Canada’s ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, is leaving Washington.
Mr. MacNaughton played a key role in helping the Liberal government work with the Trump administration. His biggest focus since Donald Trump came into office, of course, was negotiating a new North American trade agreement. A new deal was announced last fall after months of difficult negotiations, though it has still not been ratified by either the U.S. Congress or the House of Commons.
“David’s skill in bridging partisan and ideological divides – always putting Canadians’ interests first, never deviating from objectives he knew to be both possible and desirable – has been unparalleled,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement this morning.
Mr. MacNaughton is set to return to private sector work in Toronto at the end of the month. Before his diplomatic post, he worked in government relations and investment banking. He’s had a long association with the federal and Ontario Liberals and was an adviser on Mr. Trudeau’s successful 2015 campaign.
Mr. MacNaugton will be replaced on an interim basis by Kirsten Hillman, a career diplomat who is currently the deputy ambassador in Washington.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. 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.
A new United Nations report on climate change suggests the food industry will have to do its part to help mitigate disaster. Agriculture and deforestation contribute nearly half of methane emissions, and 23 per cent of all the human-caused greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
Environmental groups say they broadly approve of the Liberal government’s work to preserve natural habitats.
Deputy ministers were advised in a recent briefing that too much focus on diversity could alienate the “majority” of Canadians. “Social cohesion must become a new lens of policy-making. In order to achieve this, the government needs to build connections across difference, foster greater empathy and bring the focus back to the majority (i.e. the middle groups),” an internal memo obtained by the Canadian Press said.
The Liberal government says they are open to the possibility of creating an independent review panel to look over cases of possible wrongful conviction. The idea was recently brought up again by David Milgaard, a man who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Mr. Milgaard was profiled by The Globe 50 years after he was first arrested. The NDP and Greens say they support the idea, while the Conservatives said they weren’t making any promises on the justice file just at the moment.
And the cross-country manhunt for two B.C. men accused of killing three people ended yesterday. The RCMP say they pulled two bodies out of the Manitoba brush that they think belong to Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky. But police say they may never know why the three people were killed last month. “It’s going to be extremely difficult for us to ascertain definitively what the motive was,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett said. “Obviously, we will not have the opportunity to speak with these individuals.”
Lorna Dueck (The Globe and Mail) on mixing religion and politics: “Loving neighbours differently than ourselves can be hard work, and it takes good teaching. What you learn in your religion will deeply affect your ability to love, forgive, persevere and work for a better tomorrow. Religion is private fuel for a public life of love, respect and equality. But politicizing religious differences is what fuels hatred, division and even bombings.”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on the issue of guns in the next election: “Canada’s pro-gun lobby operates largely below the radar of the mainstream media. But it is well organized. And its members make a point of going after politicians who play to the anti-gun lobby. A fair number of Liberal MPs went down to defeat over the Chrétien government’s now-defunct long-gun registry. And many Grits who currently represent ridings outside Canada’s biggest cities know their party must tread softly on the issue of gun control, lest they be accused of wanting to take good people’s guns away from them.”
Rudyard Griffiths and Janice Stein (The Globe and Mail) on having more leaders’ debates in the election: “If there ever was a moment for an election debate on foreign policy, that time is now. Voters want to know how our political leaders will deal with the global challenges that directly affect Canada’s prosperity, security and values. How do we protect our economy that depends on trade when U.S. President Donald Trump has weaponized trade and challenged its basic rules? How do we navigate the growing conflict between China and the United States at a time when two of our citizens are being held hostage to that great power rivalry?”
Paul Wells (Maclean’s) on Canada and Britain, post-Brexit: “In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Britain will offer radically reduced tariffs to all comers. Canadian officials, reasonably, decided there’s no need to offer concessions in return for what would be essentially automatic access to the U.K. market.”
Brian Bird (Policy Options) on party discipline: “The SNC-Lavalin affair, which continues to reverberate, raises many issues in a democracy dominated by political parties — and all these issues take on greater relevance with a federal election approaching. One of them is the conflict that can arise between the conscience of a politician and the strictures of party politics, in a variety of contexts, and how that conflict should be resolved. When our representatives are voting on legislation, there are good reasons to favour conscience.”