Politics Briefing

September 19, 2018

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Politics Briefing: Canada not making concessions, Republican charges
Politics Briefing: Canada not making concessions, Republican charges - Also: Ottawa launches cyber security analysis

Chris Hannay and James Keller

Good morning,

As Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her team return to Washington today for more negotiations on the North American free-trade agreement, a top Republican legislator is putting all the blame for the dragged-out talks on Canada’s shoulders. “Canada does not seem to be ready or willing to make the concessions that are necessary for a fair and high-standard agreement,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise said. But the extra pressure may not be enough to make the Canadians cave in and make a deal before the end of month, as Congress wishes. “We absolutely believe no deal is better than a bad deal,” Ms. Freeland said. Sources told The Globe that a breakthrough in negotiations could finally come this week – though it’s appeared that way before.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa and James Keller in Vancouver. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

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The federal government is launching a wide analysis of the cyber security threats posed to Canada by foreign-made telecommunications equipment. The probe would include technology made by Huawei, a Chinese telecom giant that has come under security scrutiny in the United States and Australia.

The House of Commons ethics committee is considering taking another hard look at the conflict of interest and lobbying laws after a Globe and Mail investigation revealed lobbyists are still routinely attending Liberal Party fundraisers.

New data from the federal government suggest the opioid crisis isn’t diminishing, with 11 Canadians dying every day during the first three months of this year. A report from a special advisory committee says 1,036 people died from causes related to using opioids, mainly overdoses, from January to March.

A Huffington Post review of this summer’s government spending announcements found most of the $43-billion went to Liberal ridings in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

The team behind Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada says they’re having a hard time keeping up with the offensive content being posted online in their name.

Facebook has shut down two anonymous accounts that were wading into Vancouver’s upcoming mayoral race, as the social media giant faces continuing pressure to prevent false information from influencing elections. They are among several Twitter and Facebook accounts that have published derogatory and potentially defamatory information ahead of civic elections in B.C. set for October.

The Ontario Court of Appeal is set to rule this morning on the provincial government’s request for a stay on a court ruling that struck down a law slashing the size of Toronto City Council.

Alberta’s ruling New Democrats are accusing Opposition leader Jason Kenney of sowing confusion during a trip to India about whether he actually represents the government. Trade Minister Deron Bilous says the government will do “damage control” and contact any Indian officials Mr. Kenney interacted with.

And diplomats behaving (very) badly: Government documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen reveal the serious and not as serious problems – from assault to unpaid property taxes – that diplomatic staff from other countries get up to in Ottawa.

Lori Turnbull (The Globe and Mail) on crossing the floor: “A floor-crosser is a risk-taker; unless the individual has a very strong case for the need to make a move due to irreconcilable ideological differences with the home team, she or he might come off as untrustworthy and strategic to a fault.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on crossing the floor: “MPs are supposed to hold their own party to account, too, especially when it is in government. Canada doesn’t have to be like Australia, where the prime ministership regularly changes hands in caucus revolts, but it could be more like Britain, where backbench MPs voice dissent – and a PM who steps out on a limb has to worry their caucus might not be behind them.”

Lorraine Weinrib (The Globe and Mail) on the Ontario PC government’s use of the notwithstanding clause: “The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the notwithstanding clause cannot operate retroactively. This ruling brings the override power in line with the rule of law – a pre-eminent constitutional principle. Persons are entitled to assume the continuity of their fundamental rights without worrying about retroactive government nullification.”

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on Ontario Premier Doug Ford visiting Washington today: “As for Mr. Ford, it’s good he’s involved. Even better if he was able to get an audience with some of the big shooters in the White House. Being a populist, he speaks their language.”

Allison Hanes (Montreal Gazette) on immigration in the Quebec election: “Immigration can often be an emotional topic, a gauge of tolerance. Quebec should be able to have a reasoned discussion about immigrants, integration, retention rates, language, employment levels and the amount of public supports. Quebec can and should do better at helping immigrants learn French and find jobs. But is that what this debate is really about?”

Daphne Bramham (Vancouver Sun) on Vancouver’s municipal election: “What seems to be getting lost in our anxiety about housing cost and availability are discussions about what makes a city great and what tradeoffs people may be willing to make to live there.”

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About Politics Briefing
Our Politics Briefing newsletter features a daily summary of news, analysis and opinion on politics by The Globe’s editors. It is sent Monday to Friday.

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