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Politics Politics Briefing: For first time in years, no women leaders as premiers gather

Good morning,

Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial leaders are in Saskatchewan today to begin meetings as part of the Council of the Federation conference. But, for the first time in years, the gathering won’t have any women at the table. In early 2014, more than half of Canadians lived in a jurisdiction governed by a woman, but after Rachel Notley’s government was defeated in Alberta three months ago, that number is down to zero.

The conference starts at Big River First Nation, where the premiers are to meet with leaders of national Indigenous organizations, including the Assembly of first Nations. They will then shift to Saskatoon, where the premiers will participate in two days of closed-door meetings.

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Before travelling to the conference, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney met in Calgary with Canada’s most prominent conservative premiers, recruiting them to join his push for energy projects and resource development at the meeting. Mr. Kenney said the premiers, including Ontario’s Doug Ford, Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories, will advocate for the establishment of cross-county energy corridors that could speed the construction of new pipelines, rail and power lines. The visiting premiers started their morning on Monday flipping pancakes at the Stampede.

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has been hospitalized in Hong Kong, according to organizers of a trade conference. They say he arrived feeling poorly and was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Quebec Premier François Legault is backing his education minister. Jean-François Roberge faced criticism over the weekend for saying it would be an honour to have activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai teach in Quebec, but she would have to remove her head scarf. On Monday, Mr. Legault said Mr. Roberge was correct when he made that assertion. Last month, Quebec’s legislature adopted Bill 21, which bans public sector workers from wearing religious symbols including head scarfs while they are working.

The latest Nanos poll out Tuesday morning shows for the first time in months, the Liberals have a clear lead. The poll has the Liberals at 35 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 30, NDP at 18 and Greens at 9. When asked who people prefer for prime minister, 32 per cent say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, followed by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer at 22 per cent, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh at 10 per cent and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May with 7 per cent. Last week, the Liberals edged above the Conservatives for the first time since February.

Ontario’s Doug Ford says he dealt with the patronage scandal and refused to answer questions about whether he pushed Dean French, his former chief of staff, to quit. Speaking to reporters for the first time since Mr. French resigned more than two weeks ago, Mr. Ford said, “Let’s be very clear: Dean French is no longer there” and “Do you really think when I walk down the street in Alberta people worry about Dean French?” When Mr. French returned to Queen’s Park for final meetings days after quitting, he reportedly told Premier’s Office staff that he’s not going to stop talking to the Premier.

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The Quebec government is joining other provinces in their legal fight against Ottawa’s carbon tax, hoping to convince the Supreme Court of Canada that a key part of the law intrudes on provincial jurisdiction. Quebec will continue to participate in a cap-and-trade system, but will argue Ottawa doesn’t have the power to decide whether carbon pricing by the provinces fails to meet federal standards. The decision creates another hurdle for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who will be defending the pricing system in the upcoming fall election.

British Columbia environmental groups have filed a new legal challenge to the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, arguing that cabinet failed to meet its obligations to protect endangered southern killer whales when it approved the project last month.

Mr. Scheer says, if he becomes prime minister, he would continue Canada’s campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. However, he said he wouldn’t “sell out” Canadian principles including fundamental human rights in an effort to secure votes from other countries.

He is also promising to scrap new standards that will force cleaner-burning fuels, in addition to eliminating the federal price on carbon. He said the new standards could increase the cost of gas by at least four cents a litre over and above the carbon tax.

Almost three-quarters of Indigenous youth surveyed said they are optimistic meaningful reconciliation will happen in their lifetime, reports CBC.

CBC is also reporting Ottawa is reviewing the Criminal Code and “doing everything within its jurisdiction to combat conversion therapy.” This includes calling on provincial governments to stop the practice.

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In International news, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the extradition bill that sparked massive protests is dead. Carrie Lam said government work on the legislation had been a “total failure,” but critics accuse her of playing with her words. This didn’t satisfy many protesters, who are standing by demands that she completely withdraw the bill.

Former U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot has died. The self-made Texas billionaire twice ran for president, with George H.W. Bush blaming Mr. Perot for his loss in 1992. Mr. Perot was 89.

U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out for a second day at Britain’s ambassador to the United States, describing him as “wacky” and a “pompous fool,” after a leak of e-mails critical of the American administration. The series of tweets came hours after Prime Minister Theresa May stood by Kim Darroch amid the controversy over the release of the documents published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

And, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff said Tuesday that Britain’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker of Gibraltar last week will not be “unanswered.”

Finn Poschmann (The Globe and Mail) on the Impact Assessment Act injecting confusion into national unity: “While cabinet accepted some of the Senate’s amendments, none would have reined in the act’s potential jurisdictional mischief. And in choosing what to put in the new act and what to leave out, the federal government has signalled more regional conflict over environmental matters – and that few pipelines or much else will be built for a long time.”

Andrew Coyne (National Post) on Canada’s class war: “Today’s populist conservative, by contrast, is prone to dismiss the analysis of experts, on everything from sex education to climate change, not in spite of their expertise but because of it. A society that sneers at “so-called experts” is a society on its way to the madhouse.”

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Kirk LaPointe (Business in Vancouver) on Jagmeet Singh pushing the NDP into irrelevance: “On issue after issue he has been unconvincing and unconvinced in his position. He appears to not have an aide who stays abreast of the news to tell him about it. He has revived in unflattering ways the term “waffle” to the NDP. He and his party have not produced a single big idea to think about at the ballot box.”

Doug Saunders (The Globe and Mail) on Iran’s uranium breach: “While Tehran’s behaviour is reckless and deliberately inflammatory, it should not be mistaken for anything other than a symbolic gesture – and there should be no support from Western countries for any U.S. attempts to turn this into a full-scale military conflict.”

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