Skip to main content
politics briefing newsletter

Hello,

The federal Conservatives are reversing course and for the first time on Thursday called for the blockades to end, as the crisis at border crossings grew ever bigger with a third blockade now at a border crossing in Manitoba, in addition to those in Alberta and Ontario.

“I am asking you to take down the blockades,” Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen said in the House of Commons Thursday morning. “It’s time to remove the barricades and the trucks, for the sake of the economy.”

Before her election as interim leader, Ms. Bergen last week met with protesters blockading downtown Ottawa, calling them “passionate, patriotic and peaceful.” Since taking on her new post, she has called on Mr. Trudeau to extend an “olive branch” to the demonstrators and meet with them.

On Thursday she tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the federal government to release a plan by the end of February for the lifting of all federal mandates and restrictions.

Story here by Parliamentary Reporter Marieke Walsh and me.

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

PROTESTS

WINDSOR SEEKS INJUNCTION IN AMBASSADOR BRIDGE PROTEST - The City of Windsor, Ont., is seeking an injunction to end the protest blocking the Ambassador Bridge. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said he hopes the Superior Court of Ontario will soon grant the injunction to end the “illegal” blockade and restore traffic across Canada’s busiest link with the United States. Story here.

OTTAWA 911 SYSTEM HIT WITH CALLS - The Ottawa Police says the city’s 911 system is being flooded with nuisance calls, putting residents’ lives at risk amid a continuing standoff with protesters over vaccine mandates. Story here.

NO SIGN OF PROTEST ENDING: OTTAWA MAYOR - Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he still has no sense of when demonstrations in the nation’s capital will end after nearly two weeks of disruption and as protesters show no signs of leaving. Story here.

GOFUNDME TO APPEAR BEFORE COMMITTEE - U.S.-based crowdfunding platform GoFundMe will appear before the House public safety and national security committee on March 3 about its involvement in hosting the trucker convoy’s original fundraising campaign. Story here from CTV.

STOP AMBASSADOR BRIDGE PROTEST: GOVERNOR - Michigan’s Governor is calling on Canada to stop a border protest snarling one of the country’s busiest trade routes. Story here.

GLOBE AND MAIL EXPLAINER: The Ottawa protests’ havoc is spreading from Windsor to Alberta. Where are the truckers convoys now? Explainer here.

MEANWHILE

LOCKDOWN BENEFITS EXTENDED The federal government is extending its lockdown benefits for businesses and workers by one month, to March 12. Story here.

KENNEY APOLOGIZES - Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he’s sorry for comparing what he calls the stigma of being unvaccinated for COVID-19 to the plight of HIV-AIDS patients in the 1980s. Story here.

INADVERTENT PRIVACY RELEASE - The company administering the federal government’s $900-million settlement deal with Armed Forces members and veterans who experienced sexual misconduct while in uniform has inadvertently released private information about dozens of claimants. Story here.

LYTTON NEEDS TO REPLACE GOVERNANCE RECORDS - British Columbia has introduced legislation that will allow the fire-ravaged community of Lytton to replace and rewrite its governance laws destroyed in the disaster. Story here.

LOSING N.S. LIBERALS DISSECT ELECTION DEFEAT - A report commissioned by the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia into last summer’s provincial election campaign is scathing in its criticism of the way the campaign was prepared and conducted, and calls for a “complete overhaul” of the party organization. Story here from CBC.

THIS AND THAT

The projected order of business at the House of Commons, Feb. 10 is here.

NOTLEY IN THE SPOTLIGHT - Former Alberta premier Rachel Notley will be in the spotlight next Tuesday, appearing at “conversation” hosted by the Calgary Chamber. the event comes ahead of the 2023 provincial election with the NDP making a strong showing in public-opinion polls.

SCHEER AND PROTESTERS - Former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, who has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “overreach on vaccine mandates”, here greets some of the protesters in Ottawa on Wednesday.

RITCHIE HEADED FOR OTTAWA - Sarah Ritchie, an anchor and reporter for Global Halifax and Global New Brunswick, is joining the Ottawa bureau of The Canadian Press. “She will be focused on covering breaking political news in the House of Commons and beyond, bolstering our broadcast capacities, helping with copy editing and setting us up for the next day,” CP Ottawa Bureau Chief Joanna Smith said in a tweet.

THE DECIBEL – On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, National Security Reporter Colin Freeze talks about the leaders of the Freedom Convoy, including those fundraising millions of dollars to support it. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister was scheduled to attend Question Period.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet attends Question Period.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held a press conference on the importance of vaccines and was scheduled to attend Question Period.

No other schedules released for party leaders.

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on why it is time for leaders to assert there are rules to the road: At this point, it’s incumbent on anyone who lays a claim to leadership, including those who have supported the protests, to say it has gone too far. And to call for it to stop. It’s also time for provincial authorities responsible for roads and vehicles – starting with Ontario Premier Doug Ford – to warn that those who use trucks as roadblocks will lose the right to operate them. This is now beyond a question of who is right about vaccination mandates. Political leaders who condone rule from the road are paving the way for such tactics to be used again and again. The front-runner for the Conservative leadership, MP Pierre Poilievre, has lauded the protest and become its political darling, so now it is time for him to tell the country if he thinks it has gone too far. He could call on the protesters to stop the blockades. On Wednesday, he declined.”

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on how the Canada bashers have got it wrong about this country: It’s inevitable that social and political trends from the U.S. have some northward spillover and there is certainly evidence of it in respect to the Ottawa siege. What is happening with the truckers hardly compares with the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 last year, but the hard right is punching far above its weight in Canada as elsewhere given the limitless platforms provided by modern media. It menaces the Canadian fabric. But the country is much more unified today than it was when Quebec separatism was a dire threat and when the West was aflame with Reform Party rage and talk of firewalls to protect it from the federal government. The country is hardly becoming unglued. The dark forces partaking in the protest are freedom deniers – not freedom fighters. They represent a tiny minority in a country whose greatness they are too blind to see.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how challenges from inside of the Liberal Party cap Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s month of living dangerously: “Whether he intended to or not, Mr. Carney’s op-ed presented Liberals with a stark contrast to the leadership approach Mr. Trudeau has taken since the outset of the trucker-convoy protests two weeks ago. The tough law-and-order stance taken by Mr. Carney may not necessarily work in his favour in a future leadership race given that Liberals historically prefer to project a softer, gentler image than mandatory-minimum-sentence-loving Tories. And no doubt about it, Mr. Carney has drawn a line in the sand that Liberals are not likely to forget any time soon. Right now, however, it is Mr. Trudeau whose leadership is on the line. His crisis-management style is being challenged from within the Liberal family. It does not get more dangerous than this for a leader whose sunny ways are now a fading memory.”

Kelly Egan (The Ottawa Citizen) on the fate of Ottawa’s downtown Rideau Centre mall and its workers given protests have closed the centre for the first time in its four-decade history: “Freedom is a word being hollered non-stop these dozen days. What about the freedom of 175 stores to open, of 1,500 workers (or more) to earn a living, of masses to criss-cross in downtown’s indoor square? Honestly, has any sector of the economy suffered more than retail — and its low-paid workers — during this two-year pandemic, while taking on the unwanted task of enforcing public health measures (masks, distancing) not of their own making, for $15 an hour? And then they bear the brunt of this anti-mandate counter-anger, which has absolutely nothing to do with them?”

Steve Paikin (TVO) on great political rivalry that began 40 years ago this week: [David} Peterson defeated [Bob] Rae in the 1985 and 1987 Ontario elections. Rae got even in 1990. As the two men blasted on to the political scene when they were fresh-faced newbies, it’s hard to believe that Peterson will turn 79 years old in December and that Rae’s next birthday in August will be his 74th. Since their rivalry began 40 years ago today, both men have reached what you might call senior-statesman status, and they continue to make their marks on the public stage.”

Melanee Thomas and Lori Thorlakson (CBC Opinion) on Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek vs. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney: Competing visions of Alberta’s energy future:In her recent editorial board meeting with CBC News, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek conceded that energy transition “sometimes comes with a lot of pain and angst.” It also comes with a lot of politics in oil-rich Alberta. Gondek offers one vision for Alberta’s energy future. Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party (UCP) offer a competing view.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.