Climate change and recent Russian aggression have fundamentally changed the nexus of security in the Arctic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized during a press conference Friday at a Royal Canadian Air Force base about 300 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
The stop at 4 Wing Cold Lake comes on the final day of Mr. Stoltenberg’s three-day tour to Canada, which has largely focused on Arctic security. In his remarks Friday, Mr. Stoltenberg said that Russia has set up a new Arctic command, opening hundreds of new and former Soviet-era military sites, including airfields and deepwater ports, and is using the region as a “test-bed” for new weapon systems.
The NATO Secretary General also said that with climate change, the importance of the high north is increasing – as melting Arctic ice leads to greater military and economic accessibility of the region. “Our response is a strong and predictable Allied presence in the region,” he said.
The two leaders highlighted recent announcements about Canada’s defence efforts in the North, but no major new initiatives were announced at the press conference. Mr. Trudeau said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is requiring “us all to step up” on defence spending.
“Over the past many decades, we have been able to work with partners and adversaries, including Russia, to keep militarization of the Arctic to a minimum,” Mr. Trudeau said. “But the context is changing now for two reasons. Obviously, climate change is creating greater accessibility to the Arctic … but as well, the ill-fated, unjustifiable decision of Russia to upend nearly 70 years of peace and stability of the rules-based order.”
On Thursday, Mr. Stoltenberg and Mr. Trudeau traveled to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, where they toured one of the sites of the North Warning System, which is part of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD). They also visited the Canadian High Arctic Research Station and spoke with Inuit leaders.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey, with an assist today from Marsha McLeod. 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.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MARKS SURPLUS – The federal government recorded a $10.2-billion surplus for the first quarter of the fiscal year, joining some provincial governments in reporting improvements to their bottom lines. In the same three months a year earlier, the government reported a deficit of $36.5-billion. Story here.
RUSSIA BURNING GAS, WHILE CUTTING EU SUPPLIES – Russia is wasting large volumes of natural gas by burning it in a huge orange flare near the Finnish border at a time when it has sharply cut deliveries to the European Union, according to scientists and analysts. Story by Reuters here.
TRUMP USED ‘BULLY’ TACTICS: FREELAND – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says former U.S. president Donald Trump used “bully” tactics during negotiations on a new North American free-trade agreement more than two years ago. Story by The Canadian Press here.
UNION WORKED AGAINST UBER WORKER EMPLOYEE STATUS – The United Food and Commercial Workers, one of Canada’s most prominent private-sector unions, worked closely with representatives from Uber Technologies Inc. to ensure that app-based drivers and delivery workers in Ontario would not be granted employee status – a change that would have expanded their pay and benefits. Story here.
VISA PROCESSING DELAYS IMPACT STUDENTS – Delays in processing student visas have put a large number of international students at risk of missing the start of fall classes this year, as the federal Immigration Department struggles to keep up with what it describes as a surge in applications. Story here.
ONTARIO BYPASSING HEARINGS TO EXPEDITE LTC LEGISLATION – Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is planning to bypass public hearings in order to quickly pass controversial long-term care legislation. Story by The Canadian Press here.
WENDY’S GOES GREY – Wendy’s Canada is the latest brand showing its support for Lisa LaFlamme in the wake of CTV News ousting the host after 35 years with the network – changing the iconic red hair of its mascot to grey. Story here.
CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL - Scott Aitchison is in Ontario. Roman Baber is making calls to supporters who have not yet voted. Jean Charest is in Toronto. Leslyn Lewis is in Windsor and Chatham for ballot drop-off events. Pierre Poilievre is in Ottawa.
POILIEVRE TAX POLICY PITCH - Tax and fiscal policy reporter Patrick Brethour writes here about how Conservative leadership contender Pierre Poilievre is pushing concepts around the intricacies of marginal effective tax rates as part of a pitch for broad tax reform.
THIS AND THAT
The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.
BIBEAU IN QUEBEC CITY – Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced an investment of up to $45.3-million to enhance efforts to prevent African swine fever from entering Canada and to prepare for a potential outbreak.
CHAMPAGNE ANNOUNCES MOBILE CONNECTIVITY FUNDS – Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced $404,936 in funding for Bell Canada to improve mobile connectivity in the Atikamekw First Nation community of Wemotaci.
FRASER IN TIMMINS – Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced the expansion of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, including to expand the geographic boundaries of certain participating communities.
GUILBEAULT ANNOUNCES NET-ZERO CHALLENGE – Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, in St-Constant, Quebec, announced the launch of the Net-Zero Challenge, a new national voluntary initiative for businesses in Canada.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
At the 4 Wing Cold Lake fighter base in Alberta, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, participated in a welcoming ceremony featuring an honour guard. Mr. Trudeau then held a meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg, followed by a media availability, before attending a luncheon with members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet is on a summer tour of the Gaspé Peninsula through to Aug. 26.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on Pierre Poilievre’s political strategy: “Pierre Poilievre ignores critics who condemn his links to conspiracy theorists because he understands a basic lesson of politics: Never take advice from people who want you to fail. … Mr. Poilievre’s critics complain about his willingness to flirt with the crazies. But they would hate his populist conservative message even if it didn’t come with a side of conspiracy theory. Nothing Mr. Poilievre could do or say would ever earn their praise, let alone their vote. He’s right to ignore them.”
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on windfalls to Canadians from provinces amidst a health-care crisis: “And yet, in the middle of what is obviously a crisis that needs the full attention and resources of governments, what are some premiers’ most urgent priorities? Cutting cheques for voters, and other populist grifts. Saskatchewan this week became yet another province to send a small windfall to its residents – a $500 cheque for every person over 18 – under the guise of relief from higher prices. It’s a potentially inflationary move that will pump $450-million into the economy all at once.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how Canada is about to undergo an extreme stress test administered by the Prairies: “It’s difficult not to be cynical about all this woe-is-me business coming out of Alberta and Saskatchewan these days. It’s not like they’ve been barely scraping by under the Constitutional rules as they are. Alberta has been an economic powerhouse for decades, even during oil’s down years. Saskatchewan has also enjoyed the bounty that high resource prices can bestow on a jurisdiction that has them. Both have been the economic envy of other provinces for years. This is really about politics, about getting back at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government. This would not be happening if Stephen Harper was still the prime minister. Not a chance.”
Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on how Ottawa should nix its special levy for banks and insurers instead of tempering it: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is learning the hard way that populism makes for poor public policy. Last August, the Liberal Party, which he leads, unveiled an election campaign promise to claw back some of the profits that financial institutions generated during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the party’s cynical attempt to make political hay by targeting banks and insurance companies for bigger tax bills failed to translate into a majority government. What’s more, the Trudeau government now finds itself in the awkward position of toning down its hastily concocted tax plan for the second time this year as fortunes shift for the financial sector.”
Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on how Finnish PM Sanna Marin’s only mistake was apologizing for harmless fun: “Pray for the poor Finnish people, whose society is being eroded by twin toxic menaces: dancing, and having a good time. These noxious influences have already overtaken the Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, who was seen in leaked video footage dancing and lip-syncing to a song at a private party. Earlier this week, another image was leaked of two of her friends, topless with a sign reading “Finland” over their breasts, from a party Ms. Marin hosted at the Prime Minister’s official residence in July. It is unclear whether the country’s reputation will ever recover. Indeed, if the Finnish people aren’t vigilant, these malignant activities – combined with the corrosive influence of rock music (the kind with swear words) – will catapult the country back to its primitive state, before the Northern Crusades.”
David Butt (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how we must look at the big picture to build a strong Supreme Court: “The Canadian public is slowly becoming more conscious of the injustices of colonialism and its legacies, so it feels like an appropriate moment to place a talented Indigenous jurist on our highest court. Symbolism then becomes substance because the cultural voice of those whose oppression and dehumanization was historically sanctioned by the law itself is now heard in the chorus of the law emanating from the Supreme Court.”