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Politics Politics Briefing: Toronto mayor, councillors to escalate opposition to legislation cutting size of city council

Good morning,

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is setting his government on a collision course with Toronto’s mayor and councillors, introducing legislation today to cut the size of city council in half months before a civic election.

Mr. Ford abruptly announced his plan Friday to cut the number of councillors in Toronto to 25, from 47, in line with provincial and federal riding boundaries. He has not announced any intention to do the same for other cities in Ontario.

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Toronto Mayor John Tory and the city’s councillors have vowed to fight the planned cuts, though it’s not clear how. Councillor Joe Cressy wants city staff to study its legal options, though Mr. Tory has expressed skepticism that a lawsuit would succeed. Mr. Tory wants the provincial government to call a referendum rather than making changes unilaterally.

Mr. Ford’s legislation would also cancel regional chair elections.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Mayaz Alam and James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

The federal government is examining ways to limit the growth of Chinese high-tech giant Huawei in next-generation 5G wireless technology, which the federal government and its allies increasingly view as a security threat. Those efforts include Canadian officials’ talks with U.S. national security adviser John Bolton about how to broadly deal with China’s economic growth while also ensuring Huawei does not dominate telecom.

Canada will meet with Mexican, South Korean, Japanese and European leaders this week as they continue to plot strategy in the fight against U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on the auto industry. Japan and the EU organized the meeting, and Canada’s deputy international trade minister Timothy Sargent will be in attendance. Mr. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on auto imports, citing “national security” concerns. Canada has said it would respond with retaliatory countermeasures.

First Nations are calling on the federal government to include cannabis among the list of drugs covered by the Non-Insured Health Benefits program run by the Indigenous Services Department.

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Long-time Conservative MP Peter Van Loan, a member of former prime minister Stephen Harper’s inner circle, will be retiring from his seat in the House in September. The Ontario MP was a cabinet minister from 2006 onward and is expected to return to practising law.

The federal government is considering a “tiered” approach to compensation for damages related to the failed Phoenix pay system. More than half of the people employed by the federal government, some 300,000 people, have been affected by problems since Phoenix was implemented in 2016.

A renewed debate over gun control has emerged in the aftermath of the Toronto shooting, but stemming the flow of illegal guns into Canada will likely prove to be a difficult task for police and lawmakers.

After the deadly bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos, Transport Canada considered enacting a new seat-belt rule sooner. The regulation would make seat belts on highway buses mandatory. Sixteen people were killed in the crash and another 13 were injured. The rule was first proposed more than a year before the tragic crash, but won’t take effect until September of 2020.

Although Ontario’s decision to move to a private retail system for recreational cannabis is being lauded by many within the industry, it’s raising questions about how the province and municipalities will actually implement the new system with just months to go before legalization. Ontario was the first province to announce its regime for legalized marijuana under the former Liberal government, which envisioned a business model similar to the province-run liquor system.

B.C. Premier John Horgan says he is open to discussions with advocacy groups about the government’s plan to hire union workers for major infrastructure projects. Companies without unionized employees will be allowed to bid on projects but their workers would be required to join a union while working on the project. The plan has drawn the ire of nine business associations and non-affiliated unions.

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Turkey will stand its ground in the face of threats of sanctions by the U.S. over the fate of a jailed American pastor, President Tayyip Erdogan said. Andrew Brunson is currently under house arrest after being accused of helping the group Turkey’s government says was behind a failed coup two years ago. Mr. Trump has threatened Turkey with “large sanctions” unless it frees Mr. Brunson, who has denied the accusations.

Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, issued a surprise address the night before the country’s historic election. He said that he “will not vote for those who have illegally taken power,” targeting President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was once his deputy. Mr. Mnangagwa is running against Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor. Mr. Mugabe led the country for 37 years before being ousted late last year.

The primary opposition party in Pakistan is calling for a judicial probe in what it says was a “rigged” election last week. Former cricket Star Imran Khan led his party to a plurality of seats over the party of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the culture wars: “A year of culture wars is coming to Canadian politics. Mr. Ford has come to power itching to set out markers that symbolize his kind of populist conservatism, and Mr. Trudeau, gearing up his bid for re-election next year, is looking to sharpen his identity as a progressive leader.”

Daniel Bear (The Globe and Mail) on recreational marijuana: “Our Canadian legalization push is based on a public health model, and this is where the argument for government-run stores is the strongest. Cannabis is only minimally harmful, far less so than alcohol or tobacco, but nonetheless a public health approach to legalization requires we take every effort to address and reduce those minimal harms.” (for subscribers)

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on cannabis sales in Ontario: “The government-only approach was condescending, impractical and self-defeating. It said to Ontarians that a substance about 40 per cent of them have used, and which is less harmful than cigarettes or booze, was nevertheless too dangerous for them to purchase at a private store.”

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John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on Doug Ford: “As long as middle-class suburban commuters in Oakville and Oshawa and Vaughan and Scarborough believe the Conservatives are governing in their interest, Doug Ford will remain popular.”

Marcus Gee (The Globe and Mail) on Jennifer Keesmaat’s campaign for mayor of Toronto: “She is a progressive voice in a city that tends to alternate between left and right and where the past two mayors − Mr. Tory and Rob Ford − have been from the right side of the spectrum." (for subscribers)

Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on Trump’s lies: “What are the consequences of this garbage deluge, for his own country and the world? Already cynicism and weariness have set in. To quote another classic comedy, it just doesn’t matter.” (for subscribers)

Michael Coren (The Globe and Mail) on anti-Semitism and Britain’s Labour Party: “Mr. Corbyn isn’t anti-Semitic, and neither is his party. But he and others on the hard left are experiencing the same dilemma the world over: Jews as Jews aren’t the issue, but Jews as Zionists, and as supporters of Israel, most certainly are.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter and Stephanie Hare (The Globe and Mail) on privacy: “Technological developments in recent years have highlighted not only the benefits of big data, but also the need to come to terms with the dangers it poses to our privacy, civil liberties and human rights. Nowhere is this question more relevant than with the latest source of that data: our bodies.”

Jennifer Reynolds (The Globe and Mail) on cybersecurity: “As the number, sophistication and severity of cyberattacks continue to rise, the ability to close the cybertalent gap in Canada becomes increasingly critical to the economy. Canada will need a co-ordinated strategy that brings government, academia and the private sector together to develop this vital pool of talent.”

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David Shribman (The Globe and Mail) on the emoluments clause: “A brewing threat facing the presidency of Donald Trump may be one that stirs hardly any notice in the roiling waters of Washington: a quietly developing federal court battle that will shed light on whether Mr. Trump unconstitutionally benefited from foreign and domestic interests through his Washington hotel.”

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