each of the 338 members, there are many more political staffers, as well as non-partisan support staff like clerks and librarians, who all help to keep the heart of our democracy beating. And as much as we expect a robust sparring in the chamber, outside of it, everyone deserves a respectful workplace.

The House reported this week that in the 2016-17 year, there were 19 official complaints of harassment. Most of those complaints were lodged by women, mostly against men. Of the 19 complaints, nine were made against MPs. Some complaints were resolved, and two were investigated and found to be "not substantiated." The House wouldn't elaborate on the nature of the complaints lodged against the MPs because, a spokesperson said, it could (somehow) be used to identify them.

But all this may not be the full story: as The Hill Times wrote earlier this year, there are many reasons why female staffers won't report sexual harassment in the workplace. And what happens when victims do go public? The Coast, in Halifax, shared the harrowing story this week of a woman who says she was abandoned by the Nova Scotia Liberals (for whom she used to work), after her staffer partner pleaded guilty to assaulting her. The partner was fired by the Liberals...then quietly rehired months later. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the man deserved a "second chance."

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa 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. Let us know what you think.

CANADIAN HEADLINES

The U.S. lumber lobby says Canada's $867-million in aid for the softwood industry is just more government subsidies -- the kind that fueled the original trade dispute that led to the need for federal aid in the first place. "Canada is standing up to the U.S.," Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Thursday.

The military says it will scale back the use of mefloquine for treating malaria, after concerns of long-term health impairment. The Forces say their studies still do not turn up evidence of the drug causing harm, though veterans insist it is a source of long-term brain damage.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the government is working to get two Canadian winery owners released from Chinese detention.

Quebec sent two shots at Ottawa yesterday, neither of which the Liberal government says it intends to pay attention to: on reopening the Constitution or giving provinces special provisions in the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the Liberals' process for appointing Madeleine Meilleur as Official Languages Commissioner is a "dumpster fire."

There appears to be an 8,000-vote discrepancy in just how many people voted in the narrowly-won Conservative leadership race, which the party is blaming on "human error."

And the Prime Minister will make an appearance on daytime TV on Monday, as a guest on Live with Kelly and Ryan. The show is filming from Niagara Falls, Ont., and will also feature an appearance by Tatiana Maslany of the science-fiction hit Orphan Black.

Alicia Elliott (The Globe and Mail) on the legacy of residential schools: "If you're willing to accept that all Canadians don't always agree, it shouldn't be that hard to accept that the same holds for Indigenous peoples. Residential school survivors have always been able to speak for themselves. The problem is that Canadians haven't always been willing to listen."

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on corporate subsidies to aircraft makers: "Not all subsidies are illegal under international trade law. After its subsidies to Bombardier were successfully challenged more than a decade ago by Brazil's Embraer, Ottawa restructured aid programs in the aerospace sector to withstand trade complaints. Hence, federal loans to Bombardier that cover research and development expenses are not considered illegal."

Supriya Dwivedi (Global News) on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer: "Criticism of Scheer is not based on his Catholicism, but his voting record and his own statements. It's fair to say that the criticism of Scheer will ultimately be rendered moot, as he himself has stated that he is apparently able to separate himself from his religion in order to move the party forward and ultimately be viable to win the next election. Indeed, Scheer has asserted that he has no interest in re-opening civil rights issues such as marriage equality and a woman's right to choose."

David Reevely (Ottawa Citizen) on the government-funded tour of a giant rubber duck: "We've collectively decided that festivals are something we're willing to spend public money on because they're good for tourism, they make people happy and it's important to mark anniversaries. Having made that decision, insisting that we only spend money on the same snoozes we've always spent money on makes no sense."

B.C. UPDATE

B.C.'s NDP leader
and prospective premier says he plans to follow through on a campaign promise to travel to Washington to press the province's interests in the softwood lumber dispute. But John Horgan is not saying whether he will adopt Premier Christy Clark's recent calls for retaliation by targeting thermal coal exports through British Columbia. Ms. Clark, who remains premier but is likely to fall in a confidence vote next month, has called on Ottawa to ban thermal coal exports and has promised to impose a tax if that doesn't happen. Now those measures are in doubt. It's not clear when Mr. Horgan plans to visit the U.S. capital or who intends to meet when he's there.

When the B.C. NDP and Greens released their power sharing agreement, notably absent was any detail on what they plan to do about the housing market. Housing was a major issue in the election campaign, with both parties promising measures to boost supply and target speculators. But they differed on who to tax: the NDP want to tax owners who don't pay income tax in B.C. while the Greens want to impose a steep tax on foreign buyers at the time of purchase. The NDP say they'll press ahead with their speculation tax, first applying it at a rate of two per cent in Vancouver, and they'll talk with the Greens about other measures. Regardless, both parties say they're largely aligned on what they believe the problems are — and how to fix them.

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta and B.C.: "Today, relations between Alberta and B.C. are about as bad as they've ever been. And they are possibly about to get even worse."

GLOBE TALKS

Are you a Globe reader in Toronto? On June 7, we are hosting a live panel discussion called "Globe Talks: NAFTA in Play," on the future of trade with our biggest partner. It features Globe journalists Barrie McKenna and Joanna Slater with experts Dan Ciuriak, Laura Dawson and Michael Kergin. Click here for details and tickets.

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES

The United States, the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, will no longer honour the Paris climate-change accord, President Donald Trump says. It will take four years for the country to actually withdraw from the deal, however, and leaves it up to cities, states and businesses to find other ways to cut down on emissions that are contributing to global warming. The withdrawal of the U.S. will also leave room for China to emerge as a world leader in addressing climate change, though that country suffers more acutely from severe air pollution.

Former FBI director James Comey will testify in the Senate as early as next week.

And the Economist has made a surprising endorsement in the British election: the Liberal Democrats. The British-based magazine, a staunch proponent of free trade, says the leading Conservative and Labour parties are too protectionist under their current leaders and the shadow of Brexit.

Bill McKibben (New York Times) on the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Paris accord: "It's a stupid and reckless decision — our nation's dumbest act since launching the war in Iraq. But it's not stupid and reckless in the normal way. Instead, it amounts to a thorough repudiation of two of the civilizing forces on our planet: diplomacy and science. It undercuts our civilization's chances of surviving global warming, but it also undercuts our civilization itself, since that civilization rests in large measure on those two forces."

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the case for optimism: "Governments, businesses and individuals act in their own self-interest. As the consequences of climate change become more apparent each year, and as the economic attractiveness of renewable energy and energy conservation increases, people, businesses and governments rationally decide to go green – not because it's the right thing to do, but because it's the smart thing."

Barrie McKenna says Canada's trade fights over lumber and Bombardier's aircraft may score points at home, but at what cost against the rest of trade with the U.S.?
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