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This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. Subscribers who are reading this on the web 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.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who has faced extended media questioning about how he would deal with the crisis in Afghanistan, has offered some specific suggestions.

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But the former member of the Canadian Armed Forces declined on Friday to directly answer when asked if a Conservative government would arm Afghans who oppose the Taliban.

When asked on the campaign trail about the issue of Afghanistan, Mr. O’Toole has largely denounced the federal Liberal government, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, for delaying action on evacuating Canadians and Afghans who helped Canada during the past 20 years, suggested working with allies, and declared he would lead on the file, without saying what that would mean.

On Thursday, he posted a video online in which he said Canada should rededicate itself to work with allies, including India, and Afghanistan’s neighbors to help anyone able to flee the Taliban, and to establish humanitarian and refugee corridors.

Mr. O’Toole also said a Conservative government would provide political and material support to Afghans resisting the Taliban occupation.

On Friday in Corner Brook, N.L., during his daily news conference, Mr. O’Toole described material support as intelligence, logistics and satellite imaging, noting, “We’ve done this previous times, providing support for Ukraine, for example.”

He said the goal is to limit the Taliban’s ability to harm people.

“That’s giving material and political support that is not meant to be offensive,” he said. “It’s meant to protect. It’s meant to provide assistance.” As an example, he cited intelligence to help isolate and keep the Taliban away from some areas.

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Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said on Friday that while Ottawa is not offering any concrete measures to extract Canadians and Afghans left behind in Afghanistan, Canada’s diplomats will be available to help them if they can make it to a third country.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

LEGAULT TARGETS LIBERAL AND NDP PLATFORMS - Quebec Premier François Legault weighed into the federal election campaign on Thursday, making health care and immigration his priorities and criticizing the Liberal and NDP platforms as out of step with nationalists in the province.

TIME TO RAISE LOWERED FLAGS: O’TOOLE - Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says flags on federal buildings, which have been at half-mast since hundreds of unmarked graves were reported at former residential schools last spring, should be raised.

PAUL WARNS OF ONLINE THREATS - Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said she has been receiving threats online from people saying they will disrupt her party’s campaign events.

THREE-WAY RACE TIGHTENS IN B.C. - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is looking to make gains in British Columbia with the early election call, but the ballot is becoming a tighter three-way race, new polling data suggest. Story here, from The Vancouver Sun.

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TORY CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR TOUTS STUDIO CAMPAIGNING - As federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole does some of his campaigning from a studio in downtown Ottawa, the party national campaign director tells CBC other party leaders largely sticking to the traditional election model of long days on the road criss-crossing the country are engaging in “an outdated way to do campaigning.” Story here, from the CBC.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet campaigns in Chicoutimi, with events that include meeting with the mayor of Saguenay and visiting the Port of Saguenay.

Campaign Trail Commitment: Mr. Blanchet called for the creation of a $120-million sector fund dedicated to aluminum processing in Quebec to support the competitiveness of the province’s companies in the sector.

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole made an announcement and held a media availability in Corner Brook, N.L., and was scheduled to attend an event with supporters in the evening in North Sydney, N.S.

Campaign Trail Commitment: Mr. O’Toole released a plan to increase EI benefits for seriously ill workers from 26 to 52 weeks.

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Green Party Leader Annamie Paul delivered remarks in Toronto at the Adelaide Mosque, and was scheduled to hold a news conference on Afghanistan in the afternoon.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made an announcement and held a media availability in Mississauga, Ont., and was scheduled to meet this afternoon with locals and supporters in Bolton.

Campaign Trail Commitment: Mr. Trudeau promised a $1-billion fund to help provinces and territories implement proof-of-vaccination requirements for non-essential businesses and public spaces. Story here.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made an announcement on heath care in Thunder Bay, and was scheduled to meet with regional First Nations leaders. He was also scheduled to visit the Persian Man Bakery and attend a campaign kick-off in Thunder Bay-Rainy River.

Campaign Trail Commitment: Mr. Singh said in Thunder Bay an NDP government would enact a plan to make free prescription medication available to everyone in Canada. Story here.

ELECTION PODCAST

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Check here for the latest issue of The Decibel podcast from The Globe and Mail newsroom, which features political reporter Marieke Walsh talking about what the campaign for the Sept. 20 election is really about. Queen’s Park reporter Laura Stone is guest host.

ELECTION SPOTLIGHT - BRITISH COLUMBIA

42 seats. At dissolution of Parliament: 17 Conservatives. 11 Liberals. 11 NDP. 2 Green Party. 1 Independent

Hamish Telford, associate professor - political science - University of the Fraser Valley: “So far, British Columbians’ focus has been elsewhere, on two things. The first is COVID, the pandemic. B.C. has been leading the country on the fourth wave. And we have had a raft of new orders put in place by the government.. And then a lot of focus in other parts of the province, but of concern to all British Columbians, has been forest fires. The election is certainly competing with other big stories in British Columbia.

“Everyone understood this election was called because Justin Trudeau wanted a majority, and the route to a majority, in part, would be through British Columbia, particularly the Lower Mainland. All the parties recognize this, so all three major party leaders have been here within the first week of the campaign. That speaks to the competitiveness of some of those ridings. A fairly strong performance of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh might play a spoiler role here. He might prevent Trudeau from getting his majority. It’s not so much that the NDP is poised to take seats from the Liberals, but the Liberals are hoping to get seats from the Conservatives, and a strong spoiler role by the NDP might make that more difficult to overcome the Conservative votes.

“I’ve not seen any sort of overt assistance from the provincial NDP government of Premier John Horgan towards the federal NDP here. But I think the federal NDP probably does have some wind in its sails from the provincial NDP victory last year. They are relying on the same donors, the same volunteers who are feeling good because they won a large majority government. It was the NDP’s first majority government [in B.C.] in 25 years. The NDP took ridings, like my riding here in the Fraser Valley, they have never had any hope of winning before. They are feeling confident. It helps Jagmeet Singh. If you have enthusiastic campaigners who were, months ago, working on a campaign and taking ridings they had never won before, they think anything is possible, so they will work hard.”

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PUBLIC OPINION:

Together with CTV and Nanos Research, The Globe and Mail is doing daily surveys to track which party and leader Canadians prefer. Check here for the latest results.

Pollster Nik Nanos here takes a Data Dive into vaccination rules: Canadians support proof-of-vaccination rules, but just don’t want to make things awkward.

OPINION

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on the issue of why we aren’t talking about Indigenous communities during the federal election campaign:Once again, the urgent reality of Indigenous inequity in this land of plenty is not the main focus of a federal election campaign – one that no one wanted, in the heat of summer, as a variant of COVID-19 spreads and wildfires continue to burn in the West. I will never understand why those who purport to lead this country fail to look clearly at the reality of genocide and confront it head-on. Why won’t they visit the communities, such as Neskantaga First Nation, where there hasn’t been clean water for 26 years? The only leader to do this, so far, is the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh.”

Souradet Shaw (contributor to The Globe and Mail) on Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister’s individualist legacy being at odds with the way the world works: Here in Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister – who recently announced that he would be stepping down at some point before the 2023 election – would prefer to ignore that web. He has explained how his father, a polio survivor, pulled himself up ‘by his bootstraps,’ and through sheer determination learned to walk again. This story was meant to illustrate the individual responsibilities Manitobans needed to uphold for a ‘post-pandemic’ world. Mr. Pallister’s comments align with the individualistic ethos that has pervaded his government’s COVID-19 response. In this interpretation, Manitoba’s failure to contain COVID-19 was not the result of public-policy failure, but of individuals not being on ‘Team Manitoba’”

Andrew MacDougall (Maclean’s) on the lack of tone from Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in the federal election campaign: And while Trudeau fumbles about in his closet for an attack that sticks, Erin O’Toole is keeping things calm and collegiate. Bar the wonky Willy Wonka web ad from the Conservative war room at the onset of the campaign, the Conservatives—and O’Toole himself—have kept things largely above the belt.”

Luong Phuc Nguyen (Policy Options), a Canadian infantry officer who was deployed to Afghanistan twice, reflecting on Canada’s Afghan mission: “With the fall of Kabul and the return to power of the Taliban, much of what Canada touted as its legacy thanks to its successful mission is in doubt. The roads we built and most development projects will continue to benefit Afghans, but the security forces and governance we supported have been defeated, with only remnants resisting in the Panjshir Valley, 150 kilometres north of Kabul, as of this writing. The only certainty I am left with is the knowledge that 20 years of our presence have exposed Afghans to an information and media explosion that has changed their society forever.”

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