The Bank of Canada held off hiking interest rates on Wednesday but said that the economy is now operating at full capacity, teeing up a rate increase for the bank’s next meeting in March.
Policy makers voted to keep the central bank’s key interest rate at 0.25 per cent, where it has been since the early days of the pandemic. At the same time, they withdrew their forward guidance for rate hikes and made it clear that emergency economic support is no longer necessary, indicating that the cost of borrowing will rise in the coming months.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. 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 sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
TRUDEAU SHOULD CALL PUTIN: AMBASSADOR - Moscow’s envoy in Canada is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to telephone Vladimir Putin so he can hear the Russian President explain how there is “zero chance” that Russia will invade Ukraine. Story here.
UKRANIAN GOVERNMENT DOUBTS FULL-SCALE RUSSIAN INVASION - The Ukrainian government does not see a full-scale Russian invasion as likely, despite escalating international concern, believing it’s more plausible that Moscow will instead try to destabilize the country internally. Story here.
RUSSIA WARNS OF `RETALIATORY MEASURES’: Russia warned Wednesday it would quickly take “retaliatory measures” if the U.S. and its allies reject its security demands over NATO and Ukraine, raising pressure on the West amid concerns that Moscow is planning to invade its neighbour. Story here.
NDP MPS CRITICIZED FOR UKRAINE COMMENTS - Three sitting New Democrat MPs are being criticized for posting “terrible” comments about the escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia on social media, some of which questioned Canada’s support for Ukraine in the face of Moscow’s aggression. Story here from Global News.
POTENTIAL GRAVES FOUND - The Williams Lake First Nation has announced the discovery of 93 potential graves at the sprawling site of a former residential school in B.C.’s Central Interior, 50 of which appear to be outside of the facility’s cemetery. Story here.
CONSERVATIVE RIDING ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR O’TOOLE REVIEW - A Conservative riding association is calling for the federal party to move ahead quickly with a leadership review of Erin O’Toole as a new poll shows almost half of respondents feel he has done a poor job as leader. Story here.
CALLS FOR RELEASE OF SAUDI BLOGGER - Advocates for Saudi blogger Raif Badawi are urging Riyadh to release him next month, when his 10-year prison sentence will come to an end according to the Islamic calendar.
TORY MPS CHEER TRUCKER CONVOY - Conservative MPs are publicly cheering on the trucker convoy that’s making its way across the country with the intent of converging onto Parliament Hill this weekend, voicing opposition to the federal government’s mandatory vaccination policies. Story here from CTV. Meanwhile, there’s a Globe and Mail explainer here on why the anti-vaccine mandate trucker convoy called the Freedom Rally is driving across Canada.
INDUSTRY MINISTER DEFENDS GOVERNMENT DECISION ON LITHIUM CORP. SALE - The federal Industry Minister is defending the government’s decision to allow Canada’s Neo Lithium Corp. to be acquired by state-owned Chinese mining giant Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. without a formal national security review, saying the process was rigorous. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
The House of Commons has adjourned until Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. ET.
HARPER CALLS FOR FUNDRAISING HELP FOR MACKAY - Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper is calling on party members to help Peter MacKay pay off debts from the August, 2020 leadership race that current leader Erin O’Toole won. In a fundraising letter, Mr. Harper says Mr. MacKay ran a “strong and thoughtful campaign, but came up short” in the race to name a successor to Andrew Scheer. Mr. Harper, who was prime minister from 2006 to 2015, added that the extension of the duration of the campaign, along with the cancellation of planned in-person fundraising events caused Mr. MacKay’s campaign expenditure to exceed its revenue. Mr. Harper touts Mr. MacKay’s service as foreign affairs minister, defence minister, and justice minister. “I understand that times are tight, but I do not want to see Peter and his family’s future weighed down by debt incurred in the service of our country and our Conservative Party,” writes Mr. Harper.
THE DECIBEL – On Wednesday’s edition of The Decibel, parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup talks about the reasons behind shortages of goods at stores and the “the Freedom Convoy” of truckers heading to Ottawa to protest policies that say they must be vaccinated. Story here.
Menaka Raman-Wilms, Host: I was watching Erin O’Toole’s press conference yesterday where he is talking about supply-chain stuff, but a lot of the questions that journalists were asking him were actually about this trucking convoy. Some Conservative MPPs have expressed support online for for the convoy. Can you give us a sense of, I guess, Erin O’Toole’s response to this situation here?
Kristy Kirkup: So Erin O’Toole, for his part, seems to be trying to, you know, he essentially suggested at this news conference that he was not going to be weighing in on a specific protest, that he doesn’t see that being his role as leader. So if people are wondering, you know, if he was going to show up at the rally whenever people arrive and converge in the nation’s capital, I think we can draw from his comments that that is likely not to be the case. That being said, we’ve seen a bit of activity again from some of the backbench Conservative MPs kind of posting videos of themselves, recording messages of support. And, in the way of Erin O’Toole, he’s kind of trying to take a step back. And then other members of the caucus, I think, are clearly being allowed to to say and do as they decide to do that.
The rest of the Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Private meetings. The Prime Minister attended the virtual Cabinet retreat, and was scheduled to hold a media availability on Wednesday afternoon. In the evening, an interview with the Prime Minister on mental health and wellness was to air on TSN, and later another interview on mental health and wellness was to air on RDS.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole attends a caucus retreat in Ottawa.
No schedules provided for other party leaders.
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the many delusions of Russia-Ukraine `realists.’: “As Russia masses troops on Ukraine’s borders, poised to invade, a chorus of voices urges the democracies to do nothing to deter it. They include, of course, the Trumpist right, whose indifference to Ukraine is of a piece with their worship of Vladimir Putin, but also the pacifist left, who insist there can be no “military solution” to a conflict to which Mr. Putin is at this moment readying a military solution. But the largest contingent are the self-styled foreign-policy “realists,” who profess to no ideology but only an unblinking view of nations as self-interested actors pursuing their strategic objectives. The realist refrains from moral judgements about the players or their aims: he only describes the game. Is Mr. Putin seeking, if not wholesale absorption of Ukraine into a reconstituted Russian empire, then at least to confine it within its sphere of influence? But of course. That is what great powers do.”
John Doyle (The Globe and Mail) on the witless naivete around efforts to kill or defund the CBC: “The standing army of anti-CBC pundits in Canada is never less than 10,000. Or so it seems. They’re a noisy bunch and any excuse to attack the CBC begets reams of prose about the CBC’s irrelevance, bias or alleged incompetence. Recently, the news that the British government will diminish the BBC’s funding with a two-year freeze on the fee the public pays to watch the broadcaster, brought a round of reform-the-CBC columns in Canada. This was preceded by an uproar predicated on a piece by a disgruntled former temporary CBC employee, who announced that her umbrage at younger employees being “woke” led her to quit. The blather that ensued was pitifully small-minded, begrudging and naive.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on why Erin O’Toole’s days as Conservative leader appear to be numbered: “Other than the pay and the cool house you get to live in as Opposition leader, you have to wonder why Erin O’Toole even wants the job any more. He’s clearly having to front policies he doesn’t believe in (see his objection to vaccine mandates) and yet he risks losing critical support inside caucus if he doesn’t. He likely knows, too, that some of these policies are putting the CPC offside with a majority of Canadians. The problem is, they are policies backed by party donors, many of whom reside in rural parts of the country where support for things such as vaccine mandates is low and backing for trucker protests is high.”
Heather Barr (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on why LGBTQ Afghans living under the Taliban are in grave and immediate danger: “Countries receiving asylum-seeking Afghans should recognize that LGBTQ Afghans face a special risk of persecution in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries and expedite their applications for evacuation and resettlement. But it will never be feasible for all LGBTQ people in Afghanistan to flee and be resettled in a country where their rights are respected. All countries, including those that sent troops to Afghanistan over the past 20 years, have a responsibility to press the Taliban to end their abuses against LGBTQ people and uphold their rights.”