Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer donned an obligatory cowboy hat to flip pancakes on the opening weekend of the Calgary Stampede, receiving a warm reception in reliable Conservative territory. The Stampede has become a must-attend event for political Leaders. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to be in Calgary later this week, while Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier were in town over the weekend.
Today, another Conservative politician is making news at the Stampede. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is hosting the premiers of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories at the event. The leaders are being officially welcomed at a traditional white hat ceremony during the premier’s annual Stampede pancake breakfast Monday.
The leaders will then formally meet before watching the rodeo.
A news release says that during the meeting, the premiers will discuss how they “can be closer partners in prosperity,” noting they share common goals such as building pipelines and free trade within Canada.
The federal carbon tax has been imposed on provinces that have not implemented their own carbon levies: Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. All but New Brunswick have gone to court over it. Alberta has also filed a reference case with its Court of Appeal, asking for a legal opinion on the constitutionality of the carbon tax.
So far, Ontario’s Court of Appeal said the carbon-levy “backstop” is within Ottawa’s jurisdiction and it isn’t a tax and Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal knocked down the challenge in May. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has appealed to the Supreme Court. The decisions are a blow to provincial carbon-tax opponents who were hoping to derail the federal plan before the October election.
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Ontario’s new minister responsible for the autism program acknowledges there was a “lack of communication” with families awaiting services and is promising to rebuild trust with the community. Todd Smith, who just took over for Lisa MacLeod, says he stands by figures showing almost 25,000 children are waiting for support. But, unlike Ms. MacLeod, he is not committed to clearing the waiting list. This is the first time Mr. Smith has addressed the findings of an internal review that said the government knowingly inflated the size of the waiting list to justify a funding model that would leave families “destitute.”
In international news this morning, Iran is threatening to restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up its enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent purity. The nuclear pact limits the percentage to 3.67, making this a big move away from the pact Washington abandoned last year. The threat is raising questions about if the agreement is still viable.
Britain’s ambassador to the United States described President Donald Trump’s administration as “dysfunctional,” “clumsy” and “inept”, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported. In memos to the British government, Sir Kim Darroch said Mr. Trump “radiates insecurity” and advises officials in London that to deal with him effectively “you need to make your points simple, even blunt.” Mr. Trump dismissed the report saying, “we are not big fans of that man and he has not served the U.K. well.”
Until recently, most polls have been showing the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals. But that seems to be changing with the two parties running neck and neck. The most recent Nanos Research poll shows the Liberals ahead 34 to 32 and EKOS Research shows the Conservatives ahead 34 to 32, so basically a dead heat. According to an article in The Hill Times, leading pollsters say it has to do with Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s controversial cuts in social services, the dissipation of media coverage on the SNC-Lavalin affair and closer scrutiny of Mr. Scheer.
In case you missed it, on Friday Ottawa announced more than $2.7-million in funding for a project to improve the process of reporting sexual harassment in workplaces. The money is going toward the project Roadmap to Future Workplaces, which targets federally regulated sectors, including the arts, and will encompass research, education and a digital platform.
Also on Friday, the Liberals quietly ended a “triage” program that aimed to redirect asylum seekers away from crowded shelters in Montreal and Toronto. The program was announced last year after the Quebec government and city of Toronto called on the federal government for help in dealing with the influx of asylum seekers flooding their temporary housing.
And, Quebec’s Education responded to a question on Twitter about activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai, saying it would be an honour for her to teach in Quebec, but like in other “open and tolerant countries, teachers can’t wear religious symbols while they exercise their functions.” Quebec’s controversial Bill 21 wouldn’t allow the type of headscarf Ms. Yousafzai wears.
Dale Smith (The Globe and Mail) on why we lose when legislatures don’t sit: “Our representatives’ jobs are not to be a constituency outreach worker, but rather, to hold the government – meaning cabinet – to account, and they do that by controlling the public purse.”
A Globe editorial on Conservative governments investigating their opponents: “There’s a trend in Canadian politics, for the moment confined to conservative parties, and it is to put into motion, on winning an election, some sort of government investigation into your opponents. It is nefarious, petty and a waste of taxpayers’ money, but it is catching on like wildfire.”
John Ivison (National Post) on how Trudeau will buy affection: “Sources suggest middle class tax cuts are coming. A Liberal party unconstrained by the commitment to balance the books can promise to buy the affections of the electorate without being unduly concerned about rising deficits.”
Allan Richarz (CBC) on Trump’s engagement with North Korea: “Perhaps Trump’s direct talks with Kim are the big idea missing in the last decades of U.S. policy. The notion had been floated before – former president Barack Obama pledged in the 2008 presidential debates to meet with the North without preconditions before ultimately defaulting to Washington’s standard operating procedure – but it took the political blank slate of Trump to actually follow through.”
Preston Manning (The Globe and Mail) on a balance between the environment and the economy: “First: Balance environmental and economic-impact assessments. Legislation exists and, rightly so, requiring environmental impact-assessments of major economic projects. But legislation is also needed to mandate economic-impact assessments of major environmental protection measures. Only then will the public and governments have the informed perspective required to strike the appropriate balance between the two considerations.”