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With four days left to reach a new global agreement to conserve and restore nature, the marquee targets under negotiation at COP15 in Montreal remain elusive.

More than 100 government ministers joined the talks on Thursday and Friday morning, a parade of them taking the microphone to promise they are very committed to achieving a new agreement to protect the earth’s natural landscapes and wild species.

But the agreement that something has to be done is coming up against deep disagreements about how to do it.

The deepest divide appears to be between developing countries that want to create a new global biodiversity fund and developed nations that believe the critical financing can be channelled through the 30-year-old Global Environment Fund.

There’s a Canadian Press report here on the situation. And there’s an Explainer here on the agenda of the COP15 summit.

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PM OPEN TO PROBE INTO FORGED DOCUMENTS – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is open to pursuing an independent investigation into forged government documents that falsely suggest the RCMP and the Canada Revenue Agency are paying informants within the Muslim Association of Canada to build a terrorist-funding case against the grassroots charity. Story here.

STEP FORWARD ON HIGH-SPEED RAIL BETWEEN QUEBEC CITY AND TORONTO – The federal government is creating an arm’s-length subsidiary of VIA Rail to work with private partners on a planned high-frequency rail megaproject that would build and operate dedicated passenger lines between Quebec City and Toronto. Story here.

PLAN TO RECRUIT FOREIGN-TRAINED DOCTORS FOR ONTARIO – Four years after scrapping a similar initiative over cost concerns, Ontario is reviving plans for a Practice Ready Assessment program, which the province’s medical association says could add hundreds of foreign-trained doctors to the overstretched health care system within months. Story here.

REFORMS FOR FRENCH IMMERSION IN NEW BRUNSWICK – New Brunswick students entering kindergarten and Grade 1 will spend half their day learning French, and the other half in English class starting this fall as the country’s only officially bilingual province looks to dismantle its current French immersion program. Story here.

NOTLEY PROMISES “NO-SURPRISES GOVERNMENT” FOR ALBERTA – Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley says she would lead a “stable, no-surprises government” focused on growing the Alberta economy and providing strong public health care and education if elected next year. Story here from CBC.

ASK TRUDEAU ANYTHING EFFORT YIELDS UNUSUAL QUESTIONS – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may not have started the day thinking about whether mermaids reproduce like fish or like humans, but that’s what one person is asking him to consider after Mr. Trudeau, in a tweet, invited people to ask him any question they want. Story here.

SPY AGENCY WATCHING FOR TIKTOK SECURITY THREATS: PM – Canada’s electronic spy agency is watching out for security threats from the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday. Story here from CBC.

GOVERNMENT SEEKS DELAY IN MAID EXPANSION – The federal government will ask Parliament to delay the coming expansion of assisted dying for mental disorders after many leading psychiatrists and mental-health advocates argued that proper safeguards are not yet in place and the health care system is not ready for the controversial change. Story here.

REACTION ROLLS IN ON FEDERAL BID TO HAVE PUBLIC SERVANTS RETURN TO OFFICES – The federal government is mandating that federal public servants return to the office at least two to three days a week after contentious negotiations with unions over the issue of remote work, and amid pressure from Ottawa-region business groups to get more workers back into downtown office buildings. Story here.


HOUSE ON A BREAK – The House of Commons is on a break until Jan. 30.

EMERGENCY MINISTERS MEETING – Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, in Ottawa, co-hosted a meeting of federal-provincial-territorial emergency management ministers in Ottawa alongside Yukon Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn and Manitoba Transportation Minister Doyle Piwniuk.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, held private meetings, spoke with Quebec Premier François Legault and was scheduled to speak with Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson. Plans for the Prime Minister to travel to Montreal to meet with Mr. Legault were scrapped due to heavy snow.


NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Montreal, and NDP Deputy Leader Alexandre Boulericemet met with the Chiefs of Nutashkuan and Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nations.

No schedules released for other party leaders.


On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Addie Jonasson talks about her role in the creation of the Thaidene Nëné Indigenous Protected Area and national park, considered a success story in Indigenous-led conservation. It was established in 2019 after decades of discussion and negotiation between the federal and territorial governments and the local Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation. The Decibel is here.


The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on why International Trade Minister Mary Ng must resign: “Calling it a farce is almost too kind. Ms. Ng’s office gave government contracts to a PR firm called Pomp & Circumstance, which is partly owned by Amanda Alvaro, a long-time Liberal strategist and a decades-long friend of the minister’s. In doing so, Ms. Ng somehow forgot what ought to be the easiest rule for a public official to remember: You don’t give the public’s money to a buddy. Or, as Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion put it when he released his report on Tuesday, “There is simply no excuse for contracting with a friend’s company.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how, if health care becomes the next federal election’s big issue, the Tories need to get in the ring: “The by-election result also points to another potential factor: fear of the Conservatives, leading to a stampede of NDP voters into the Liberal camp – an eternal Liberal ambition, given fresh impetus, perhaps, by the Conservatives’ choice of the polarizing Pierre Poilievre as their new leader. That, too, means Mr. Singh needs to start aggressively differentiating himself from the Liberals in a way that gets the voters’ attention. Of course, if there’s anybody who should be concerned by the Conservatives’ tendency to scare certain voters, you’d think it would be the Conservatives.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on the real agenda behind Alberta’s sovereignty act: “Next spring’s election in Alberta is shaping up to be much more than a vote on which party forms government. Increasingly, it’s looking like a referendum on the province’s future within Canada. There is an enormous amount at stake, not just for the country but for the citizens of Alberta. When Premier Danielle Smith introduced the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act, she set in motion a process that could lead to a provincial referendum on Alberta’s desire to remain a part of this country. If that sounds alarmist, so be it. But the architects of the act believe in the potential for a referendum as well, and are openly cheering for an outcome that leads to separation. Just look to Barry Cooper, a University of Calgary professor and one of the authors of a paper that served as the basis for the sovereignty legislation.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on how the secret to success in Canadian business is befriending a Liberal cabinet minister: “This is a message for all the doe-eyed students studying at Western’s Ivey School of Business, or the interns fetching dinner for their bosses on Bay Street after hours: You’re going about things in the wrong way. Yes, your tenacity is adorable, and many will admire your fidelity to archaic, largely disproven mantras such as “hard work is the key to success” and “opportunities are handed out on merit.” But if you really want to thrive in Canada’s relatively insular business community, there is one surefire path to success: Befriend a Liberal cabinet minister.

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how the National Gallery mess shows what happens when decolonization goes awry: “The messy and rancorous upheaval at the National Gallery of Canada is the result of efforts to “decolonize” the institution at the pinnacle of the country’s museum hierarchy. But it is hardly an isolated case. Similar battles are playing out at museums across Canada and the West as institutions conceived as repositories of the collective memory are morphing into agents of social change and redefining themselves in the name of reconciliation. What could go wrong? Plenty.”

Jake Enright (National Newswatch) on why it’s time for Conservatives to wake up: “My engineer friend Kevin always tells me, “When something doesn’t make sense, it’s because you’re missing a variable.” Good guy, Kevin. He’s from Renfrew County, likes to hunt, small-C conservative type, suburban. Someone in the Conservative voter coalition, but a vote that can’t be taken for granted. Well, my fellow Conservatives, something doesn’t make sense with our election results since 2019. We’ve tried it both ways, Conservative light and Conservative heavy, and both approaches failed.”

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