Skip to main content
politics briefing newsletter

Hello,

The federal government says it will be sending 140 million rapid tests to the provinces and territories this month.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that there will be no guidance on how the tests should be distributed.

During his first news conference of the year, Mr. Trudeau was repeatedly pressed on the issue given concerns around access to tests in various parts of Canada.

“Our job is to procure as many [tests] as we possibly can and get them to the provinces free of charge. They will make determinations around delivering them to people,” said the Prime Minister.

Mr. Trudeau said it’s clear that rapid testing is a tool for getting through the pandemic, and that certain jurisdictions such as Nova Scotia have made extensive use of rapid testing.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, attending the same news conference, said the 140 million adds up to one rapid test a week per person in Canada in January.

Before December, 2021, Mr. Duclos said the government delivered 85 million tests to provinces and territories, with 35 million tests delivered in December.

Reporter Colin Freeze recently looked at the supply crunch for rapid tests in a story here.

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

DAIRY MARKET RULING – The first dispute settlement panel struck under North America’s revised free-trade deal has ruled that Canada is violating the treaty and must change the way it grants preferential access to its heavily sheltered dairy market. Story here.

CENTRAL FIGURE IN KEY COURT RULING DIES – Delgamuukw, also known as Earl Muldon, died this week at the age of 85. Mr. Muldon was honored with the hereditary name in 1990, seven years before Delgamuukw v. British Columbia made its way to Canada’s highest court, leading to a ruling that defined the grounds for establishing Indigenous rights and title. Story here from The Northern Sentinel

DETAILS OF $40-BILLION AGREEMENT RELEASED – Details of agreements to settle cases of discrimination in the child welfare system for First Nations children have been released, with the federal government agreeing to pay $20-billion in compensation to First Nations children and $20-billion for long-term reform of the First Nations child welfare system under agreements-in-principle designed to settle a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case and separate class-action lawsuits. Story here.

RANKIN STEPS DOWN – Former Nova Scotia premier Iain Rankin says he will resign as leader of the provincial Liberals, less than five months after his party lost to the Progressive Conservatives and failed to win a third-consecutive mandate. Story here. In a statement here, Premier Tim Houston thanked Mr. Rankin for his service.

TRUDEAU `FRUSTRATED’ WITH PARTYING TRAVELLERS – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s “extremely frustrated” with the actions of travellers – some apparently Quebec social-media influencers – on a Sunwing Airlines flight from Montreal to Cancun last month. The travellers were caught on video not wearing masks while in close proximity, singing and dancing in the aisle and on seats. “I can assure you that this is a situation that Transport Canada takes extremely seriously and we are definitely following up on that.” Story here.

PREMIER ACTS ON CABINET MINISTER OVER COVID-19 – Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson says she replaced the province’s former infrastructure minister because of his comments on COVID-19 vaccines. Story here.

SOMALI REGION SEEKS CANADIAN RECOGNITION – Somali’s breakaway Somaliland region is asking Canada for international recognition and aid, saying it’s important for Western countries to support a functioning democracy that’s resisting China’s influence in the Horn of Africa. Story here.

SPECIAL ENVOY CRITICIZES BILL-21 – Canada’s special envoy on combatting antisemitism has sharply criticized as “discriminatory” Quebec’s Bill-21 law banning teachers and some other public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols at work. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

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

DEPUTY DEFENCE MINISTER BECOMES PM INTELLIGENCE ADVISER – The deputy defence minister who participated in last month’s government apology to victims of harassment in the military has a new job. Jody Thomas is the new national security and intelligence adviser to the Prime Minister as of Jan. 11. Ms. Thomas, who has been deputy defence minister since 2017, is being replaced by Bill Matthews, the current deputy minister of public services and procurement. He was senior associate deputy deputy defence minister from 2017 until 2019. The shift was announced Wednesday as part of a series of changes to the senior ranks of the public service affecting 18 public servants. Details are here.

O’TOOLE WANTS TO MEET WITH CBC CRITIC – Official Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole said, on Twitter, he wants to meet with the author of the article here for her thoughts on “how to fix the CBC.” In a subsequent tweet, the Conservative Leader wrote, “Even long-time CBC employees know the state broadcaster model is broken and getting worse. I’ll start by cancelling the $675-million Trudeau increase and by reviewing its mandate for the digital age.”

PM-PREMIERS’ TALKS THIS WEEK – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will be convening a call with the premiers this week “to discuss how governments are working together to keep Canadians safe.” The issue came up in a Tuesday phone conversation between Mr. Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan, chronicled in a readout released by the Prime Minister’s Office. The summary also says Mr. Horgan, also chair of the Council of the Federation, and Mr. Trudeau also talked about the impact of the Omicron variant, and the Canada Health Transfer – the federal transfer to provinces and territories that provides health care funding.

THE DECIBEL - On the latest edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Globe science reporter Ivan Semeniuk talks about how scientists map the genomes of COVID-19 variants. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

In Ottawa, the Prime Minister participated in private meetings and addressed Canadians on the COVID-19 situation along with Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Theresa Tam, and deputy chief public health officer of Canada Howard Njoo.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

In Toronto. Private meeting and the Deputy Prime Minister participated in a news conference with the Prime Minister, Health Minister and others on COVID-19.

LEADERS

No schedules released for party leaders.

OPINION

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the possible consequences of expected chaos in American democracy: ”As the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2020, assault on the Capitol approaches, the warnings of where America might be headed have grown darker. The darkest forecasts seem too fantastical to be likely. But if the collapse of American democracy, or at least its degradation into an authoritarian semi-democracy, is not inevitable, neither is it impossible.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on the question of when we admit Canada’s heath care system isn’t working: ”This pandemic should prompt Canadians to reckon with the reality that our health care system isn’t working. Indeed, when a province of millions is brought to a virtual standstill by the prospect of a few hundred additional people in acute care beds, that fact is undeniable. The changes needed to meaningfully improve health care quality and access in Canada have to be substantial, and there are myriad models to consider and explore: the German universal multi-payer system, Japan’s national insurance program, Britain’s system whereby private providers operate alongside the public NHS, to name just a few.”

Daphne Bramham (The Vancouver Sun) on Canada’s China conundrum: “Canadians’ view of the increasingly autocratic and belligerent China has rarely been so negative. Yet, Canada has also never been so reliant on China for trade with both exports and imports rising well above 2019 levels in the first six months of 2021 despite the pandemic, the Cold War over the incarceration of the two Michaels and the unanimous parliamentary condemnation of China’s cultural genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. One of Canada’s biggest challenges in the coming year will be finding a balance between altruism and economics that satisfies both Canadians and the Chinese Communist government.”

Thomas Mulcair (The Montreal Gazette) on possible twists in this year’s Quebec election: “The pandemic may well be behind us by the time next fall’s election rolls around and Legault’s numbers eventually are going to start coming back down to earth, as Bouchard’s did in 1998. There will be a time of reckoning for Quebec’s last-place pandemic performance, but other political questions will also become central to the campaign. Big social issues like affordable housing will be back on the front burner, a subject Québec solidaire will pound. People worried about climate change will see in Quebec’s greenhouse-gas numbers a reason for concern, and both the Liberals and QS will zero-in on that. Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade will do her best to talk about the economy, which remains fragile even if there are hopeful signs of recovery. Language will remain a big issue and an occasion for the Parti Québécois to chip away at Legault’s armour.”

Les Perreaux (Policy Options) on the debate over adaptation to the shifting climate rather than taking difficult steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions: “In reality, adapting to climate change may be nearly as difficult as trying to cut greenhouse gases. The two should go hand-in-hand. Much like the slow movement of global leaders to arrest and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it may be too late to do much of the difficult and expensive mitigation work that would reduce the impact of climate-related disasters. The frequency and cost of those disasters are already growing rapidly. Insured disaster losses in Canada more than quadrupled to $1.9 billion per year in the 10-year period ending in 2018, compared with the previous 10-year period. Annual average federal payouts hit $427 million in the 10-year period ending in 2015, up from $303 million in the previous 10-year period and $56 million before 1994.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop