Marc Garneau, the first Canadian to go to space, is leaving politics, departing Ottawa after 15 years spent serving in opposition, then in cabinet as transport and foreign affairs minister, and lastly as a backbencher.
He also once challenged Justin Trudeau for the leadership of the federal Liberals, but pulled out before the decision went to party members in 2013 because he realized he could not win.
News of his departure broke on Wednesday, after Mr. Garneau went to see the Prime Minister to announce his exit earlier this week. He was scheduled to break the news to the Liberal caucus meeting on Wednesday, and was hoping to deliver a goodbye speech to the Commons in the afternoon.
And then he was planning to take the train home to Montreal.
Amid tributes on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet that Mr. Garneau had been an inspiration as an astronaut. “As a politician, he proved he could also do great things with both feet on the ground. We’ll miss you in the House.”
The full story is here.
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BANK OF CANADA HOLDS LINE ON INTEREST RATE - The Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate steady at 4.5 per cent Wednesday, pausing its year-long campaign to increase borrowing costs while leaving the door open to further rate hikes if inflation doesn’t slow as quickly as expected. Story here.
LIBERALS BLOCK BID FOR TESTIMONY OF TOP PM AIDE - Liberal MPs mounted a filibuster Tuesday to stop the opposition from calling the Prime Minister’s top aide to testify before a Commons committee studying Beijing’s election meddling, frustrating efforts to delve deeper into what the government knew. Story here.
CEOS BEFORE COMMITTEE TO EXPLAIN FOOD-PRICE HIKES - The CEOs of Canada’s largest grocery store chains will be before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday to answer questions about the rapid rise in food prices. Story here. There’s a meeting notice here with videolink information.
ONTARIO FACING $21.3-BILLION COST TO REACH HEALTH CARE GOALS - Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government needs to spend $21.3-billion more on health care to meet its own expansion targets and will be short about 33,000 nurses and personal support workers by 2027-28, says a new report from the province’s fiscal watchdog. Story here.
QUESTIONS IN N.B. ABOUT MONCKTON - A movement has been rekindled in New Brunswick to shed a francophone university’s connection to Robert Monckton, a British military figure who played an active role in the imprisonment and deportation of thousands of Acadians. Story here.
SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ON LEAVE OVER COMPLAINT - Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner placed Justice Russell Brown on a paid leave of absence after being informed of a disciplinary complaint against Justice Brown a day earlier and discussing it with him, the court said on Tuesday. Story here.
CANADA AND U.S. TAKING HOLISTIC APPROACH TO SHARED IMMIGRATION CHALLENGES: MINISTER - Canada and the United States both support a holistic, long-term approach to their shared immigration challenges, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said after a meeting with the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary. Story here.
B.C. CHIEFS VISIT OTTAWA TO MAKE SALMON-FARM ARGUMENTS - Indigenous chiefs representing B.C. communities came to Ottawa this week to make opposing arguments about whether open-net salmon farms should be able to continue off the coast or be closed and moved to tanks on land. Story here.
HERITAGE MINISTER HAS REJECTED SENATE AMENDMENTS TO ONLINE BILL - Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has rejected a number of Senate amendments to the government’s online streaming bill, putting himself on a potential collision course with the Red Chamber. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March 8, accessible here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY - Chrystia Freeland, in Mississauga, participated in prebudget consultations. toured a union training centre and met with electrical workers. She also held a news conference.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, in Toronto, continued to attend the PDAC 2023. Marci Ien, the Minister for Women, Gender Equality and Youth, in Toronto, attended a gathering of young women from across Southern Ontario held on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
GOVERNOR-GENERAL ABUSE - On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Governor-General Mary Simon’s office is revealing some of the messages she has received online to take a stand against such abuse. Check here.
POILIEVRE ABSENT FROM SPEECH - Official Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre was absent Tuesday night from the House of Commons as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s delivered a speech to MPs, senators and other dignitaries. Ms. von der Leyen was in the capital as part of a visit to Canada this week. Mr. Poilievre’s office did not respond on Wednesday to a query on why he did not attend.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, held private meetings, attended the national caucus meeting, attended the women’s caucus meeting and attended Question Period.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, attended the party caucus meeting, held a news conference, participated in Question Period and attended a hearing of the agriculture and agrifood committee that grocery-store executives are testifying at.
No schedules available for other party leaders.
After weeks of resisting pressure from all sides, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has ordered two probes into Chinese election interference. This follows The Globe and Mail reporting on secret and top secret CSIS documents alleging a sophisticated strategy by China to disrupt the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. The Globe’s Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife explains why Mr. Trudeau is changing his stance and how likely these probes are to shed light on the extent of China’s interference. The Decibel is here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how the Trudeau Liberals don’t own our elections: “Canada’s elections are not the private property of the Liberal Party of Canada. That rather simple fact seems to elude Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who continues to refuse to take the needed step of calling a formal independent inquiry – with cross-partisan support of its composition and mandate – to investigate China’s election meddling in the elections of 2019 and 2021. Instead, Mr. Trudeau insists on controlling the form and direction of any line of questioning, be that the neutering of the Commons committee probing the issue or his proposal on Monday to name an “independent special rapporteur.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the Prime Minister launching an investigation into everything but his government, his party or himself: “The issue, again, is not ‘foreign interference,’ as such. We may take it as a given that our adversaries will seek to intervene in Canadian elections, as they have in other countries. The issue is not that China, according to intelligence sources, wanted the Liberals to win – though the implications are disturbing, can anyone claim to be surprised? – nor that it apparently went to some lengths to assure this, albeit with seemingly limited impact. The issue is whether it had help.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have saved his political skin, at the cost of public confidence in the next election: “Will Mr. Trudeau’s efforts at deflection work? Certainly they have worked in the past. Whether it was during the SNC-Lavalin affair or the WE Charity controversy or any of the other imbroglios, he has been able to wiggle his way out by appointing this, referring the matter to that, or pointing the finger at someone else. The Prime Minister is further aided and abetted by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who continues to prop up this minority government. And Mr. Trudeau has also benefited from problems within the Conservative Party. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has chosen not to punish three MPs who met with a far-right member of the European Parliament, further tainting him as someone who turns a blind eye to extremists within his own political base.”
Marsha Lederman (The Globe and Mail) on how it’s hard to see the hope in B.C.’s report on hate during the pandemic entitled ‘From Hate to Hope’: “I was also frustrated with Dr. Henry at times but, my goodness, that woman worked relentlessly managing the unprecedented pandemic – and all the while tried to get us to be calm, kind and safe (a catchphrase which I know became irritating for some people). Dr. Henry certainly has not deserved the, er, feces she has had to deal with. It’s hard to know how we come back from this – from angry people hurling pop cans, insults and saliva. It feels as if, during the pandemic, a line was crossed – and the bad behaviour is only getting more pronounced. The divisions are deep and ugly.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how, in Calgary, Rachel Notley is gearing up for the fight of her life: “Ms. Notley says her party’s go-to issues remain health care and education while also being strong on economic matters. She knows she will have to fight off UCP smears that the NDP wrecked the Alberta economy when in office. She’s happy to put her record up against the UCP’s over the past four years, especially when you factor in the difficult economic circumstances that formed the backdrop to most of the NDP’s time in government. ‘We will not be lectured to by the UCP when it comes to economic matters,’ Ms. Notley says. ‘In fact, we won’t be lectured by them on any matters. They’ve been a disaster for Alberta. Full stop.’
Jane Philpott and Danyaal Raza (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on Canada failing to meet the moment on the cost of medication: “For decades, Canada has held the unique distinction of not only having some of the highest drug prices in the world, but being the only high-income country with a universal health care system without a universal drug plan. After decades of the status quo, however, the past five years have brought the country tantalizingly close to tackling both. But how quickly things can change.”
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