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Former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole says the party was targeted by a deluge of misinformation orchestrated by China and its proxies that led to the defeat of up to nine candidates in 2021 election.

In testimony today before the inquiry into foreign interference, O’Toole stressed he does not believe Chinese state meddling would have changed the outcome of the vote that produced a Liberal minority.

But he told the commission that voters in certain ridings were affected by interference, and government officials in charge of election integrity knew about it but never issued a warning to the public or the parties.

Full story by Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife and senior parliamentary reporter Steven Chase.

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.


Trudeau seeking partners for multibillion-dollar housing initiative: The Prime Minister, announcing billions of dollars in federal funding to bolster apartment construction, says he will bypass provinces that don’t want to work with his government on the issue.

Canadian killed in Israeli air strike identified, as Ottawa calls for investigation: World Central Kitchen identified the victim, a dual Canadian-U.S. citizen, as 33-year-old Jacob Flickinger. Speaking on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Israel needed to respect international law, adding Canada would make sure it does.

Ontario students only in Ontario postsecondary institutions, Ford says: Premier Doug Ford noted, at a news conference, that efforts should be made to “get rid of the 18 per cent” of students in the province’s colleges and universities who are from foreign countries.

Manitoba’s NDP government delivers tax cuts, rebates in first budget: “This is a plan to be able to make good on so many of the promises that we were elected by Manitobans to deliver on,” Premier Wab Kinew said.

Music industry seeks budget change so bands and singers get royalties from TV, film: Musicians say Canada is out of step with countries such as Britain, France and Japan by not allowing singers and musicians to receive performance royalties from TV or film, even if their music becomes the theme tune to a hit show, movie or major ad campaign.

Canada’s new Shawarma Capital: CTV reports Ottawa city council has unanimously approved a motion to declare the city as the shawarma capital of the country, paying tribute to the Middle Eastern meal featuring marinated meat, garlic sauce and other toppings. Ottawa is home to nearly 200 shawarma restaurants. Mayor Mark Sutcliffe posted on the development.


“There is a risk of that chill, people not championing minority rights or human rights because of fear of interference or electoral challenge” – Former federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole at the foreign interference inquiry hearing today, responding to a question about whether the prospect of electoral interference by China may prompt some Canadian politicians not to criticize China on its human-rights record.

“I can understand where someone who lost an election is trying to look for reasons other than themselves why they might have lost an election.” – Justin Trudeau on O’Toole’s concerns that misinformation orchestrated by China and its proxies cost the Conservatives seats.


Thibedeau joins public affairs company: Former CBC journalist Hannah Thibedeau is joining Global Public Affairs, a government relations and strategic communications firm, as an executive communications officer. Thibedeau, long based in Ottawa, exited the broadcaster last week. Most recently, she was afternoon host on CBC News Network. The advisory on her appointment is here.

Ontario by-elections called: Premier Doug Ford has called provincial by-elections for May 2 in Milton and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex to replace cabinet ministers who resigned their seats to pursue other opportunities. Parm Gill stepped down as the member of provincial Parliament in Milton to run for the federal Conservatives in the next election. And Monte McNaughton quit his Lambton-Kent-Middlesex last September for an opportunity in the private sector.

Commons committee highlights: Darryl Vleeming, vice-president of the Canada Border Services Agency, appears before the public accounts committee on the Auditor-General’s report on the ArriveCan app.

Commons, Senate: The House of Commons is on a break until April 8. The Senate sits again April 9.

Deputy Prime Minister’s day: Chrystia Freeland, in Edmonton, toured a rental apartment building and made a housing announcement. Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault was also present.

Ministers on the road: With the Commons not sitting, a number of ministers are out across Canada, making announcements on government affordability policy. Public Services Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Tourism Minister Soraya Martinez Ferrada made a housing announcement in Quebec City. Duclos also made an infrastructure announcement in the Quebec capital. Health Minister Mark Holland and Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal made a housing announcement in Winnipeg. Immigration Minister Marc Miller and Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, in Halifax, made a housing announcement. Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan made a housing announcement in Victoria. Justice Minister Arif Virani and Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu, in Regina, made a housing announcement.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly attended the NATO foreign affairs ministers’ meeting in Brussels, scheduled for today and tomorrow.

GG in Nunavut: Governor-General Mary Simon and her partner, Whit Fraser, continue their official visit to the territory. It concludes tomorrow.


Justin Trudeau, in the Toronto area, visited an affordable housing development site and made a housing announcement, accompanied by Housing Minister Sean Fraser. Later, Trudeau met with students attending a local after-school program.


Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet is touring the Gaspé Peninsula this week, with commitments today that include a meeting with Jean-David Samuel, the president and chief executive officer of the Forillon Shipyard, and Gaspé Mayor Daniel Côté.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, in the Vancouver-region community of Tsawwassen, was scheduled to hold a party fundraising event.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, in Winnipeg, is on a tour with deputy leader Jonathan Pedneault, and was scheduled to meet with Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew, attend an event hosted by party members, and meet with community groups.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Hamilton with MP Matthew Green and provincial New Democrat Monique Taylor, held a news conference.


On today’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Report on Business journalist Joe Castaldo, who has reported on Canada’s artificial intelligence infrastructure, explains why the issue of growing computing power isn’t as simple as buying more high-end computer chips, the potential problems of investing heavily into this tech, and what Canada can do to prevent a brain drain of AI talent.


Roger Gibbins: The veteran political scientist at the University of Calgary and president of the Canada West Foundation is being remembered for his pioneering work on the politics of Western Canada.


Doug Ford and Bonnie Crombie both opposed new housing. One changed their mind

“Before Ontario Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie was in favour of more housing, she was against it. In early 2022, a landmark housing report was presented to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, a wide-ranging blueprint of how to build a lot more housing. Mr. Ford shelved most of the big ideas. Ms. Crombie at the time was mayor of Mississauga. She also didn’t like the report, specifically its proposal to allow four homes on lots long restricted to only one. Ms. Crombie warned against change, publishing exaggerated images, and asserted the proposal was “alarming” and could “dramatically change” neighbourhoods. This space criticized both Ms. Crombie and Mr. Ford. One leader has changed – and one has not.” – The Globe and Mail Editorial Board

The secret shrug on foreign interference

“With CSIS, everything’s a big secret,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford once said about a 2022 briefing his government received about Chinese interference. It seemed funny at the time, because of course Canada’s spy agency is secretive. But when you hear the way federal officials failed to pass on useful information of foreign election interference to political parties during the 2021 election campaign, you can see the problem.” – Campbell Clark

Goodbye to budget secrecy, and good riddance

“There was a time when you could go to jail for revealing the contents of a budget before it had been introduced in the House. Finance ministers who let so much as a line of a budget slip out in advance were expected to resign. But the convention of budget secrecy has long since been observed more in ritual than in substance.” – Andrew Coyne

Canada can help establish an international protective force in Gaza

“The killing of aid workers in Gaza highlights the need to protect the supply and distribution of humanitarian assistance. This week’s Israeli attack on World Central Kitchen’s convoy is only the most recent example: There are reports that more than 200 humanitarian workers have been killed since the conflict began last October. This breakdown of security, including increasing vigilantism from criminal groups, constitutes a major obstacle to efforts aimed at addressing the famine that now afflicts Gaza. Supplying aid is one thing, but making sure it reaches the people in need is a separate challenge. We believe that Canada can make a meaningful difference in meeting that challenge.” Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock

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