The government of Quebec is set to tap senior federal bureaucrat and veteran business leader Michael Sabia as the chief executive of Hydro-Québec, a critical appointment that will set the direction for the state-owned hydroelectricity producer at a time of dwindling power surpluses.
Mr. Sabia, one of the federal government’s most trusted economic advisers, is leaving his position as deputy minister of finance and finalizing arrangements to lead Hydro-Québec, according to two senior government officials.
The Globe and Mail is not identifying the government officials as they were not authorized to comment on a decision that has not yet been publicly announced. Several Quebec media outlets reported Tuesday evening that such a move was imminent.
Mr. Sabia has been a central figure in federal policy since the 2015 election of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, first serving on an economic advisory council to the government, then as chair of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, before his December, 2020, appointment to lead the Finance Department. Talks between Mr. Sabia and the Quebec government began after the release of the late March budget, according to one official.
Business reporter Nicolas Van Praet and deputy Ottawa bureau chief Bill Curry report here.
There’s a story here on how Mr. Sabia was doing in 2021, a year after he was greeted as a game changer as Canada’s deputy finance minister.
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BLANCHET JOINS POILIEVRE IN SECRET INFORMATION STAND – Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet is joining Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre in refusing to take a look at secret information that led a watchdog to recommend against a public inquiry into allegations of foreign interference. Story here. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will not call an independent public inquiry into Chinese interference in Canadian politics after former governor-general David Johnston recommended against one. Story here.
RING OF FIRE PROJECT AT RISK, BILLIONAIRE OWNER SAYS – Andrew Forrest, the Australian billionaire owner of the most promising mining assets in Ontario’s Ring of Fire region, says the viability of the key critical minerals project is at risk because of Canada’s high regulatory burden, the cumbersome consultation process, and persistent delays in building crucial infrastructure. Story here.
CANADA, SAUDI ARABA RESTORE FULL DIPLOMATIC TIES – Canada and Saudi Arabia are normalizing diplomatic relations and appointing ambassadors five years after the Liberal government’s public comments on women’s rights led Riyadh to expel the top Canadian envoy. Story here.
BILL WOULD ALLOW MPs, SENATORS NOT TO SWEAR OATH TO KING CHARLES – A Liberal MP is preparing a bill to scrap the requirement for parliamentarians to pledge loyalty to King Charles III, giving them the choice to swear an oath to Canada instead. Story here.
QUIT YOUR DAY JOB TO RUN FOR ONTARIO LIBERAL LEADERSHIP: FORD TO CROMBIE – Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie should quit her day job if she decides to run for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership, Premier Doug Ford says. Story here.
DECISION FINAL: FECES COMMENT CANDIDATE WOULDN’T SIT IN UCP CAUCUS, SMITH SAYS – Five days after saying a United Conservative candidate who compared transgender students to feces in food could be given a second chance, leader Danielle Smith has repeated the woman wouldn’t sit in caucus if her party forms government. Story here.
LIFE AFTER RENOVICTION IN A VAN – After being renovicted from her Halifax apartment last spring, nursing assistant Terri Smith-Fraser was unable to afford another unit so the 57-year-old now lives in a van. “I’m just your regular person who goes to work every day, and I live in a van,” she said. Story here.
KINEW PROMISES RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT IF NDP WINS MANITOBA ELECTION – Manitoba Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew promised an economically focused, fiscally responsible government if his party wins the Oct. 3 election, although his outline to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce was short on details and costs. Story here.
WATCHDOG TO PROBE MILITARY HANDLING OF FORTIN CASE – The military police watchdog is launching a probe into how investigators handled a historical sexual-assault allegation against a senior officer who was a central figure in Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The House of Commons is now on a break until May 29. It is the last recess before the final stretch of sittings ahead of the summer break, currently scheduled for June 23. The Senate is also on a week-long break.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD – Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, in St. Catharines, Ont., announced federal support for the Port Weller Dry Docks Shipyard. Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, in Vancouver, with Premier David Eby made an announcement in the biotech sector. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, in Thunder Bay, announced funding to support populations vulnerable to sexually transmitted blood-borne infections. Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, in Yellowknife announced support for crisis hotlines across the Northwest Territories. Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay, in Montreal, announced the recipients of the 2022-23 Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, in Longueuil, Que., with Mayor Catherine Fournier, announced a new crime-prevention initiative. Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, also Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency minister, in Halifax with Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, announced government funding for tourism projects.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Winnipeg, met with Indigenous high school students to discuss the importance of protecting nature, then announced the creation of the new Canada Water Agency, based in Winnipeg, that will work on various aspects of water policy, including modernizing the Canada Water Act. In the evening, Mr. Trudeau was scheduled to participate in a town hall. Mr. Trudeau was also scheduled to speak with Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, in Ottawa, held a news conference at the House of Commons.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, in Toronto, held a news conference.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in North Battleford, Sask., spoke to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations All-Chiefs Assembly, and, in the evening, visited the Wahpeton Dakota Nation School.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
On Wednesday’s edition of the Globe and Mail podcast, The Globe’s senior parliamentary reporter Steven Chase explains why former governor-general David Johnston has ruled out a public inquiry into foreign interference in Canada’s elections, despite ongoing calls for one. Johnston was appointed special rapporteur in March to look into allegations of Chinese interference, driven largely by The Globe and Mail’s reporting. The Decibel is here.
OPINION – FOREIGN INTERFERENCE
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Parliament has spoken: We need an independent public inquiry: “Parliament has already spoken on the need for an independent public inquiry into China’s meddling in Canada’s electoral system. Opposition parties united to vote in favour of an inquiry, with the (non-binding) motion passing 172-149. The will of Parliament is clear – and it is equally clear that former governor-general David Johnston’s report on foreign interference defies that will. To have any legitimacy, such defiance would have to lay out indisputable proof that the federal government responded prudently and quickly to China’s provocations. Instead, Mr. Johnston insists that any evidence is classified, and Canadians must simply take his word for it.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how Gentleman Johnston pushes back at politicians but the problem lingers: “It really is hard to believe that Mr. Johnston would take part in a cover-up, as Mr. Poilievre alleged. Still, like it or not, there is the matter of perception. Ordinary Canadians who haven’t taken a prime minister’s kids skiing might wonder if the gentlemanly Mr. Johnston might be inclined to be gentle with the PM. Or the whole system.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the essence of David Johnston’s report: Trust me, there’s no story here: “I asked the Prime Minister and Ministers if they were aware of any orchestrated effort to elect a LPC minority. They were not.” Give David Johnston credit for one thing. It takes no small amount of courage, when your impartiality has been called into question and when the whole world is expecting you to call for a public inquiry into Chinese interference in Canadian elections – if only to demonstrate your impartiality – to then reject a public inquiry.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how public hearings into foreign interference are inadequate to the task: “David Johnston is recommending public hearings into foreign interference in Canadian elections, but not a full public inquiry. This is a mistake. Even on the basis of what Mr. Johnston has learned over the past two months as the Independent Special Rapporteur on Foreign Interference, there is clearly an urgent need for a thorough overhaul of this country’s security and intelligence apparatus. The few months of public hearings and brief final report Mr. Johnston will produce are bound to be inadequate to the task.”
Peter Donolo (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on stopping the presses on the King Charles $20 bill: “With an alacrity one seldom sees on the part of contemporary governments, Ottawa announced within hours of the coronation of King Charles III that the new monarch’s likeness would replace that of his mother on our country’s coins and $20 banknotes. It is just the latest example of a bizarre compulsion on the part of our country’s political class to tie itself – and their fellow Canadians – even more tightly to an antiquated, deeply diminished institution that belongs to a long-ago era, and is deeply out of sync with the Canada of the 21st century.”
Aanjalie Roane (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how we cannot forget those left behind in Sudan: “As Canadians, our outrage and empathy during a humanitarian crisis must not end when people who share our citizenship return home. If we do, we risk reinforcing the idea that our shared values of humanity and solidarity ought to be determined by the unpredictable whims of Western news cycles. The people in Sudan deserve better than to be a below-the-fold headline or media afterthought. This is more than just their story to tell: it is their lives and the safety of their children that hang in the balance.”
Donald Savoie (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canadian provinces’ claims of victimhood are wearing thin: “Canadian regions view themselves as victims, more so than is the case in other countries. Why? The answer lies in our history and in national political institutions. Unlike our neighbour to the south, Canada was not born out of a revolution. Revolutions always force political elites to define new institutions. That is what revolutions are good at. Canada was born out of a series of compromises that have defined our country’s political culture. This explains Canada’s ability to successfully navigate many challenges that it has encountered over the past 156 years. I argue that our national institutions have taught us the art of compromise and have enabled victims of years past to be victims no more.”
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