A House of Commons committee probing Chinese interference in the 2019 federal election was recalled Tuesday to extend its mandate to include the 2021 campaign, in response to what opposition MPs have called “shocking revelations” reported by The Globe and Mail.
The meeting of the standing committee on procedure and House affairs, scheduled to run between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. ET came despite a two-week break at Parliament. Details here on the meeting including a video link.
The hearing was requested by six committee members to expand the scope of a current study on foreign-election interference.
Conservative, New Democratic and Bloc Québécois MPs demanded the hearings resume after The Globe reported Friday that China had actively worked in the 2021 campaign to influence voters to elect a Liberal minority government and defeat Conservatives unfriendly to Beijing.
Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife and senior parliamentary reporter Steven Chase report here.
Also, they report here on how Canadian politicians, officials and business executives are the prime targets of Chinese government espionage that employs blackmail, bribery and sexual seduction, with the country even enlisting the Bank of China in its foreign-influence activities.
Please watch The Globe and Mail for updates on Tuesday’s hearing.
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TOUGH QUESTIONS FOR FORD - Ontario Premier Doug Ford is facing sharp questions about his relationship with developers as the legislature resumes following its winter break. Story here.
SCHREINER TO STAY GREEN - Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said Tuesday that he is staying on to lead his party, after a group of Liberals tried to persuade him to cross the floor. Story here.
LEGAULT ASKS TRUDEAU TO PRESS BIDEN ON MIGRANTS - Quebec Premier François Legault is asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to press U.S. President Joe Biden on the massive influx of migrants entering Canada at an irregular border crossing, arguing that the province’s “capacity to receive refugees has been exceeded.” Story here.
TORIES WOO ETHNIC-MINORITY CANADIANS - The Conservatives are wooing ethnic-minority Canadians and newcomers to try to broaden their support in urban and suburban seats they need to win the next election, as a new poll shows the Tories have nibbled away at the Liberals’ lead among racialized voters since Pierre Poilievre became leader. Story here. Meanwhile, Deputy Conservative Leader Melissa Lantsman - story here - relishes being a different type of Tory.
OTTAWA DIDN’T DISCLOSE OUTSOURCING CEBA PROGRAM TO ACCENTURE - The federal government paid consulting firm Accenture Inc. at least $61-million to deliver the main pandemic loan program for businesses, according to details that Ottawa has never publicly released and that were obtained under access-to-information law. Story here.
ACTRA ACCUSES OTTAWA OF PROLONGING LABOUR DISPUTE - Canada’s largest actors’ union, ACTRA, says Ottawa is prolonging a long-standing labour dispute with advertising agencies by spending tens of millions of dollars with a major creative marketing company – which the union says has locked out its members from commercial campaigns. Story here.
NATIONAL GALLERY SPENDS $2M ON SEVERANCE - The National Gallery of Canada spent more than $2-million on severance payments over a period of two and a half years, not including payments to four senior staff members let go in the fall, as it parted ways with employees during a push to reorient itself around a new inclusion-focused mission. Story here.
LIBERAL MP SUGGESTS SOLUTIONS FOR ONTARIO LIBERALS - Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith says the provincial Liberal Party’s future hinges on a break from the past, edging closer to a bid to lead the Ontario party. Story here from The Kingston Whig-Standard.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The Commons is on a break until March 6.
POLITICAL FORECAST - THE WEEK AHEAD - Both the House of Commons and the Senate are on breaks, with the House of Commons returning on March 6 and the Senate on March 7.
Still there will be committee action, with the Commons standing committee on procedure and house affairs meeting on Tuesday to discuss expanding the scope of their current study on foreign-election interference. (See above.)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on the road on Tuesday, holding a town hall with members of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario in York Region, Ontario, and a party fundraising event in Brampton, Ont.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is attending meetings of the G7 and G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Bengaluru, India, from Thursday to Saturday. Topics on the agenda include Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, inflation and climate change.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly will be in New York City on Wednesday, speaking at the UN General Assembly’s emergency special session on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The minister’s visit follows meetings on trips to Ukraine, Germany, and France,
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, in Milton, Ont., announced funding for Trucking HR Canada to address labour shortages in the trucking industry. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett, in Toronto, announced funding to enhance mental health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, in Antigonish, N.S., along with Nova Scotia Health Minister Michelle Thompson announced a combined $1.22-million investment to support two rural public transit projects in Antigonish County. National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier, in Murdochville, Que., announced federal-government funding for Chic‑Chac, a Gaspésie tourism business.
NEW ROLE FOR DELORME - Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation, where hundreds of graves were found at a former residential school, has been appointed chairperson of the new Residential School Documents Advisory Committee. Earlier this month (story here from CBC) Mr. Delorme said he would not seek a third term as chief of the Saskatchewan First Nation. The documents advisory committee, comprised of survivors, First Nations, Inuit and Métis community members, and federal and expert representatives, is responsible for developing recommendations on the identification and sharing of documents of historical interest with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. The appointment was announced Tuesday by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller and Stephanie Scott, executive director of the national centre.
MOORE QUESTIONS EVENT - Former federal Conservative cabinet minister James Moore is here taking issue with an event held Tuesday by the Canada Strong & Free Network.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, held private meetings and, in York Region, Ontario, participated in a town hall with members of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. In the evening, Mr. Trudeau was scheduled to attend a Liberal Party of Canada fundraising event in Brampton.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre held a news conference on Parliament Hill.
No schedules released for party leaders.
On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, political columnist John Ibbitson discusses the importance of the public inquiry into the trucker convoy protest, which found the federal Liberal government acted appropriately in enacting the Emergencies Act. Mr. Ibbitson also talks about the political winners and losers and what he hopes will be done with the recommendations of inquiry head Justice Paul Rouleau. The Decibel is here.
PETER HERRNDORF - Peter Herrndorf has died, aged 82. “In a career that spanned more than five decades, Mr. Herrndorf brought daring change and innovation to the CBC, saved TVOntario from privatization and turned the moribund National Arts Centre into a genuinely national hub of creativity that was celebrated from coast to coast to coast and, perhaps most impressively, by members of all political parties,” Reporter Simon Houpt writes in an obituary here. Meanwhile, Steve Paikin, the host of TVOntario’s flagship current affairs program The Agenda, remembers Mr. Herrndorf here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on the need for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stand up to China: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is awfully tough on suspected Chinese spy balloons. After the United States shot one down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4, he authorized a similar fate for another flying in Canadian airspace a week later. If only Mr. Trudeau were as quick to pull the trigger on Chinese interference in Canadian elections.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how downtown Ottawa has been changed by the pandemic and trucker convoy: “Like all Canadian cities, Ottawa’s city centre was damaged by the pandemic, as people worked from home and office buildings sat empty. But in the national capital, public servants have been slow to return to work. And the protests left the city traumatized. Officials are so fearful of future protests that they have closed Wellington Street, at the foot of Parliament Hill, to traffic. “We are never going back to the world we lived in 2019,” said Mark Sutcliffe, Ottawa’s mayor. “And we need to adapt to what things are going to look like going forward.” The question, to which no one has the answer just yet, is what that adaptation will look like.”
Alex Beraskow (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on government outsourcing being good, McKinsey and ArriveCan scandals notwithstanding: “The Government of Canada is our country’s single largest employer and our most complex business. It is easy to target consultants and contractors as a cost sink, but while there are specific issues with McKinsey and ArriveCan, there is nothing inherently wrong with outsourcing. In fact, when done right, outsourcing is good and should be encouraged. At issue is the tough question “Do we make/build ourselves or do we buy?”
Quebec Premier François Legault (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on why it’s time to close the breach at Roxham Road and enforce Canada’s borders: “Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invited all those fleeing persecution, terror and war on Earth to come to Canada in January, 2017, the number of asylum seekers entering Canada has exploded. It was generous on the part of Mr. Trudeau, and in Canada as in Quebec, we have reason to be proud of our tradition of welcoming refugees. We did it for the Vietnamese boat people at the time, for the Haitians who were fleeing the Duvalier dictatorship, the Chileans who were fleeing the Pinochet regime and, more recently, for Afghans, Syrians and now Ukrainians. However, Mr. Trudeau’s good intentions turned into a real problem for Quebec and for Canada.”
Kent Roach, Amanda Carling, Jessie Stirling and Joel Voss (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Ottawa’s new bill offers hope to the wrongfully convicted: “After five years of research, review, and development, and with the help of numerous volunteers, we launched the Canadian Registry of Wrongful Convictions. As teachers of and students in a long-running course on wrongful convictions at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, we thought we knew about most of Canada’s remedied wrongful convictions. We were wrong.”
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