The federal government has named three former judges to help oversee a special committee of MPs who will investigate the firing of two scientists from the country’s high-security infectious disease laboratory in Winnipeg.
Government House Leader Mark Holland announced Wednesday that Ian Binnie and Marshall Rothstein, both former Supreme Court judges, and Eleanor Dawson, who sat on the Federal Court of Appeal, will act as arbiters, adjudicating any dispute about what information or documents can be made public.
MPs from four of the main parties – Liberal Iqra Khalid, Conservative John Williamson, New Democrat Heather McPherson and René Villemure from the Bloc Québécois – will serve on the special committee.
“It’s been a long process to get all the parties together, to get the members populated, to get the panel of arbiters, but we now have three esteemed former justices who have agreed to take on the role of arbiter,” Mr. Holland told journalists on Parliament Hill as he arrived for the weekly Liberal caucus meeting.
The MPs have been promised unfettered access to all national security documents related to the firing of Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in January, 2021.
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FORD `DISAPPOINTED’ IN OTTAWA OVER STELLANTIS BATTERY PLANT – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says it’s disappointing that Ottawa continues to call on the province to contribute more subsidies for an electric-vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont., while the federal government said the issue is raising regional fairness concerns from other premiers. Story here.
YOON, TRUDEAU AGREE ON CRITICAL MINERALS – South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed on Wednesday to enhance co-operation on critical minerals and continue joint efforts to fend off North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. Story here.
FRUM WINS DEFAMATION CASE – A former Conservative senator has won a defamation case she says was designed to intimidate and silence her, in a ruling she says will set a precedent for free speech and fair comment, including on Twitter. Story here.
CHONG SAYS HE HAS PREVIOUSLY FELT THREATENED BY CHINA’S GOVERNMENT – Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong says Beijing’s intimidation actions against him and his family in Hong Kong are not the first time that he felt threatened by the Chinese government. Story here.
POILIEVRE HAS DECLINED MEETING WITH RAPPORTEUR – Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has declined to meet with the government’s special rapporteur on foreign interference, citing an inability to find a mutually convenient time, a spokesperson for Poilievre said Wednesday. Story here from CBC.
DONNER PRIZE AUTHORS – The five authors nominated for the Donner Prize, which recognizes books on public policy by Canadian authors, talk here about one person in a position to influence public policy they’d most like to read their book. The $60,000 prize will be presented at a gala dinner in Toronto on May. 18.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, May. 17, accessible here.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD – Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, in Trenton, N.S., made an announcement to support tourism.
IN OTTAWA – International Trade Minister Mary Ng played host to Albert Muchanga, economic development commissioner for the African Union Commission, during a visit to Canada, and they were scheduled to sign a document opening a dialogue on trade policy.
FORD IN OTTAWA – Ontario Premier Doug Ford will be in Ottawa Thursday to attend and deliver remarks at the funeral of Sergeant Eric Mueller of the Ontario Provincial Police, who was killed in the line of duty last week. Mr. Ford will be travelling with provincial Solicitor-General Michael Kerzner, who will also speak at the ceremony at the Canadian Tire Centre.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting Seoul, South Korea. At the beginning of the day, he participated in a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of those who died in the Korean War, accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, and Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne. Mr. Trudeau, accompanied by the ministers, met with the Speaker and members of the National Assembly of Korea. The Prime Minister delivered an address to the assembly. He then met individually with the leaders of Samsung Electronics, SK Group and POSCO Holdings. Mr. Trudeau then met with Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. The Prime Minister participated in a signing ceremony with the Korean President followed by a joint media availability, and an official dinner.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet held a media scrum in the foyer of the House of Commons.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, attended the NDP caucus meeting, took questions from reporters and was scheduled to attend Question Period.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail, reporter Carrie Tait explains the political impacts of wildfires raging across Alberta, and forcing thousands to evacuate their homes, while a provincial election is right around the corner. United Conservative Party Leader Danielle Smith is trying to balance her role as premier with her political campaign for the job. And frustrations amongst some residents are growing. The Decibel is here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Canada needing to make renting more attractive to tenants – and to landlords: “Canadian governments have long cosseted homeowners, whether through the federal capital gains exemption for primary residences, various home-renovation tax credits, or municipal zoning bylaws that prioritize single-family dwellings over apartment buildings. But renters? They’re largely on their own, living in a world of insecurity made worse by the housing crisis. Leases are rarely guaranteed beyond one year, and rents for new tenants are rising sharply – the national jump last month was 6.1 per cent year on year, according to the Consumer Price Index released Tuesday.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how Danielle Smith is Exhibit A of how the conservative weakness for contrarianism has driven a lot of them crazy: “It would be easy to dismiss the many odd things that come out of Danielle Smith’s mouth as the product of a disordered mind. Easy, and accurate. The past week alone has provided several examples. Equating the vaccine-compliant majority with Hitler’s followers; suggesting police officers who enforced public-health orders should face criminal charges; calling for doctors to be removed from decision-making roles in the next pandemic, in favour of the military; all on top of her previous musings about ivermectin, the World Economic Forum, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and of course, Alberta sovereignty: she appears to have no analytical filter of any kind, but rather functions as a sort of ideological magpie, lining her nest with whatever shiny objects she happens across, without further examination. Certainly, it is hard to see what any of this has to do with conservatism: limited government, respect for tradition, all that. “
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on Maxime Bernier going full MAGA in Manitoba by-election campaign: “Maxime Bernier, who is now full-on MAGA, is running in the Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar in a June 19 by-election. He will almost certainly lose. His right-wing People’s Party of Canada appears to be on the wane, done in by populist Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre. Even if Mr. Poilievre were not so popular among Conservatives, Mr. Bernier would probably lose. “I don’t think he has much of a chance here,” says Royce Koop, a political scientist at the University of Manitoba. Prof. Koop notes that the riding has repeatedly voted Conservative and the Conservatives have a strong candidate.”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how Canada is getting played by Stellantis, but we asked for it: “Ottawa and Queen’s Park are getting played by Stellantis, but you can’t say they didn’t ask for it. By deciding to engage in a subsidy war with the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford ensured they would be held for ransom. Politically, they have no choice now but to pay up. Mr. Ford and Mr. Trudeau have boasted so much about attracting electric-vehicle investments, they would both lose face if Stellantis packed up its marbles.”
Jeffery Vacante (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how francophone minorities should worry about the Liberals’ language plans: “The federal government says it has a solution for the decline of French in Canada. On Monday, Bill C-13, an act to amend the Official Languages Act, passed the House of Commons with support from all parties, and the legislation is now headed to the Senate. This followed an April announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with Minister of Official Languages Ginette Petitpas Taylor, on the Action Plan for Official Languages, a five-year funding program intended to strengthen French-speaking communities across Canada. The government hailed the plan as a historic financial commitment for the protection of the French language in Canada.”