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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.

Hours before Ontario announced a provincewide shutdown today, new coronavirus modelling warns that the more contagious and deadly variants could drive new cases close to the 6,000-a-day mark by the end of April.

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The forecast comes from the government’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table as part of a presentation that recommends a two-to-four week “stay-at-home order” to prevent the surge.

Ontario’s new measures aimed at stopping the rapid spread of new variants of COVID-19 come amidst sparring between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford over vaccines, detailed here.

Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail Editorial Board writes on a necessary surge in lockdowns this spring.

And L’actualité says Mr. Trudeau and his inner circle have ruled out a spring election because of developments in the pandemic, and are now looking at an August election call for a vote in September, after Labour Day.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

More military misconduct allegations: A senior commander is on leave from his role as head of military personnel amid allegations of sexual misconduct now under investigation by military police.

New vaccine plant: Sanofi will build an influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, with an announcement Wednesday that the global pharmaceutical giant, the federal government and the province of Ontario will invest close to a billion dollars in the project.

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Committee standoff: Opposition members shut down a parliamentary committee hearing Wednesday after the Liberal government once again refused to let a political aide appear to answer questions about the now-dead deal with WE Charity.

Fighter jet decision looms: Canada’s top military procurement official says he is optimistic the federal government will finally end its decade-long search for a new fighter jet for the Royal Canadian Air Force next year despite challenges and delays from the pandemic.

Securities regulators bid falters: The federal government and seven provinces and one territory are shutting down the organization charged with creating a national securities regulator due to waning political support for the project in jurisdictions such as Ontario and British Columbia.

Study predicts pipeline losses: The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion stands to lose Canada between $3.2-billion and $18.5-billion, according to a new benefit-cost analysis study from researchers at Simon Fraser University in B.C. They examined close to 20 business scenarios for the pipeline expansion, but didn’t find any in which it generates a net benefit for Canada.

Ches Crosbie quits: Ches Crosbie’s father, John, was a St. John’s city councillor, provincial cabinet minister under premier Joey Smallwood and high-profile federal Progressive Conservative cabinet minister under prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.

But Ches Crosbie’s own political career has stumbled after he fell short in his second bid to become Newfoundland premier. After three years as leader of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Progressive Conservative party, Mr. Crosbie has announced he is stepping down as leader after losing his seat in the recent provincial election.

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PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings.

LEADERS*

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole delivers remarks virtually to the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.

*Some Politics Briefing newsletter readers have wondered about posting what the Prime Minister and other party leaders are up to, questioning why some leaders show up more often than others. I can’t take credit for the observation, but the most valuable commodity of political leaders is their time. For that reason, it’s useful to see what they are doing with it in scheduled events. The Prime Minister’s Office generally issues advisories on what Justin Trudeau is scheduled to do, even when it is “private meetings.” Advisories on other leaders tend to be intermittent, but are posted when available.

POLLS

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An Angus-Reid Institute poll, conducted with Cardus, looks at religious worship and the pandemic. Among its findings: Two-in-five respondents (or 39 per cent) say gathering restrictions on places of worship in their province have been unfairly harsh compared to those imposed on other public venues. British Columbia hosts the highest proportion of those who hold this view (50%). Details here.

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on what the PM didn’t know about an allegation of sexual misconduct against the military’s top officer and when he didn’t know it: “The thing is, taking Mr. Trudeau at his word doesn’t lead to reassuring conclusions, either. Was there a surprising lapse by the experienced senior bureaucrats at the centre of government? Or did the Prime Minister’s aides decide that it was best he didn’t know. After all, his Defence Minister, Mr. Sajjan, had chosen not to see any evidence. One thing is certain: The Prime Minister didn’t make it easy to find out what he didn’t know.”

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on the need for Ottawa to employ apt stimulus: Four months ago, there was frustration in economic-policy circles that Ottawa’s $70-billion-to-$100-billion recovery stimulus pledge was a big figure without a plan. That we would have to sit nervously until a spring budget for the government to get started with lifting the economy out of the deep pit of the pandemic. Now, less than three weeks until that spring budget, it’s a good thing the government waited. The more pressing question is whether the country needs this stimulus at all.

Adam Radwanski (The Globe and Mail) on the implications, for Canada, of Joe Biden’s expensive climate plans: “Canada’s debate around how much to spend on climate transition has got a jolt from south of the border less than three weeks before a federal budget that will chart the path for postpandemic economic recovery. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced a US$2-trillion infrastructure plan that, while also including more familiar measures such as bridge and road upgrades, would represent an unprecedented U.S. investment in emissions-reduction and clean-technology competitiveness.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on dealing with health and long-term care workers who decline vaccination:How can it be that during a pandemic that has killed more than 22,000 Canadians and sickened nearly a million, individuals who work directly with the most vulnerable populations are under no obligation to be vaccinated? That hospital staff, long-term care workers and other front-line personnel can choose to decline a safe and effective tool to protect their health and the health of their patients, and yet still show up to work as normal as if we aren’t in the midst of an ongoing global public health emergency?”

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Vaughn Palmer (The Vancouver Sun) on leadership challenges facing the BC Liberal party once led by Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark: “ [Mike Bernier] did provide a memorable post-mortem on the Liberal showing in the October election: “We had our asses handed to us in the last election for good reason.” Now there’s an inviting topic for any Liberal leadership forums: “We had our asses handed to us in the last election for good reason — discuss.”

DO YOU HAVE A POLITICAL QUESTION?

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