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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Tofino vacation is over.
Earlier this morning, Mr. Trudeau’s office issued an advisory saying he would also be in Ottawa today for “private meetings” and to speak with Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia.
Mr. Trudeau’s return to the nation’s capital ends his break in the Vancouver Island community that caused sustained political controversy because it began last week on Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Over the weekend, Mr. Trudeau apologized to the chief of a B.C. First Nation after choosing to vacation in Tofino rather than attend the community’s Truth and Reconciliation Day event.
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc had sent the Prime Minister two invitations to attend its ceremonial event near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, where the remains of about 200 children were discovered at the site in late May. Story here.
Victoria-based national correspondent Justine Hunter sends the following Reporter’s Comment from Tofino, B.C.: “Standing in the drizzle on a surfing beach near the resort town of Tofino on Saturday morning, I could make out about two dozen surfers bobbing, indistinguishable in their black wetsuits, out where the surf breaks. One of them was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, some were part of his security detail, and the rest were tourists and locals. Surfing protocol is all very democratic – you are supposed to wait your turn, no matter who you are. But Lyla Enns, a teenager from North Vancouver, later explained that she deferred to the Prime Minister when deciding who would get to catch the next wave. “I didn’t get up because I didn’t want to hit him,” she explained to me. Another young woman, Leila Nabavi, laughed as she described a near miss with Mr. Trudeau when he caught a wave and just about crashed into her as she paddled out into the break zone.
“Mr. Trudeau is a regular visitor to Tofino and lots of locals here have had the chance to share the surf, and to take away stories like these. While the controversy swirled around his decision to come here instead of marking his newly declared National Day for Truth and Reconciliation last Thursday, the local etiquette calls for leaving him be when he is on the beach. But at some point during the day, he called the chief of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation to apologize for opting to fly to Tofino for a holiday rather than to attend Thursday’s ceremonial event near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, where the remains of about 200 children were located earlier this year.
“He also could have attended a local truth and reconciliation ceremony in Tofino on Thursday, but didn’t. The locals I spoke with were unimpressed with that decision.”
Vacation consternation - Mr. Trudeau is not the first Canadian politician to face trouble lately for their vacation choices.
Earlier this year, B.C. Premier John Horgan faced political turmoil, detailed here, for taking a break. And Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was under fire for a recent vacation, in a situation detailed here. Former Manitoba premier Brian Pallister faced political pressure for his regular vacationing in Costa Rica, chronicled here in Maclean’s by Nancy Macdonald, now with The Globe and Mail. Vacation choices have also been a challenge for U.S. presidents, as detailed here.
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on why the Tofino trip may hasten Mr. Trudeau’s political departure: “In political terms, the timing is especially unfortunate for Mr. Trudeau, because it reminds Liberal supporters of something they must already have been wondering: whether it is time to change horses... While the Prime Minister typically brazens through his misjudgments, this time Mr. Trudeau apologized. No doubt he was genuinely sorry. But also, he must have realized he was starting to run out of political lives.”
TREATY INVOKED TO DEAL WITH LINE 5 DISPUTE - The Canadian government is invoking a 1977 treaty with the United States to formally commence government-to-government negotiations over the fate of Line 5, a vital petroleum pipeline for Canada that faces a threat of shutdown from the State of Michigan.
GOVERNMENT URGED TO EXTEND EMERGENCY COVID-19 BENEFITS - The federal government is facing calls from business and labour leaders to extend emergency COVID-19 benefits before they expire on Oct. 23, a move that was not explicitly promised in the Liberal Party’s election platform.
ONTARIO PROMISES CAUTIOUS COVID-19 REOPENING - Ontario remains committed to “the most cautious reopening in Canada” to avoid future COVID-19 lockdowns, the provincial government said in a Throne Speech on Monday, while promising an economic recovery fuelled by growth and not “painful tax hikes or spending cuts.”
THE CURRENT STATE OF CANADA’S KABUL EMBASSY - Senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon checks out Canada’s abandoned embassy in Kabul under Taliban rule. Islamist militants now guard the former headquarters of Canada’s diplomatic mission in the Afghan capital – and they say the Canadians can come back any time. Story here.
AFGHAN WOMEN SOUGHT CANADA’S HELP - Afghan women ministers made pleas to Canadian politicians for help – and shared warnings about atrocities and the erosion of women’s rights – two months before the Taliban took control of Kabul. The desperate request was made during a Zoom meeting of the Canada-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group, attended by Canadian ministers, MPs and senators. Story here.
PAUL HURTING GREENS: MAY - Saanich-Gulf Islands Green Party MP Elizabeth May, the party’s former leader, says departing leader Annamie Paul is hurting the Green Party by remaining in control of its communications. From CTV.
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)
As clerk of the privy council from 2016 to 2019, Michael Wernick was the head of the federal public service with responsibility for advising the prime minister and elected government officials. It was a key role in a public-service career that included senior roles serving four prime ministers.
Mr. Wernick has now written a newly published book about the operation of government. Governing Canada, A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics occasionally reads like the manual that would be given to a rookie prime minister, cabinet minister or deputy minister – which makes it a very interesting book. (Parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup reported on the project here.) It is not a tell-all – it is, at 212 pages, succinct, evocative, blunt and never dull.
This week, the Politics Briefing newsletter will include short excerpts from a key chapter in the book, Advice to a Prime Minister. We’ll begin with Mr. Wernick’s observations on an aspect of being a prime minister that may be timely in light of current events:
“Being a prime minister is all about continuous multitasking, which won’t stop until you leave the job...Time for family, for exercise or relaxation, and for old friends outside of politics will be squeezed to the margins unless you work to protect it. By now, you have figured out what seems to work for you – your own approach to exercise and relaxation and to work. Do you prefer to finish up as much as you can at the office, or do you like to take work home?
“Try to consciously create a structure and a routine that work for your family so that you can return to that routine any time you are knocked off stride. It isn’t easy to fit spouses, children and parents into the grind of your new job. Work will tend to crowd out time for things that you used to do, like watching sports, binge-watching television series, or staying current on pop culture. Reading anything other than work-related documents will soon start to feel like a luxury. If your past pursuits are important to you, you will have to force time for them into your schedule.”
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Private meetings in Ottawa, and the Prime Minister talks with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
No schedules released for party leaders.
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on Montreal’s mayoral race as another epic duel between Valérie Plante and Denis Coderre: “Four years later, the tables have been turned as Montrealers gear up for, if not exactly the rematch of the century, then another epic duel between Ms. Plante and Mr. Coderre. Except that this time, having undergone a stunning physical and philosophical transformation, Mr. Coderre is running as a hope-and-change candidate while Ms. Plante seeks to defend her record.”
Andrew Cohen (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on how Justin Trudeau became Lester Pearson: “Today, Justin Trudeau is in an eerily similar position. Like Mr. Pearson, he rebuilt a shattered party and led it back to power. Like Mr. Pearson, he called a snap election that gave him only two more seats, 11 short of a majority. Like Mr. Pearson, he has weathered scandal. Like Mr. Pearson, he faces a second minority government, navigating the shallows of a hung Parliament. But in calamity, opportunity. If Mr. Trudeau learns from his mistakes, rallies progressives and puts policy before politics, he can do much. Rather than spending the next three years contemplating his place in Parliament, he can find his place in history.”
Erica Ifill (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on why Annamie Paul’s leadership never really had a chance: “There will be those who insist that race wasn’t a factor in the Green Party’s marginalization of Annamie Paul. But of course race is a factor when the first Black woman to lead a federal party doesn’t actually get a real chance to lead over a short term, and is instead bogged down by internal attacks, leadership questions and a lack of support that wasn’t evident before she arrived. This is misogynoir – and it’s the status quo in our political structures.”
Tasha Kheiriddin (National Post) on why rebuilding the Tories `big tent’ starts with new Canadians: “Ironically, at the same time the Tories curbed family reunification, they aggressively sought to capture the votes of so-called “cultural communities,” notably in the suburbs of Vancouver and Toronto. However, then-immigration minister Jason Kenney’s infamous “curry in a hurry” strategy produced little more than indigestion. The lesson here is that opportunism will not build connection. There has to be more on offer than the promise of a say in government, or the implicit benefits of siding with the “winning” party. That something is making conservatism – the worldview, the philosophy, the vision – relevant to new Canadians. It is allowing them to identify with and see themselves in its future. To do this, the party has to both talk the talk, and walk the walk.”
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