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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.

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says his party is ready for the challenges of an election held during the continuing pandemic.

“Will we be ready? Absolutely. I’ve been an opposition leader in a minority parliament in a pandemic,” Mr. O’Toole told a news conference on Tuesday. “We’ve had to be ready at every step.”

His comments come amid the expectation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will call an election later this summer or in the fall.

But Mr. O’Toole said the party was ready to go this past spring, preparing an approach informed by how U.S. President Joe Biden connected with voters during the American campaign last year.

The Tory Leader said he is prepared to use a mix of outreach using a party studio in Ottawa where Tuesday’s news conference was held as well as some form of traditional campaign tour that would take the Leader out across the country.

“We’re going to respect all provincial and municipal rules with respect to health restrictions,” he said, referring to the tour.

On Tuesday, Mr. O’Toole talked about part of his offer to Canadian voters, promising Canada Emergency Preparedness Plan to protect the country from COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Pieces of the plan include working with pharmaceutical companies to escalate domestic manufacturing of critical medicines and active ingredients, working with the United States to strengthen the North American supply chain, and calling an immediate public inquiry into the government’s pandemic response.

The Tory Leader said the federal Liberal government was late to act on the border and securing vaccines.

“I think Canadians are happy we’re finally emerging several months later than countries that were a little more prepared, but I think anyone running to lead this country has to show a commitment that we never make the mistakes that were made this last year by the Trudeau government,” he said.

Later Tuesday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc was asked at a news conference about Mr. O’Toole’s criticism of the federal government’s pandemic management.

Mr. LeBlanc said the government recognized that Canada had found itself in a “difficult situation” due to the long-term decline of the biomedical manufacturing capacity to produce vaccines.

As a result, he said the government has been working with the industry to bolster production and that, on another note, the government is committed to a review of the handling of the pandemic.

“We will make sure that a national government never finds itself in this situation again,” said Mr. LeBlanc. “Mr. O’Toole is arriving, in fact, at the same conclusion our government arrived at months and months ago.”

TODAY’S HEADLINES

GUILBEAULT SEEKS SENATORS HELP - Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is asking senators to focus on passing Bill C-10, broadcast legislation that has sparked controversy, a day before the Senate is set to break for the summer.

MCKENNA’S EXIT - Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna said Monday she will not run in the next election in order to spend more time with her family and on the fight against climate change.

CARNEY WARNING ON DIGITAL CURRENCIES - Commercial banks could face a period of disruption and heightened competition as digital currencies upend payment systems and undermine existing models for bank funding, Mark Carney- the former governor of the Bank of Canada and Bank of England - told a group of leading central bankers on Monday.

PAUL SAYS SHE’S CLEAR -The leader of the federal Green Party says she no longer has to follow through on an order of her party’s federal council that directed her to repudiate a former aide who criticized members of caucus.

CONCERNS ABOUT BLACK ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM - Some Black businesspeople say a new federal government program meant to bolster Black entrepreneurship is hard to access, offers unclear repayment terms and asks invasive questions about applicants’ sexuality. From CBC.

CANADA SHOULDN’T CRITICIZE CHINA: SENATOR - In a provocative speech in the upper house on Monday, Independent Senators Group Leader Sen. Yuen Pau Woo said Canada should avoid criticizing China for its human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims because our country has mistreated Indigenous peoples. From CBC.

NOVA SCOTIA MLA CONSIDERS HER OPTIONS - Former Nova Scotia PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin hasn’t decided whether she’ll fight to keep her job as MLA now that she’s an Independent. But she says she is certain of one thing. She says she had nothing to do with the protest that shut down traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway most of last Wednesday. From CBC.

THE MOST EXPENSIVE B.C. ELECTION EVER - Vaughn Palmer of The Vancouver Sun writes about recent disclosures from British Columbia’s chief electoral officer about the 2020 provincial election, which turns out to have been the most expensive in B.C. history. It cost 30 per cent more than the last vote, in 2017. “Basically everything cost more - staffing, supplies, space, printing, advertising, mailing, and so on” Column here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

The Prime Minister speaks with the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. He also participates in a fireside chat with Charles Milliard, president and chief executive officer of the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec. And he participates in a virtual conversation with Melissa Grelo, co-host of CTV’s The Social, as part of a virtual event celebrating Filipino Heritage Month in Canada.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet continues his summer tour of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole makes an announcement in Ottawa.

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how Catherine McKenna and half of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first. 2015 cabinet are now going or gone: “Mr. Trudeau’s government has, in one way or another, chewed up a lot of its shiny pennies. It’s not about the rate of turnover. Former PM Stephen Harper lost as many ministers, though not so many front-bench leaders. But a lot of Mr. Trudeau’s symbolic stars have been ground out of the game in the past six years. As has the symbolism of a cabinet team driving an agenda.”

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on uncertainty over the end of the COVID-19 pandemic: Closing quickly and reopening slowly is the best way to avoid new waves of infection. That lesson, which dates back to the early days of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, remains true. If Canada wants to avoid a fourth wave, we need to heed that warning. Don’t throw away your masks, but wear them in select settings. Have larger gatherings, but don’t overdo it. Head back to restaurants, but don’t recycle the plexiglass barriers quite yet. Travel again, but get tested, before and after.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney considering a cabinet shuffle and a summer of silence.: “The UCP government badly needs two things: a cabinet facelift for post-pandemic times and a summer stretch of deep public silence. UCP insiders judge — correctly, I think — that the public is sick of regular COVID-19 news conferences and proclamations. Kenney has been very public for more than a year. He’ll talk about any issue from many angles. He has probably uttered as many official words in two years as the voluble Ralph Klein emitted in 14. As a result, he’s overexposed. People connect his face and voice with bad news. The premier and the public need a break.”

Steve Paikin (TVO) on an appropriate new name for Ryerson University: “It was two and a half months ago that the university renamed its law school after Canada’s first Black MP and cabinet minister, Lincoln Alexander. Ryerson received a ton of positive publicity after that move. What if Ryerson took a page out of WLU’s playbook? Changing the iconic blue, yellow, and white RU-logo signs all over campus would no doubt cost millions of dollars. But what if the RU could stay, except that the “R” would stand for something else?”

Mark Sutcliffe (The Ottawa Citizen) on why he supports renaming Ottawa’s Sir John. A Macdonald Parkway: “There will be people who will decry this as an example of “cancel culture.” But nothing is being cancelled here. Macdonald is and always will be our first prime minister and his record speaks for itself, both for better and for worse. History is not changed by the naming or un-naming of a road, airport or building. Such honours are subjective to begin with; there are many other Canadians after whom the parkway could have been named. No one’s rights are trampled upon if they don’t have a road named after them or a statue erected in their honour.”

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