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The Conservative caucus is holding their first meeting since the federal election today, and party leader Erin O’Toole says he is confident his colleagues support his leadership.
Asked about the issue before he entered the meeting venue in Ottawa, Mr. O’Toole said, “I’ve spoken to most of caucus, and yes, I do.”
Mr. O’Toole acknowledged general disappointment with the election results, which saw the Tories win two fewer seats than in the last election in 2019.
“But we have to make sure we build on the gains we have and learn from where we fell short,” he said. “That’s what any team, any family, does when you have a disappointment. You learn from it. You come together, and that’s what the meeting will do today.”
One of the issues at the meeting is a vote on whether caucus members will pursue the option of holding a vote on Mr. O’Toole’s leadership, something the party leader has encouraged members to do.
As parliamentary reporter Marieke Walsh reports, the Conservative Party’s own rules give the grassroots membership a say on a leader’s tenure after an election loss and Alberta MP Shannon Stubbs told reporters she wants that vote to be held within six months, rather than at the next convention, which is scheduled for 2023.
“I lost three great colleagues in Alberta, in Edmonton and Calgary – of course I’m not happy,” Ms. Stubbs said before heading into the meeting. Conservative incumbents Blake Desjarlais and James Cumming lost their seats in Edmonton, while fellow incumbent Jag Sahota lost in Calgary. While the Conservatives took 69 per cent of the vote in the province in the 2019 election, this time around they were down to 55 per cent.
“The best thing of all will be for Conservative party members to have their say,” Ms. Stubbs said, adding that such a vote “should be feasible within the next six months.”
And Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald is raising questions, detailed here, abut Mr. O’Toole’s leadership.
The Tories are not the only federal caucus meeting today. The Bloc Québécois caucus was also scheduled to meet, with party leader Yves-François Blanchet set to unveil his shadow cabinet, and also hold a news conference.
INSIDE A SAFE HOUSE IN KABUL - Senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon on the story of 19 Afghans who worked for the Canadian military, now hiding with their families in a single building in Kabul, awaiting a rescue they were promised months ago. Story here.
PAUL USING RACISM AS EXCUSE, EX-GREEN LEADER SAYS - Former Green Party leader Jim Harris is accusing Annamie Paul , who recently announced her resignation as party leader, of using her experience of racism and sexism as excuses for what he calls her poor performance over the last year – comments that Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Sandy Hudson calls “disgusting.” Story here.
TREATY INVOKED -The Canadian government has invoked a 1977 treaty with the United States to trigger formal government-to-government negotiations over the fate of Line 5, a vital petroleum pipeline for Canada that faces a threat of shutdown from the State of Michigan.
B.C. MLAs HEAD BACK TO WORK IN PERSON - British Columbia’s legislative session resumed on Monday, with the province’s 87 MLAs and their staff attending the legislature for the first time since March, 2020. Amid surging COVID-19 cases across the province, the move for MLAs to return to the legislature is a display of faith that vaccinations work. Story here.
PALLISTER QUITS LEGISLATURE SEAT - Five weeks after Brian Pallister announced his resignation as Manitoba premier, he has resigned from his legislature seat, putting a formal end to his political career, and setting the stage for a by-election in the Fort Whyte constituency – a Progressive Conservative stronghold.
GENERAL WHO SUPPORTED SEX OFFENDER WORKING SEX MISCONDUCT FILES - Maj. Gen. Peter Dawe, who wrote a positive reference letter for a sex offender, has returned to work and has been tasked with working on a number of reviews related to sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. From Global News. Story here.
LEGAULT PLEDGES SOLIDARITY WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLE - Premier François Legault says he takes responsibility for the heated debates surrounding systemic racism in Quebec last week, adding he should have shown more “compassion and solidarity” toward Indigenous people. From The Montreal Gazette. Story here.
HOW TO BE A PRIME MINISTER
From Governing Canada, A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics by Michael Wernick (Published by On Point Press, an imprint of UBC Press)
This week, the Politics Briefing newsletter is featuring excerpts from Governing Canada, a new book by Michael Wernick, the former clerk of the privy council, that occasionally reads like the manual that would be given to a rookie prime minister, cabinet minister or deputy minister. (Parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup reported on the project here.)
The excerpts are from a key chapter, Advice to a Prime Minister.
And today’s focus is the cabinet. Mr. Wernick spends a lot of time on the mechanics of assembling a cabinet (”If you are wise, you haven’t made a lot of promises to put individuals in cabinet or, even worse, to give them specific jobs”), urging a balance of such factors as geography, gender, and race and putting “your best players” on key issues central to the government’s agenda.
Mr. Wernick notes that, in any given year, there is only time for about 100 hours of actual meetings, leading to the following:
“What you will notice is how little time there is available. You will need to be mindful of the clock during meetings. Going around the table and taking a couple of minutes of comment from each minister would burn an hour. Some are more concise than others. Some read talking points provided by their department. Some want to relitigate a discussion at committee. Some have talking points that some stakeholder or lobbyist has managed to slip to their political staff.
Prime ministers have tried different techniques to ensure that there is a bit more time for discussion, such as limiting the number of slides in a presentation, banning presentations altogether, or putting a clock in front of them that flashes a light after a time limit on interventions has expired. Your tone and demeanour may encourage or discourage chattiness and rambling. It is going to be a fine line. If you are too brusque, you can sap the morale of ministers trying to do their best. They will start to question why they are working so hard and giving up so much if they aren’t being listened to. Your position as leader will be strengthened if the team feels included and heard.
“Owing to the reality of limited time, it is going to be rare to tackle more than two big issues per meeting, and allocating cabinet time over a whole season is going to be a constant challenge that will leave you feeling somewhat dissatisfied, and many meetings will feel a bit rushed.
“But then there will be those meetings when the prep work has been done well and the group comes together to thrash out politics and policy in a lively debate that sets the course for an ambitious move that changes the direction of the country. Those are the moments that can feel electric and make all the drudge work worthwhile.”
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet addresses a meeting of the party caucus held in Ottawa and then holds a news conference.
Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole attends a party caucus meeting in Ottawa.
Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on some beach vacation ideas for your next sombre statutory holiday: “Pack your bathing suit, slather on the sunscreen and get your domestic travel documents in order! (No proof of vaccination is necessary; the urgency of that vanished with the end of the federal election campaign.) That’s right – Remembrance Day is just around the corner, and you know what that means: It’s time to hit the beach.”
Frank Ching (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on Beijing’s view of its place in the world: “As the French Military School Strategic Research Institute noted in a recent study, Beijing has taken a “self-defeating Machiavellian turn” and adopted the 16th-century political philosopher’s admonition that “it is preferable to be feared than to be loved.”
David Jacobson (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on Canada and the United States’ shared interest in securing self-sufficiency in critical minerals: “With a new government elected in Canada, there is an opportunity to co-operate for the common good with the Biden administration on a number of key diplomatic and strategic initiatives with serious and long-term implications for both countries. The two countries, of course, already have a long and productive partnership on everything from defence to the economy, and today are making headway in crafting a continental approach to fighting climate change and improving labour standards.”
Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on a new poll that has Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at 22 per cent support among respondents: “The brutal result could see UCP riding boards ramp up efforts to force him out before the leadership review now set for next April. Even the meagre approval appears soft. Of the 22 per cent who support Kenney, only six per cent are ardent backers, while 16 per cent say they “somewhat” approve. Of the 77 per cent who disapprove, 61 per cent do so strongly. NDP Leader Rachel Notley, meanwhile, gets 50 per cent approval and 47 per cent disapproval.” Note: the poll details are available here.
Murray Mandryk (The Saskatoon StarPhoenix) on how the departure of an MLA who misrepresented her vaccination status offers Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe an opportunity: “The loss of [Nadine] Wilson – who Moe didn’t entrust with a cabinet position likely because of her past assault charges, later withdrawn – isn’t a problem. But what she now stands for is. That the first dissension in Sask. Party ranks would be an MLA saying their government is too restrictive rather than too lax is telling and dangerous. Moe needs to take a firm stand. After a year of playing footsie with the radical fringe, Wilson is affording Moe a chance to unequivocally say the anti-science disseminators of nonsense have no place in the Sask. Party or in this COVID-19 fight. This is an opportunity Moe cannot afford to miss.”
Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. Please note, it is not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.