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The country’s top civil servant requested that Facebook remove a “false and inflammatory” story about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the 2019 election campaign but bureaucrats did not make a similar request of WeChat, which published inflammatory misinformation about Conservative leader Erin O’Toole and MP Kenny Chiu in the 2021 election, the public inquiry into foreign meddling heard today.

An interview with Privy Council Office staffer Allan Sutherland disclosed by the commission indicates this central government agency was worried that the false story about Trudeau could go viral and “risked threatening the integrity of the election.” He said, however, the misinformation about Conservatives circulating on Chinese-language social media platform WeChat was viewed differently.

A written summary of the interview tabled at the commission today showed that officials overseeing election integrity were alarmed about an article in the online Buffalo Chronicle, a site that runs fake stories. It made false allegations in the 2019 election about an affair Trudeau supposedly had with a student at a private high school where he was teaching in 2000.

Full story here by Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife and Senior Parliamentary Reporter Steven Chase.

There’s an explainer here on what happened at the inquiry this week.

BREAKING: Former federal cabinet minister Iono Campagnolo, also British Columbia’s first female lieutenant governor, has died. See: The tribute section of today’s newsletter.

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.


Ottawa pledges $100-million for new housing construction technology: The announcement today marks the Trudeau government’s latest multimillion dollar pledge to deal with the lack of affordable housing in the country.

Mother of Canadian aid worker rejects Israel’s explanation for his death: Sylvie Labrecque, her voice filled with exhaustion and grief, says she remains hopeful that the deaths of her son Jacob Flickinger and six of his colleagues will lead to positive change for all aid workers and the people of Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel advocates are asking the federal court to freeze Canadian funding for UNRWA, citing Hamas claims.

Canada’s unemployment rate jumps to 6.1% as job creation stalls: The country lost a net 2,200 jobs last month, Statistics Canada said today, undershooting analyst expectations of 25,000 positions added. The unemployment rate rose to 6.1 per cent from 5.8 per cent in February, and it has risen by a full percentage point over the past year.

How the Canada Border Services Agency’s sniffer dogs strive to outwit drug smugglers: While millions of dollars in technology – including scanners, trace samplers, cameras and infrared scopes – are all part of the law enforcement arsenal, dogs remain a mainstay of the apparatus of the Canada Border Services Agency. Story here.

Ontario to give free counselling to families of first responders killed on duty: “The challenges our public safety personnel and their families face can be overwhelming and I’ve seen this for myself,” Solicitor-General Michael Kerzner said today in announcing the $3-million program.

Another NB member of the legislature leaving politics: Ahead of this fall’s provincial election in New Brunswick, one of the longest-serving Progressive Conservative members of the legislature has joined several of his colleagues heading for the exits, CBC reports.

Depressed since pandemic, Halifax museum’s parrot Merlin being shipped to Ontario: Kim Reinhardt, general manager of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, said Merlin leaving will leave a large vacuum at the museum. “We’re going to miss him so much. But we also love him so much and we just want the very best for him,” she said.


“If they don’t want to do more in those areas, they don’t have to take our money,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during a news conference today in Calgary, to the provinces that are wary about co-operating with Ottawa on newly announced housing programs.

“I like some of the things that the Prime Minister is announcing, but what I would say is that just a few months ago, he said that this wasn’t federal jurisdiction, that it was up to the provinces, and now that he is in trouble in the polls, now he’s racing to, it looks like, do five announcements a day.” - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, asked in the Alberta city of Brooks, about housing policy announced by Trudeau in recently. Smith said her province will work collaboratively with Ottawa on some of the proposals.

“We’re fine with municipalities and provinces making the decisions about the kinds of housing for their own communities. We just want to see more approvals, and less gatekeepers in the way.” Conservative Deputy Leader Melissa Lantsman, in Toronto today, where she reiterated her party’s commitment to tie federal funding to municipalities increasing their housing approvals by 15 per cent, with a bonus for communities that reach the target, and fines for those who don’t.


Commons, Senate: The House of Commons is on a break until Monday. The Senate sits again Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister’s Day: Chrystia Freeland, in the New Brunswick town of Bouctouche, made a housing announcement.

Ministers on the Road: The House of Commons sits again next Monday after a two-week break. Today, a few ministers were out on the road making housing announcements that come after a series of commitments this week by Trudeau, namely: Tourism Minister Soraya Martinez Ferrada and Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez in Quebec City. Marci Ien, minister for women and gender equality and youth, along with Small Business Minister Rechie Valdez and Mental Health Minister Ya’ara Saks in Toronto. Diversity Minister Kamal Khera, in Whitehorse. King’s Privy Council President Harjit Sajjan, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, and Citizen’s Services Minister Terry Beech, in Vancouver. Defence Minister Bill Blair in Sudbury.

Commons Speaker in Kenya and Rwanda: Greg Fergus has been leading a parliamentary delegation to Kenya and Rwanda while the Commons has been on a two-week break that ends with the return of MPs Monday. Accompanying Fergus are NDP MP Richard Cannings, Bloc Québécois MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe and Arielle Kayabaga of the Liberals, said Fergus’s spokesperson Mathieu Gravel. In Kenya, the delegation’s commitments included meeting the Speaker at the National Assembly. They are now in Rwanda, meeting with officials and participating in events commemorating the 30th anniversary of the end of the genocide against the Tutsi, including a national commemoration ceremony on Sunday.


Justin Trudeau is in Calgary where he made a housing announcement and was scheduled to participate in a fireside chat with members of the Calgary business community..


Green Party Leader Elizabeth May travelled from Winnipeg to Vancouver, and attended a panel conversation event in West Vancouver with BC Green candidate Jeremy Valeriote, running in the West Vancouver- Sea to Sky riding in the provincial election this October.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Winnipeg, met with seniors to discuss dental care.

No schedules released for Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet or Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.


On today’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, humanitarian logistics expert Dr. Sarah Schiffling - deputy director of the Hemlock Research Institute at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland - .explains the challenges of getting aid into Gaza and what can be done to make it easier. The Decibel is here.


Iona Campagnolo: The former federal cabinet minister, who also served as lieutenant-governor of B.C., has died, aged 92, Global BC reports.

George Garrett: The legendary Vancouver radio reporter has died, aged 89. Garrett, says an obituary here, took to heart the advice he received from his first news director, Jim Cox: “Get out there, get the story and move on while the other guy is still sitting there.”


B.C. Politics: As an October provincial election looms in B.C, new polling data by Leger has the BC NDP, under Premier David Eby, with a “robust” 43 per cent of support among decided voters - described by Leger as a stable support base despite increasing support for the BC Conservatives, at 26 per cent. BC United, the former BC Liberals, are at 18 per cent.


The build-more ethos for housing is (finally) gaining political ground

“Throughout the 2010s, as the price to buy or rent a home shot higher, the political response was muted. Eventually there were marginal moves, such as speculation taxes, but leaders across the country ignored the main problem: there was simply not enough housing. A decisive political shift happened over the past year. Governments are taking action. Opposition to new homes remains part of Canada’s political culture but the build-more ethos is, finally, winning. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are helping lead the shift.” - The Globe and Mail Editorial Board.

Busloads of international students show a weak spot in Canadian democracy

“Nomination contests aren’t regulated parts of Canadian elections. They follow the clubhouse rules of political parties. In the age of foreign interference, they are a weak link in the Canadian democratic system. Nomination races matter because the candidates can become members of Parliament. In many places, the nominee of the most popular party is a shoo-in. And yet, nominations don’t have public oversight.” -Campbell Clark.

The Trudeau government’s housing promises can’t fix a crisis of its own making

“On Tuesday, according to the federal government’s database of media advisories, 11 cabinet ministers took part in eight separate housing announcements. On Wednesday, there were four housing events, involving eight ministers. Thursday saw 11 ministers, at the head of seven distinct housing flash mobs. Leading the full-court press, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made housing announcements on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, in Halifax, Toronto and Winnipeg. And he promised more in the run up to the April 16 budget. Message: Like Bachman-Turner Overdrive, we are taking care of business, every day.” -Tony Keller.

Pierre Poilievre is upending B.C. politics without trying very hard

“On April 12 of last year, the BC Liberal Party officially changed its name to BC United. It launched what may go down as one of the worst political rebranding exercises in Canadian history.” - Gary Mason.

According to Justin Trudeau, Justin Trudeau is fear-mongering on immigration

‘Someone, somewhere, appears to have taken a blowtorch to Canada’s immigration system. It’s a mess. We have too many people, and not enough homes, not enough transit, not enough health care infrastructure. International students are lining up at food banks and homeless shelters. Canadians’ attitudes on immigration are becoming more negative. Who set fire to our once-enviable immigration system? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on a mission to find out. Just as soon as he gets all of this soot out of his hair.” - Robyn Urback.

It’s time for Canadians to have the right to a family doctor

“In Canada, we used to tell ourselves that we have the best health care system in the world. It has competed with hockey as our most powerful source of national pride. But the cozier we became with the notion that universal health care is a right of residency in this great country, the more complacent we became about the reality: that the project of building a full medicare program in Canada is incomplete.” - Jane Philpott.

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