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Canadian employment has returned to prepandemic levels, Statistics Canada reported Friday, as a surprise gain of 157,000 jobs in September saw the unemployment rate fall from 7.1 per cent to 6.9 per cent.

The jobs boost beat market expectations and arrives as the federal Liberals deal with the looming Oct. 23 expiration date for key pandemic programs, including wage and rent subsidies for businesses and direct payments to individuals who are unable to work because of COVID-19.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said this week that she and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have had several recent discussions about whether or not to extend the programs. The Liberal Party campaigned on a pledge to offer targeted extensions focused on the hard hit tourism sector, but business and labour organizations say the need is still there and are urging the government to approve a more broad-based extension.

The Globe and Mail’s Matt Lundy reports on Friday’s job numbers here.

CIBC economist Royce Mendes said the recent election campaign helped create some of those part time jobs.

“The federal election also credibly helped boost hiring in public administration, with election enumerators and poll clerks needed. However, that’s only a temporary boost to employment, since those election-related jobs will have vanished by the time the October survey period rolls around,” he wrote in a note to clients.

RBC economist Nathan Janzen cautioned in a note that it is too early to declare a full recovery.

“Just because employment has now returned to prepandemic levels does not mean that labour markets have recovered. The unemployment rate is still more than a percentage point above February, 2020 levels,” he wrote.

BMO Chief Economist Doug Porter offered this take: “The recovery, while clearly bumpy at times, took a mere 17 months, which frankly was undoubtedly much faster than almost anyone would have dared predict in those dark days,” he wrote in research memo Friday titled “Canadian Jobs: She-Covery!”

“As a side note, female employment led the way last month with a huge 99,700 jump, and is now well above prepandemic levels,” Mr. Porter wrote.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. Today’s newsletter is co-written with Bill Curry. 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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met behind closed doors with his Liberal caucus on Thursday, in what was called an “informal” send-off for defeated MPs, leaving the postelection debrief on the party’s failed bid for a majority government to another day.

The NDP is prepared to withhold its votes in Parliament and wants the minority government to demonstrate it is interested in co-operation, Leader Jagmeet Singh said Thursday.

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said high inflation could be “a little more persistent” than the central bank previously thought, while the economic recovery could “take a little longer.”

Quebec Premier François Legault says he will discontinue the current sitting of the legislature and deliver a fresh inaugural speech Oct. 19. The plan, announced Thursday, comes as the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s is facing an election scheduled for Oct. 3, 2022, Legault will use the speech to jump-start his government and set the tone for the postpandemic period. From The Montreal Gazette. Story here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

Private meetings. And the Prime Minister speaks with New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.

LEADERS

No public events for Friday have been announced by Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh or Bloc Québécois Leader Yves François Blanchette.

HOW TO BE A PRIME MINISTER

From Governing Canada, A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics by Michael Wernick (Published by On Point Press, an imprint of UBC Press)

This week, the Politics Briefing newsletter is featuring excerpts from Governing Canada, a new book by Michael Wernick, the former clerk of the privy council. Our focus is a key chapter, Advice to a Prime Minister. (Parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup reported on the project here.)

Today’s excerpt features some key points of, Mr. Wernick’s advice on dealing with the premiers:

“The most productive way to work with premiers over time is one-on-one and away from cameras. Phone calls and short meetings can get a lot sorted out. This work can lead to announcements and public events that you can both benefit from...

“The numbers and the incentives at a gathering of all the premiers are not in your favour. There are 13 of them, and the arithmetic is that it only takes a few of them to block progress, to water down initiatives, or to make your task more difficult. Generally, they will come to agreement only on the lowest common denominator. That usually means what they think you should be doing for them...

“So the predictable outcome of any gathering of premiers is going to be a call for you to increase federal transfers with as few strings attached as possible. They will assign their best people to put pressure on you in the buildup and even during the meeting. Premiers have gone back to this playbook for decades...

“The key point is that the arithmetic of the Canadian federation works against the federal prime minister. A handful of premiers is enough to delay or block. There will be ebbs and flows in the tone and climate of intergovernmental relations. So when the windows of alignment open up and progress looks possible, press hard and don’t waste them.”

OPINION

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on why Justin Trudeau’s `regrets’ for his National Day for Truth and Reconciliation vacation is not enough: In an act of incredible forgiveness, the community of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation will host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a visit to the gravesites of at least 200 Indigenous children. The Prime Minister’s Office has confirmed he’ll be there. This is the beautiful thing about so many Indigenous Peoples: No matter what crap is thrown at us – from genocidal laws and policies aimed to extinguish us, to racists yelling for us to get off the sidewalk – we rise. Our existence is our resistance. That isn’t just a slogan. It is the truth.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) says power has gone to Quebec Premier François Legault’s head: “Mr. Legault appears to have fallen into the trap of believing he owes his remarkable popularity to only himself, rather than to a series of factors for which he was only partly, or not at all, responsible... Once again, Mr. Legault demonstrated a dangerous tendency to get annoyed at the slightest criticism and dismiss anyone who disagrees with him as a troublemaker or, even worse, an enemy of the Quebec people.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the future of the Conservative Party and leader Erin O’Toole: “The proposition the Conservatives placed before the people in this election was less a move to the middle than a move to the muddle. There was no attempt to ground the proposals in any coherent set of principles, conservative or otherwise... The party itself has some deep thinking to do. For more than a hundred years, the Conservatives have been, as it is said, the spare wheel of Canadian politics, elected only after the public has grown sufficiently fed up with the Liberals. If they aspire to be something more, they need first to consider why they are something other: why they are not Liberals, assuming this is explained by fundamental differences over policy and not the other way around.”

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