Canada has a new Chief of the Defence Staff.
The Prime Minister’s Office announced Thursday that General Wayne Eyre, who has served in the role in an acting capacity, will take on the job on a permanent basis.
Gen. Eyre took over the role when Admiral Art McDonald stepped aside in February while facing an allegation of sexual misconduct. Adm. McDonald has yet to comment on today’s development.
The Prime Minister’s Office has posted a biography of Gen. Eyre here.
Heading into the House of Commons for Question Period after the announcement, Defence Minister Anita Anand took some media questions on the appointment.
Asked if she recommended the appointment to the Prime Minister – and if so, why – the Minister said she has had numerous conversations with Gen. Eyre about her “top priority” of reforming the culture of the Canadian Armed Forces.
“I have also visited numerous bases with him and spoken with members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and I expressed the importance of this to him – and discussed this, of course, with the Prime Minister, who shares my concerns about the Canadian Armed Forces. And I look forward to working very hard with General Eyre on this most important priority not just for the Canadian Armed Forces, but for the Canadian population at large.”
She added that the Governor-General has signed an order terminating Adm. McDonald in the position.
Adm. McDonald had previously said he wanted his job back, telling The Globe and Mail in October that he had the moral authority to once again lead the Canadian forces after an investigation into a sexual-misconduct allegation cleared him of any charges.
At the time, the federal government had placed him on administrative leave.
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FEDS TWEAK LEGISLATION - The federal government has added clear references to Canada’s cultural sector and other industries in new legislation aimed at revising and extending federal wage and rent supports for businesses that have been the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Story here.
MAYORS SEEK FEDERAL TRANSIT FUNDING - Canada’s mayors are calling on the federal government to urgently approve a new round of emergency funding for local transit systems, as ridership levels have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. Story here.
NEW INTERIM GREEN LEADER - The Greens have chosen a non-binary astrophysicist as the interim leader of their party. Amita Kuttner, an expert in black holes, has been appointed by the Greens’ Federal Council to lead the party until a new leader is elected next year. Kuttner, 30, will be the youngest person as well as the first trans person and person of East Asian descent to lead a federal political party. They ran as a candidate in the B.C. riding of Burnaby-North Seymour in the 2019 federal election.
U.S. DOUBLING LUMBER DUTY RATES - The U.S. Department of Commerce is doubling duty rates against most Canadian softwood producers as the American lumber lobby gains the upper hand in the latest phase of the trade dispute.
BILL ON BANNING XINJIANG IMPORTS - A private member’s bill to bar all imports from China’s Xinjiang region was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday as Canada debates how to stop goods made with forced labour from entering this country. Story here.
FLOODING IMPACT ON FRASER VALLEY - Reporter Andrea Woo and national food reporter Ann Hui report on how the flood that dumped a month’s worth of rain on to southern B.C. in less than two days created an agricultural disaster in the Fraser Valley, where the bulk of the province’s food production takes place. Multigenerational farmers who watched their family businesses go under, along with their homes, have also been left to deal with catastrophic mortality and biohazard risks from animals caught in the flood. The death toll is, at the minimum, in the tens of thousands. Story here.
BID TO TOPPLE YUKON GOVERNMENT FAILS - Yukon’s Official Opposition has failed in its attempt to topple Sandy Silver’s Liberal minority government, as the NDP pointedly refused to play along. From CBC.
NEW MANITOBA PREMIER TRIES TO SET NEW STYLE - Manitoba’s new Premier tried this week to live up to her repeated assertion she will be a different, more collaborative premier than her predecessor Brian Pallister – although her opponents used Question Period to dispute that claim. Story here from CBC.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS - Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Nov. 25, accessible here.
EMERGENCY DEBATE ON B.C. FLOODS - MPs held an emergency debate Wednesday night on flooding in British Columbia. The debate is covered here in Hansard. (Scroll all the way down to the debate heading.) Among the comments:
Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands – Green Party): “We are not in a normal climate situation. We have entered the world of a climate emergency. As people know, the flooding destroyed highways. When will Coquihalla Highway ever get repaired? There are massive amounts of damage: 18 highways and five bridges significantly impacted by the flooding; the loss of life; the terrifying experience for people caught in mudslides; the horror of losing farms.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau – Liberal): “These are difficult, heartbreaking days and there will be difficult days still ahead, but together we will rebuild hand-in-hand with the government of B.C., with First Nations, with municipalities and with all British Columbians. We will help them recover from this crisis and rebuild their homes, their businesses and their lives. Together we will reach better, brighter times.”
Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe (Lac-Saint-Jean – Bloc Québécois) “On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to express my deepest sympathy to our friends in British Columbia and let them know that they are in our thoughts. Some people are probably going through the worst moments of their lives today – or, at the very least, moments that they will never forget. Members have spoken about the future. It is good that we are doing everything that is being done right now, and we have to give it our all, because the present is what is important.”
Ed Fast (Abbotsford – Conservative Party) “I do sense that around this House there is a clear understanding that these kinds of crises can be averted. We cannot stop the weather from happening. We can certainly do our part to address the challenge of climate change. However, these events are going to continue to happen on an even more regular basis. We do have tools available to us to reduce or completely eliminate the harm to human beings and to property. Let us use those tools together. We would be serving our constituents and Canadians very well by doing so.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh (Burnaby South – New Democratic Party) “While we are up against a horrible disaster, and in times of disaster we are focused on the tremendous loss, there is an opportunity here for us to do something that will build a brighter future. There is an opportunity for us to make investments in clean energy and in better infrastructure. There is an opportunity for us to take this horrible time and this disaster as motivation to do the right thing; to fight for the today and the tomorrow for our children; and to take every step possible to ensure that we protect our communities, our people and our future.”
SENATOR TAKING LEAVE - Senator Don Plett, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, is taking personal medical leave starting Friday, and intends to be back at work after the Christmas break. “I appreciate all the well wishes I have received, but I want to assure this chamber that the slight medical issue that I have will be entirely alleviated by being away from all of you for awhile,” Mr. Plett told the Senate on Wednesday. “If I can go and put my feet up, I will be back – and maybe before Christmas, but certainly in the new year – to continue to be a pain in your side.” His communications director, Karine Leroux, said in a statement that Mr. Plett has been touched by the numerous messages of support, and that Senator Leo Housakos will be standing in for him during his temporary absence.
JOLY SPEAKS WITH AUSTRALIAN COUNTERPART - Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly talked Thursday with Marise Payne, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister. According to a readout from Ms. Joly’s department, topics discussed included key global and regional security challenges – including Myanmar, Ukraine and Ethiopia – and Australia’s endorsement and support for the Arbitrary Detention Initiative, including the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations.
O’TOOLE SETS STANDARD - Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he is setting a high standard for accountability. “I’ll be the most accountable any leader has been in the history of our country,” Mr. O’Toole told a news conference on Thursday, called so he could comment on the push for a hybrid Parliament. “But what I am not going to allow to happen is for Mr. Trudeau not to be accountable,” he said, citing the proposal to enact a hybrid session, supported by the Liberals and expected be enacted later Wednesday. Asked about his own accountability, Mr. O’Toole said he is accountable to his caucus due to provisions of the Reform Act, and noted that James Cumming, the former Tory MP for Edmonton Centre, is conducting a review of the Conservative campaign in the recent election.
THE DECIBEL - Today’s edition of The Globe’s daily podcast features reporter Andrea Woo describing her experience on the ground in Abbotsford, B.C., part of the Fraser Valley recently devastated by floods. And Ann Hui, the globe’s national food reporter , explains the flooding’s effects on food supply and agriculture. Listen here.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a media availability.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh met with the Canadian Medical Association, held a news conference by Zoom with MP Jenny Kwan about the nursing shortage, and attended Question Period.
No schedules released for other leaders.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on the things the Trudeau government isn’t saying about inflation: “If anything, the Throne Speech by the second straight Trudeau minority government cements the notion that the election the Prime Minister called in August might as well not have happened, for all the change it wrought. Perhaps, then, the only way to make the speech interesting is to look at what wasn’t in it – sort of the way Sovietologists used to examine who wasn’t standing next to Stalin during the May Day parade in Moscow, in order to better understand what was going on behind the walls of the Kremlin. Based on that kind of analysis, the Trudeau government is squarely in the camp of those who are betting that the soaring inflation rate in Canada is a transitory result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and doesn’t require a response.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on a Throne Speech that suggests that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to establish his legacy despite the consequences: “Win or lose, the Liberals under Pierre Trudeau never received less than 38 per cent of the popular vote. Today’s Liberal Party is much weaker. It has lost the popular vote in five of the past seven elections. To govern, Mr. Trudeau requires the ongoing support of the NDP and/or the Bloc Québécois. The Conservatives are almost as unpopular as the Liberals and internally divided, all of which speaks to the declining legitimacy of political institutions in this country. But that’s a topic for another day. What matters now is that the Liberal government appears determined to push forward with an ambitious agenda, despite having a weak electoral mandate and despite warnings from the central bank that interest rates are about to climb. That doesn’t make fighting climate change, improving health care or seeking reconciliation with Indigenous peoples any less urgent. But it could leave the Liberals politically exposed.”
Jean Charest, Zachary Paikin and Stéphanie Chouinard (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how a more independent Canadian foreign policy requires embracing bilingualism: “In the recent controversy over Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau’s language skills, his defenders have advanced the usual arguments: English is the language of international business; knowing French is an asset, but not essential. Of course, at issue is not whether a unilingual anglophone can be an effective CEO; it is that an inadequate embrace of bilingualism is a national failure. However, a less often appreciated fact is that Canada’s place on the world stage also depends on us embracing our bilingual history and character. More than ever, Canada’s national sovereignty in a changing world needs to be expressed both domestically and internationally, in French and in English.”
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