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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.

For the second time this week, Quebec Premier François Legault is weighing in on the federal campaign.

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On Friday, he took issue with questions being raised about the province’s legislation, notably Bill 21, at the English-language debate the previous night, calling it an “attack” on Quebec.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet faced questions from moderator Shachi Kurl: “You deny that Quebec has problems with racism,” which was followed by Kurl asking him why the Bloc supports “discriminatory laws” that “marginalize religious minorities, anglophones and allophones.”

Mr. Legault said, “I was very surprised that somebody who was supposed to be the referee decided to be part of certain teams, saying those laws are discriminatory.”

“That was an attack for sure against Quebec, against our responsibilities. I am responsible to protect French, to protect our values, and somebody is saying I should not do that. It’s unacceptable.”

He said he was not aware of the exact rules agreed to by the five leaders participating in the debate, held in Gatineau, Que., so he could not discuss some aspects of the debate.

“I cannot believe those people accepted this question, agreed to put as a fact that a law approved by the majority of Quebeckers is discriminatory, not asking the question [but] stating in the introduction that Bill 21 and Bill 96 are discriminatory, and after asking the question, ‘Why do you support that?’ like it was a fact of life,” he said.

“C’mon. It’s unacceptable. I cannot understand how we can end up with this sort of question.”

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Bill 96 proposes to amend the Canadian Constitution to recognize Quebec as a nation whose only official language is French.

Asked to explain to the rest of the country why Bill 21 is important to Quebec, the Premier said, “I would say clearly that the vast majority of Quebeckers agree to forbid religious signs for people being in authority position like police, and Bill 21 doesn’t apply in the rest of Canada so please: It’s not of your business.”

Parliamentary reporter Marieke Walsh, Queen’s Park Reporter Laura Stone and parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup report here on the Thursday night’s debate.

Also on the debate:

John Doyle (The Globe and Mail) on last night’s English-language leaders’ debate: “Every election campaign is essentially the selling of people and policies mainly through television. But the leaders’ debate is where TV and politics truly intersect. This is a truism, and it’s why every U.S. presidential campaign climaxes in a TV debate that everyone, including a vast number of Canadians, is glued to. Nobody could possibly have been glued to this disaster unless they were paid employees of the political parties involved.”

TODAY’S HEADLINES:

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CALLS FOR ACTION ON FIRE DEATHS IN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES - Indigenous leaders and policy experts say a fundamental legislative gap must be closed to prevent fire-related deaths in Indigenous communities across the country and want federal party leaders, including during this federal election, to prioritize the life-and-death matter. Story here.

MORE CANADIANS DEPART AFGHANISTAN - Forty-three Canadians were among dozens of foreigners who left Afghanistan on an international commercial flight out of Kabul on Thursday, the first such large-scale departure since U.S. forces completed a withdrawal more than a week ago. Story here.

B.C. LEGISLATURE BUILDINGS OFF LIMITS TO UNVACCINATED - Starting Monday, MLAs, staff and members of the public will have to produce proof of vaccination to enter the British Columbia legislature buildings in Victoria. The all-party legislative-assembly management committee approved the requirement unanimously and without debate, showing that B.C.’s New Democrats, Liberals and Greens are of the same mind. Story here from The Vancouver Sun.

WHY LEADERS ARE FLOCKING TO HAMILTON - Whether you call it “Steeltown” or the “Hammer,” every federal leader has wanted to spend some time in Hamilton this election. Not only are three of the ridings in Hamilton close, but they’re also open races as three incumbents aren’t running for another term. From The National Post.

LEADERS UNITE ON VACCINATION - New video here with party leaders talking about the need for vaccination.

PPC BANS MEMBER OVER GRAVEL THROWING - The right-wing People’s Party of Canada has expelled one of its local officials over allegations that he threw gravel at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau earlier this week, a party spokesman said.

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LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet campaigns in Beloeil-Chambly, with events that include casting a ballot, an interview and news conference on Bloc priorities for the district.

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole held a news conference at a Royal Canadian Legion Branch in Mississauga, discussing his Recovery Plan, and was to attend an event with supporters in Whitby, Ont.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul holds a press conference in Ottawa with candidates from the city and Quebec and then travels to Toronto.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, in Hamilton, talked about his party’s commitment to health care.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh addressed the media in Ottawa, encouraging people to vote and, later voted in an advance poll in Burnaby, B.C. He was also scheduled to do an Instagram Live event with decor and lifestyle expert Janette Ewen and participated in a rally.

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ELECTION SPOTLIGHT - NOVA SCOTIA

11 Seats. At dissolution of Parliament, 10 Liberals, 1 Conservative.

Professor Erin Crandall

Associate Professor, Department of Politics – Acadia University, Wolfville.

“What’s unique to Nova Scotia in comparison to the rest of Canada is that we’re in the second of back-to-back elections. We just had our provincial election and then started the federal election campaign. It has been a summer of elections in Nova Scotia.

“And Nova Scotia had the first election since the start of COVID where the incumbent didn’t form government again. I think a lot of people looked at this outcome and wondered if it was foretelling anything for the federal election, especially because it was the Progressive Conservative Party that formed government.

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“My own initial reaction to the provincial election was that it was unlikely to tell us very much because the Progressive Conservative Party and Conservative Party federally are not the same. It’s not a straight line from this PC victory in Nova Scotia to a Conservative federal victory in Nova Scotia.

“The merger of the Progressive Conservative Party with the Canadian Alliance resulted in a more conservative party than the Progressive Conservative Party was. There is a strong Western dominance in today’s Conservative Party, which in many ways makes it different from the overarching conservativism found in Atlantic Canada, especially Nova Scotia.

“The Progressive Conservative Party in Nova Scotia ran a fairly centrist campaign and was left of the [provincial] Liberals in big spending items like health care. The leader, Tim Houston, tried to separate himself from the federal party. That being said, the federal Conservatives seem to be campaigning a little more to the centre than I might have expected given the leadership campaign O’Toole ran to become leader of the Conservative Party.

“This is a part of the country where Liberals tend to do well. The question now is whether or not the Liberals might lose a couple of Nova Scotia seats. I think they’re still going to do well. It’s just relative to what they have done in the last couple of elections.”

PUBLIC OPINION

Together with CTV and Nanos Research, The Globe and Mail is doing daily surveys to track which party and leader Canadians prefer. Read more here.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how the Conservative platform looks different now that it has numbers in it: For the past three weeks, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has been running what this page described as the most progressive conservative campaign since the demise of the Progressive Conservatives. His style, tone and (uncosted) platform were all about reassuring swing voters. A series of proposals, from health care to child care, were put forward to demonstrate that, while a Conservative government would be different from the past six years under the Liberals, it would not be too different. But now that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has put numbers to the party’s platform promises, laying out the addition, subtraction, division and multiplication of costs, some real differences have been revealed – expressed in dollars and cents.”

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on how the Canadian government seems to have missed the entire point of the MMIWG inquiry: ”Canada’s federal election campaign has ignored Indigenous issues. And that is a shame, because all Canadians should be outraged over the interim appointment of a non-Indigenous man as the executive director of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Secretariat. In this day and age, after all this country has been through – from the discovery of now thousands of children who died at residential schools to Canada’s awakening to the genocidal policies of its past – how could this still be happening? Has anyone learned anything?”

Rona Ambrose and Irwin Cotler (Contributors to The Globe and Mail) on dealing with bureaucratic barriers that are making life even harder for Canada’s allies in Afghanistan: “Blind adherence to policy and inflexibility to change it, despite the challenging situation on the ground, runs counter to the urgency of doing the right thing. It is a cruel reality that those left behind are facing. Canada must remove the barriers that our own policies present. We need to get the proper documentation to these people so we can get them out quickly and safely when the borders open to the world.”

Jesse Wente (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on why this should be the most aspirational election of our lifetime, but probably isn’t: “Elections provide an opportunity to envision a shared future, to move the many in a direction of mutual and sustainable success. In this moment, any national election should be a parade of not just big, but enormous, ideas, for that is what this moment requires. This would include a genuine attempt to consider what moving away from colonial-based relationships of domination means and looks like. How self-determination for First Nations, Métis and Inuit can be achieved while considering the future of a national state that maintains the shared achievements of Canada. We should be hearing robust and bold strategies to shift the national economy away from fossil fuels and global resource extraction. We should be hearing about investments in shared community infrastructure, from long-term-care facilities and housing to child care and a minimum basic income. This should be the most aspirational election of my lifetime, focused keenly on what will better serve human beings and their shared interests. Does anyone feel that is what we are having?”

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