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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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is playing down suggestions of a pre-election tour as today he visits Alberta for events that include talks with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, and touting federal pandemic support programs.

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It’s the second province, outside of Ontario, that the federal Liberal Leader has been in this week after stops in Saskatchewan on Tuesday.

During an appearance on RED FM radio in Calgary, the Prime Minister was asked about his travels.

“All this shows you are in an election-campaign mode,” host Rishi Nagar said.

“Actually it doesn’t. It shows that we are getting things done,” said Mr. Trudeau, making his first in-studio appearance for an interview in 16 months.

Mr. Trudeau said the government has been focused on supporting Canadians through the pandemic, but working on rebuilding the economy.

“As our economy opens up again, there are lots of things to announce,” he said. “I am taking advantage of the fact that our [pandemic] case loads are now lower, that people are getting vaccinated to be able to travel a little bit more and make the announcements on things that we have been working on for many, many months.”

Mr. Trudeau is not the only leader departing Ottawa to hit the road. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is in British Columbia this week. And Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole will be travelling to Alberta Thursday for a western swing that includes stops in Saskatchewan and B.C.

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In a pitch for Alberta support, Mr. Trudeau told Red FM that having strong Liberal voices from the province in caucus and at the cabinet table was key to “getting big things done” for the province such as buying the Trans-Mountain pipeline.

Asked, more pointedly about an election, Mr. Trudeau said, “We will be ready if there is an election, but our focus is on supporting Canadians.”

Video of the interview is here.

Reporter’s Comment, from Kelly Cryderman of the Alberta Bureau on Mr. Trudeau’s visit:

A return to 2015 when the Liberals won two Calgary seats isn’t on the agenda for the Prime Minister’s visit to the city today but the possibility winning any seats back in Alberta’s largest city is likely to be the underlying theme of the visit. With a federal election call expected soon, Justin Trudeau will likely be eyeing the city’s central and northeast ridings where his party has a small chance of eking out a victory in the home turf of Canadian conservatism.

Mr. Trudeau is likely to play up the acclamation this week of Murray Sigler in the riding of Calgary Confederation. The nomination of the well-known businessman, most recently interim president and chief executive of the Calgary Chamber, is a potential game-changer in the riding. During his RED FM interview, Mr. Trudeau also praised both outgoing Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who has brushed off suggestions he will make a quick leap into party politics, and current city councillor George Chahal – a potential fit for the Liberals in the northeast riding of Calgary Skyview. The Prime Minister said he has tremendous respect for both men, and he looks forward to continuing to work with them “however things end up happening.”

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The Liberals’ chances in Alberta are still not particularly strong. Many Albertans believe they don’t really care about thousands of oil and gas workers who have lost their jobs in recent years, or the economic upheaval likely to come from future energy transitions. But the province has been especially hard-hit by the pandemic and the oil-demand drop of last year, and Ottawa’s pandemic income and business supports have been a much-needed lifeline. The Liberals are still hoping their handling of the pandemic is less despised than Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s, whose approval numbers are low and who is facing political challenges from the left and right. They’re also hoping to capitalize on the fact that federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has failed to build any huge momentum to now.


VOTING UNDER WAY FOR NEW AFN CHIEF - First Nations chiefs are voting to name a new national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Wednesday, a role that will involve navigating working relationships with the Prime Minister, the federal cabinet and the premiers at a critical moment in reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

LIFE AND CAREER OF NEW GOVERNONR-GENERAL MARY SIMON - Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Bill Curry and Ottawa Staff Reporter Menaka Raman-Wilms report here on the life and career of Canada’s new Governor-General Mary Simon: “Ms. Simon’s appointment caps a high-profile career at the centre of Indigenous policy making. She has worked on the patriation of the Canadian Constitution in the early 1980s, played a senior role with the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and represented the Inuit during then-prime minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 residential schools apology. She was president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), a non-profit organization representing more than 65,000 Inuit in Canada.”

AGREEMENT WITH COWESSESS - The Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan where hundreds of unmarked graves were recently discovered near the site of a former residential school is the first in Canada to take back control of children in care under federal legislation. Chief Cadmus Delorme signed an agreement on Tuesday alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Scott Moe on the powwow grounds at Cowessess.

NEW VISIONS TO REPLACE QUEEN VICTORIA STATUE - Indigenous artists are reimagining what could sit in front of Manitoba’s legislature building after a statue of Queen Victoria on the grounds was brought down on Canada Day by a small group of participants in a walk held in honour of children forced to attend residential schools. Details here. From CBC.

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RANKIN URGED TO FOLLOW CAMPBELL/MOE EXAMPLE - Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin’s apology for a previously undisclosed impaired driving conviction must be followed up with action on the issue, the head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said Tuesday.


A day after he was in Saskatchewan, the Prime Minister is in Calgary. The day begins with a live interview with Calgary’s RED FM, private meetings and then a visit to AAA Doors Ltd, a local business that received federal support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then comes a meeting with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, followed by a meeting with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. After that, the Prime Minister and Mr. Nenshi visit the CT - Oliver Bowen Maintenance Facility to make an announcement.


Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail ) on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skirting language symbols to appoint a new Governor-General who expresses hope for Indigenous reconciliation:One could see why Mr. Trudeau would settle on Ms. Simon as the symbol for a vice-regal appointment now. Her C.V. provides a list of reasons: an Inuk woman from the region of northern Quebec now called Nunavik, who was involved in the negotiation of the 1975 James Bay agreement, running the Makivik Corporation that managed the financial compensation, serving as Canada’s first Arctic Ambassador. But her optimism about the prospects for reconciliation, and about Canada, make her the Governor-General Mr. Trudeau needed.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how becoming French will be one of new Governor-General’s biggest jobs: Imagine a governor-general who could not speak English fluently. How is the inability to speak French fluently any different? That said, the people of Quebec and francophones across Canada may be willing to accept what would otherwise be an unconscionable affront. We are at a crossroads in the life of our country. The discovery of many hundreds of bodies buried in unmarked graves at former residential schools and the federal government’s decision to incorporate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law are bound to lead to fundamental changes in the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. There is good reason for this Liberal government to decide that the next governor-general simply must be First Nation, Métis or Inuit.”

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Dakota Kochie (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on Mary Simon’s historic appointment as Canada’s next Governor-General being worth celebrating: “This appointment by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make Ms. Simon the first Indigenous governor-general. in Canada’s history, and sends a strong message to all Indigenous peoples that while we have a long way to go to achieve meaningful reconciliation in Canada, we are on the right path to a more inclusive and successful country for everyone. As a First Nations person myself, the significance of Ms. Simon’s appointment is not lost on me. Whether you are First Nations, Métis or Inuk, having representation at Rideau Hall is more than just symbolism, it’s progress.”

Aaju Peter (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on new life, new sunrise with new Governor-General: “In the footsteps of Michaëlle Jean, Adrienne Clarkson and David Johnston, all of whom I had the great pleasure of meeting, I have no doubt that Ms. Simon is the perfect choice. After the sun disappears from the horizon and it becomes dark and cold in Inuit Nunangat, Inuit perform a ritual when the sun reappears. The song goes, “Alianaittuqaqput inuunialirama ulluq suli tauva …” loosely translated as, “I am so happy that I shall be alive again. The daylight is still there…”. Indeed, this is a great day for celebration. There is a new life, a new sunrise for us all. Ms. Simon is a very compassionate woman and I trust we are all witnessing a new sunrise after a long dark winter.”

Paul Wells (Maclean’s) on Mary Simon and the Prime Minister’s winning conditions: “Expect Ms. Simon’s formal installation to take place before mid-August, the likeliest kickoff date for an election nobody needs but one man wants. The omens and portents are many. The Prime Minister is newly clean-shaven, as he was the last time he campaigned for re-election. His polling advantage is impressive. Members of his campaign staff who had government jobs are already, I’m told, working on their campaign tasks instead. The pieces are falling into place for the next chapter in the many, many adventures of Justin Trudeau.”

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