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.
Amidst controversial advice from a national panel on vaccines, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sticking to his oft-expressed view that vaccines have been properly approved, and Canadians need to take them as quickly as possible to end the pandemic.
The issue arose after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are “preferred” because viral-vector vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson carry a remote risk of blood clots.
There’s a story here on how the Canadian Pharmacists Association reacted to the advice.
“I can reinforce once again that every single vaccine available in Canada has been approved by Health Canada as being both safe and effective,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister avoided a pointed response to the recommendations that have stirred up so much debate.
“It is a good thing that we get to hear from a broad range of medical experts and doctors making recommendations to keep us safe. The bottom line is we need, all of us, [to] get vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
Mr. Trudeau said he was “very happy” that he got his shot of AstraZeneca.
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam, asked about the issue at the same news conference, said she can understand why some are concerned or frustrated as “advice appears to be evolving,” but noted that is the nature of science and advice.
She said various parties, including Health Canada and the immunization advisory committee, are all doing their jobs.
“The bottom line is that everyone should be assured that the regulator, the experts and local medical officers of health have all done their work in a synchronized manner to provide the vaccines to the communities. You should trust that the vaccines being offered to you is done with that best knowledge,” she said.
Dr. Tam said there will be a continued effort to monitor the information around AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
On another issue, Mr. Trudeau was also asked about his chief of staff, Katie Telford, as the House of Commons, on Tuesday, began debate on a Conservative Opposition Day motion calling for Mr. Trudeau to fire her over her handling of allegations against Jonathan Vance, the former chief of defence staff. Kristy Kirkup and Janice Dickson report on that issue here.
Asked about the possibility of Ms. Telford testifying before the commons defence committee, the Prime Minister sidestepped the specific issue, accusing the Conservatives of “playing extremely aggressive partisan games” with the issue of sexual harassment in the military.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND BILL C-10 The Liberal government is promising amendments to its Broadcasting Act legislation that it says will address concerns that Ottawa is attempting to regulate Canadians’ social-media posts.
FIREARMS LEGISLATION The federal government’s firearms legislation is “an offensively hollow bill” that should be completely revamped, say family members and colleagues of those who died in tragic shooting sprees at Montreal’s Dawson College and Concordia University.
FEDS ACT ON PLANNED ONTARIO HIGHWAY Ottawa is stepping into the approval process of a proposed Ontario highway that would link four Toronto-area municipalities, saying environmental concerns require a closer look.
QP CUSSING In the latest House of Commons misadventure with webcams, Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez was caught swearing in Question Period, as opposition MPs grilled the Liberals over their handling of sexual misconduct allegations against former top military commander Jonathan Vance. From the Canadian Press.
RCMP MUSEUM The chair of the board of a future national museum focused on the RCMP is pledging to include both positive and challenging stories about Canada’s national police force, as it is set to receive $4.5-million over three years from the federal budget.
TRUDEAU ON MENTAL HEALTH Sophie Grégoire Trudeau on mental health: Good mental health isn’t necessarily about waking up happy every day but, rather, about feeling good about who you are, “about developing tools to love and respect yourself in a culture that doesn’t necessarily teach us that.” From the Montreal Gazette.
MINISTER QUARANTINED Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau faces three days of quarantine in a hotel after returning from the first in-person meeting of G7 foreign and development ministers in over two years. From The Canadian Press.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Private meetings. The Prime Minister holds a news conference on the COVID-19 situation He attends Question Period. He speaks with the Prince of Wales.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet holds a news conference in West Block on vaccine passports.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh holds a pair of news conferences, one on supports for small businesses during the pandemic, and the other on a national dental-care program. Also attends Question Period and hosts a virtual Iftar of Ramadan with community leaders.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on user content on social media and Bill C-10: “Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has been exasperated lately by the failure of his political opponents to understand that he has nothing but the purest intentions and would never put his name on a bill that gives Ottawa the power to regulate innocent user-generated content on the internet.”
André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on the increasingly hopeless task of fixing long-term care in Ontario: “There is nothing surprising or new in the report, though that’s not a knock on the commissioners. It’s hard to come up with anything groundbreaking when more than 150 reports have been written since the advent of medicare about how to fix the hellishly inadequate long-term care system. There was nothing unexpected in the government’s response, either. Blaming previous governments for all failings and making vague commitments to do something, sometime – that’s all standard political fare. But at some point, politicians have to stop commissioning reports that they intend to send directly to the dumpster and start implementing the long-overdue and eminently sensible recommendations therein.”
Irwin Cotler, Shirin Ebadi and Christophe Deloire (The Globe and Mail) on justice denied the world’s longest-imprisoned journalist: “In 2001, Dawit Isaak was kidnapped by Eritrean authorities in a sweeping roundup of journalists, independent media and government critics. For 19 years, he has been held incommunicado, likely in solitary confinement, without any charge, trial or contact with the outside world. His last “proof of life” dates back to 2005. There is reason to believe he has been held in the secret Eiraeiro prison camp in the middle of a mountainous desert with conditions designed to inflict a slow death on its completely isolated political prisoners. At least seven of the journalists arrested with him have already tragically died in detention. Meanwhile, the Eritrean officials responsible for these crimes are still in power. And so today, on World Press Freedom Day, we are calling on Canada and its allies to hold these officials to account and stand up for those fighting to preserve this most fundamental right worldwide.”
Drew Hayden Taylor (The Globe and Mail) on seven questions you shouldn’t ask an Indigenous person: “As an Indigenous writer, I used to spend a lot of time on the lecture circuit in pre-COVID times, spreading the gospel of Native literature. Many of the questions I would get from the audience dealt with the art of writing. But habitually, I would be asked questions requiring me to answer on behalf of the entire First Nations population of Canada, all 634 communities, and the more than 1.6 million people in Canada who identify as Indigenous. That’s a somewhat substantial responsibility. Full disclosure – I don’t personally know all 1.6 million. There are a few hundred in the Northwest Territories who were out of town when I was last up there.”
Dale Smith (The Globe and Mail) on the Conservative riding `coup’ that was anything but: “And let’s face it: The state of the grassroots in all of Canada’s major parties is in rough shape. Canadians have allowed our quasi-presidential-primary-style leadership contests to dominate all aspects of how parties operate, which has empowered party leaders to create top-down structures within their party organizations. As a result, the grassroots have too little say over their own parties any more.”
Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It's not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.