Amidst concerns about China’s government interfering in Canadian elections, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will “of course” be talking to U.S. President Joe Biden about China when the American leader visits Thursday for a two-day visit.
But Mr. Trudeau said, on Wednesday, there will be a broader agenda for the meetings, which will begin with a visit by the President to the Prime Minister’s residence on Thursday night, and be followed by more official meetings on Friday.
“We will, of course, be talking about China, but the centre of our conversations will be about jobs and growth, critical minerals and fighting climate change, and continuing to build an economy across our continent that works for all of our citizens,” Mr. Trudeau told journalists on Parliament Hill as he arrived for the weekly meeting of the federal Liberal caucus.
Asked about reaching an agreement with the United States on dealing with migration centred around Roxham Road in Quebec, Mr. Trudeau said his government has been working closely with the Americans in recent months on the issue and will continue that work. The road, along the border between New York State and Quebec, has become the primary route for irregular entries into Canada in recent years.
Heading into his own caucus meeting, federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called for Canada to take action to end softwood-lumber tariffs, and seek an exemption for Canada to “Buy America” rules in the United States and deal with illegal migration.
In exchange, the Conservative Leader said Canada should make it clear it will stand with the Americans for a stronger military and stronger continental defense.
Vancouver reporter Brent Jang wrote here recently about the softwood lumber trade war between Canada and the U.S.
Senior political reporter Marieke Walsh writes here about the Canadian government’s agenda heading into this week’s meeting with the President.
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ONTARIO HOUSING PLANS PROMPT FEDERAL WARNING - Ontario’s plans to build housing near a massive national park could be shut down if a new study shows a negative impact on biodiversity and at-risk species, the federal Environment Minister says. Story here.
INDIGENOUS JUSTICE ON SIDELINES FOR CASE - The first Indigenous judge in the Supreme Court’s 148-year history has been left off a case with important consequences for Indigenous peoples, so the court could avoid the possibility of a tie vote. Story here.
TRANS COMMENTS, POSTS FIGURE IN PEI ELECTION - Controversial comments and social media activity from some PEI Progressive Conservative candidates, including leader Dennis King, caught up with the Tories on the election trail this week, turning up the heat in what has been an otherwise quiet campaign. Story here.
TELFORD TO TESTIFY - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s top adviser will testify at a House of Commons committee on foreign election interference after Liberals ended their obstruction and acquiesced to a narrow probe proposed by the NDP, over a sweeping study pushed by Conservatives. Story here.
DONG AWAITING CALL FROM CSIS - Liberal MP Han Dong says he has yet to receive a call from Canada’s intelligence agency following recent allegations that his election campaign benefited from Beijing’s meddling and that he was “a witting affiliate.” Story here from CBC.
PROVINCIAL BUDGETS - A number of provinces are rolling out their budgets this week, On Tuesday, Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard kept his party’s election promise to cut income taxes, as he projected economic growth to drop dramatically in 2023. Story here. On the same day, New Brunswick’s government tabled a $12.2-billion budget that forecasts a small surplus and promises a funding boost to help stabilize the ailing health-care sector. Story here. Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan government is expected Wednesday to deliver a big budget surplus, and various groups are hoping for more cash or tax cuts amid struggles to afford food and access health care. Story here. And Ontario’s budget is set to be tabled Thursday amid both surging revenues and a potential economic slowdown, and while the finance minister has been signalling “restraint,” he says that doesn’t mean program cuts. Story here.
PASSPORT APPLICATIONS MANAGED - Families Minister Karina Gould announced Tuesday that the federal government has now “completely eliminated” the backlog of passport applications that caused major delays – and major political strife – last year. Story here.
HUNTER ENTERING THE TORONTO MAYORAL RACE - Mitzie Hunter, a Liberal member of the Ontario legislature, says she will run to be Toronto mayor. Story here from CityNews.
FORD DENIES HE ABANDONED OTTAWA - Ontario Premier Doug Ford is denying his government abandoned Ottawa during last winter’s convoy crisis, suggesting the three-week occupation of the city’s downtown by protesters would have ended sooner if the former mayor and police chief had done a better job. Story here from CBC. Meanwhile, the Premier joked this week about how a misunderstanding with a barber led to the shortest haircut he’s ever had. Story here from CTV.
VIA APOLOGIZES AFTER MUSLIM MAN TOLD NOT TO PRAY AT STATION - Via Rail has apologized and says it’s investigating after a video of an employee telling a Muslim man not to pray at its Ottawa station circulated online. Story here.
SENATE SMELL FORCES END OF DEBATES - A pungent and revolting smell, which the Conservative leader in the Senate declared reminded him of his time as a plumber, drove senators to abandon debates for the day on Tuesday. Story here.
U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AND FIRST LADY JILL BIDEN VISIT OTTAWA
BIDEN AGENDA - Key points of U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden’s schedule during their visit to Ottawa this week were released Tuesday in a briefing by Canadian government officials, speaking on condition they not be named.
On arrival at Ottawa airport on Thursday night, the President and first lady will met by a delegation that includes Governor-General Mary Simon, Kirsten Hillman - the Canadian ambassador to the United States - and ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will then visit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau at Rideau Cottage, the Prime Minister’s residence.
On Friday, the President will attend a welcoming ceremony on Parliament Hill, meet with Mr. Trudeau and then attend an extended meeting with the Prime Minister and ministers. After that, President Biden will address Parliament. He will then hold a news conference with Mr. Trudeau. In the evening, Mr. Biden will attend a dinner hosted by Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Trudeau, attended by a few hundred people. During the visit, said the officials, Mr. Trudeau will be accompanied by Ms. Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, International Trade Minister Mary Ng, Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Defence Minister Anita Anand. At this point, it is not clear which senior U.S. officials will accompany President Biden.
There will be an event with the first lady, but no details were released.
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION NOT AVERSE TO RENEGOTIATING TREATY: AMBASSADOR - President Joe Biden’s administration is not dismissing out of hand the idea of renegotiating the bilateral 2004 treaty that governs the flow of asylum seekers across its northern border, says Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. Story here.
BIDEN URGED TO ESCALATE U.S. CONCERNS ON BILLS - President Joe Biden has been urged to escalate U.S. concerns about the impact of two Canadian bills on Google, Facebook and Netflix during his visit to Ottawa this week, after tensions grew between the tech giants and the federal government over the measures. Story here.
OTTAWA WARNS OF `STRESS AND WORRY’ OVER BIDEN VISIT - The City of Ottawa is warning measures, such as traffic and transit disruptions, for the visit of President Joe Biden and the first lady on Thursday and Friday, may “be cause for stress and worry” among residents and recommending counselling, if necessary, through a regional distress centre. Details here.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March 22, accessible here.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, in Montreal, made an announcement on the next steps for a national strategy for drugs for rare diseases.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY - Chrystia Freeland, also Finance Minister, in Quebec City, held private meetings, toured an electric-vehicle technology company and met with workers. Ms. Freeland delivered an address about the Canadian economy and the government’s priorities heading into Budget 2023. Shen then took media questions.
HARPER SPEECH - Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is to deliver a keynote speech Wednesday at the annual Canada Strong and Free Network Conference in Ottawa. He will then participate in a fireside chat with former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, who founded the network, to discuss the 30th anniversary of the Reform Party electing its first MP and the legacy of the Reform Party. Please watch The Globe and Mail for coverage of the evening event.
JOE CLARK AND THE CANADIAN FOREIGN SERVICE - Former prime minister Joe Clark, who was a foreign affairs minister under prime minister Brian Mulroney, is to appear Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade as part of its study on the Canadian foreign service and elements of the foreign policy machinery within Global Affairs Canada. The hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m ET. Details here including video-link information.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the Ottawa region, held private meetings, attended the national caucus meeting as well as Question Period.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh attended the party caucus meeting, and took media questions before attending Question Period.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, postsecondary education reporter Joe Friesen discusses the consequences of a sharp rise in allegations of academic misconduct at Canadian universities in the 2020 to 2021 school year as more and more students turn to hiring people to complete assignments and tests for them. Mr. Friesen also explains why the wider trend is also a concern for Canadian universities as a whole, as their brand depends on maintaining academic integrity. The Decibel is here.
TORY LEAD DOWN - The federal Conservative lead over the federal Liberals is down to two points, according to new research by Abacus Data, creating a statistical tie between the two parties. Details here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Budget 2023: Ottawa should give provinces more tax room, not a blank cheque, for health care: “So as this space has argued before, the solution is simple: Ottawa needs to get out of the way and give premiers more fiscal room to raise revenue to pay for health care. The way to do that is to reduce federal taxes so provincial taxes have room to grow, if they need to. The mechanism for that is what is known as a tax point. Ottawa has done this before. Before 1977, the federal and provincial governments roughly split health spending. That changed in 1977, when Ottawa reduced the amount of direct cash it sent provinces, and instead permanently transferred taxing capacity to the provinces by lowering federal income taxes by a certain amount so that provincial taxes could rise to replace them.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau retreating is his best strategy: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau retreated on Tuesday so that his chief of staff, Katie Telford, will now testify before a parliamentary committee. But it turns out retreat is a good plan for his Liberals. Despite the chatter, Mr. Trudeau was never going to trigger an election simply to stop Ms. Telford from testifying. That would be a nutty political calculation. The Liberals had already spent a lot of political capital blocking the opposition demands for Ms. Telford to testify, filibustering at the committee and taking a beating from commentators and painting themselves into a corner. Retreat, on the other hand, provided some technical political advantages.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on why federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre needs a Common Sense Revolution of his own: “There are all sorts of reasons to question Pierre Poilievre’s proposed Blue Seal program, which would federally certify doctors and nurses who did not study in Canada. Would we accept doctors who performed their residency in another country? How would Ottawa convince provincial licensing bodies to recognize their qualifications? But that’s not what matters. What matters is that the Conservative Leader has proposed an innovative solution to the worsening shortage of health care professionals. We need more such proposals from Mr. Poilievre. In fact, we need a Poilievre version of the Common Sense Revolution.”
Stephen Poloz (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how, with inflation and the banking crisis – economic uncertainty abounds, but there is a way out: “The implosion of a couple of U.S. banks and Credit Suisse serves as a reminder that there are many things we just don’t know right now. We think we know how banks, companies and families will react to rising interest rates, but economic models are built on historical experience, and often fail when events go outside the norm.”
Vincent Rigby (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Justin Trudeau needs to assure U.S. President Joe Biden about Canada’s commitment to security: “It will be up to Mr. Trudeau to reassure Mr. Biden that Canada takes security seriously – not because Canada should blindly follow the U.S.’s lead, but because it is in our national interest to work with allies in promoting security at home and abroad. The extent to which the Prime Minister can demonstrate that Canada will respond vigorously to evolving threats will go a long way toward determining whether the U.S. takes its neighbour seriously. In the absence of a comprehensive national-security strategy, this won’t be easy. But the Prime Minister can start by telling the President that Canada will address three areas of concern to Washington and other allies.”
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