The head of Canada’s spy service says an investigation is under way to find the leakers of highly classified information on Chinese election interference, and suggested the whistle-blowers may have been frustrated with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of Beijing’s activities in the democratic process.
Appearing before a Commons committee investigating Chinese interference, David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, declined to answer questions about whether the government ignored warnings of China’s influence operations in the 2019 and 2021 elections.
Mr. Vigneault faced questions about whether there are any tensions between CSIS and the Prime Minister’s Office.
“There is an investigation under way by CSIS and our partners regarding the sources of the information, the leaks,” he told MPs.
Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife and senior parliamentary reporter Steven Chase report here.
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LAYTON WON’T RUN – Mike Layton, the son of the late federal NDP leader Jack Layton, says he will not be running to be the next mayor of Toronto. Story here from CTV.
MOUNTIES STRUGGLE WITH STAFF SHORTAGES – The RCMP in British Columbia are struggling with hundreds of job vacancies in their ranks that are impacting investigations and delaying call response times, both in rural areas and in the 65 larger communities the force is responsible for policing. Story here.
ANDERSON RESPONDS TO POILIEVRE – Far-right German politician Christine Anderson dismisses federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s suggestion that three of his MPs had no information about her politics before they met her last month. Story here.
PIERRE TRUDEAU FOUNDATION RETURNING DONATION – A foundation dedicated to the memory of Pierre Elliott Trudeau is returning a gift from a Chinese billionaire after The Globe and Mail reported that it was part of a China-directed influence operation to cozy up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Story here.
SENTENCE SHORTENED FOR MAN CONVICTED OF KILLING MOUNTIES – A New Brunswick man who fatally shot three Mounties in Moncton in 2014 will now be able to apply for parole far sooner than the record-setting 75 years imposed by a judge after the triple slaying. Story here.
DETAILS ON B.C. HEALTH DEAL WITH OTTAWA – British Columbia will collect an additional $1.5-billion in health care funding from Ottawa this year, after signing a new bilateral deal that includes a joint commitment to fast-track immigration pathways for foreign-trained doctors and nurses. Story here.
NO RCMP INVESTIGATION OF ELECTION INTERFERENCE: DEPUTY MINISTER – The RCMP is not investigating any allegations of foreign interference concerning the last general election, the federal deputy minister of public safety told a parliamentary committee this week. Story here.
ER DEATH ‘DISTURBING’: QUEBEC HEALTH MINISTER – Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé says details surrounding the death of an 86-year-old woman in an emergency room last week are “disturbing” and “unacceptable.” Story here.
CLIMATE ACTIVISTS DEFACE MAMMOTH – A centrepiece of the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria, Woolly the mammoth, was defaced with pink paint by protesters trying to draw attention to climate change. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
ON A BREAK – Both Parliament and the Senate are on breaks, with the House of Commons returning on March 6 and the Senate on March 7.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY – Chrystia Freeland, also the Finance Minister, in Charlottetown, with a group that included Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King announced more than $48.8 million in joint funding for the new health education building that will house the new medicine faculty on the campus of the University of Prince Edward Island.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD – Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, in Burlington, Ont., announced investments in Agricultural Clean Technology Program projects across Ontario. Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings and Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, in Gander, continued to attend the Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s annual conference and trade show, with Ms. Hutchings meeting with the Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce. Marci Ien, minister for women, gender equality and youth, in Toronto with Ontario Social Services Minister Merrilee Fullerton announced $8-million to support crisis hotlines across Ontario. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, in Halifax and accompanied by Mayor Mike Savage, announced $3.3-million in federal support for the Halifax Regional Municipality to prevent gun crime and gang violence in the region. Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, in Gaspé, Que., held a press conference to announce support to the Quebec fishing industry. Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, in Saguenay, Que., visited the facilities of Saguenay SME Mercier, Mechanical Industries, which makes replacement parts, equipment and industrial tools. Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, in Vancouver, announced funding to support francophone and francophile communities in British Columbia.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT TO VISIT CANADA – Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, is to visit Canada from next Monday to Wednesday, with stops in Ottawa and Kingston. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose office, on Thursday, announced next week’s visit will travel with Ms. von der Leyen to Kingston on March. 7 for talks on topics including driving trade and investment under the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They will also visit the Canadian Forces Base in the community to meet with military personnel who have deployed to Central and Eastern Europe as part of Operation Reassurance to support humanitarian efforts for Ukrainian refugees through Task Force Poland. Mr. Trudeau and the President will then return to Ottawa where, on March. 8, the President will address Parliament in the House of Commons.
BERGEN AND PETERSON – “What a way to begin my retirement from elected office!” Former interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen, an MP for 15 years, hangs out with author and psychologist Jordan Peterson and The National Post columnist Rex Murphy, recording the gathering on her Facebook page here.
On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, national reporter Nancy Macdonald talks about how Canada has a comparatively high rate of police killings but officers are rarely charged when they kill someone, and they don’t even have to participate in the investigations into their conduct. Ms. Macdonald spent months looking into hundreds of investigations into police officers, how often officers co-operate and the consequences of their silence. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the Vancouver region, delivered remarks at the Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey conference. Mr. Trudeau also met with Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim at a coffee shop. And Mr. Trudeau was scheduled to attend a Liberal Party of Canada fundraiser in Winnipeg hosted by Winnipeg-South Liberal MP Terry Duguid.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet begins a tour of the Magdalen Islands from Thursday to Sunday for the 2023 Rendez-vous Loup-Marin or seal festival. His itinerary for the day consisted of a press conference on groundfish, a meeting with the fishermen and participation in a tribute evening.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Deputy Leader Jonathan Pedneault, in Winnipeg, held a news conference with Manitoba Green Party Leader James Beddome.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Penticton, B.C., with South Okanagan-West Kootenay NDP MP Richard Cannings, helped volunteers with a United Way drive-thru breakfast, met with front-line community service workers, and toured the Penticton Access Centre.
No schedule provided for other party leaders.
TORIES HAVE POLLING EDGE – Conservatives have gained a clear advantage over the federal Liberals when polling data is modelled out to show which party is currently positioned to win more seats in an election, according to Nanos Research’s weekly tracking. Story here from CTV.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how the B.C. NDP and Alberta’s NDP agree on one thing: a budget spending spree: “In a tale of two provincial budgets, one province governed from the right and one from the left, the story is not about differences but instead a long list of similarities. Alberta and British Columbia tabled their fiscal 2023-24 budgets on Tuesday afternoon. Each document certainly displays predictable ideological hallmarks – the B.C. NDP have a suite of measures for lower- and middle-income people and Alberta’s United Conservative Party pledged balanced budgets forevermore. Yet what’s most striking is all that the two share in common, from their fiscal bounties to the risks they each court.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how an inquiry into foreign interference may restore trust in the electoral process: “With public trust evaporating, an arm’s-length inquiry into foreign interference in Canadian elections might be the only thing that could save the integrity of our electoral system and Justin Trudeau’s political skin. Such an inquiry could help protect future elections from outside interference. For the Prime Minister, it could smother the political fire over his passivity in the face of Chinese efforts to influence the 2021 vote. There is something about this affair that seems to bother Mr. Trudeau in a way most things don’t.”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on whether Chrystia Freeland could be heading to NATO after all: “There is a long list of potential candidates for the job, and the failure of leading NATO countries to settle on an acceptable successor to Mr. Stoltenberg could scuttle plans to name a new secretary-general by the alliance’s July summit in Lithuania. But by all accounts, the race to replace Mr. Stoltenberg is in full swing. A Feb. 13 Foreign Policy article identified Ms. Freeland, along with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, as “among the most-talked-about names” for the post. Others include Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova, ex-Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.”
Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on how small gains in Calgary won’t be enough for the Alberta NDP in the coming provincial election. Party Leader Rachel Notley has to flip the whole city: “The stakes couldn’t be more obvious; the NDP can’t win the May 29 election without Calgary. This isn’t just a matter of picking up a few Calgary seats. They have to flip virtually the whole city. The UCP won 23 of the 26 Calgary city seats in the last election. Two are now vacant — Calgary-Lougheed, after ex-premier Jason Kenney quit, and Calgary-Elbow, vacated by Doug Schweitzer. NDP strategists figure they have to win up to 20 Calgary seats to be certain of a majority, assuming the UCP takes most of the countryside and the NDP continues to sweep Edmonton.”
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