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Politics Briefing
 

January 22, 2022

 
Politics Briefing: Fate of 24 Sussex subject to consultations between PM, National Capital Commission
 

Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press

  Politics Briefing: Fate of 24 Sussex subject to consultations between PM, National Capital Commission
 

Ian Bailey

Hello,
 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says conversations are continuing with the National Capital Commission about the fate of 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of the prime minister.
 
The commission, a federal Crown corporation whose responsibilities include managing official residences, has raised concerns about the state of the property initially built in 1868, and refurbished as an official residence for the prime minister in 1950. There is a history of the residence here.
 
“We are in consultations. We are assessing our options. And when we will arrive at a decision, we will share it with you,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference on Friday.
 
Mr. Trudeau said the government is engaging with the capital commission and other experts to ensure there is a safe and stable environment for “prime ministers current and future” as well as the interests of Canadians.
 
Mr. Trudeau and his family have been living in Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall instead of 24 Sussex Drive since he led the Liberals to power in 2015.
 
“We know that 24 Sussex has been neglected by many generations of politicians and prime ministers over the years,” Mr. Trudeau said.
 
“Unfortunately, it is in a terrible condition.”
 
The Prime Minister said the property is an important, historic building but there are concerns about safety.
 
Asked if he would take a decision during this mandate, and whether he was concerned about criticism of renovating the prime minister’s residence and how much it might cost, Mr. Trudeau said he has no intention in living in 24 Sussex Drive regardless of how long he is Prime Minister.
 
This week, the CEO of the capital commission said, according to The Ottawa Citizen, that he has been stressing the need for repairs at Canada’s official residences, including 24 Sussex Drive, with federal officials.
 
The residence was listed as being in “critical” condition in a commission report last year, and requiring $36.6-million in work. The Citizen story is here.
 
 
 
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TODAY’S HEADLINES
 
CANADIAN LOAN FOR UKRAINE - Canada will lend Ukraine up to $120-million as Kyiv readies for possible war with Russia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday. Story here.
 
TRUDEAU VOWS ACTION ON PEOPLE SMUGGLING - Canada is doing all it can stop people smuggling across the U.S. border after a family of four froze to death in a “mind-blowing’ tragedy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. Story here.
 
CHAMPAGNE TO EXPLAIN MINE ACQUISITION - François-Philippe Champagne, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, will go before a federal committee as early as next week and answer questions about why Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is allowing the acquisition of Canadian lithium firm Neo Lithium Corp. by a state-owned Chinese mining company without conducting a formal security review.
 
EXPLANATION FOR CONFUSED STATEMENT - Turmoil and confusion over whether truckers would remain exempt from the vaccine mandate last week stemmed from bureaucrats misinterpreting policy in more than one federal agency – including the one that co-ordinates Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Story here.
 
HAITI MEETING ON FRIDAY - The U.S. State Department says it is looking forward to a productive meeting today when Central American leaders gather online with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly to talk about the future of Haiti. Story here. Meanwhile, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti is calling for a politically “inclusive accord” to address a deepening constitutional crisis following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Story here.
 
SASKATCHEWAN TO REDEPLOY GOVERNMENT WORKERS - The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it is looking at redeploying government employees from other departments to help the health-care system. Story here.
 
FUNDING FOR FIRST NATIONS OMICRON RESPONSE - Indigenous Services Canada says it will provide $125-million in public-health funding for First Nations to bolster their responses to the Omicron variant. Story here.
 
THIS AND THAT
 
The House of Commons has adjourned until Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. ET.
 
CANADA’S FINANCE MINISTERS TALK - Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, also the Finance Minister, is hosting a virtual meeting on Friday with provincial and territorial finance ministers.
 
THE DECIBEL – . In Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Future of Work reporter Vanmala Subramaniam tells us why the trend of hot-desking is gaining traction now. This is the idea that there are no assigned seats in an office. Instead, an employee books their spot through an app before coming in. Ms. Subramaniam also talks about what workers told her about their experience with hot-desking and how hot-desking will transform post-pandemic office life. The Decibel is here.
 
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
 
Private meetings. The Prime Minister made a virtual announcement along with Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen, and then held a media availability. The Prime Minister delivered remarks at the opening of a foreign ministers’ meeting on Haiti, hosted by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. And he participated in a virtual celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first black MP.
 
LEADERS
 
No schedules provided for party leaders.
 
OPINION
 
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how the new-era Senate won’t face its real test until we get our next Conservative government: “The real test of the Senate will come when there’s a change in government, when it’s not necessarily a government with whom the appointees agree, " said Kathy Brock, a political scientist at Queen’s University who has long taken an interest in the Senate. Until we learn how the Red Chamber performs under those conditions, we won’t really know whether it works at all. In 2014, in the midst of the Senate expenses scandal, Mr. Trudeau expelled all Liberal senators from caucus. After he became Prime Minister, he appointed only independent senators, albeit ones who mostly shared a progressive outlook.”
 
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney as the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics:So while some will say Mr. Madu’s intentions weren’t malicious or corrupt, it doesn’t matter. He violated a sacred tenet of government. He may have found other means, or avenues, to have this issue addressed that didn’t involve him picking up the phone and calling the city’s top cop. There is, however, another disturbing aspect to this whole affair: The question of what Mr. Kenney knew, and when he knew it. As mentioned, the incident and phone call happened 10 months ago. According to veteran Alberta columnist Don Braid, it was widely known among members of cabinet and discussed in “jocular” terms. It seems inconceivable that if members of cabinet knew about this, Mr. Kenney didn’t also.”
 
Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on why real men take paternity leave: “You may have seen a recent picture of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a classic new-parent pose, holding his infant daughter while also trying to sneak a peek at his laptop. Unfortunately, this nice moment of paternal devotion has been upstaged by a rocking chair. The $1,895 rocking chair was a gift to Mr. Singh’s wife, and he landed in hot water when he tagged the chair-maker in an Instagram post. He’s now said the couple is repaying the cost of the chair, and the NDP is working with the ethics commissioner on a disclosure. The photo has caused quite a flap. If you travel down the devil’s highway that is Twitter, you’ll see a certain amount of fury directed at Mr. Singh and his fancy rocker. I understand the anger: It was a dumb and possibly unethical move. But really I’m just sad, because this was an opportunity for a progressive politician to take a stand on something that is hugely important, which is the need for new dads to loudly and proudly take advantage of paid parental leave.”
 
Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on how a fire has killed Indigenous children again - because poverty burns through the generations: “Let this sobering truth sink in: First Nations children under the age of 10 are 86 times more likely to die in a fire than non-Indigenous children, according to the Ontario Chief Coroner’s Table on Understanding Fire Deaths in First Nations, which released a damning report last year after studying 56 fire deaths in 29 fires across 20 First Nations over the course of 10 years. How many times must we read about government reports, parliamentary committee hearings or new programs that are needed to fund basic fire safety and infrastructure in First Nations communities? How many times must the Assembly of First Nations and territorial political organizations yell from the rooftops about the need to adequately fund fire safety?”
 
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how taming inflation will be much trickier than stimulating the economy: “If you’ve been in the market for a new refrigerator in recent weeks, you’re likely still suffering from sticker shock. Fridge prices were up almost 14 per cent in December, as Canada’s overall inflation rate hit a 30-year high of 4.8 per cent. Everything is suddenly costing more, from that fridge and the groceries you put in it (up 5.7 per cent) to a new car (7.2 per cent more) and the gas (33 per cent) it likely runs on. From home insurance (9.3 per cent) to shelter costs (5.4 per cent), Canadians are forking out more and more of their income just to cover the basics. Some very smart folks insist this nasty spike in prices is a nice problem to have.”
 
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