Politics Briefing

January 19, 2020

Politics Briefing: Trudeau announces support for families of Iran plane victims
  Politics Briefing: Trudeau announces support for families of Iran plane victims - Also: Eddie Goldenberg urges prisoner swap

Chris Hannay


The Canadian government says it will begin compensating the families of those who died last week when the Iranian military shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet.

The federal government will provide $25,000 per victim (if they are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident) to help families pay for things like funeral arrangements. The payment is meant to be an interim step as the investigation into the deaths continue.

“Let me be clear: We expect Iran to compensate these families...[but] they need support now,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters this morning.

Mr. Trudeau said the nature of sanctions and relations with Iran made this an exceptional circumstance for the Canadian government.

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The extradition hearing of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is set to begin Monday in Vancouver. Ms. Meng was arrested Dec. 1, 2018, by Canadian authorities on the request of the U.S., where she is wanted on charges of fraud related to U.S. sanctions on Iran. The Chinese businesswoman’s arrest kicked off difficulties in the Canada-China relationship, including China’s subsequent detention of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in apparent retaliation. Eddie Goldenberg, a former chief of staff to Jean Chrétien when he was prime minister, is the latest political figure from the Chrétien era to suggest that there should be a “prisoner exchange” in which Ms. Meng is released so that the two Michaels are set free. Critics say such a move would legitimize the taking of hostages in diplomatic disputes.

The U.S. Senate has approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. Now the deal awaits the signature of U.S. President Donald Trump. The Canadian government is expected to reintroduce legislation to ratify the agreement when the House of Commons returns at the end of January.

The Supreme Court of Canada yesterday very quickly dismissed a bid by the B.C. government to be able to block the shipment of heavy oil through the province.

Michelle Rempel Garner and Lisa Raitt are two senior Conservatives calling on their party to widely release an election post-mortem report prepared by former cabinet minister John Baird.

Ontario MPP Amanda Simard, who left the governing Progressive Conservatives over cuts to French-language services, has decided to join the legislature’s very small Liberal caucus.

And the premiers of B.C. and Ontario are each welcoming royal couple Meghan and Harry to stay in their provinces when they live in Canada part-time.

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on Ms. Meng and Canada-China relations: “Although Canada is only a middle power, the Trudeau government believes our country has a role to play in this new, dangerous world dominated by an insecure and aggressive China, on the one side, and a U.S. President who is actively undermining the foundation of the global order, on the other.”

Doug Saunders (The Globe and Mail) on protests in Iran: “And it should be obvious to anyone who knows a bit about Iran and its history that this is a good moment for Western politicians to shut up. What Iranian dissidents and protesters need least now – the one thing that genuinely could destroy the credibility and effectiveness of their cause – is the backing and support of politicians from the United States and its allies.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on assisted dying: “Yet here we are, in 2020, considering whether to legalize assisted suicide for non-terminal cases, for the mentally ill, even for children – sorry, ‘mature minors.’ The government has launched a two-week public consultation exercise on these and other issues, with legislation likely to follow later in the year. The slope has in fact proved every bit as slippery as the critics had warned.”

Bob Plamondon (The Globe and Mail) on the Conservative leadership race: “Conservatives would be wise to choose a leader who has a sense of the nation and its history and is welcomed in all parts of the country. When putting a campaign together, the leader needs to put Conservatives in Charlottetown and Sherbrooke and Fort McMurray on the same page. This speaks to the challenge of crafting an energy and environmental policy that is supportable across the country.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on the case for Jean Charest as the next Conservative leader: “Mr. Charest remains one of the most talented Canadian politicians of his generation. He has more experience in federal and provincial governments than any other likely candidate for the Conservative leadership. He is uniquely positioned to champion national unity – he earned the nickname Captain Canada during the 1995 Quebec referendum campaign – and knows the country perhaps better than any living former politician except Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien. Conservatives who prefer purity tests over that résumé should think twice.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on Meghan and Harry: “To 20th-century monarchists, the good name of the Royal Family was debased by an entitled monarch who married an American socialite divorcée. To 21st-century monarchists, the good name of the Royal Family is being debased by an entitled royal who married an American actor divorcée. In a few years, a whole new generation can be scandalized when Prince Louis falls in love with an American artist divorcée. Indeed, it will be the most unprecedented rejection of royal traditions since the last unprecedented rejection of royal traditions.”

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