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Hello,

As the government prepares to table emergency aid legislation aimed at helping Canadians survive the economic impacts of COVID-19, the Liberals have backed down from a section related to controversial taxation powers.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the final version of the legislation will not include part two of the draft bill. He did not provide any specific details as to how the bill might be changed but, on Twitter, specified a section that would grant cabinet the authority to raise or lower taxes through regulation and without Parliamentary approval until Dec. 31, 2021. The bill is expected to be officially tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon.

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The government’s decision came after opposition parties said they would not support the legislation as originally proposed. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the previous draft version of the bill represented a “power grab” that goes far beyond the government measures announced last week.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, usually written by Chris Hannay. Michelle Carbert is taking over for a couple of weeks while Chris helps with other important duties at The Globe. The newsletter 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

News is currently dominated by the COVID-19 outbreak. For a full rundown, you can subscribe to our Coronavirus Update newsletter (sign up here). Here are some stories that speak to the political and governmental response.

Ontario and Quebec are preparing for a near-complete shut down of the their provinces’ economies in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The measures, announced by the provinces’ premiers Monday, will come into place Tuesday night when non-essential businesses will be ordered to close.

Ontario is temporarily slashing hydro rates over the coronavirus crisis. On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford and Energy Minister Greg Rickford will announce plans to lower hydro rates for at least 45 days to offset higher consumption as more people work from home or remain in self-isolation and to help people who have lost their jobs, according to a senior government source. The source is not being identified by The Globe and Mail so they can discuss internal government matters.

The spread of COVID-19 is no longer confined to travellers returning from overseas, with nearly half of Canada’s coronavirus cases now being acquired through community spread. The Public Health Agency of Canada reported on Monday that 44 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in the country are the result of community transmission.

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In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenny says there is a "special place in hell” for hoarders and scammers during the COVID-19 crisis as people continue to hoard food and other supplies.

There are no plans to postpone the Conservative leadership race over the virus outbreak, says Lisa Raitt, co-chair of the organizing committee for the contest. Peter MacKay, a top contender in the leadership race, says an election for party leader should be held as soon as possible, while two other candidates - Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan - have said the race should be delayed.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Trudeau, lecturer-in-chief: “In daily press conferences from self-isolation in Rideau Cottage, Mr. Trudeau doesn’t just announce or inform, he prods and preaches. It would be better to include more information – the business community would like the government to be more specific about who should go home and stay home, for example. But while Mr. Trudeau’s critics have long called him preachy, that’s an asset on this particular crisis mission. And he is good at it."

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Trump’s big coronavirus decision: “The impact that the virus is having on Canada’s economy is no less severe, at least by scale. And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been upfront about the likely length of this period of social distancing, with its attendant impact on business: months. If the United States decides to put jobs ahead of the lives of the most vulnerable, it will be noted in this country too, and undoubtedly, some Canadians will believe that we should follow suit.”

Michael Wolfson (The Globe and Mail) on what happens after the curve flattens: “Public-health policy and implementation need smart ways to manage the relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures. This includes being able to quickly, in real time, identify clusters of new infections and isolate them; and to monitor people arriving from outside the country in case they become infectious.”

Jane Philpott (Maclean’s) on dispatches from the coronavirus front lines: “I am afraid of what lies ahead for humanity. I’ve been a doctor since 1984. I was a medical student when AIDS first appeared. I worked in Niger, West Africa with Médecins Sans Frontières when thousands of children were dying of hunger. I was a family doctor in Stouffville, Ontario when SARS struck. But I’ve never seen a level of alarm among health professionals comparable to what the current crisis has precipitated.”

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