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Politics Politics Briefing newsletter: Scaramucci fired as White House communications director

Good morning,

In 1987, Ronald Reagan's Director of Communications Jack Koehler resigned after 11 days in the White House. It was discovered that he had been part of a Nazi youth group. Mr. Koehler's tenure still outlasted that of Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired yesterday after only 10 days as communications director. Hours after being sworn in as U.S. President Donald Trump's new chief of staff, John Kelly reportedly asked for Mr. Scaramucci's removal. "The Mooch," as Mr. Scaramucci is nicknamed, came under fire last week after making profane comments to The New Yorker about his colleagues in the West Wing. White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said Mr. Trump "felt that Anthony's comments were inappropriate for a person in that position."

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Mayaz Alam and Eleanor Davidson 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. Let us know what you think.

CANADIAN HEADLINES

The Trudeau government is facing criticism from opposition parties and human-rights activists over the apparent use of Canadian-made armoured vehicles by the Saudi Arabian government against its own citizens. The Conservatives, NDP and the Greens are all calling on the government to suspend its arms exports to Saudi Arabia while a review of export regulations is undertaken.

Indigenous advocates are condemning the Prime Minister for how he described Senator Patrick Brazeau during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. The cover story in the magazine's latest issue refers to Prime Minister Trudeau's 2012 charity boxing match with  Mr. Brazeau, who he describes as a "scrappy tough-guy senator from an indigenous community." Mr. Trudeau says that image served as a "very nice counterpoint" to his own persona. Cindy Blackstock, a First Nations children's advocate and social work professor at McGill University, says Mr. Trudeau's comments reinforce negative stereotypes about Indigenous people.

The Prime Minister is encouraging Canadians to donate to the Red Cross to support the B.C. wildfire relief effort — but the federal government is not matching those donations as it has in previous disasters. Ottawa dispatched the Canadian Forces, and said it would donate an amount equal to what the Red Cross has been providing to evacuees. During last year's Fort McMurray wildfire, Ottawa committed to matching individual donations to the Red Cross. That hasn't happened for the B.C. wildfire situation (or any disaster on Canadian soil, other than Fort McMurray). Mr. Trudeau says the government is focused on finding the best way to directly help evacuees. Mr. Trudeau joined B.C. Premier John Horgan yesterday in the community of Williams Lake, where 10,000 residents were kept from their homes for two weeks due to fires burning nearby.

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark says she's done with public life as she prepares to step down as Liberal Party leader at the end of this week. Ms. Clark says it was clear to her that it's the right time to pick a new leader, since she doesn't think there will be a snap election soon. She's also stepping down as MLA, giving the minority NDP government extra breathing room in the legislature. Ms. Clark appeared in public yesterday for the first time since announcing her resignation last week and quipped to reporters: "I guess I'll never see any of you ever again."

Two prominent ministers in different provinces resigned yesterday: Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray is stepping down so he can head up the Pembina Institute, a clean energy think tank, while Newfoundland and Labrador Finance Minister Cathy Bennett resigned for "numerous personal reasons."

A report prepared by the City of Calgary is raising the alarm about the potential financial impact of hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics, and says a bid should only proceed if certain conditions are met. The city is currently weighing whether to bid for the Games, which would cost billions of dollars of taxpayer money to pay for venues, housing and security. In particular, the city report says hosting the Olympics could add to the city's debt, which is already expected to increase due to a $4.65-billion transit project. The report says the city needs assurances that the provincial and federal governments will cough up money for construction and security, and that the finances would be arranged in a way that would limit the strain on the city's books.

And Jagmeet Singh led all candidates in the NDP leadership race in second quarter fundraising. Mr. Singh, the last person to enter the contest to replace Tom Mulcair, raised $353,944 since launching his bid in mid-May. The figure is more than what all the other candidates raised combined from April through June. 

Michael Byers (The Globe and Mail) on Saudi Arabia: "The government of Justin Trudeau has played it both ways on foreign policy, speaking grandly about human rights while chasing economic opportunities with autocratic regimes. But now, with videos apparently showing Canadian-made armoured vehicles being used to crush civilian protests in Saudi Arabia, it has to make a choice. Does the government really care about human rights? Or do economic interests have priority?"

Dennis Darby (The Globe and Mail) on NAFTA: "For Canada's manufacturing sector – the top player in this, or any other trade agreement – one matter should be made perfectly clear before the talks start: Chapter 19, the dispute-settlement mechanism that decides the rights and wrongs of trade disagreements, cannot be eliminated."

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Christy Clark's resignation: "While the majority of the caucus stood behind her, Ms. Clark, as savvy a political operator as they come, could sense trouble on the horizon, especially the longer the NDP was able to govern. She said she took a 'walk along the water' last Thursday evening and along the way "my head caught up with my heart." The next morning she informed her caucus of her decision."

Susan Delacourt (Toronto Star) on Julie Payette's past: "Much has since been written about how and whether these incidents are relevant to Payette's new job. But there's been less talk about whether it is a good idea — or even possible — to try to scrub or "expunge" events from the official (or unofficial) record...The Payette story actually provides a good occasion to sit back and reflect on a whole range of questions about the nature of memory in the digital age. Issues around what "sticks" these days — in the public mind and in the official record — are at the heart of that controversy."

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES

After a deadly election this weekend, Venezuela's socialist government will overhaul the country's political system. In response, the U.S. is imposing financial sanctions on high-ranking Venezuelan officials, including President Nicolás Maduro. The Trump administration backed away from earlier threats to sanction Venezuela's oil industry, for fearing of raising American gas prices. Venezuela's government is claiming voter turnout was over 40 per cent. However, pre-election polls indicated that 85 per cent of Venezuelans disapproved of Mr. Maduro's plans to cement his party's power by creating a new constituent assembly. The assembly will start governing within the week, and will effectively turn Venezuela into a single-party state.

Today, over 9,000 Syrian opposition fighters and their relatives will be transferred from Lebanon's border region back to rebel-held territory in Syria. The transfer is in exchange for eight Hezbollah prisoners. Iran-backed Hezbollah is a Lebanese militant group, and has supported Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria for the duration of the country's civil war. The deal, brokered by Lebanon, is the first time Syrian opposition fighters have been allowed to return to Syria.

Qatar filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization yesterday to challenge a trade boycott put in place against the Gulf nation by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The states cut ties with Qatar in early June, citing national security motives. They accused Qatar of financing militant groups in Syria and working with Iran, a fierce regional rival of all three countries. Qatari officials said the boycott is creating "coercive attempts at economic isolation." The WTO complaint process triggered a 60-day deadline for the dispute to be settled.

And Wikileaks published a searchable archive on Monday of over 21,o00 emails from French President Emmanuel Macron's campaign this spring. Wikileaks would not say how the documents were obtained, but the move to convert the documents — originally published in May — to a database will make it easier to search the archive. Mr. Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) party said in a statement "under the guise of novelty, WikiLeaks is taking over as its own the destabilisation operation from May."

Paul Mason (The Guardian) on democracy in 2017: "Let's be brutal: democracy is dying. And the most startling thing is how few ordinary people are worried about it. Instead we compartmentalise the problem. Americans worried about the present situation typically worry about Trump – not the pliability of the most fetishised constitution in the world to kleptocratic rule. EU politicians express polite diplomatic displeasure, as Erdoğan's AK party machine attempts to degrade their own democracies. As in the early 1930s, the death of democracy always seems to be happening somewhere else."

Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post) on John Kelly and the Mooch: "Right now, Trump needs Kelly a whole lot more than Kelly needs the job. That gives Kelly unusual leverage with the president. That influence may not last, but as Trump teeters on the brink of political self-immolation, Kelly might be able to convince Trump that this is his last chance to turn things around. Firing Scaramucci is a good start for Kelly. Scaramucci's hiring, however, should serve as a road map to root out dim advisers, poor decision-making and contempt for expertise."

Daniel Hannan (New York Times) on the future of Brexit: "If you want a picture of Britain's future relationship with the European Union, think of Canada's with the United States. Canadians have a type of federation on their doorstep that they decline to join, but with which they enjoy the closest possible diplomatic, military and economic ties. Two years from now, in a similar vein, the European Union will have lost a bad tenant and gained a good neighbor.

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