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Former governor-general David Johnston will issue his first report Tuesday on foreign interference, which could determine whether Ottawa establishes a formal public inquiry.

The government appointed Mr. Johnston as an “Independent Special Rapporteur”on March 15, with a deadline of “no later” than May 23 to make interim recommendations.

The Special Rapporteur’s office issued a news release Friday confirming that his first report will be released on Tuesday. The office has set up a two-hour briefing for journalists to review material under embargo.

The recommendations are scheduled to be released publicly at noon when Mr. Johnston holds a news conference in Ottawa to discuss the report.

The Rapporteur review was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after The Globe and Mail reported Feb. 17, based on Canadian Security Intelligence Service documents, that China employed a sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy in the 2021 election campaign. CSIS documents also explain how Beijing tried to interfere in the 2019 election.

All three major opposition parties have called on the government to immediately create a public inquiry on the issue, but Mr. Trudeau has said he wants to hear Mr. Johnston’s recommendations before making a decision.

Mr. Johnston’s mandate is to provide a series of reports on foreign interference. The mandate does not specifically name China. It says the review should assess the extent and impact of foreign interference and review the federal government’s information and actions about the threat of foreign interference both historically and in relation to the 2019 and 2021 federal campaigns.

Due to the Monday holiday, the Politics Briefing newsletter will return next Tuesday.

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TODAY'S HEADLINES

BLAIR TOOK MONTHS TO APPROVE CSIS SURVEILLANCE OF LIBERAL POWERBROKER: SOURCE - Canada’s spy service sought an electronic and entry warrant to monitor former Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan in the lead-up to the 2021 federal election, but it took several months for then-public safety minister Bill Blair to sign off on the clandestine surveillance of the influential Liberal Party powerbroker, according to a national-security source. Story here.

E-MAILS SHOW MCKINSEY INVOLVEMENT IN CALL WITH BARTON WHILE AMBASSADOR - A McKinsey partner organized a workshop for the Canada Infrastructure Bank involving Dominic Barton while he was Canada’s ambassador to China, even though Mr. Barton told Parliament in February he had no contact with his former company during his brief time at Global Affairs. Story here.

OTTAWA CLEAN FUEL POLICY WILL ADD UP TO 17 CENTS TO GAS PRICES IN 2030: WATCHDOG - One of the federal government’s policies aimed at slashing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions is regressive and will hurt poor- and middle-income households more than the rich, according to a new Parliamentary Budget Office report. Story here.

NO WESTJET STRIKE - WestJet and its pilots union say they have reached a last-minute deal, averting a strike ahead of the May long weekend. Story here.

ALBERTA LEADERS FACE OFF IN TELEVISED DEBATE - The leaders of Alberta’s two dominant political parties faced each other in a televised debate Thursday evening that unfolded more like a series of mini-campaign speeches rather than a tense political standoff. Story here.

SCHEER MAKES CPC CASE IN MANITOBA BYELECTION - Former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer visited Manitoba Thursday to bolster his party’s bid to retain Portage-Lisgar, historically one of the safest Conservative seats in Canada. Story here from CBC.

LOW INTEREST RATES UNLIKELY IN FUTURE: MACKLEM - Canadians should not expect interest rates to fall back to very low levels seen over the past decade, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said on Thursday. Story here.

B.C. CORONER DEFENDS SAFE SUPPLY AS MPS DEBATE CONCEPT - British Columbia’s chief coroner defended the province’s policy of providing safe narcotics to drug users, even as Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and his fellow Tory MPs assailed the practice Thursday during an extended debate on Parliament Hill. Story here.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PLANS TO UNLOAD 10 OTTAWA-AREA BUILDINGS - The federal government is disposing of 10 buildings in the national capital region, including L’Esplanade Laurier in downtown Ottawa, as it looks to reduce its office footprint and shifts to a hybrid work model. Story here from CTV.

MANUCHA WINS DONNER PRIZE - Though it sounds like the name of a Stompin’ Tom Connors song, Ryan Manucha’s Booze, Cigarettes and Constitutional Dust-Ups is, in fact, a 312-page examination of interprovincial trade barriers in Canada. At a Toronto gala on Thursday evening, the book was named this year’s winner of the $60,000 Donner Prize, an annual award that recognizes the best in Canadian public policy writing and research. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The House of Commons is not sitting. Members of Parliament agreed not to sit on Friday because the Bloc Québécois is holding a policy convention this weekend in Drummondville. A similar arrangement was made earlier this month when the Liberals held a convention in Ottawa. The House of Commons is now on a break until May 29. It is the last recess before the final stretch of sittings ahead of the summer break, currently scheduled for June 23.

The Senate will also be on a break next week.

NEW CP PARLIAMENT HILL NEWS EDITOR - Marie-Danielle Smith is the new, permanent news editor at the Parliament Hill bureau of The Canadian Press, a development she announced here. Ms. Smith is a former assistant editor and associate editor at Maclean’s magazine.

MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne and International Trade Minister Mary Ng, in Washington, participated in a North American semiconductor conference. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, in the community of River John, N.S., made an announcement on support for the Community Support Society of River John. Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, in Winnipeg, and accompanied by Mayor Scott Gillingham, was scheduled to make an announcement on dealing with gun crime and gang violence in the city.

BLOC CONVENTION - The Bloc Québécois national convention is being held through Sunday in Drummondville, Que., with Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet scheduled to speak to the gathering on Saturday.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

In Hiroshima, Japan for the G7 meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held private meetings, then met with Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio followed by Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Mr. Trudeau then attended the G7 welcoming ceremony, visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, participated in a wreath-laying ceremony, and joined other G7 leaders for a “family photo.” The Prime Minister participated in a tree-planting ceremony, then went to a working luncheon hosted by Japan’s Prime Minister. Following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr. Trudeau attended a G7 working session, then visited the Itsukushima Shrine and participated in a G7 family photo. The day ended with a G7 working dinner hosted by Japan’s Prime Minister.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Port Coquitlam, B.C., visited the Training Centre of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Later Mr. Singh was scheduled to speak with Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochrane on continuing flooding and fires across the territory.

No schedules were released for other party leaders.

THE DECIBEL

On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, transportation reporter Eric Atkins explains why airlines still might not have enough staff for a chaotic season of air travel experts are anticipating in the coming months. Along with continuing labour disputes, Canadian airlines have scheduled more flights for the summer. There’s a catch though: They might not have the crew to staff them. The Decibel is here.

OPINION

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how the public is fed up with open drug use in parks and downtown cores: An hour down the road from Vancouver is the U.S. port city of Bellingham, Wash. Known for its craft beer and hippie vibe, it has long held a reputation for being one of the most progressive, laid-back cities in Washington State. Over the years, it has been a reliable ally of the Democratic Party at election time. Which is why a recent move by the city council there is somewhat shocking: a decision to authorize police to arrest people who are injecting, ingesting or inhaling drugs such as fentanyl or methamphetamine on downtown streets.”

Trina Moyles (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Alberta had one of the best wildfire programs in the world, but budget cuts have left the province at risk: A series of government cutbacks and defunding, however, has seriously damaged Alberta Wildfire’s ability to prevent and respond to wildfires. The NDP cut $15-million from the budget in 2016. Three years later, the United Conservative Party (UCP), despite the severity of the 2019 fire season in Alberta, with multiple northern and Indigenous communities affected by the Chuckegg Creek and McMillan wildfire complexes, subsequently deepened those cuts.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) writes on why he hopes the “Centre Ice” group takes the plunge and creates a new federal party in the middle of the political spectrum: “There’s another way to define centrism, less as a matter of positioning and more as a matter of temperament – moderation, in other words, and all that that implies: judgment, reflection, open-mindedness, level-headedness. And there are a set of positions and policies that would fit that description – that would offer a sensible, distinct and above all useful alternative to those on offer from the other parties.”

Andrew MacDougall (The Ottawa Citizen) on how it’s time for Pierre Poilievre to decide whether he wants attention, or results:The question came to mind while watching Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre pepper Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland with questions in the House of Commons this week. Why, Poilievre wanted to know, were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers flying off to fancy meetings with G7 leaders in far-off places such as Japan while “common” Canadians at home were dealing with huge price spikes on food and heating costs? Poilievre’s populist attack is as old as time: I care for the “little man” while you, Mrs. Out-of-Touch Elite, are “busy” swanning around with all of the other elites. In this particular case, Poilievre is right: “common” people don’t spend much time wondering what’s on a G7 agenda. They care much more about the cost of their grocery bills. But these “common” concerns don’t make it right to indulge in this kind of cynicism every time the opportunity presents itself, because in government it presents itself every day. A lot of what the government does lacks a retail edge. This doesn’t make it a waste of time. Poilievre knows this; indeed, how could he not? Following the 2008 election, Stephen Harper appointed Poilievre as his parliamentary secretary at a time when the then-prime minister was busy flying off to things like G20 and (then) G8 summits to try to sort out the impacts of the global financial crisis.”

Ron Graham (Literary Review of Canada) on the misadventures of former federal finance minister Bill Morneau: “Once sworn in, Morneau did something that Trudeau and his political team seldom did: he sought advice from a few old pros, including Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and Michael Wilson, about how best to do his new job and what pitfalls to avoid. Their advice boiled down to a simple warning: The relationship between a prime minister and a finance minister comes with built-in tensions. The jobs are different, so the goals may conflict. “The more independent you are, the more effective you will be,” Chrétien told him, “but the more independent you are, the more you will be at risk.” Morneau listened, but he didn’t want to hear about tensions and conflicts. Instead, he remembered what he learned at his father’s knee: “Never underestimate the value of strong relationships in your business and personal lives.”

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