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This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers 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.

Canada’s ambassador to China spent three weeks in Washington in early April holding talks with senior American officials aimed at facilitating the release of two Canadians imprisoned in China.

Three sources told The Globe and Mail that Ambassador Dominic Barton’s confidential mission to Washington involved discussions about a possible U.S. deferred prosecution agreement for Huawei Technologies Co. chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou that could lead to freedom for Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife and Senior Parliamentary Reporter Steven Chase report.

Reporter’s Comment: Robert Fife – “The fact that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dispatched his China envoy to Washington for secret talks rather than use our Canadian ambassador to the United States is puzzling. I suspect that Dominic Barton may well have been carrying messages from Beijing to the Americans on a way out of the impasse. A way, perhaps, for Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou to return home through a plea bargain agreement and freedom for Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.”

Explainer: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been in Chinese jails for 900 days and counting. The two Canadians have been jailed in apparent retaliation for Canada’s prosecution of a Huawei executive wanted in the United States. Read an explainer on the situation.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

POPE SPEAKS ON RESIDENTAL SCHOOL GRAVES - Pope Francis expressed his pain over the discovery of unmarked graves at a former residential school in British Columbia, and, on Sunday, urged Canadian political and religious leaders to shed light on the tragedy, but stopped short of an apology. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday criticized the church for being “silent” and “not stepping up” as he called for a formal apology.

AIR CANADA LANDS BONUSES AFTER PM CONCERN - Air Canada on Sunday said its top executives will give back their 2020 bonuses and stock awards, citing “public disappointment.” Revelations of the bonus plan caused a furor, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland blasting the bonuses last week.

NAC RUNNING INDIGENOUS BOOK CLUB - The Indigenous book club for the National Arts Centre has found a unique way to share Indigenous stories amid the pandemic. Though the initiative began in January as a way for the NAC’s Indigenous theatre department to continue cultural programming during the pandemic, organizers say they’ve discovered real benefits to hosting Indigenous stories in an online format.

CABINET MINISTERS CRITICIZE KENNEY - Two Alberta cabinet ministers are speaking out against Jason Kenney’s actions following the release of photos showing his appearance with other government officials at an outdoor gathering on the patio of a government office known as the “Sky Palace.” Many believe the meeting was in violation of the province’s COVID-19 health restrictions.

NEWFOUNDLAND GOVERNMENT CHANGING COAT OF ARMS - The Newfoundland and Labrador government has decided to change the official description of the province’s 400-year-old coat of arms, which includes a reference to Indigenous people as “savages.”

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister delivers a keynote address and participates in a virtual conversation at the St. John’s Board of Trade’s Annual Outlook Conference, entitled “Outlook 2021: The Road To Recovery.” The Prime Minister chairs the cabinet meeting.

LEADERS

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul will hold a news conference addressing Indigenous Sovereignty and Reconciliation. She also delivers an opening statement on conversion therapy.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh holds a media availability ahead of vote on NDP Opposition Day Motion.

OPINION

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the need for Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole to lead: “June is Pride Month, and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is celebrating with a video and a renewed pledge to end the ban on blood donations by gay men if he becomes elected prime minister. There’s only one problem. Citing religious freedom and parental rights, a rump of Tory MPs is stalling passage of C-6, the legislation that would largely ban conversion therapy. Unless they end their filibuster and allow the bill to pass before Parliament rises June 23, the Conservatives will take the blame for killing legislation that would protect LGBTQ Canadians from zealots, crooks and cranks. Mr. O’Toole must make them stand down.”

Adam Radwanski (The Globe and Mail) on the rarely mentioned transition strategy that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised oil and gas workers: Nearly two years ago, Justin Trudeau made a promise that in retrospect looks both prescient and half-baked. As part of his Liberals’ 2019 election platform, Mr. Trudeau pledged that they would introduce a “Just Transition Act” to give workers and communities reliant on the fossil fuel industry “the training, support and new opportunities needed to succeed in the clean economy.”...But despite recent projections by bank economists that up to 450,000 Canadian jobs from the oil-and-gas industry could be lost during the push to net-zero emissions by 2050, there has been no discernible movement on the strategy, and the government rarely mentions it.”

Paul Martin (Contributor to the Globe and Mail) on how the G7 can strengthen the world’s defence against global health threats: Nearly 90 per cent of the vaccines administered have been in G20 countries. This is a grave moral failure, as well as an almost assured recipe for an ongoing threat. Countries that do not have access to adequate supplies of vaccines can become breeding grounds for new variants, posing a risk to all of us. Unequal vaccine distribution is also a severe threat to the health of the global economy. If we’ve learned one lesson from this experience, it is that public health precedes economic wellbeing. Without the former, the latter is unachievable.”

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