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MPs say they are getting used to the reality of carrying around panic buttons, amid rising threats and concerns about the well-being of parliamentarians.

“We just started with it,” Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan said Tuesday on Parliament Hill.

“I would say you feel somewhat sad you need it. But, on the other hand, if this is some way that will allow me to continue to do my job and be with people? Okay. I’m resigned.”

On Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told journalists the process of distributing the buttons began at the end of last year, and “is work that is carrying on.” He said the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Parliamentary Protective Service – the operation created in 2015 to provide security on Parliament Hill – will work to get the devices as quickly as possible to MPs who need them.

“It’s a practical technology that helps to alert authorities so that there can be an appropriate response,” he said, but noted there is a need to ensure security for everyone working on Parliament Hill. “This is not just about MPs, it’s not just about ministers, it’s not just about the Prime Minister.”

Earlier this week, he said he, police, and the protective service are reassessing the security of MPs after a series of threats and intimidating incidents. Story here.

Asked Tuesday if anyone has used the panic buttons, Mr. Mendicino said the question is best addressed to law enforcement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, heading into Question Period on Tuesday, was asked if he is worried about the level of threats facing MPs and the use of panic buttons.

“Listen, we know unfortunately that there’s a significant amount of anger and frustration out there directed at government, directed at officials,” said Mr. Trudeau. “We need to make sure that anyone who steps up to serve their community at any level of politics is safe and that’s what we’re taking very seriously.”

Families Minister Karina Gould said threats against her and her family have increased over seven years, and she has “unfortunately” had to have protection because of “viable threats.”

She added, “This is something that MPs, ministers, colleagues frankly from all parties are experiencing.”

Mental Health Minister Carolyn Bennett said she feels the Parliamentary Protective Service look after MPs in Ottawa, and there are local police elsewhere, but if 911 is not an option, then there is the panic button. “I think it’s supposed to be the last resort.”

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

‘FLABBERGASTED’ BY POLICE INACTION DURING PROTESTS; SERGEANT-AT-ARMS - The Sergeant-at-Arms for the House of Commons says he was “flabbergasted” at how the Ottawa police allowed the harassment of members of Parliament and staffers to go on during the protests against COVID-19 restrictions in the capital earlier this year. Story here.

EXTREME INTOXICATION BILL EXPEDITED - The Liberal government has moved to expedite its “extreme intoxication” bill in the House of Commons with a unanimous consent motion. Story here.

REFLECTION ON NATIONAL INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY - On National Indigenous Peoples Day on Tuesday,, Ontario residential school survivors are reflecting as this year’s day is the first since Ontario earmarked funding for residential school burial site investigations. Story here.

CMA URGES OTTAWA TO TAKE GREATER HEALTH-CARE ROLE - The Canadian Medical Association has asked Ottawa to take on a greater role in health care in order to address problems threatening the system. Story here.

FREELAND AND YELLEN PLEDGE ACTION TO CURB INFLATION - Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have pledged to help central banks tackle inflation by cutting back on deficit spending, but Ms. Yellen was cool to reopening Keystone pipeline talks as a way to reduce oil prices. Story here.

NO ID INFO ON HOCKEY PLAYERS LINKED TO ASSAULT: HOCKEY CANADA EXECS - Two Hockey Canada executives say they do not know the identities of the Canadian Hockey League players who are alleged to have sexually assaulted a young woman in 2018. Story here.

LIBERALS WANT TO EXTEND HYBRID PARLIAMENT OPTION - As Parliament’s spring sitting comes to an end this week, the Liberal government is proposing that MPs be allowed to participate virtually in House of Commons business for another year. Story here.

CHINA STATE MEDIA LINKED TO INFO CAMPAIGN IN `TWO MICHAELS’ SITUATION - A federal unit that tracks foreign interference has identified what appeared to be a co-ordinated information campaign by Chinese state media outlets to control the domestic narrative around the return of the “two Michaels” to Canada. Story here.

SAJJAN ACTED ON SECURITY SCREENING: LA PRESSE - International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan earlier this year called for special treatment of a handful of Canadians, including the Prime Minister: the right not to be subjected to various security screening measures at Canadian airports before flying. Story here from La Presse.

SASKATCHEWAN NDP TO HAVE FIRST FEMALE LEADER - For the first time in party history, the Saskatchewan NDP will elect a woman to be its leader. Either Carla Beck or Kaitlyn Harvey will be named party leader on Sunday in Regina. Story here from CBC.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, June.21, accessible here.

NEW GREEN DEPUTY LEADERS - Angela Davidson and Luc Joli-Coeur have been named deputy leaders of the Green Party of Canada. Ms. Davidson has been an activist in defence of old-growth forests in British Columbia, and is a graduate of Vancouver Island University’s First Nations Stewardship Technical Training program. Mr. Joli-Coeur is an urban-planning consultant, who has served as president of the Green Party’s Quebec wing and ran for the party in 2019 and 2021.

ZELENSKY ADDRESS ON WEDNESDAY - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is to address a student audience at the University of Toronto on Wednesday via a live video link. The 10 a.m. event that can be viewed here is being hosted by University of Toronto President Meric Gertler and the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. According to a statement, Mr. Zelensky is expected to discuss how Canada – and Canadian universities in particular – can support Ukraine’s response to Russia’s invasion. The president will also take questions. There will be an in-person audience at the University of Toronto while other Canadian universities will respond virtually. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland will attend.

THE DECIBEL

On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Lucy Jordan, Brazil correspondent for Unearthed, and Julio Lubianco, a journalist with LatAm Journalism Review, discuss the case of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira who went missing in the Amazon on June 5, and are now confirmed dead. Multiple people have been arrested in the deaths of the pair who both spent decades working in the area, reporting on and working with local Indigenous communities. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

After private meetings, the Prime Minister attended the cabinet meeting, Question Period, and was scheduled to attend a community celebration for National Indigenous Peoples Day and deliver brief remarks. In the evening, the Prime Minister was scheduled to depart for Kigali, Rwanda, to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet attended Question Period.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh participated in Question Period, and was scheduled to join the Indigenous Summer Solstice Festival & National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration in Ottawa.

No other party leader schedules provided.

READER OPINION

Just read your article re: extending virtual parliament for one year. Will those participating virtually give up their Ottawa accommodations ? Why are we paying if the unit is not being occupied?

I agree with MP Brassard that members are more accountable when they are in person and easier to debate and question. During the early days of pandemic I understood but when I see over 44,000 fans at a Blue Jays game mostly maskless I wonder why our MPs can’t attend and get back to normal.

Joan Fowler

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on why it is time to wind down the hybrid Parliament:No, the pandemic is not over, but there are other ways to deal with MPs who are sick – the tradition of pairing MPs who will vote on opposite sides of an issue is a good place to start, and technology can perhaps be used as an exception. But the days of cabinet ministers beaming in to read lines on the screen have to go. There is danger here of the government walking the nation sleepily into a new era of virtual Parliament under guise of convenience. The hybrid Parliament was an emergency measure. In the spring of 2020, there was need to compromise on the niceties to get through the COVID-19 crisis. But when the necessity abates, the measures have to go as quickly as possible.”

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on whether we an stave off the collapse of the Canadian health system: The evidence of collapse is all around us, mostly in the form of ever-worsening waits. We wait longer and longer for care in emergency rooms; if hospital admission is required, that wait can easily stretch into days. In St. John’s recently, an 85-year-old patient with Alzheimer’s waited a mind-boggling 20 days and nights in an ER because no bed was available. Increasingly, emergency rooms are closing for periods of days or weeks for lack of personnel, particularly in rural areas. Elective surgery has become maybe-someday surgery. With procedures like hip replacement and cataracts, wait times have gone from months to years. Lately, we’ve seen hospitals in major cities like Calgary unable to perform emergency surgeries because they lack surgeons. We can’t even get children – those most vulnerable – treated promptly. One in seven Canadians don’t even have a family doctor, and little hope of finding one.”

Jessica Davis (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on Canada shirking its responsibility to Afghans by hiding behind counterterrorism financing laws: “Under Canadian law, it is prohibited to provide property (financial or otherwise) knowing that it will be used in whole or in part to benefit a terrorist group. Unfortunately, in a case like Afghanistan, it’s almost certain that any goods or money provided to the country’s people will also benefit the Taliban. Aid organizations argue that relaxing some aspects of this law would help Canada achieve its goal of accepting 40,000 Afghans. However, the Canadian government has been dithering on amending the Criminal Code to create a system for aid to Afghanistan, instead choosing to hide behind our sweeping counterterrorism financing laws.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on Rachel Notley facing her turn to deal with a revolt because of party arrogance:The rebels in the United Conservative Party won their fight. Premier Jason Kenney will resign. The party’s internal anger engine is low on fuel, for the moment. But another party now has a serious revolt of its own. That’s the NDP. Party loyalists complain of high-handed staff lording it over volunteers, outright bullying, and candidates being forced on ridings, shutting out people who have worked for months toward a nomination. Leader Rachel Notley apologized on the weekend after initially playing down the issue. She promised to take it seriously and ordered an outside investigation.”

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