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A federal Liberal MP is breaking ranks with the government and suggesting it should not dismiss concerns about public-health measures or demonize skeptics.

The criticism came from Quebec Liberal MP Joel Lightbound, who told a news conference on Tuesday that he also condemns the trucker protests making life miserable for residents of downtown Ottawa.

Mr. Lightbound, who previously served as a parliamentary secretary in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, told an Ottawa news conference Tuesday that his own party has politicized the pandemic and that the government should lay out a clear timeline for bringing restrictions to an end.

He noted that a number of other countries, including Ireland, the U.K., Denmark and Switzerland, have or are currently removing measures such as vaccine passports, leaving Canadians confused about what is happening in this country.

“It’s time to stop with the divisions and distractions,” he said, adding that the situation had reached a point where it became necessary for him to express his views.

The full story by Parliamentary Reporter Kristy Kirkup and me is here.

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

OTTAWA PROTESTS

MAYOR SEEKS ALMOST 2,000 ADDITIONAL OFFICERS - Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is appealing to the federal and provincial governments to send nearly 2,000 additional police officers to combat what he describes as widespread lawlessness that local police have not managed to curb, as a street protest against pandemic restrictions continues to occupy the city’s centre. Story here.

MENDICINO ON PROBING MONEY FOR PROTESTS - Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says the federal government has “robust” investigative agencies that are well-situated to probe financial contributions from outside Canada to causes that would undermine this country’s safety and national security. Story here.

MAYOR AND MINISTERS MEET - Federal cabinet ministers and Ottawa’s mayor met late Monday to find solutions to end the anti-vaccine mandate protest that has choked the Canadian capital for over a week. Story here.

TRUDEAU AT EMERGENCY DEBATE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lashed out on Monday at protesters occupying Ottawa, accusing them of interfering with the country’s ability to function and reminding them that the pandemic has “sucked” for everyone, not just them. Story here.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: LEADING TRUCKER EXECUTIVE - TFI International Inc., Canada’s largest trucking conglomerate, is virtually untouched by the recent vaccine mandate for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border, says the company head. “Vaccination at TFI is not an issue at all,” chairman and CEO Alain Bedard said Tuesday. “We have a few drivers that still say no, but what we do with them is we just keep them in Canada.” Story here.

GLOBE AND MAIL EXPLAINER : Where are the convoy protesters in Ottawa now? A visual guide to the state of emergency. The explainer is here.

MEANWHILE

CHAREST SHOULD RUN: TORY MP - Conservative MP Alain Rayes, formerly the party’s Quebec lieutenant, has told Radio-Canada’s Tout Un Matin that he has spoken to former Quebec premier Jean Charest about the idea of running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, and views Mr. Charrest as a good candidate. Story here.

LEAVE UKRAINE: OTTAWA - Ottawa is telling Canadians to immediately leave Ukraine in the anticipation of a Russian invasion. Story here.

SEAT OPENS FOR NEW B.C. LIBERAL LEADER - The new leader of the B.C. Liberal party says his predecessor is resigning his seat in Vancouver to give him a chance to run in a by-election. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

The projected order of business at the House of Commons, Feb. 8 is here.

KHEIRIDDIN MAY SEEK CPC LEADERSHIP - Commentator Tasha Kheiriddin says she may run for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party, noting on Twitter she has recently been encouraged to do so. “I am humbled and honoured and feel a duty to take these inquiries seriously,” she wrote. She noted she has worked in various roles in the Progressive Conservative party, for such cabinet ministers as Barbara MacDougall and Bernard Valcourt. She says the Tories must offer solutions to Canada’s challenges, and inspire Canadians. “I look forward to sharing my decision with you soon.”

MP SECURITY RISKS - On Tuesday, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs met for a briefing on security risks for members of Parliament. It’s a striking topic given the times. No details on the meeting, however. It was held in-camera. Notice here.

THE DECIBEL – As the “Freedom Convoy” protest continues in Ottawa, Parliamentary Reporter Janice Dickson talks to The Globe and Mail podcast about the experience of downtown Ottawa residents, and how city government and police have handled the continuing situation. The Decibel is here.

TRIBUTE - Former federal justice minister Donald Johnston has died. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pays tribute here. And The Montreal Gazette takes note here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. Prime Minister chairs the cabinet meeting, and attends question period.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet holds a news conference on Parliament Hill.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh meets small business owners and local residents, and participates in Question Period

No other party leader schedules released.

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s late show in Ottawa’s long vacuum of leadership: The Ottawa protest wasn’t about people – it never drew one of the capital’s biggest protest crowds, and it has dwindled to a small number of people. It is the trucks that made it a blockade, and, as Mr. Alghabra noted Wednesday, the provincial government has powers over road safety and vehicle registration, and can threaten to revoke the truckers permits to operate commercial vehicles. Yet so far, the one effective act of leadership in the whole thing has come from a private citizen, Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ, who won a court injunction Monday afternoon barring the convoy truckers from honking their horns.”

Andrew Cohen (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how the Ottawa occupation is the October crisis revisited and Justin Trudeau must be bold:The Freedom Convoy is not the FLQ. Justin Trudeau is not Pierre Trudeau. But once again, he can learn from his father the imperative of clarity, authority and principle. At minimum, Mr. Trudeau has to be more visible. Even if he has COVID-19, he looked weak moving to a secret location. If the mob wants to bay at the gates of Rideau Cottage, let it. Justin need not be Pierre, who defied protesters at the St-Jean-Baptiste Day parade in Montreal in 1968, refusing to leave the reviewing stand under a volley of rocks and bottles while others fled. Nor need he be “the gunslinger” – legs astride, fingers hooked in belt, defying everyone in his way. But Mr. Trudeau must show leadership amid civil authorities as feckless as Quebec premier Robert Bourassa was in 1970. He must be bold.”

Giuliano Zaccardelli (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Ottawa police must stop the tightrope walking and actively enforce the law: “The trucks, which have created physical and auditory disorder in Ottawa for a week, must be moved – if not by their owners, then by heavy machinery or, if necessary, police-contracted and protected drivers, no matter how difficult it may be. Any illegal structures – tents, shacks, fire pits, etc. – must be dismantled. And while the decision to make a less central location available to the protesters was a good one (and something I’d have done myself), a time limit must now be put on that usage and firmly enforced. The balance must now shift from keeping the peace to active enforcement of the law. The decision to do so must be enabled and supported by the political, community, and governmental agencies who under normal circumstances tend to decry such shows of force.”

Anna Drake (Policy Options) on how the so-called “Freedom Convoy” is a symptom of a deeply unequal society: “The people who have set up in Ottawa are occupiers. Comparing them to other protesters fails to understand the deep-rooted inequality that underpins both the occupation and many of our institutional responses to it. Indeed, it is institutional failure after institutional failure that we ought to focus on; we need to hold these structures to account and turn our attention to the people our institutions fail.”

André Pratte (The Montreal Gazette) on the Quebec dilemma that Conservatives a facing once again: Because Québec does lean centre-left on many issues, a so-called “moderate” leader probably stands better chances of making gains in the province than a “true-Blue” one. However, whoever wins this leadership race, if the four previously mentioned conditions are not met, the Tories will continue to win few seats in Québec. In such circumstances, as Mulroney noted 39 years ago, their chances of forming a majority government will remain negligible.”

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