The federal government is withdrawing controversial amendments to its gun legislation that would have banned thousands of assault-style firearms but which were widely criticized for also targeting rifles and shotguns popular with hunters.
The surprise move was announced by Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed at the House of Commons public safety committee on Friday morning.
However, in a separate statement, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino also signalled that his government would try to revive the prohibitions on assault-style rifles in subsequent legislation.
The Liberals have spent months defending the amendments and accused the Official Opposition Conservatives of spreading misinformation about the law and prompting the backlash. The committee of MPs gave unanimous consent to revoke the amendments.
Senior Political reporter Marieke Walsh and Ottawa reporter Marsha McLeod report here.
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TEAM EFFORT REQUIRED BY FINANCE MINISTERS: FREELAND - Canada’s finance ministers must act collectively to address health care and competitiveness concerns while being mindful of fiscal responsibility at a time of high inflation, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said in opening remarks Friday before a day of discussions with her provincial and territorial colleagues. Story here.
PROMINENT QUEBECKERS SUPPORT ELGHAWABY - A letter of support signed by 30 prominent Quebeckers, including academics, activists and community leaders, is asking that Amira Elghawaby be given the chance to fulfill her mandate as Canada’s first special representative on combatting Islamophobia. Story here. Meanwhile, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet would still like her removed. Story here.
BALLOON PROMPTS SUMMONS OF CHINA’S AMBASSADOR - The Canadian government said it has summoned China’s ambassador over a high-altitude surveillance balloon that drifted across Western Canada. Story here.
STILES TO BE CONFIRMED AS ONTARIO NDP LEADER THIS WEEKEND - Incoming Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Marit Stiles knows how the governing Progressive Conservatives and other critics will try to portray her: just like her predecessor, Hamilton-born Andrea Horwath, but a latte-sipping version from downtown Toronto. But Ms. Stiles is prepared to counter that. For one thing, she’s not even from Toronto. Story here.
CANADIAN POLICE VIDEOS NOT AS ACCESSIBLE AS IN U.S. - As the United States reels from video of Tyre Nichols’s fatal police beating, experts warn Canadian citizens looking to obtain this kind of footage are likely to face very different challenges from their American counterparts. Story here.
POILIEVRE’S COMMENTS DRAW IRE OF VANCOUVER MAYOR - Vancouver’s mayor criticized federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre for making comments that depicted the decriminalization of drugs in B.C. as a failure and described parts of the city as “hell on Earth.” Story here.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD INTERVENE IN SAUDI SUIT: OBSERVERS - The federal Justice Department should follow the lead of the U.S. government and intervene in a civil suit brought by Saudi Arabia against a former top Saudi intelligence chief living in exile in Toronto, legal and security experts say. Story here.
CHAMPAGNE RAPS UNIVERSITIES FOR WORK WITH CHINA’S MILITARY - Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne has reproached Canadian universities for collaborating with Chinese military scientists and vowed to bring in new national-security guidelines to better protect cutting-edge science and technology from ending up in the hands of China. Story here.
WINTER CANCELS SOME OTTAWA WINTER-FESTIVAL EVENTS - Outdoor events for the Ottawa region’s Winterlude festival were cancelled on the opening day, Friday, due to cold weather. Story here from CTV.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Feb. 3, accessible here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY - Chrystia Freeland, in Toronto, hosted an in-person meeting with provincial and territorial finance ministers in Toronto, Ontario. The event included a closing news conference.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, in Edmonton, made a clean-electricity announcement. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, in North York, Ontario, made an announcement on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, also the minister for Prairies Economic Development Canada, announced a new PrairiesCan service location in Fort McMurray, Alta., and federal support for tourism, community infrastructure and business programs in the Wood Buffalo regional municipality.
VANCOUVER’S MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE - Vancouver Magazine has issued its 2023 Power 50 List, highlighting the city’s most influential people. The list is here. Interestingly, there are no federal political players on the list.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a personal day.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre held a media availability on Parliament Hill.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Hamilton with Hamilton-Centre MP Matthew Green, hosted a roundtable on health care, and took media questions. In the afternoon, he toured the steel company Stelco and visited the Ibrahim Jame Mosque, which has been a recent target of hate crimes. He then went mainstreeting with Sarah Jama, the Ontario NDP candidate for Hamilton Centre.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, deputy Ottawa bureau chief Bill Curry explains the McKinsey controversy. On Wednesday, Dominic Barton appeared before a parliamentary committee looking into the rise in outsourcing contracts awarded to McKinsey & Co., of which Mr. Barton was formerly global managing partner. The Decibel is here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on the rise of the Department of McKinsey: “The Department of McKinsey is an up-and-coming part of official Ottawa, with a raft of near-instant expertise available for a ministry that just can’t afford to wait but can afford the very best advice. The department (known more formally as McKinsey & Co.) has teamed up with eight federal ministries and agencies over just the last four years, most notably the defence and immigration departments, according to an analysis by Carleton University.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how, in sea of consulting contract problems, the Conservatives only dream of their whale: “Mr. Barton is a wealthy, globe-trotting Master of the Universe, and when he appeared Wednesday before the Commons committee on government operations and estimates committee, the goal for Conservative MPs was making him the central character of this tale – a tale that would portray him as a close personal buddy of Justin Trudeau who used his personal connections to wangle contracts. But they didn’t land their white whale. It’s too bad they don’t cast their nets wider, because there are plenty of fish in the sea of problems around government consulting contracts, including McKinsey’s.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on whether Ukraine should be a part of NATO: “NATO, for its part, is at war in Ukraine in every respect short of putting troops on the ground. Russian propagandists are right: Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine, de facto if not de jure. Those distinctions are important. It matters, in the grotesque etiquette of war, whether NATO forces are themselves shooting down Russian planes, rather than enabling others to do so. But the distinction on which so many have insisted until now, that Ukraine might be the recipient of NATO support and assistance but could not formally be a member, has ceased to have any relevance.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on the jarring echo in a recent Pierre Poilievre speech: “I think it should be a rule that any person that a politician cites in a speech for political ends should be verifiable. If you’re attempting to embarrass and discredit the Prime Minister of this country, then you should have to back it up. You should have the ability to prove that the person you are using as a political prop actually exists. I should say that it is not only Mr. Poilievre who does this. Other politicians, of all political persuasions, have used “a person they’ve run into” harbouring deep resentment toward those currently in power as political weapons.”
Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on why Canadians deserve to know the evidence Ottawa is weighing as it considers Freedom Mobile’s sale: “Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne appears to have acted prematurely when he imposed conditions on Freedom Mobile’s sale. More than three months after outlining his stipulations to approve Quebecor Inc.’s $2.85-billion offer to buy Freedom Mobile from Shaw Communications Inc., Mr. Champagne is now signalling he has more thinking to do about how to make them stick.”
Shachi Kurl (The Ottawa Citizen) on how playing health-care hero will be tricky for the premiers and the PM: “The premiers will be jockeying to solidify their place in this process as heroes, actors who come out of this with the best deal for patients, looking shrewd and caring all at the same time. Competing for these bragging rights will be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the senior federal cabinet ministers participating in the talks. The thing is, Canadians will not actually care who the hero is in all this. They just want a deal done. It will shock no one that so much of the conversation about the future of our public health-care system – which people in this country hold up with pride and sanctity – has long and often carried political and ideological undertones. But in 2023, one thing transcends politics: broad agreement that this sacred, sacrosanct system is broken, and that it is failing the patients in need of care.”
André Pratte (The Montreal Gazette) on the question of whether anyone vetted the past of the new anti-Islamophobia rep: “What now? The prime minister is responsible for causing this sad controversy, and it is he who must work to resolve the situation. He began to do so on Wednesday, when he reminded Canadians that francophone Quebecers and other Canadians had a very different experience with religion. “It’s easy to go to the barricades and point fingers at each other,” he noted. “Reasonable people (need to) have a real, deep conversation.” Indeed. If Elghawaby manages to keep her job despite the outcry, she will have to work very hard to convince French-speaking Quebecers that she is not prejudiced against them. Even without the political storm caused by her appointment, her task would have been difficult and sensitive. In Québec, she now starts with two strikes against her … if she has not already struck out.”
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