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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he approves of the recently confirmed $40-billion agreement in principle that Ottawa negotiated on First Nations child welfare, adding he is not concerned about the cost.

“Personally, I don’t think the amount is important. It’s reconciliation that matters,” Mr. O’Toole told his first news conference of the year, held on Thursday.

“Reconciliation is a priority for me and for my caucus,” Mr. O’Toole said. “I thought it was positive to see a resolution of this lawsuit between the federal government and the First Nations and Indigenous children.”

The Official Opposition Leader was referring to the $40-billion agreement in principle related to First Nations child welfare detailed this week. Half the money is to be directed toward compensation and the other half directed toward reform.

The parties reached the agreement on New Year’s Eve, on the last day of negotiations, which included the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and representatives of class-action lawsuits related to Indigenous child welfare.

In December, the federal government said it would earmark $40-billion to compensate First Nations children and families for the failures of Canada’s child-welfare system and to pay for long-term reform, in hopes of settling the matter out of court before the end of 2021.

Of the dispute, Mr. O’Toole said, “Having a serious approach to reconciliation means that we don’t have First Nations, particularly advocates for children, having to go to courts or tribunals to move the federal government to act.”

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.


NEW NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER FOR PM – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named a veteran public servant who views China as a threat to Canada as his new national security adviser in a major reshuffle of senior bureaucrats. Story here.

CANADA, ALLIES CRITICIZE IRAN ON SETTLEMENT APPROACH FOR DOWNED PLANE – Canada and its allies are accusing Iran of snubbing the families of those killed when its military shot down a passenger jet two years ago by refusing to negotiate a settlement.

TORY MP SEEKS PRIVACY COMMISSIONER PROBE – A Conservative MP is asking Canada’s privacy commissioner to investigate federal reliance on data from mobile devices to understand travel patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Story here.

PARTYING SUNWING PASSENGERS STRANDED IN MEXICO – Passengers who filmed themselves partying maskless aboard a chartered Sunwing Airlines flight from Montreal to Mexico last week have become pariahs and now face being stranded after two more airlines announced Wednesday they will not fly them home to Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the passengers’ conduct irresponsible and a “slap in the face” to everyone who has been following public-health restrictions. In French, he referred to the passengers as “idiots” and “barbarians.” Story here. Meanwhile, CTV reports here that the organizer of the trip says he has “significantly learned” from the ordeal but is still upset that airlines won’t fly the group home based on what he called “presumptions” about them.

NDP MP CALLS FOR HAZARD PAY FOR GROCERY STORE WORKERS – Grocery stores are being urged to reinstate hazard pay for workers facing extra health and safety risks from the highly contagious Omicron variant. The federal NDP critic for economic development has written to the heads of Canada’s biggest supermarkets asking them to restore “pandemic pay,” which was brought in after COVID-19 first struck but was then cancelled. Story here from CTV.


The House of Commons has adjourned until Jan. 31 at 11 a.m ET.

IT’S A GIRL FOR NDP LEADER – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has announced that he and his wife, Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu, welcomed their first child – a daughter – last Monday. “Our powerful little baby girl is basically my birthday present for life lol. Momma bear and baby are healthy and our hearts are filled with gratitude,” Mr. Singh said in a tweet posted this afternoon.

NEW POST REPORTER IN OTTAWA – Bryan Passifiume, a reporter with the Toronto Sun, is joining The National Post’s parliamentary bureau, effective Jan. 17.

WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST HAS DIED – Glenda Simms, the former president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, has died. Born in Jamaica, Ms. Simms came to Canada to advance her career as an educator. From 1989 to 1995, Ms. Simms was leader of the organization established by the federal government in 1973 to offer government advice on women’s concerns, and also educate the public. The council was dismantled in 1995. Ms. Simms died in Ottawa on New Year’s Eve. There’s an obituary here from The Gleaner newspaper in Jamaica.

NEW CHEF FOR PM – The Prime Minister has a new chef. According to an Order in Council document available here, Yen Chanthy Som has been appointed as chef at the resident of Justin Trudeau. The salary ranges between $68,468 to $79,234 a year, effective Dec. 13, 2021. There’s more information here on Mr. Som. Asked about the appointment, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the position “has existed for decades, including under the previous government.” A spokesperson for Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole confirmed he and his family have a chef at Stornoway, the official residence where they live in Ottawa.

THE DECIBEL - Columnist André Picard talks on today’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast about the virtues of Dry January, a month-long challenge to avoid or cut back on alcohol consumption as well as a rise in sober-curious culture and why we may consume more alcohol than we think. The Decibel is here.


Private meetings in Ottawa.


No schedule released for the Deputy Prime Minister.


Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole held a media availability on the COVID-19 situation.

No schedules released for other party leaders.


The Angus Reid Institute says new research has found that a majority of Canadians and Americans agree that the storming of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., last Jan. 6 was an act of “domestic terrorism,” though political divisions on both sides of the border are evident. Details here.


Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pandemic pep talks are wearing a little thin now: “The point of this press conference – made clear by the number of times the PM and the two ministers repeated the same message – was to tell Canadians that the Liberal government knows they are frustrated, but the country will get through it. That Canada has the tools and we know what to do. The PM empathized. He acknowledged frustration. No one wanted to start 2022 this way, he said. “I can understand that people are frustrated,” he said. “But I also know that we know how to get through this.’’ This is the sort of thing Mr. Trudeau has done a lot of in the past two years, particularly in the first wave, when the Prime Minister’s daily press conferences were both a stream of pandemic policies and a pulpit for preaching social distancing and social cohesion. It was a good thing for a leader to acknowledge the common and try to muster some common will. It was widely welcome then, and for a time, it raised Mr. Trudeau’s approval ratings. But it doesn’t take an opinion poll to know that pep talks are wearing a little thin now.”

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on the disturbing reality that millions of Canadians support Donald Trump or Trumpian ideology: “With the anniversary of Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection on Thursday, many Canadians will be thumbing their noses at the Donald Trump cult and what it has done to the beleaguered great republic. Except for about six million of them. Six million? That’s roughly the number of Canadians, pollsters estimate, who support Mr. Trump or the Trumpism ideology. It’s a number – more than the population of British Columbia – that’s not easy to fathom. It shows how susceptible Canada is to American currents. It suggests that as we watch Americans recall the horror of that day, we should refrain from gloating. The corrosive forces at work in the U.S. are alive and well here.”

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on how a new wave of COVID-19 is prompting The Bank of Canada to reassess its interest rate decision: ”Meanwhile, the bank’s own quarterly surveys of business and consumer sentiment – to be published on Jan. 17 – will provide crucial insight into key factors such as inflation expectations and spending plans. In normal circumstances, those could tip the scales in the decision facing the bank’s policy-setting Governing Council on whether the time has come to start raising interest rates. And yet those new data points, which tell the economic story as it existed only a few weeks ago, suddenly look like historical artifacts in the light of the Omicron reality in early January. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem and his colleagues face the challenge of assessing whether that story remains intact despite the rise of the variant, or has been superseded by the pandemic’s latest threat.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on Quebec Premier François Legault pushing his political luck with another curfew in Quebec: Until mid-December, a buoyant Mr. Legault was encouraging Quebeckers to celebrate Christmas in groups of as many as 25 people, implying that their sacrifices since the beginning of the pandemic had paid off. His tone changed suddenly on Dec. 16, when his government reduced the limit on household gatherings to 10 people, while cutting capacity limits for restaurants and bars. But even then, he suggested that further restrictions could be avoided. On Dec. 30, with a day’s notice, he banned indoor dining and drinking altogether and reimposed a curfew. Such erratic decision-making might spell political trouble for any other politician. But Mr. Legault remains the most popular Quebec premier in living memory – so popular, in fact, that he joked during an interview with Infoman host Jean-René Dufort that was broadcast on New Year’s Eve that he wanted Quebeckers to ‘love me a bit less.’”

Bonnie Larson, Ginetta Salvalaggio and Claire Bodkin (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on why the ‘safe supply’ of opioids is one of the best tools for tackling Canada’s drug-poisoning crisis: “Once we embrace the benefits of safe supply, there is guidance available to help. As clinicians who care daily for people with substance-use disorders, we have many evidence-based tools to mitigate possible harms, including Dr. Lam’s fear that pills may end up in the hands of someone other than whom they were prescribed for. Examples include short dispensing intervals; collaborating with pharmacies, case managers and peer outreach workers; communicating with housing and shelter staff; and promoting intensive wraparound programs such as injectable treatment for the few who need it. Perhaps most importantly, the building of trusting relationships with patients is a powerful risk-mitigation manoeuvre.”

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