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politics briefing newsletter

Good morning,

Happy new year! 2019 will be a big year in Canadian politics, with the next election a mere nine-and-a-half months away. In the meantime, here are a few other things happening soon:

If you’re a business, today is the day your Canada Pension Plan payments go up and your Employment Insurance premiums go down. Depending on where you are in Canada, you may also have a carbon tax to look forward to.

The RCMP will see some big changes to its workplace soon. Besides unionization, the Mounties are set to get a civilian board of management, similar to the ones most police forces have. As well, there will be some kind of outside oversight of sexual harassment and bullying complaints. The government is expected to publicly outline the changes next week.

And, just in time for the 2019 election, expect the Liberal government to make some major infrastructure spending announcements over the next six months. Infrastructure money was a major promise of the Liberals' successful 2015 campaign, but the dollars have been slow to roll out. Lest you think it’s just one party that would roll out new spending before an election, here is a story from The Globe in 2015 about a fund the Conservatives rolled out just before the campaign.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think. And thanks again to Mayaz Alam for filling in over the holidays.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

U.S. Congress returns to work today, with no end in sight to the government shutdown. The shutdown was caused by a refusal by President Donald Trump to sign any congressional spending plans that do not include substantial investments in a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. Mr. Trump is set to meet with Democratic and Republican leadership today, before Democrats officially take over control of the House of Representatives tomorrow.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, says his country is prepared to use military force, if required, to achieve “reunification” with Taiwan. Mr. Xi pledged major economic benefits to Taiwan if the country voluntarily came under China’s government, a suggestion that Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen immediately rejected.

Back in Canada, a prominent advocate for veterans, Sean Bruyea, says the federal government skipped out on some normal public consultations with its Pension for Life program for veterans.

And here’s a figure you probably didn’t expect to move into the political scene: Kevin Vickers, Canada’s ambassador to Ireland who, as the House of Commons' sergeant-at-arms helped take down the Parliament Hill shooter in 2014, is thinking about taking a run at political office in New Brunswick. Mr. Vickers said he’s considering a run at the leadership of the provincial Liberal party, though he is a “long ways from making a decision" about it.

Brahma Chellaney (The Globe and Mail) on China: “China is today the world’s largest, strongest and longest-surviving autocracy. This is a country increasingly oriented to the primacy of the Communist Party. But here’s the paradox: The more it globalizes while seeking to simultaneously insulate itself from liberalizing influences, the more vulnerable it is becoming to unforeseen political “shocks” at home.”

Frank Ching (The Globe and Mail) on why the world will watch China this year: “Domestically, the forced incarceration of the Muslim-minority Uyghurs and the government’s crackdown on religion, human-rights lawyers and activists have made it the target of the West’s ire. The world will remember the way it bullied South Korea over the latter’s installation of the THAAD anti-missile system; China has also detained two Canadian citizens, apparently as punishment for the arrest of a Huawei executive as a result of a U.S. extradition request. These actions render China’s promises of supporting the international rule of law hollow.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on Andrew Scheer’s big year ahead: “Critics who describe Mr. Scheer as a carbon copy of U.S. President Donald Trump or former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper are spouting nonsense. The worst you can say of Mr. Scheer is that he is bland and ill-defined. But the next election will be a referendum on Justin Trudeau. If the public turns on the Prime Minister, all Mr. Scheer will have to do is stay out of the way.”

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on the establishment outrage to Donald Trump’s foreign policy: “But it would be all the more understandable if the track record of the old guard had much to recommend it: If for example, the pros offered a way to win in Afghanistan and Syria, if they could explain why the Middle East should be an eternal American obsession, if they could offer a better rationale for an enduring military industrial complex that few have thought to question.”

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