Politics Briefing

March 23, 2019

Politics Briefing: The SNC-Lavalin show goes on as Philpott speaks out
  Politics Briefing: The SNC-Lavalin show goes on as Philpott speaks out - Also: Ontario teachers’ union says increased class sizes could result in thousands of lost jobs

Aron Yeomanson

Good morning,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried yet again to change the channel away from the SNC-Lavalin Show yesterday. Jane Philpott didn’t let him.

"My sense is that Canadians would like to know the whole truth,” the former Treasury Board president told Maclean’s magazine. “If nothing wrong took place, then why don’t we waive privilege on the whole issue and let those who have something to say on it speak their minds and share their stories.”

Ms. Philpott resigned from cabinet earlier this month over the government‘s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair. Her words Thursday took the spotlight off of Mr. Trudeau’s intended message at an announcement about the federal budget in Mississauga.

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Facing repeated questions on the matter, Mr. Trudeau said he had no intention of waiving solicitor-client privilege to allow former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould to speak about the affair for a second time.

Meanwhile, a new poll from Leger suggested the Liberals have been bleeding support over the past month as the government struggled to contain the damage caused by the ongoing SNC-Lavalin affair.

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for the Liberals if an election were held now, a decline of three percentage points from February and a total loss of eight percentage points since November.

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The Liberal government is preparing to introduce another large-budget bill, one the opposition fears will be particularly “humongous” in light of a tight deadline and new details contained in this week’s budget.

China has put a stop to all new purchases of Canadian canola, the industry says, in an escalation of what executives and analysts believe is retaliation over the arrest of a Huawei executive.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada remains welcoming to newcomers even as his government takes steps to curb the influx of asylum seekers coming into the country at unofficial entry points.

The Quebec government of Premier François Legault and his conservative Coalition Avenir Québec introduced its first budget Thursday.

The leaders of Canada’s largest labour organization and a prominent national Muslim group say Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is emboldening far-right extremists.

The federal Liberals are promising to spend more than $250-million to revamp the body Canadians turn to with disputes over access to federal benefits.

The Ontario government’s plan to increase high-school class sizes will result in the loss of thousands of education positions, says the head of the secondary school teachers’ union, which has vowed to fight the changes.

Alberta United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney says he believes humans are causing climate change and action is needed to tackle it, but those who disagree still have a place in the party.

A Florida man pleaded guilty to sending pipe bombs to CNN and prominent critics of U.S. President Donald Trump in a wave of attacks that harmed no one but spread fear of political violence across the U.S. for days leading up to last fall’s midterm elections.

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the border issue: “Whatever their other troubles, the Liberals appear to have avoided an election-defining crisis at the border.”

Matt Gurney (National Post) on Jane Philpott: “Philpott has her hand in the air and she’s waving frantically. Perhaps we should hear what she’d like to add to the discussion?”

Andrew Steele (The Globe and Mail) on the federal budget: “If you are reading this, you are probably not the intended audience of Tuesday’s federal budget. In fact, the primary focus was on demographic groups united by one thing: They don’t read political news.”

Donald J. Savoie (Ottawa Citizen) on the public service: “Forty years of bureaucracy-bashing has taken a toll on the public service, and some public servants have sought to deal with it by demonstrating that they can be entrepreneurial and politically sensitive to the government of the day.”

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