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Politics Politics Briefing: The 2019 election campaign officially begins

The 2019 federal election campaign is officially on.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau got the campaign started this morning by asking Governor-General Julie Payette to dissolve Parliament and issue the writs for the election. Outside Rideau Hall, Mr. Trudeau was asked about his views on a Quebec law that bans many public servants from wearing religious symbols. Mr. Trudeau said he did not support the bill, but that it would be “counterproductive” for the federal government to get involved in fighting it.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer got on a plane to Trois-Rivières, Que., this morning, and will be in Woodbridge, Ont., outside Toronto later today. Before Mr. Scheer left Ottawa, he told reporters that Mr. Trudeau should waive any remaining cabinet confidentiality on SNC-Lavalin matters and allow all witness to testify to the RCMP.

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh kicked off his campaign in London, Ont., with a pitch for universal pharmacare and expanding social services.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May got an early start (B.C. time), by launching her campaign as the sun rose this morning on Vancouver Island and calling for Canada to address the “climate emergency."

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the campaign’s culture war: “You might have noticed that a lot of federal politics isn’t exactly about federal government policies. Partisans tell you Justin Trudeau had a trust fund. Or that Andrew Scheer never marched at Pride. They are sending messages about who they are – and who their opponents are – as much as what they will do. Expect a lot of that between now and Oct. 21.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on the climate debate: “The truth is that what looks like political polarization is mostly political theatre. The Liberal climate plan is hardly a radical one. And it could even improve the saleability of Canada’s oil sands, which will remain a critical source of national wealth as the country and planet transition to a lower-carbon future. The Liberals have conceded as much by approving the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau insists is in the national interest.”

John Geddes (Maclean’s) on the NDP’s chances: “For Singh, though, the problem is not that expectations are high; it’s that his need for an early bounce is so undeniably urgent.”

Matt Gurney (National Post) on social issues in the campaign: “It’s fine that Singh is Sikh. It’s fine that May and Scheer (and Justin Trudeau!) are Christian. It ought to be possible to debate the pressing social issues of the day, or even, for that matter, the not-so pressing social issues of the day, without needing to resort to either suspicion of someone else’s religious faith or apologize for one’s own.”

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. 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.

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IN NON-ELECTION NEWS...

Brian Pallister and the Progressive Conservatives won re-election in Manitoba last night with a solid, though slightly diminished, majority.

British Columbia’s greenhouse-gas emissions have held about steady in the decade since the province enacted a carbon-pricing regime. Environmental advocates say more needs to be done to actually reduce emissions further.

On Brexit, a Scottish court has ruled that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s request to prorogue Parliament in the midst of debates about the terms by which Britain should leave the European Union are unconstitutional. It’s now up to the U.K. Supreme Court to hear the case.

And U.S. President Donald Trump has fired John Bolton, his third national-security adviser since taking office.

Don Braid (Calgary Herald) on the Alberta government’s inquiry into environmental groups: “There’s a big risk that the inquiry can backfire on the UCP government and the whole province. Forcing individual critics to testify can look like an oppressive use of state power. If commissioner Steve Allan decides to hold public hearings, anti-oil groups would have a spectacular showcase for their causes, while claiming to be persecuted.”

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Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on Canada and the world: “While there is no cause for Canadian complacency and while there is no need for any talk of moral superiority, it’s been a long time since Canada has looked so good by comparison to its neighbouring leviathan. The American embassy can revise its cables. The Canadian inferiority complex is dead and buried.”

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