Yukon’s Premier says the downing of a mysterious object over the territory marks an important milestone in the debate over the security of Canada’s arctic.
“It’s a turning point,” Ranj Pillai said an interview on Monday.
Mr. Pillai, who took over as premier in mid-January, said there were some talks among premiers on what he called the “Arctic-security conversation” while they were in Ottawa for a meeting on the federal government’s funding of health care.
But events over the weekend have made the issue far more concrete. During a Monday news conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said four aerial objects shot down in recent days, including one over Yukon territory on Saturday, are connected in some way, without elaborating.
“Obviously there is some sort of pattern in there – the fact we are seeing this in a significant degree over the past week is a cause for interest and close attention,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters in in Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital. Story here.
Meanwhile, Mr. Pillai said the question is whether we are headed for a future where incidents like this are not going to be an anomaly in the Canadian north.
“Are we going to be in a situation over the next 20 years where the activity that happens is just not something that happens once over the Yukon?
“Are we going to have more activity on our coast? Are we going to have our airspace more active, with foreign players? These are all the things we have to think about. This weekend just gave us a touch of what the future could bring?”
In concrete terms, Mr. Pillai says the security concern is about bolstering infrastructure in the north to facilitate the future development of a further military presence. For example, he cited development of an electrical grid connection into the Yukon, the development of fibre lines, and ongoing upgrades to the Whitehorse airport.
“The infrastructure we need is going to be advantageous to both the military and the growth of the north and our ability to support the critical minerals infrastructure everyone wants to see flourish.”
He said Arctic leaders, including First Nations, want to be at the table on future discussions about Arctic security involving the federal government. “We want our voices to be heard,” he said.
On Monday, the Liberal Premier met with the Prime Minister, who was in Whitehorse for a series of events.
“He was open to the dialogue around Arctic security,” he said. “He was supportive of the points I made and the importance I stressed on this topic.”
Mr. Pillai said he has had helpful discussions with Defence Minister Anita Anand, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal.
He also said he has not been told exactly what the object is or where it might have come from, saying both points are unclear at this point.
Mr. Pillai had previously launched work to build a new territorial advisory committee to provide guidance on the subject. “I want to be informed when I come to the table.”
On Monday afternoon, there was word of a technical briefing on “high-altitude objects” in Ottawa at 4:30 p.m. ET that will be held by the Department of National Defence , Public Safety Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canadian Coast Guard. Please check The Globe and Mail for updates.
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TORY STILL HAS WORK TO DO AS PREMIER - Toronto’s budget chief says John Tory, who recently announced plans to resign as mayor after an affair with a former staffer, will stay in the job until after Wednesday’s city budget deliberations. Story here. There’s an overview here of five potential candidates who may run to replace Mr. Tory as mayor.
PM AND AIDES WARNED ABOUT DEALINGS WITH FORMER ONTARIO MINISTER - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior aides were warned on at least two occasions that government MPs should be cautious in their political dealings with former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Michael Chan because of alleged ties to China’s consulate in Toronto, national-security sources say. Story here.
MAROUF WAS BARRED FROM ENTERING CANADA - Laith Marouf, an anti-racism consultant at the centre of a scandal over a series of tweets about “Jewish White Supremacists,” was barred from re-entering Canada from Syria in 2009 and interviewed by a Canadian intelligence official at the embassy in Damascus. Story here.
PRISON WATCHDOG CALLS FOR MORE HARM-REDUCTION SERVICES TO PREVENT DRUG OVERDOSES, DEATHS - Canada’s prison watchdog says Ottawa can’t continue to use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for slow progress on expanding services to reduce inmate drug overdoses and deaths. Story here.
MINISTERS, PAST AND PRESENT, COULD TESTIFY BEFORE COMMITTEE - Current and former cabinet ministers should be called to testify before a parliamentary committee about the distribution of inauthentic Canadian government travel documents to hundreds of Afghans trying to escape the Taliban in 2021, say the New Democrats. Story here.
PERSONNEL SHORTAGE CHALLENGES AIR FORCE F-35 PLANS - A personnel shortage is challenging Canadian Air Force’s plan to introduce the F-35 fighter and other equipment, with Canada’s air-force commander saying the force is short nearly 2,000 full-time members and 500 reservists, at a time when it is supposed to be expanding. Story here.
SINGH SEEKS BLOCK OF ROGERS SHAW PLANS - Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is urging Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne to block Rogers Communications Inc.’s $20-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc., citing concerns that it could lead to higher cellphone bills and job losses. Story here.
PM’S LAWYERS OPPOSE CALLS FOR HIS TESTIMONY IN LONDON, ONT., INCIDENT - The Prime Minister’s lawyers are fighting a subpoena for him to testify at the London trial of a man accused of throwing stones at him, alleging the request is politically motivated and infringes on his parliamentary privilege. Story here from The London Free Press.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Feb. 13, accessible here.
POLITICAL FORECAST - THE WEEK AHEAD - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Yukon on Monday, will be on the road later this week, travelling to Nassau, the Bahamas, on Wednesday and Thursday as a special guest at the 44th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community.
The organization consists of the leaders of 20 Caribbean governments. According to a government statement, Mr. Trudeau is to work on shared priorities with Canada, including continued support for Haiti. He will also participate in group discussions of leaders and meet with them individually.
Also, Defense Minister Anita Anad will be in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday for meetings of NATO defense ministers and the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which consists of about 50 countries united in support of Ukraine as it is dealing with Russia’s invasion. Continued military assistance to Ukraine will be part of the talks on Tuesday at the contact group meeting.
In the House of Commons, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez still has to decide whether to accept Senate amendments to Bill C-11, which would regulate online streaming. If Mr. Rodriguez decides he is okay with the amendments or the Senate agrees to his decision on the amendments, the bill could quickly become law.
Committee hearings in the Commons this week include the standing committee on foreign affairs and international development having a Tuesday briefing on the humanitarian crisis following earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Also Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem and Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Rogers appear Thursday before the standing committee on finance to report on monetary policy.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, in Montreal, announced the federal government would invest almost $40-million to support more than a dozen artificial intelligence projects. (Story here.) International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan, in Vancouver, made an announcement on revitalizing Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. Filomena Tassi, the minister for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, in Vars, makes an announcement of support for tourism, jobs and the economy in Eastern Ontario. She also made a rural economic development announcement in Embrun.
SENATE COMMITTEE MEETINGS - Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi is among the witnesses appearing Monday before the standing committee on human rights on the subject of Islamophobia in Canada. Other witnesses include Michael Mostyn, the chief executive office of B’Nai Brith Canada. Details here, including videolink information, on the meeting, which begins at 4 p.m. ET.
DENTAL BENEFIT APPLICATIONS - The federal government says dental treatment for more than 200,000 children has been subject to the Canada Dental Benefit since the government began accepting applications on Dec. 1. The milestone was announced in a statement from the departments of health and national revenue, issued on Monday.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Whitehorse, held private meetings, met with Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai, and toured a tech and startup incubator and met with local entrepreneurs. Mr. Trudeau also held a media availability.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves François Blanchet held a news conference on his party’s opposition day motion on the notwithstanding clause, accompanied by BQ justice critic Rhéal Fortin.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre scheduled and then cancelled a news conference on Parliament Hill. He was to be accompanied by Abbotsford MP Ed Fast and Saskatchewan Senator Denise Batters.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, was in meetings on Monday.
No schedules provided for other party leaders.
On Monday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, science reporter Ivan Semeniuk explains exactly how fusion – the act of deriving energy by smashing atoms together – works and the Canadian efforts that are working to take this theory and turn it into a viable and widespread energy source. Thanks to a recent scientific breakthrough, there has been an increase in public excitement that one day, we might be able to use this as a continuous, clean source of energy, but we might not get the technology before our 2050 net-zero climate goals arrive. The Decibel is here.
Quebec’s former immigration minister, Nadine Girault, has died, Premier François Legault announced Monday. Ms. Girault, aged 63, was in cabinet during the Coalition Avenir Québec’s first four years in power. Story here from CBC.
People can pay tribute to former long-time Mississauga, Ont., mayor Hazel McCallion starting Monday as she lies in state for two days before her funeral on what would have been her 102nd birthday. Story here.
What’s the next act for Canada’s arts and culture sector? Nik Nanos, the chief data scientist at Nanos Research, and the official pollster for The Globe and Mail and CTV News, takes a Data Dive on the issue here.
OPINION - JOHN TORY
Marcus Gee (The Globe and Mail) on how John Tory’s exit is a sad departure, but a big opportunity for Toronto: “The issues are important and urgent. How does Toronto house the unhoused and become a city where young people can afford a place to live again? How does it get spooked commuters back onto public transit, plagued recently by violent incidents? How does it even pay its bills, while keeping taxes within reason? Should it move to reject the strong-mayor system, just imposed by Queen’s Park and embraced by Mr. Tory? If Toronto is to tackle all the problems in front of it, it badly needs new leadership, new energy, new ideas. It’s a shame it happened this way, but here is its chance.”
Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on how Toronto’s next mayor needs to make transparency a priority: “There is a lesson to be learned from John Tory’s unceremonious decision to resign as Toronto’s mayor. The main takeaway isn’t that “No story Tory” is just as unimaginative as other powerful men who’ve had affairs with younger female staffers. It’s that Canada’s largest city is plagued by governance and transparency problems. Mr. Tory’s successor needs to bring more than just dignity back to the mayor’s office – they must improve accountability. There is a trust deficit in Toronto’s decision making that risks harming its reputation internationally and chasing away investment.”
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how, to close the subsidized daycare gap, for-profit centres will be needed: “Too much of the debate has pitted non-profits against for-profits and set punitive, unrealistic caps on the number of for-profit spaces. There must be space, with sensible safeguards, for entrepreneurs to enter the market. There is a real divide between families with access to subsidized daycare and those who may have to wait years for those critical savings. That divide must be closed as quickly as possible.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how it’s not okay for Doug Ford to host a party where developers come with cash: “Ontario Premier Doug Ford hosted a party at his house where land developers brought ca sh gifts for his soon-to-be-married daughter. Wow. That’s a real problem. Let’s see if this makes it better: The Premier said those developers (whom he won’t name) were his buddies.Nope. Not much better. Mr. Ford is friends with a lot of developers, in some cases for decades – but that doesn’t mean everything is okay because the cash gifts came from the Premier’s pals. But wait: Mr. Ford eventually went to the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario, David Wake who, according to the Premier, cleared it “1,000 per cent.” Still not better.”