The federal government will provide Volkswagen with up to $13-billion in annual production subsidies for its new electric-vehicle battery plant – nearly double the estimated $7-billion cost of building the facility in St. Thomas, Ont.
Ottawa’s backing, which also includes approximately $700-million in more immediate support for capital costs, is by far the most generous support that Canada has ever provided for an automaker to locate a factory here.
The arrangement will be formally announced at an event in St. Thomas on Friday, but was confirmed by a federal official on Thursday.
Climate Change Columnist and Feature Writer Adam Radwanski reports here.
During a news conference Thursday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland defended the measure.
Ms. Freeland, in Pickering, Ont., for a tour of the nuclear generating station located there, said the federal government is committed to ensuring that Canada is successful in the continuing global industrial transformation to a clean economy.
“That means doing things like investing in clean power generation, investing in nuclear power generation, and it means ensuring that Canada, which is a major car-producing country today continues to be a car-producing country as we move to electric vehicles,” Ms. Freeeland said.
“And that’s why the VW investment is so important.”
BREAKING - The shishalh Nation on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast says ground-penetrating radar has identified what are believed to be 40 unmarked graves of children on or near the site of the former St. Augustine’s Residential School. Story here.
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FEDERAL PUBLIC-SERVANTS STRIKE CONTINUES - A nationwide strike of more than 150,000 federal public servants has ground some critical services to a halt, even as both the union and the government remain at the bargaining table. Story here. The strike will add further delays to an immigration and refugee settlement system that experts say is already overburdened and showing signs of distress. Story here. Striking public servants turned out in force to picket lines in Ottawa on Wednesday, parading round Parliament’s Centennial Flame with placards and flags. Story here.
OTTAWA GETS FAILING GRADE FOR SPECIES-AT-RISK EFFORTS - Ottawa’s efforts to protect species at risk are falling short, with recovery strategies for at least four species overdue by up to 17 years. That finding is among conclusions of five reports released Thursday by Canada’s federal environment commissioner, Jerry DeMarco. Story here.
PM SAYS CANADA WON’T MEET NATIO SPENDING TARGETS - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told NATO officials privately that Canada will at no time meet the military alliance’s defence spending target, according to a leaked Pentagon document obtained by The Washington Post that also says Canada’s overall military shortcomings are damaging ties with allies. Story here.
CANADIAN POLICY PROFESSIONALS, ACADEMICS COURTED BY RUSSIA-BASED ORGANIZATION - A Russia-based outreach organization that has cultivated relationships with rising American, European and Canadian policy professionals and academics has secretly received financing and direction from Moscow’s spy service, U.S. prosecutors allege. Story here.
GROCERY REBATE, HEALTH CARE FUNDING LEGISLATION PASSES - In a rare showing of all-party support, the federal government’s bill to enact the one-time “grocery rebate” and roll out $2 billion in urgent health-care funding to the provinces and territories passed all stages in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Story here from CTV.
KEIRA’S LAW PASSED - Canadian lawmakers have passed a bill that includes a measure known as “Keira’s law,” which would ensure that judges receive education on domestic violence and coercive control in intimate partner and family relationships. Story here.
FEWER CANADIANS BELIEVE IN IMPORTANCE OF CHILDHOOD VACCINES - Fewer Canadians believe in the importance of childhood vaccines compared with before the pandemic, according to a new Unicef report that warns about the growing threat of preventable infectious diseases because of lagging vaccination uptake. Story here.
SENATOR SAYS OFFICE LOST TRACK OF TRAVEL DOCUMENTS - Senator Marilou McPhedran said Wednesday she had lost track of how many Canadian travel documents her office sent Afghans fleeing the Taliban, and that she doesn’t know how many documents were issued by other organizations using a template provided by her office. But she maintained all of it was authorized by the federal government. Story here.
ALGONQUIN SERVICE MEMBER HONOURED BY PORTRAIT - Wendy Jocko, an Algonquin member of the Canadian Armed Forces, serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force in Croatia in the early 1990s, has been honoured with a portrait by Canadian war artist Elaine Goble, which was recently unveiled to mark 30 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and Croatia. Story here.
ONTARIO FOOD BANKS IN CRISIS MODE - Food banks across Ontario are in crisis mode, as demand reaches record highs amid the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and persistently high inflation. Story here.
INTERIM ETHICS COMMISSIONER STEPS DOWN - Martine Richard, the sister-in-law of Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, has stepped down as interim Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner one day after a Commons committee voted to investigate her appointment. Story here.
STABBED UKRAINIAN NEWCOMER RECOVERING - A Ukrainian newcomer stabbed at an Edmonton bus stop is recovering in hospital, wife says. Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre mentioned the incident during a recent visit to Alberta, citing it as part of the concern about crime in Canada. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, April 20, accessible here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY - Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, in Pickering, Ont., held private meetings and toured the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station facility to meet with workers and discuss the budget’s provisions on the clean economy. She also took media questions.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD -Defence Minister Anita Anand, with Chief of Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre, is in Germany to visit the Headquarters United States Army Europe and Africa in Wiesbaden ahead of a Friday meeting with the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, an alliance of countries supporting Ukraine’s defence against the continuing Russian invasion. Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau is in Tokyo for a meeting with that country’s minister of agriculture, Nomura Tetsuro, ahead of a G7 agriculture ministers’ meeting that begins Saturday and runs to Sunday. Next week, she is travelling to Singapore to talk agriculture trade.
VISIT BY THE GERMAN PRESIDENT - German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his spouse, Elke Büdenbender, will visit Canada from April. 23-26, with stops in Ottawa, Vancouver, Yellowknife and Tuktoyaktuk. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office announced the visit on Thursday, saying in a statement that the visit will build on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit last year. Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Steinmeier last met during the Prime Minister’s March, 2022 visit with Mr. Scholz in Berlin.
JIVANI SEEKS TO REPLACE O’TOOLE - Jamil Jivani, who has been the president of the Canada Strong and Free Network - the former Manning Centre for Building Democracy - founded to support Canadian conservatism, is stepping down from the organization to seek the Conservative nomination in the Toronto-area riding of Durham. The current MP there is former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, who has announced his exit from politics. A statement provided by Mr. Jivani has the candidate pitching himself as a “proven fighter” with compassion. “I’ve stood up to big corporations, mainstream media and the woke establishment. I’ve taken their best shots and lived to tell the story.”
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, held private meetings and virtually participated and delivered remarks at the fourth leaders-level meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, convened by U.S. President Joe Biden. Mr. Trudeau also spoke with Brazil’s President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre, in Vaughn, Ont., attended a party fundraiser.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, in Ottawa, attended and spoke briefly at the fourth annual Hope in High Heels on the Hill event on the front lawn of Centre Block to end gender-based violence against women and girls. She also attended a rally in solidarity with Indigenous nations impacted by the recent Imperial Oil toxic tailings disaster.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, met with representatives of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons to discuss living conditions for retired Canadians.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, future-of-work reporter Vanmala Subramaniam explains the significance of the strike by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the largest public sector union in Canada that began on Wednesday after talks broke down with the government over better wages and remote working rules. This strike is expected to cause serious administrative delays for Canadians, from passport processing to filing your taxes. The Decibel is here.
PHIL EDMONSTON - Former NDP MP Phil Edmonston, perhaps better known as a consumer advocate, has died. Obituary here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on why easing some of Canada’s bankruptcy rules could be good for the economy: “One of the stranger phenomena during the pandemic was the rock-bottom number of insolvencies in Canada. It defied intuition, because the economy contracted so severely in early 2020. Economists offered a few explanations. One was that near-zero interest rates kept debt payments manageable, at least for a while. Another was that small-business owners simply walked away without formally filing for bankruptcy. And then there were the billions of dollars of government subsidies that kept businesses alive, at least on paper. The era of low insolvencies is coming to an end.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how the federal workers’ strike shows how far Ottawa has come from sunny ways: “In November, 2015, days after forming his first government, Justin Trudeau visited the Lester B. Pearson Building, which houses the foreign-affairs department. Hundreds of ecstatic public servants thronged the building’s halls and foyer to cheer his arrival. Seven-and-a-half years later, much of the federal public service is on strike. Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways. The strike by federal public servants is calamitous for this Liberal government. Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre likes to say that everything is broken. The strike is now Exhibit A.”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on Pierre Poilievre walking a tightrope by decrying the CBC, but defending Radio Canada: “For any viewer of both the CBC’s English and French networks, there is an obvious reason why Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is sparing Radio-Canada in his attacks on the public broadcaster. While the French arm of the CBC answers to the same CEO as its Anglo counterpart, Radio-Canada is in effect independent from the English CBC and, in many ways, is its mirror image. Politicians have long levelled accusations of bias against both the English and French networks, but the nature of the alleged bias has differed. The CBC is seen as wearing its leftish leanings on its sleeve; Radio-Canada is seen as putting Quebec’s interests first.”
Gus Carlson (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how, if striking bureaucrats get their pay raises, inflation might never end: “When 155,000 federal government workers walked off the job this week, they tested more than the resolve of the government and the patience of Canadian taxpayers. They also tested Newton’s third law, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is no question that the cost of living has been rising and that people need relief. But that does not come from simply giving everyone more money. In their quest for wage increases – some of which, like the almost 30 per cent over three years for Canada Revenue Agency workers, are quite stratospheric – the public service unions are potentially lighting the fuse on a new round of high inflation and the inevitable tightening of monetary policy that will follow.”
Kevin Lynch and Jim Mitchell (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how, with its outdated defence policy, Canada isn’t prepared for today’s threats: “When U.S. President Joe Biden came to Canada in March, an increased contribution by Canada to the West’s collective security was surely at the top of his mind. The U.S. wants Canada to actually meet its NATO promise to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence, to invest more in NORAD, including a much-needed modernization of the North Warning System, and to contribute more assistance to Ukraine. While American pressures to do more are understandable, it is surprising that there is not more public discussion within Canada about what sort of defence policy would best serve the interests of Canadians in these very challenging times.”
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