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Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner has pulled the plug on a bid to seek the leadership of the United Conservative Party of Alberta.

“This has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I will wonder about it for a long time. But I’m self-aware enough to know it’s the right choice,” the Calgary Nose Hill Conservative member wrote in a statement posted online on Thursday.

Ms. Rempel Garner recently announced she was stepping away as national co-chair for Patrick Brown’s bid to lead the federal Conservatives so she could explore the possibility of leading the UCP. This week, Mr. Brown’s campaign manager, Sean Schnell, said he was stepping away as well to help Ms. Rempel Garner in her leadership bid. Story here.

Ms. Rempel Garner, who has been an MP since 2011 and served as minister of western economic diversification under former prime minister Stephen Harper, wrote on Thursday that she was concerned about whether she would be able to pull the UCP together to compete in the next Alberta provincial election, set to be held on or before May. 29, 2023.

“With the UCP caucus, as I’m on the outside of it, I don’t know where all of the sore spots are from the events of the last couple of years. But from what many people have confidentially shared with me, there seem to be a lot of them, and they seem pretty fresh,” Ms. Rempel Garner wrote.

She said it would be a daunting challenge to blend together supporters of outgoing UCP leader Jason Kenney and those who don’t want that group to have any hold on power.

“Bluntly put, I’m concerned about what would happen if I stepped in as leader under the present internal UCP caucus dynamic, especially considering we would need to govern while preparing for a rapidly approaching general election,” she wrote.

In May, Premier Jason Kenney, who co-founded the UCP five years ago, said he would step down as party leader after he only secured 51.4 per cent support in an internal leadership review. Several candidates, including former finance minister Travis Toews, UCP backbencher Brian Jean, a former leader of the Wildrose Party and co-founder of the UCP, and another former Wildrose leader, Danielle Smith, have entered the race.

Ms. Rempel Garner said she plans to seek re-election in Calgary Nose Hill. “I love what I do – in spite of internal party ups and downs of the last few years and whatever may come in the future.”

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TODAY'S HEADLINES

NO PRESSURE PLACED ON COMMISSIONER LUCKI: TRUDEAU – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denies his office pressed RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki to advance the Liberal government’s gun-control agenda. Speaking to reporters in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday where he is attending a Commonwealth meeting, Mr. Trudeau said he and his office did “absolutely not” interfere with RCMP decisions about when to release details of guns used in the April, 2020, mass shooting in Nova Scotia. Story here.

NCC CONCERNED ABOUT CLIMATE-CHANGE IMPACT – A Crown corporation that is Ottawa-Gatineau’s largest landowner expects climate-induced damage to its properties to “increase exponentially, as will complaints” and warns it might not be able to keep up with repairs. Story here.

PROGRAM RELEASED FOR POPE’S CANADIAN VISIT – The Vatican has released the program for the Pope’s visit to Canada next month, which includes visiting the site of a former Alberta residential school with survivors of the institutions. Story here. The official schedule on the Vatican website is here.

OTTAWA ISSUES DOCUMENTS TO HELP AFGHAN EXITS – Ottawa is issuing single-journey travel documents to thousands of Afghans who have been approved for resettlement in Canada and is urging them to get to Pakistan, which has relaxed its border restrictions so they can stay there temporarily until they are able to catch flights out. Story here.

TORIES WELCOME VACCINE CRITIC – A Canadian soldier charged for speaking out against COVID-19 vaccine requirements was warmly welcomed on Wednesday to Parliament Hill, where Conservative MPs posed with him for pictures before sitting through a lecture on the purported dangers of inoculations. Story here.

TRUDEAU VISITS KIGALI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid his respects to victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide in Kigali, Rwanda on Thursday where he is attempting to build consensus with Commonwealth nations to prevent a new humanitarian crisis. Story here.

FORD CABINET TO BE UNVEILED FRIDAY – Ontario Premier Doug Ford is poised to unveil his cabinet Friday, including a new health minister, as the system continues to struggle from the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. Story here.

HOCKEY CANADA FUNDING FROZEN – The Canadian government is freezing federal funding to Hockey Canada following recent testimony from its top executives over allegations that eight Canadian Hockey League players sexually assaulted a young woman in 2018. It has also taken steps to begin an investigation into the organization’s handling of the alleged assault. Story here.

VANDALIZED QUEEN VICTORIA STATUE BEYOND REPAIR – A statue of Queen Victoria that was toppled and beheaded by protesters last year outside the Manitoba legislature is beyond repair and will not be restored. Story here.

UNIONS WARNED GOVERNMENT ABOUT PASSPORT CHAOS – Unions that represent workers at Passport Canada and Service Canada centres across the country say they asked the federal government to beef up staffing in anticipation of a summer surge in passport applications and renewals that has now materialized, causing passport offices to become overwhelmed. Story here.

B.C.’S HORGAN SUSPENDS WORK ON $800M MUSEUM – Premier John Horgan has halted an ambitious but costly and controversial plan to shut down the Royal B.C. Museum and rebuild a new facility for about $800-million, acknowledging that his government misread public sentiment. Story here.

NUNAVUT MP SUPPORTS CONTINENTAL DEFENCE PLAN – Nunavut’s NDP MP is applauding the federal government’s plan to spend $4.9-billion over the next six years to modernize continental defence. And Lori Idlout says northerners should have some say in how the money is spent. Story here from CBC.

INTERIM DIRECTOR/CEO APPOINTED AT NATIONAL GALLERY – The National Gallery of Canada’s board of trustees has appointed Angela Cassie, the gallery’s chef strategy and inclusion officer, as its interim director and CEO. Story here from the Ottawa Citizen. There’s a story here on why the gallery needs an interim director.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is campaigning in Ontario. Patrick Brown is in Brampton. Jean Charest is in Quebec. Leslyn Lewis has a campaign event in Ottawa. Pierre Poilievre is in Ottawa and headed to Montreal. There are no details on the campaign whereabouts of Roman Baber.

COMPLAINT FROM BROWN CAMPAIGN – Patrick Brown’s leadership campaign has filed an official complaint with the party against tactics of the campaign of rival Pierre Poilievre. On Thursday, Mr. Brown’s national campaign co-chair John Reynolds wrote to the chair of the party’s leadership election organizing committee. He accused the Poilievre campaign of the “fraudulent use” of e-mail correspondence with the party membership. Citing media reports, Mr. Reynolds said the campaign, near the June. 3 deadline for signing up new members, sent out misleading emails titled “Membership status: incomplete,” which may have led to the purchase of duplicate memberships. “The content of the email, as well as its structure and wording, were used to deliberately mislead and deceive individuals. Members were directed to purchase another membership through the Poilievre campaign portal, which would have resulted in inflating the Poilievre campaign’s sales figures.” We have reached out to the Poilievre campaign for comment on the complaint.

JULY 8 DEBATE – Four Conservative leadership candidates are confirmed to participate in a debate July 8 held in Calgary by the Western Standard media organization. Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre have other commitments, which leaves Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber, Jean Charest and Patrick Brown. The debate will be held at the Calgary Petroleum Club. Derek Fildebrandt, publisher, president and CEO of the Western Standard New Media Corp., said in a statement the debate will focus on such issues as equalization, energy and pipelines, provincial autonomy, firearms and free speech and censorship. The Conservative Party has previously held two official debates, and left open the possibility of a third debate in August. Party president Robert Batherson said, in an e-mail on Thursday that no decision has been made on another debate. The party is to announce the winner of the leadership race on Sept. 10.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, June 23, accessible here.

Thursday is scheduled to be the final day of the current Parliamentary session. The House of Commons sits again on Sept. 19. Meanwhile, the Senate is scheduled to wrap up on June 30, and resume sitting on Sept. 20.

TAM REAPPOINTED – Theresa Tam, who has been Canada’s chief public health officer since 2016 and was in the spotlight during the pandemic, has been reappointed for another three years. The order in council – an order formulated by cabinet and approved by the Governor General – is here and includes a salary of between $275,700 and $324,400 effective June. 21, 2022. A previous order in council appointment here, in 2018, listed a salary within the range of $226,100 and 265,000.

VAN DUSEN SIGNING OFF – After 21 years at the Cable Public Affairs Channel, best known as CPAC, host Peter Van Dusen is retiring this October. Asked about the decision, Mr. Van Dusen said, in an e-mail exchange, it just seems like the right time after 45 years in journalism. “Its been an honour to occupy a front-row seat to so many key events over the past two decades from elections to leadership conventions to the daily affairs of Parliament and to be able to give our viewers that unfiltered access to democracy in action.” Mr. Van Dusen said he has no future plans.

THE DECIBEL

On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, senior political writer Campbell Clark discusses the work of the committee looking into the government’s justification for invoking the Emergencies Act for the first time on Feb. 14, 2022. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau turned to the legislation in response to the continuing trucker convoy protests. And in doing so, he also automatically launched a review into that decision, which has led to hearings and questioning of several senior cabinet ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. Mr. Clark talks about what we have learned so far and explains why this has been a frustrating exercise in democratic accountability. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

In Kigali, Rwanda, the Prime Minister, attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, held private meetings, participated in a panel discussion on the Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum toward COP27, visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial, and participated in a roundtable discussion at the Commonwealth Business Forum. The Prime Minister also held a bilateral meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and held a media availability. The Prime Minister also attended a welcome reception and state banquet hosted by Mr. Kagame.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held a news conference on Parliament Hill and participated in Question Period.

No other schedules released for party leaders.

PUBLIC OPINION

The leaderless Conservatives have climbed five percentage points past the governing Liberals, according to Nanos Research. Story here from CTV.

OPINION

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on how the writing is already on the wall: It’s bye-bye Biden: “Sending old Joe packing is the right thing for the Democrats to do. The party needs to sweep away the gerontocracy currently clinging to power, which includes 82-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Dynamic, new-generation leadership from the heartland must replace the woke coastal elites. Mr. Biden says he has every intention of running again. He has to say that at this stage. He wants a rematch, he says, against Mr. Trump. But it’s well possible that Mr. Trump won’t get his party’s nomination either. He’s currently being battered at the congressional hearings on his role in the nightmarish attempted coup of Jan. 6, 2021.”

Clint Davis (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how modernizing NORAD is key to supporting economic reconciliation in the North: “When it comes to modernizing NORAD in the Arctic, two Canadian priorities – reconciliation and continental defence – can be advanced simultaneously. Inuit development corporations are ready to work with the Department of National Defence and the federal government to develop plans that will meet national security needs, while honouring Canada’s obligations under Inuit Land Claims Agreements that support the way of life in our communities.”

Julie Clark (Policy Options) on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin could unleash a nuclear weapon: “The question is: Will Putin truly unleash a nuclear weapon? Maybe. That should be concerning enough to convince the West to take a different approach. When the words “might” or “could potentially” escalate to nuclear use are expressed by nuclear weapons states, the words are meant to convey uncertainty to the public, but they are understood as reassuring by experts. The word “might” indicates a possibility of action – or inaction – because we cannot know the future. Certainly, there is a possibility that the war in Ukraine will not escalate to the point of nuclear action. Russian escalation of nuclear threats could therefore be intended only as a rhetorical demonstration of strength. But why are we risking that alternative? “Might” also means other terrifying possibilities. Currently, there are two: deliberate or inadvertent use.”

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