As a new year begins, Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he’s hoping it’s going to include a long-sought meeting between the premiers and the prime minister on health care.
“I am confident we will sit down,” Mr. Ford said Wednesday when asked about the issue at a news conference in Toronto. “We’re still trying to get a date. I don’t know what’s so hard about it.”
And once at the table, Mr. Ford said he would be open to more accountability on health spending in exchange for more federal money.
“Everyone has to be accountable. I always say there is one taxpayer, no matter if it’s municipal, federal or provincial. That’s one person paying the taxes and there always has to be accountability so that’s the least of our issues. Do we want a little bit of flexibility? Yeah, and I think they’re willing to do that,” said Mr. Ford, referring to Ottawa.
“Sometimes you need to shift funds. As long as it’s transparent and people can see it, and the feds can see it in the province, we’re going to get there. I’m really confident we’re going to get there.”
The premiers have been seeking a meeting, as a group, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they press for an increase in the Canada Health Transfer through which Ottawa provides health care funding. They want to see Ottawa cover 35 per cent of health care costs across the country, up from the current 22 per cent. Mr. Trudeau has said the federal government is looking for reforms and improvements to the health-care system.
Following a late December meeting with Mr. Trudeau, Quebec Premier François Legault said he was “more optimistic” about securing a health care deal with Ottawa. Story here.
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PM IN MEXICO – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, after attending the North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City on Tuesday, extolled the virtues of North American free trade to a Mexican audience of business leaders Wednesday – and took a few jabs at the former U.S. president who tried to do away with it. Story here. Senior parliamentary reporter Steven Chase and U.S. Correspondent Adrian Morrow reported here that Canada and the United States have reached a workaround deal in a dispute over the popular Nexus trusted traveller system, one of several announcements that came out of the summit.
Reporter’s Comment, U.S. Correspondent Adrian Morrow: “U.S. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and their travelling press pools were, on Tuesday, treated to one of the signature features of covering Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. At their joint news conference, the Mexican President spent a full 27 minutes answering a single question. This verbosity is one of AMLO’s trademarks – he usually holds a daily news conference that can go on for two hours. As his answer wore on, Mr. Trudeau could be seen trying to hold back a smirk. Mr. Biden alternated between staring at his shoes and winking at people in the audience. At one point, Mr. Trudeau gazed toward his staff sitting to the side of the podium, as if looking for some sign that it would be over soon. “I think I’m taking up more time than I should. It’s cold outside,” Mr. Obrador ultimately said, to laughter from reporters, as the sun vanished and a chill settled over the courtyard of the Palacio Nacional. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
CIVIL SERVANT NAVIGATES RECOVERY AFTER BUS ACCIDENT – A federal public servant who lost her legs in an Ottawa bus crash four years ago says she hopes to once again take the bus to the office this spring as she returns to work. Story here from The Ottawa Citizen. Meanwhile, light-rail service in the nation’s capital resumed fully on Tuesday night after nearly six full days of system problems linked to freezing rain. Story here from CBC.
HARD CHOICES NEEDED TO FIX HEALTH CARE: MORNEAU – Former finance minister Bill Morneau says political leaders in Canada have for too long fixed the health care system’s problems by spending more and more money, and that now is the time to make the hard choices they have avoided in the past. Story here.
POPULATION SURGE IN URBAN AREAS IN CANADA – Canada’s urban areas experienced their strongest population growth in at least two decades, rebounding from a weak expansion during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Story here.
POILIEVRE SEEKS CLOSURE OF IRREGULAR BORDER CROSSING – Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called for the closure of the Roxham Road irregular border crossing on Tuesday, but sidestepped questions about one of his MPs denying help to a family who used it to enter the country. Story here.
QUEBEC HYDRO CHIEF EXECUTIVE QUITS – Hydro-Québec chief executive officer Sophie Brochu has announced she is stepping down, just weeks after the provincial government created a “super ministry” of the economy that also assumed oversight of energy matters. Story here.
U.S. EMBASSY CONCERNED ABOUT ONLINE STREAMING ACT – The United States embassy in Ottawa says it has concerns that the federal Liberals’ controversial online streaming act could discriminate against American companies. Story here.
N.S. EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS UNDER SCRUTINY AFTER WOMAN’S DEATH – The death of a young mother in an Amherst, N.S. hospital, is renewing scrutiny of the province’s health-care system, and how emergency departments are functioning under the strain of staffing shortages and overcrowded waiting rooms. Story here from CBC.
EBY FACES RECALL ACTION – Elections B.C. has approved an application for a petition to recall British Columbia Premier David Eby launching a process that could see his Vancouver seat vacated and a by-election held. Story here from CTV.
TRANSPORTATION AGENCY ANNOUNCES COMPLAINTS APPROACH – The Canadian Transportation Agency will extend decisions on individual air traveller complaints to others from the same flight, but consumer rights advocates say the changes are unlikely to result in meaningful benefits for most travellers. Story here.
SMITH RULES OUT USE OF SOVEREIGNTY ACT – Premier Danielle Smith won’t commit to using Alberta’s controversial sovereignty act to rebut looming federal “just transition” legislation, which she calls an existential threat to her province’s bedrock oil and gas industry. Story here.
CONCERNS RAISED ABOUT B.C. MOUNTIE’S ANTI-TRUDEAU WEBSITE – A B.C. Mountie’s anti-Trudeau website is causing waves in a small West Kootenay community and raising concerns about political bias among the ranks of the RCMP. Story here from CBC.
YUKON LIBERAL MP PROMISES GUN CONTROL HEARINGS – Yukoners will have an opportunity to share their thoughts on proposed amendments to federal gun control legislation, the territory’s Liberal MP says. Story here from CBC.
THIS AND THAT
HOUSE ON A BREAK – The House of Commons is on a break until Jan. 30.
FREELAND AT WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is on the schedule for two panels at this year’s gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, joining a roster of participants that include German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Avril Haines, the U.S. director of National Intelligence. The theme of the conference, running from Jan. 16-20 and expected to draw 2,700 leaders from government, civil society and business, is “Co-operation in a Fragmented World.” Ms. Freeland will be participating in a Jan. 18 session entitled “Restoring Security and Peace” on how, according to a program note, leaders can collaborate and co-operate to defend collective security amidst such challenges as the war in Ukraine. Other participants include Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. She will also participate in a Jan. 19 panel entitled Women’s Leadership: Towards Parity in Power on creating better pathways to advance women into the highest levels of leadership, Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of Canada as well as the ex-governor of the Bank of England, is scheduled to attend three sessions including one on philanthropy as a catalyst for protecting the planet. The conference website is here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY – Chrystia Freeland returns to Toronto from a visit to Washington, and attends private meetings in Toronto.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD – Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, in Port Colborne, Ont., made a funding announcement at the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation wharves. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, in Carroll’s Corner, N.S., made a $322,727 funding announcement to upgrade public spaces in five communities. Sport Minister Pascale St‑Onge, in Orford, Que., made a funding announcement to support small tourism-sector businesses. International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan continues an official tour of Barbados and Jamaica.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mexico City, held private meetings, delivered a keynote address on North American competitiveness and the importance of free trade and inclusive growth, and participated in a family photo. Mr. Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and his spouse, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller. Mr. Trudeau subsequently met with Mr. Obrador. He then participated in an expanded meeting with Mr. Obrador, including Canada’s International Trade Minister Mary Ng, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, and Graeme Clark, Canada’s Ambassador to Mexico. Mr. Trudeau then participated in a signing ceremony and was scheduled to take media questions. The Prime Minister and Ms. Trudeau were then scheduled to depart Mexico City to return to Ottawa.
No schedules released for party leaders.
On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at VIDO, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan, talks about The Kraken – the XBB 1.5 variant of COVID-19 quickly becoming the dominant strain in the US, with more cases in Canada too. The WHO has called it the most transmissible variant of the virus we’ve seen so far. The Decibel is here.
Two in five Canadians say they would be comfortable with a nuclear power plant operating within 50 kilometres of where they live, according to new research from the Angus Reid Institute. Details here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how the conspiracy to inflate food prices is real and it’s time to rethink supply management: “The Globe and Mail has uncovered a wide-ranging conspiracy to inflate food prices, a dastardly scheme that has driven up the costs of basic groceries even as inflation pinches household budgets. Even worse, this plot has existed for decades, enriching the conspirators at the expense of Canadian families, year upon year. We speak, of course, of agriculture supply management and its “marketing boards” whose aims are not so much about marketing as they are to constrain supply, to dampen innovation and competition – and to keep prices elevated.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s real North America agenda being reacting to U.S. President Joe Biden’s industrial strategy: “It was nice that U.S. President Joe Biden and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, tacked a Three Amigos summit with Justin Trudeau onto meetings about Mr. Biden’s more pressing issue: the Mexican border. The idea of a common North American agenda seems a distant thing for the Mexican and U.S. presidents, both of whom are so wrapped up in domestic politics that there hasn’t been a lot of room for continental friendship. The get-together in Mexico was more like a Three Acquaintances summit, even though Mr. Biden promised to visit Canada in March. But Mr. Trudeau does have a North American agenda – and it has been consuming his government’s attention.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how the problem in Canadian politics is not polarization, but extremism: “Certainly it is hard to escape the feeling that something is amiss in our politics, something new and disturbing – the constant, escalating rage, the proliferation of conspiracy theories, the unmistakable overtones of menace. But I’m not sure that “polarization” is the right word. As ever, we seem to be importing American language to describe phenomena that may have echoes of events south of the border, but nevertheless have a distinctly Canadian ring.”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how, with the departure of Hydro-Québec CEO, the province sets its sights on new hydro dams: “Despite Ms. Brochu’s star profile in Quebec business circles – she previously ran the province’s main natural-gas provider and was considered a potential candidate to head up Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in 2019 – she ran up against the reality that electricity policy remains closely guarded prerogative of the provincial government. Political meddling is almost inevitable at Hydro-Québec, which has been a powerful symbol of state capitalism and economic determinism since the province nationalized its hydroelectric industry in the 1960s.”
Philippe Lagassé (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canada’s inevitable purchase of F-35 jets was a slog, but the process could have been worse: “We’ve heard a lot about the F-35 jet since then, but its critics and advocates have largely agreed about one thing: It was inevitable that Canada would eventually buy the plane. The aircraft’s critics argued that military bias would inherently skew any competition; its advocates said that a competition was a waste of time, since the F-35 was the most advanced fighter on the market. In some ways, both sides can now say, “I told you so.” Having served on two independent panels that reviewed the requirements for the new fighters, I’m confident that the competition was fair. Moreover, the time it took to get the process right was well-spent if this military capability can now be acquired without any more consternation.”
Jennifer Skene (Policy Options) on how logging creates as many emissions as oil sands and electricity generation, but the issue gets little attention for climate harm: “The Canadian logging industry is one of the country’s greatest climate liabilities, with net annual emissions on par with both oil sands operations and the electricity sector. From the atmosphere’s perspective, the effects of these sectors are identical, raising a critical question that lies at the heart of discussions around “natural climate solutions.” Why are emissions from the destruction of the natural world treated differently than emissions from fossil fuels?”