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China may have lifted a ban on Canadian meat imports this week, but a government spokesperson insists that’s not evidence of an easing of tensions between the two countries.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said his government began accepting Canadian meat again because Canada fixed the “obvious safety loopholes” in its export certification process – and not because China is desperate for other countries’ meat because of a bout of swine flu.

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Mr. Geng said in a statement that Canada-China tensions will remain high until Canada finally releases the Huawei executive who was arrested last year at the behest of the United States.

“We urge the new Canadian government to face up to China’s solemn position and concerns, release Ms. Meng Wanzhou at once, ensure her safe return to China and take concrete actions to move our relations back onto the right track,” Mr. Geng said.

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.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting with successful and unsuccessful Liberal candidates in Ottawa this afternoon. Mr. Trudeau is still mulling over who to put into his cabinet, which he will unveil on Nov. 20. Some in Quebec are suggesting Mr. Trudeau, who represents a Montreal riding, should go back to the tradition of having a Quebec lieutenant, an idea the Prime Minister has until now been resistant to. “It is obvious that there is a need for a person who is well-known in Quebec, who can take some of the heat as well as go on the offensive. It can’t always be the PM who is on the front lines,” said Rémi Massé, a Liberal who lost re-election last month.

The Conservative caucus had a long meeting on Parliament Hill yesterday, in which MPs and senators aired their grievances behind closed doors with leader Andrew Scheer. Mr. Scheer emerged from the caucus meeting saying he was disappointed with the election result, but that the party’s proposals were solid – they failed only in communicating them to voters. “The question is whether Mr. Scheer can be better in the next campaign. My answer is yes. Can he be better with the team that he had in the war room? My answer is no,” said Quebec Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu.

Also yesterday, Mr. Trudeau met with U.S. Congressman Richard Neal, the Democratic chair of the powerful House ways and means committee. The two primarily discussed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, which has yet to be ratified by the U.S. or Canada. Mr. Neal said the Democrats want some changes to the labour provisions before they can sign off on the agreement.

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An Ontario judge has struck down a federal ban on unexplained objections to potential jurors, a measure instituted by the Liberal government in the last parliament.

Data from an Ottawa school board shows the push by many parents to put their children into French immersion may be reinforcing issues of inequity in schools.

And Jim Karygiannis, who many in Ottawa remember for his more than 25 years as a Liberal MP, has been kicked off Toronto city council and barred from running in the next election because of what the city clerk says was overspending.

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the premiers and the prime minister: “Prime ministers, most of them Liberal, have been interfering in areas of provincial jurisdiction since the days of Lester Pearson. We have a universal public health-care system, among other things, to show for it. The price has been constant strife between Ottawa and provincial governments, two referendums on separation in Quebec, and now growing separatist sentiment in Alberta and Saskatchewan.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer: “So Mr. Scheer can stay for another five months, at least, until party members vote in a formal review of his leadership at the Conservative convention in April. But the rumblings of disaffection already seem like a boulder starting to roll downhill. Pushing it back up will keep getting harder. If Mr. Scheer can’t do it soon, he is in for months of painful struggle.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on why the next Conservative leader should come from Quebec: “If the Oct. 21 election proved anything, it is that a party led by a non-Quebecker is always going to struggle to win the confidence of voters in that province. [Stephen] Harper managed to win a majority government in 2011 with just five seats from Quebec, but Tories are kidding themselves if they think they could repeat that exploit in the future.”

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David McLaughlin (Policy Options) on the Conservatives’ voter ceiling: “Politics is a game of addition. You win by adding new voters to your coalition. So, why do federal Conservatives focus on their core vote all the time? When you turn your base from a floor into a ceiling, you will lose every election every time. Seeing politics from a ‘movement’ perspective has you cater to ‘values voters’ and mobilization of supporters, not adding to your overall voter pool.”

Andrew MacDougall (Ottawa Citizen) on the future of the Conservative Party: “So forget Andrew Scheer. The current leader might be right and he might be wrong, but until the Conservatives find something better to sell, finding a more charismatic or astute tactician won’t be enough. A salesperson selling last year’s model can only get so far.”

Globe and Mail editorial board on Liberal v. Conservative approaches to budgets: “A lot of Canadians are open to the idea of smaller government in the abstract. But its fact, unless introduced thoughtfully and delicately, tends to be somewhat less popular. (See: Ford, Doug.) That’s because, although government always contains some inefficiency, waste and corruption, what it mostly does is fund programs, such as health care, or transfer money to people, from Old Age Security to the Canada Child Benefit.”

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