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Politics Politics Briefing: Trans Mountain decision expected today

Good morning,

Last night the House of Commons adopted a motion by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna that Canada is facing a “national climate emergency," one that is being felt today “from flooding, wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather events which are projected to intensify in the future,” and that “action to support clean growth and meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all parts of the economy are necessary to ensure a safer, healthier, cleaner and more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.”

And today, true to the Liberals’ word that the economy and the environment go hand-in-hand, Ms. McKenna and her cabinet colleagues are likely to approve a pipeline.

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The Liberal government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project from Kinder Morgan for $4.5-billion last year. Ottawa has spent the last 10 months following a court order to revisit its analyses of the environmental impacts of the project that would carry more Alberta crude to the B.C. coast for export, and to revisit consultations with Indigenous communities along the route.

Trans Mountain is popular with Canadians. According to a Nanos poll conducted for the Globe last month, a majority of respondents in every region of the country supported the project, even over the concerns of the B.C. government. (Those who took the survey were less enamoured with government money flowing into the pipeline.)

But even if it is approved today, it’s not clear when it will actually get built. “The time to build Trans Mountain is now,” the president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said in a statement. But “if they are smart, they will not build this summer given the upcoming election,” one environmentalist said.

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

Ichrak Nourel Hak, an aspiring teacher in Quebec, has launched a court challenge against the province’s new law that bans wearing of religious symbols for some public servants. Ms. Nourel Hak, who wears a hijab, is backed by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Montreal lawyer Catherine McKenzie. “The law is stealing my dream and sending a clear message I am not a valued part of Quebec society,” she said in a statement. The federal government said it hasn’t decided if it will intervene.

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The Conservatives say they are against a Liberal plan to ban certain types of assault weapons. “It’s not by removing firearms from the hands of honest citizens that we will solve the problem" of gun violence, Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said politicians shouldn’t call journalists the “enemy of the people” – a phrase often used by a certain leader to the south.

The Liberal government has announced the details of its First-Time Home Buyer incentive, but those in the mortgage industry say they are skeptical that the program will do much to encourage new buying.

The Senate committee planning to look into the failed prosecution against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman is seeking an extension to get their work done during July – an extension they may have trouble getting approval for, as the Senate is supposed to rise for the summer next week.

And a pro-conservative group called Canada Proud is paying people to wear banana costumes in Ottawa and Toronto and hand out anti-Trudeau campaign material.

Leah George Wilson, Chief of Tsleil-Waututh Nation, (The Globe and Mail) on the case against Trans Mountain: “Tsleil-Waututh is not anti-development. Indeed, we support sustainable and responsible economic activity, and have our own real estate, ecotourism, and commercial fishing and forestry businesses. All of these are at put at risk by the Trans Mountain Project.”

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Barrie McKenna (The Globe and Mail) on the Alberta ad campaign for Trans Mountain: “The ‘yes to TMX’ message is also for consumption in Alberta. Canada is increasingly a country of two solitudes – Alberta, and the rest. And many Albertans have bought into the ridiculous conspiracy that Ottawa only bought Trans Mountain pipeline to make sure the expansion never gets built. If true, it would be a very expensive and convoluted scheme to kill the project. The federal government spent $4.5-billion to buy the pipeline, and is poised to commit at least another $9-billion to nearly triple its existing capacity.”

Doug Cuthand (Saskatoon StarPhoenix) on the stalling of an Indigenous rights bill in the Senate: “This action on the part of the Conservative senators is a clear indication that the Conservative Party has written off the Indigenous vote in the next election and rather will adopt a strategy that First Nations and Indigenous groups are the reason for stalled pipelines and other resource projects. ... Our rights are not subject to partisan politics and should be respected by all parties. No other group in this country is subject to the government of the day defining and implementing their basic rights.”

Allison Hanes (Montreal Gazette) on the damage inflicted by Quebec’s new laws: “Humanity’s worst impulses are being legitimized, which threatens, rather than secures social cohesion. And Quebec’s standing as an open, inclusive, welcoming society will suffer irreparable damage as a result.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on what the NDP would do in a hung Parliament: “Polls suggest that if an election were held today, Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives would win the most seats in the House of Commons. But even so, he might not become prime minister. The reason is Jagmeet Singh. In any hung Parliament, the NDP Leader will be under enormous pressure from his caucus and his base to prevent the Conservatives from coming to power.”

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