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politics briefing newsletter

Good morning,

In the days after The Globe and Mail broke the story of the SNC-Lavalin affair (background here) that involved then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould resisting pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, anonymous Liberal “insiders” appeared in other reports criticizing the minister’s character. A week later, the Prime Minister’s Office finally disowned those off-the-record remarks. “The comments made about Jody Wilson-Raybould are simply unacceptable, and have no place in our political discourse,” a PMO spokesperson told APTN News.

On the record, Liberal MPs say they respect Ms. Wilson-Raybould, but that they have the PM’s back. “We’re a very cohesive team that looks to the leadership of the Prime Minister and that hasn’t changed in any way, shape or form as far as I can see,” caucus chair Francis Scarpaleggia told The Globe. (One Liberal MP, Anthony Housefather, mused yesterday that Ms. Wilson-Raybould might have been demoted because she doesn’t speak French – a comment he later apologized for.)

Also on the record are a group of Indigenous senators – most of whom were appointed by Justin Trudeau, but sit as independents – who say they commend Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s record as minister. They may have more to say after they meet in Ottawa next week.

But, back to SNC-Lavalin, what is not on the record is exactly how much money the Montreal construction giant does get from the federal government. Export Development Canada, a crown corporation that helps Canadian companies do business overseas, has given SNC-Lavalin 19 loans over the past 18 years, a Globe and Mail analysis found, but the amount of those loans is not clear: EDC will only say they are somewhere between $2-billion and $4.3-billion in total.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa. 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.


U.S. President Donald Trump didn’t get the funding he wanted to build a wall on the border with Mexico, so this morning he is set to declare a national emergency that would allow him to get the military to build the wall without Congress’ approval. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, told reporters she’s considering a court challenge.

Climate change is a national problem that requires a national solution, federal lawyers told a Regina courtroom where Saskatchewan and other provinces are challenging the federal carbon-pricing plan.

B.C. health authorities are warning that some pockets of the province that aren’t getting vaccinated at high-enough rates are putting B.C. at risk of a measles outbreak.

Ontario says Hydro One’s plan to pay a new chief executive officer $2.775-million a year is still too much, and the executive’s salary should be capped at $1.5-million.

And from smartphones to smart cars: the federal government is set to give BlackBerry $40-million this morning for the company’s driver-assistance software program.

Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on Trudeau’s feminist record: “It’s one thing for a government to treat a female cabinet minister shabbily; it’s quite another when the government has hung its entire brand – national and global – on the twin hooks of fairness and feminism. Live by the f-word, die by the f-word.”

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on Trudeau’s economic record: “And the most undeniable criticism of this government’s economic oversight is also the most important one: It has utterly failed to live up to its promises of fiscal management.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on the view of SNC-Lavalin from inside Quebec: “The divide in public opinion between Quebec and the rest of the country certainly complicates what is already the biggest political controversy yet faced by Mr. Trudeau, for whom there may be no good exit strategy from the SNC-Lavalin mess. But it is also illustrative of how Canada remains a country of two solitudes, in which neither solitude seems willing to consider an issue from the other’s perspective.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the view of SNC-Lavalin from outside Quebec: “For many Westerners, Ottawa jumped through hoops to protect jobs at a Montreal-based firm, even as inaction on pipelines damaged the Alberta economy – just another example of Ottawa in general and Liberals in particular ignoring the needs of the West in general and Alberta in particular.”

Jen Gerson (Maclean’s) on imagining a world without SNC-Lavalin bidding on federal contracts: “If a road needs to be built, that road will still need to be built regardless of who is left to bid on it. The work would still exist. There are roughly 30 major construction and civil engineering firms in Canada. We do not lack engineering talent. Absent SNC, either new firms of this nature will form, or existing firms will likely expand to meet the opportunity for work.”

Don Martin (CTV) on how the SNC-Lavalin affair will end: “There is only one way out: Independent corroboration of Trudeau’s version of events from the only person who can deliver it: Jody Wilson-Raybould. And there’s only one person who can give her permission to speak: Justin Trudeau. If mum’s the final word on this gag order, cover-up is the only conclusion.”

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