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The Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 4, 2015, as Governor General David Johnston delivers the speech from the throne . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickSean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Good morning,

It's about to get a whole lot quieter in the nation's capital, with both the House of Commons and the Senate rising for the summer. There are rumours swirling that the Liberals will prorogue this session of Parliament and that MPs will return to a new session in the fall. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will then give a new Speech from the Throne that will outline the government's priorities for the second half of their mandate.

The recess may also see Mr. Trudeau shuffle his cabinet. So far during their time in power, the Liberals have passed fewer bills than the previous Harper majority did through a similar point in their mandate. Despite this, they have had a wide-ranging impact on economic and social policy as well as Canada's foreign policy.

From assisted-dying and budget deficits to free trade and national security, The Globe's John Ibbitson breaks down what the Trudeau government has done to date and where their agenda will pick back up in the fall. 

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Mayaz Alam in Toronto, with 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.


The Senate and the House went toe to toe on the Liberal government's budget bill and the Red Chamber backed down. The implementation of the massive funding legislation was in question until Senators ultimately decided 50-33 to pass it. Earlier, Senators attempted to separate the proposed infrastructure bank from the budget bill before turning their attention to alcohol taxes.

Advocates for a bill that would target human-rights abusers in Russia are sounding the alarm that the Kremlin may attempt to derail the piece of legislation, which didn't receive royal assent before Parliament rose for the summer.

Speaking of potential Russian interference, Mr. Trudeau said the federal government is taking the threat of Russia influencing Canadian elections and democracy seriously. Mr. Trudeau also said "there's no need for a Plan B" when it comes to renegotiating NAFTA. The comments were made at an event hosted by The New York Times in Toronto.

"The fact that the minister mentioned Ashley's name is so disappointing and so upsetting," Dawna Ward, whose sister Ashley Smith died in an Ontario jail cell after more than 1,000 days in solitary confinement, told The Globe. Earlier this week, the Trudeau Liberals announced a major reform to how prisons in Canada will handle solitary confinement, limiting the amount of time an individual can spend in segregation to 15 days.

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the new Senate: "Unlike some other Westminster-based democracies, Canadian members of Parliament have been so cowed into submission by the party whips they no longer have any real autonomy. Premiers sometimes act as a brake, but only in extreme cases that have at times put the very survival of the federation at risk. We should think of this new, improved Senate as a jury, another institution of our democracy that is not elected, but that has, for centuries, responsibly wielded enormous power."

Tabatha Southey (The Globe and Mail) on Langevin Block: "Nothing threatens our culture more than refusing change; toppling statues is one of our traditions, and history is renaming. If you've spent any of the past week whining about the renaming of Langevin Block, you better have done so as a proud citizen of Turtle Island."

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young (The Globe and Mail) on Ottawa and journalism: "The Heritage Committee acknowledged that Canada has the highest levels of media concentration of any major comparable country, but the recommendations do little to cultivate the conditions for a multiplicity of media and new journalism forms that we know are emerging."

B.C. Update

B.C.'s Liberal government has put forward a Throne Speech that includes a wholesale redesign of the party's election platform – and which has almost zero chance of being implemented. Read by Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, it proposes an array of expensive promises, including $1-billion to reform the daycare system and aggressive restrictions on political donations. The speech is a clear attempt to appeal to the NDP and Greens, which are preparing to defeat the government in a confidence vote next week. NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver clearly enjoyed taking credit for the ideas in the Throne Speech, but they say it's not changing their plan to take power.

The new policies in the Throne Speech include a rent-to-own program designed to help renters move into home ownership, particularly in the Vancouver region's tight housing market. The program would apply to 50,000 new housing units the Liberals say would be built over 10 years. The Liberals say they also want to change how transit is funded by dropping a requirement that mayors hold a referendum before they look for new ways to raise money.

The issue of the Speaker has been solved – at least for now. Former Liberal cabinet minister Steve Thomson will fill the role ahead of the confidence vote, removing the need to have an NDP fill the role and be forced to break a tie. But Mr. Thomson has suggested it would be up to the NDP to find a Speaker if they form government. That would put the standings in the legislature effectively at a tie, with the Speaker routinely casting the deciding vote.

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on the Liberal Throne Speech: "Surely the biggest danger their strategy poses is to their credibility. Will voters trust a party that just reversed course on so many policy fronts? In many instances, the hypocrisy is breathtaking."


After keeping fellow lawmakers and Americans in the dark, Republican leaders introduced the long-awaited Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Four Republicans have signalled opposition to the bill as it currently stands and things are expected to move quickly. For those of you that are interested in health-care policy, Vox has broken down what the proposed legislation means. 

U.S. President Donald Trump says he didn't record conversations with former FBI director James Comey. Mr. Trump had threatened that he had tapes of their interactions in order to dispute Mr. Comey's accounts of Mr. Trump's behaviour in various meetings.

In the latest move in Brexit negotiations, British Prime Minister Theresa May told European leaders that EU citizens who have lived in the U.K. for at least five years will have equal rights on everything from health care to education.

Carl Mortished (The Globe and Mail) on France and Britain changing places: "Only a year ago, France was the sick old European power, beaten down by unemployment and low growth. More important, it seemed to have no way out, given former president François Hollande's unwillingness to undertake economic reforms. Britain seemed the dynamic alternative: adventurous, entrepreneurial and ready to risk all in a free-trading venture outside of the EU, which was often portrayed as a sclerotic, stifling bureaucracy that was incapable of reform. Everything seems to have changed." (for subscribers)

Clio Chang (New Republic) on responsibility and the welfare state: "The right argues that poor people are living in poverty because of their individual failings. In response, the left insists that in fact a historically racist system, bad education, segregated housing, and stagnating wages are to blame. The debate revolves around the idea of whether or not someone can be held personally responsible for their outcomes: The right argues that most people can be held responsible, while the left answers that most people cannot. The left is correct in pointing out the overwhelming evidence that shows the huge role that structural issues play. But their failure lies in agreeing to engage with these terms at all."

The prime minister has called U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweeting a “new wrinkle in international diplomacy.” Justin Trudeau made the comment during a Q-and-A session Thursday with the New York Times in Toronto.

The Canadian Press

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