The Ontario government plans to dispute a move, announced Monday, to call Premier Doug Ford and former solicitor-general Sylvia Jones to testify before the inquiry into the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act.
Mr. Ford and Ms. Jones are thought to have evidence relevant to the inquiry’s mandate to assess whether the use of the act last winter was justified, according to commission lawyers. Story here.
But a spokesperson for the Attorney-General of Ontario says it will seek a judicial review to set aside the summons and receive a stay under the grounds the summons are inconsistent with the members’ parliamentary privilege.
“We believe that questions about Ontario’s institutional response will be sufficiently addressed by the testimony from the two senior officials already selected by the commission,” said the statement from Andrew Kennedy, released on Monday afternoon. “Overall, our view has always been that this was a policing matter and the police witnesses that are testifying can best provide the commission with the evidence it needs.”
Mr. Kennedy’s statement said Ontario has worked with the commission by providing an extensive report outlining all key actions taken by Ontario, producing hundreds of documents including key cabinet documents that informed decision making and by making senior Ontario officials available to be called as witnesses.
The public inquiry, which began earlier this month, is tasked with investigating the Trudeau government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in February as the convoy protest paralyzed the national capital’s downtown core.
Mr. Ford last week told journalists that he had not be asked to appear. However, lawyers for the Public Order Emergency Commission say they asked Mr. Ford and Ms. Jones to sit down for an interview on Sept. 19, but the pair refused several requests.
Meanwhile, in testimony on Monday, interim police chief Steve Bell said that, in the days leading up to the mass protest in Ottawa last winter, police didn’t have intelligence suggesting the “freedom convoy” would use local citizens as a “leverage point.” Story here.
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INTEREST RATE INCREASE LOOMING - The Bank of Canada is expected to deliver another large interest rate increase this week, as central bank officials remain more concerned about doing too little to combat inflation than doing too much and causing a recession. Story here.
EMERGENCIES ACT VERDICT WON’T AFFECT NDP SUPPORT OF LIBERALS: SINGH - NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party will likely continue to keep the Liberals in power even if an inquiry finds the federal government was not justified in its February decision to invoke the Emergencies Act. Story here.
GROCERY SECTOR TO BE PROBED BY COMPETITION WATCHDOG - The federal competition watchdog is launching a study of Canada’s grocery sector, but says it is not investigating any specific allegations of wrongdoing, and has no power to compel companies to provide information. Story here.
ONTARIO MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS - On Monday, voters in all 444 of Ontario’s municipalities are heading to the polls to choose their local leaders (mayors or reeves, councillors and regional councillors) and school-board trustees. There are some high-profile races across the province, including former provincial party leaders Andrea Horwath and Steven Del Duca seeking to become mayors in Hamilton and Vaughan, respectively. Patrick Brown, who sought to become federal Conservative party leader, is trying to win a second term as mayor of Brampton. Story here. A story here traces 10 races to watch.
SUZUKI SIGNING OFF THE NATURE OF THINGS - After 44 years of hosting CBC’s The Nature of Things, David Suzuki is retiring, and CBC management is poised to announce new hosting plans for the series. Story here from CBC.
CBSA ACKNOWLEDGES INACCURATE INFORMATION ABOUT ARRIVECAN CONTACT - The Canada Border Services Agency has acknowledged it provided inaccurate information to Parliament about a $1.2-million ArriveCan contract and is launching a full review of its list of companies that received federal funding to work on the app. Story here.
NO THREATS IN BRITISH TRADE TALKS: ENVOY - Canada’s envoy to Britain says Ottawa will not make “a veiled threat” and suspend trade talks over concerns Britain may be breaching the agreement that stopped decades of conflict in Ireland. Story here.
ABSENT POILIEVRE IN SPOTLIGHT AT PRESS GALLERY DINNER - Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre did not attend the press gallery dinner over the weekend, but was nonetheless much of the focus of a long-standing political tradition of lobbing light-hearted shots at political rivals during speeches at the event. Story here.
PROSPECTS CONSIDERING RUN FOR ONTARIO LIBERAL LEADERSHIP - At least three Liberal MPs and one former Liberal MP who is now a member in the Ontario legislature are testing the waters of the Ontario Liberal Party leadership race. Story here from The Hill Times.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected order of business at the House of Commons, Oct. 24, accessible here.
DAYS SINCE CONSERVATIVE LEADER PIERRE POILIEVRE TOOK MEDIA QUESTIONS IN OTTAWA: 40
ST-ONGE IN TORONTO - Minister Pascale St-Onge, in Toronto, announced $25.3-million in funding over three years for gender equity in sport.
DUCLOS IN OTTAWA - Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced new support for patient-centred research in Ontario during a news conference at the general campus of Ottawa Hospital.
JOLY ANNOUNCES NEW DIPLOMATS - Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has announced new ambassadors and high commissioners to Greece, Trinidad and Tobago and Ghana. Details here.
CONSERVATIVE CONVENTION - The federal Conservatives will hold their 2023 national convention in Quebec City, Sept. 7-9. This will be the party’s first convention in Quebec City since the formation of the current iteration of the party.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, held private meetings, spoke to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and met, on Parliament Hill, with Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok. Mr. Trudeau also met with Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. And the Prime Minister was scheduled to vote in the Ottawa municipal election.
No schedule released for party leaders.
On Monday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, The Globe’s Atlantic Canada Reporter Greg Mercer talks about how residents of Prince Edward Island are recovering from post-tropical storm Fiona and huge amounts of devastation linked to it. In PEI, thousands of trees came down, houses were destroyed, and people remained without power for weeks. Amidst a labour shortage, recovery efforts in the province are moving slowly. The Decibel is here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Newfoundland, having pulled back from the brink, now has to stay there: ”When the pandemic began in early 2020, Newfoundland and Labrador was about to drown in an ocean of red ink. The disastrous Muskrat Falls hydro dam, blindly pursued by a province propelled by hubris, had pushed Newfoundland to the financial brink. The situation is now reversed, or at least remedied – thanks foremost to multibillion-dollar bailouts by Canadian taxpayers. But Newfoundland is also benefitting, like provinces across the country, from burgeoning revenues, spurred by a better-than-expected economy and higher oil prices. Last week, in a fiscal update, Newfoundland said its budgeted 2022-23 deficit had morphed into a surplus – a turnaround of almost $1-billion, and into the black four years ahead of schedule.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how nobody knows what happened with ArriveCan, but it sure was lucrative for some: “We shouldn’t be too surprised that there was some scrambling during the pandemic panic of 2020, and that money was rushing out of government doors. But the story of the ArriveCan contracts indicates worrisome matters that go beyond a bit of crisis mismanagement. The first is that even now, in late 2022, we don’t really know how the contracts unfolded, or what was spent on what, or who precisely got money for working on ArriveCan, or exactly how much was spent on it. Second, it has become evident that the federal government is, on the whole, distressingly poor at managing IT projects, and officials are dealing with that by throwing money at consultants and contractors. The amounts spent on IT consultants have ballooned, even while the size of the civil service expanded rapidly.”
Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on how Rachel Notley knows the Alberta NDP still faces an uphill battle in the coming election: ”Moreover, since Ms. Notley became NDP leader in 2014, the NDP has moved from being a party most Albertans perceived only as the rebels banging on the door from the outside to one of two mainstream parties vying for government. Still, Ms. Notley’s party is far from a shoo-in. Barring a massive political misstep, they will sweep Edmonton in the May provincial election. But NDP candidates have little chance of winning in the truly rural ridings, and the party now holds only three seats in battleground Calgary, whose voters are likely to decide the outcome of next year’s election. The NDP still struggles to get attention from the public or media. Many Albertans still harbour doubts about Ms. Notley’s economic leadership chops.”
Marcus Gee (The Globe and Mail) on how the issue in Toronto in Monday’s election is the spectre of decline: “Toronto thrived in the first two decades of the 21st century. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world came to live in the city and its suburbs. Scores of condo and office towers sprang up in its thriving downtown, transforming the skyline. Its financial and tech sectors boomed. Housing prices soared. Toronto overtook Chicago to become North America’s fourth largest city. Now signs of trouble are everywhere. Residents complain about busted, overflowing trash bins, poorly tended parks, constant transit delays. Gil Penalosa, the only important rival for Mayor John Tory in Monday’s election, says that “people feel the city is falling apart.”
Andrew Perez (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Pierre Poilievre’s unique family story could be an ace up his sleeve: ”Meanwhile, his opponents have worked to focus on and highlight his polarizing reputation as a partisan pit bull seemingly willing to placate right-wing, populist voters who engage in outlandish conspiracy theories, oppose COVID-19 mandates and often take stands against vaccines and other science. But Mr. Poilievre still has an ace up his sleeve: his unconventional family background. If he’s willing, speaking openly about his family’s roots might enable him to soften his divisive, populist image, and to broaden support for the Conservatives among more diverse demographics traditionally hostile to the party. Canadians saw a glimpse into his family’s unique makeup last month when Mr. Poilievre unexpectedly showed vulnerability in his victory speech, describing his family as “a complicated and mixed-up bunch … like our country.”
Steve Paikin (TVO) on the long, hard road back to Queen’s Park for Lisa MacLeod: “MacLeod is also coming to understand something her friend and former PC party leader Tim Hudak once told her: “Lisa,” he’d say, “you have a podium – so use it.” And, so, to attack the stigma of a mental-health diagnosis and bring more light to the issue, MacLeod is prepared to do something most politicians never do: admit vulnerability and acknowledge her painful reality, in hopes of making her future and others’ a little better. “Back in August, there were three weeks where it was hard to get out of bed,” she said. “It’s not been an easy eight years.” Psychiatric specialists told her a bipolar condition manifests differently in every patient, which is why it can take years to diagnose.”