Skip to main content
politics briefing newsletter


Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald ruled against Major-General Dany Fortin’s request to be reinstated as the leader of the federal government’s vaccine rollout Tuesday, deciding that he should exhaust the Canadian Forces’ internal grievances process before turning to the courts.

Maj.-Gen. Fortin was a prominent face of the government’s efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the country earlier this year, but he was informed on May 14 that his secondment to the Public Health Agency of Canada had been terminated. He had been privately informed in April that he was being investigated by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service in relation to an alleged instance of sexual misconduct dating back over 30 years.

In August, he was charged with one count of sexual assault, which he said he would “vigorously” defend himself against.

“For the past three months, my family and I have been living this nightmare of not knowing,” he told reporters in August. “Not knowing the nature of the allegation, not knowing the status of the investigation, not knowing whether or not I’d be charged.”

Maj.-Gen. Fortin had asked the Federal Court to review his situation and said the Canadian Forces internal process was not appropriate because it is plagued by delays. He also told the Court that he believed the decision to remove him from the job was made by political actors, including federal cabinet ministers, and not the Acting Chief of Defence Staff.

Justice McDonald rejected those arguments and referred Maj.-Gen. Fortin back to the Canadian Forces grievances process.

“As Maj.-Gen. Fortin has not yet availed himself of the [Canadian Armed Forces] grievance process on these issues, the Court will not consider the merits of his application as it has been brought prematurely,” Tuesday’s written decision states.

A story on the decision can be found here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. Today’s newsletter is co-written with Bill Curry. 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.


The Soviet Union’s secret police, the infamous KGB, praised her savvy and erudition, even as she frustrated their attempts to spy on her in Cold War Ukraine. They tagged her with the code name Frida. But today we know Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Ms. Freeland’s ties to Ukraine are no secret, but materials uncovered from the KGB archives in Kyiv illuminate her role in the Ukrainian independence movement while on exchange there from Harvard University. Story here.

More than 75 per cent of Canadians think the federal government should ban Huawei Technologies from this country’s 5G telecommunications networks in a new Nanos Research poll that finds hardening attitudes toward the Chinese state and business relations with Beijing.

Canadians most often said Maxime Bernier and Justin Trudeau should leave roles following election, according to Nanos Research poll.

Canada is not acting fast enough to help at-risk Afghans leave their country, which has now been under Taliban control for close to two months, retired major-general Denis Thompson warns.

Albertans will vote in a referendum next week about whether to switch to permanent daylight time – joining a growing list of jurisdictions in Canada and the United States that have moved to ditch twice-yearly time changes even as experts warn that the province’s approach would harm people’s health.

The defeated Conservative MP now tasked with determining where his party’s federal election campaign went wrong says he intends to “hit the ground running” within the week — and his work will include a review of leader Erin O’Toole’s campaign performance. From CBC. Story here.

You never know who you’re going to run into while getting around Ottawa as photographer Dave Chan found, and notes here.


The NDP is waiting for the federal government’s cabinet announcement to name its policy critics, but has lined up its leadership roles in the House, announced last week. They are:

Deputy Leader: Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie)

House Leader: Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby)

Deputy House Leader: Lindsay Mathyssen (London - Fanshawe)

Whip: Rachel Blaney (North Island - Powell River)

Deputy Whip: Heather McPherson (Edmonton-Strathcona)

Caucus Chair: Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East)

Deputy Caucus Chair: Blake Desjarlais (Edmonton Griesbach)


The Prime Minister is in Ottawa for private meetings, according to his public itinerary.

He is scheduled to take part virtually in the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Meeting on Afghanistan.


No public itineraries were issued by the other leaders for Tuesday.


From Governing Canada, A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics by Michael Wernick (Published by On Point Press, an imprint of UBC Press)

The Politics Briefing newsletter is featuring excerpts from Governing Canada, a new book by Michael Wernick, the former clerk of the privy council. Our focus is a key chapter, Advice to a Prime Minister. (Parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup reported on the project here.)

Today’s excerpt features some key points of Mr. Wernick’s advice on how a prime minister can deal with Indigenous leadership:

“As prime minister, you will have to decide how to structure your own engagement with Indigenous issues and your relationships with Indigenous leaders. There are many precedents to draw from, but you will have to find your own way. You may want to create a special Cabinet committee or co-ordinating group and a supporting secretariat from the Privy Council Office...

“You will have to decide how to factor Indigenous leaders into the machinery of intergovernmental relations. Should they be invited to all meetings of first ministers or for parts of them, and if so, which ones? Do you want to attempt an event with high risk and high reward such as a First Minister’s Meeting devoted to Indigenous issues or a version of the Crown-First Nations Gathering of January, 2012? You will have to decide to what extent the protocols of Indigenous gatherings should infuse your own government, starting with the very first swearing-in ceremony.

“You will discover that Indigenous leaders, no matter how critical they may be of you and your government in public, will seek to establish a good working relationship with you personally and can be candid and constructive in private... Make time for private meetings and calls. But be careful that you don’t end up undermining your ministers by incenting people to go over their heads and directly to you.”


Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Justin Trudeau’s need to bring in new faces to revive a faded cabinet: “First and foremost, he needs a defence minister who actually thinks they are responsible for the conduct of the military, unlike Mr. Sajjan, who repeatedly sloughed off responsibility for the military’s repeated mishandling of sexual harassment. Ms. Freeland said last week that the brass still don’t get it, so Mr. Trudeau needs an experienced minister, preferably a woman, who will make them get it. Perhaps Ms. Anand.”

Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on the equalization referendum that’s the last thing Albertans want: It’s not really about opening up a series of painful constitutional discussions about the existence of a program designed to make sure every Canadian gets roughly comparable public services, [Alberta Premier Jason] Kenney and others say. It’s about provincial leverage in negotiations with Ottawa. Have no doubt, the referendum is a high-priced, attention-grabbing political stunt. But even if it’s gimmicky, Alberta could arguably use some leverage. The province is no longer an economic powerhouse that draws people and investment with ease. It has little representation within the governing federal Liberal ranks. Federal seat distributions aren’t equitable, and Alberta would have more MPs if the country’s electoral system more closely followed the principle of representation by population.”

André Blais and Jean-François Daoust (Policy Options) on a better way to hold leaders’’ debates in elections: The main objective of the leaders’ debates should be to help the least-informed citizens learn some basic facts about the previous government, what the various parties promise to do if they form the next government, and the personal qualities and shortcomings of the leaders. The best way to achieve these goals is to combine two formats: solo presentations by the leaders and a series of mini-debates between two of them at a time. We need the debates to be chaired by a neutral person who implements a precise timetable in which each leader is allowed to speak the same amount of time.”

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.

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

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct