Skip to main content
politics briefing newsletter

Hello,

With the House of Commons adjourned until March 21, the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers are, this week, travelling in Europe, meeting with their peers on the crisis in the Ukraine.

On Monday, Justin Trudeau announced in London that Canada is sanctioning 10 more Russian political and business leaders over Russia’s actions. The targeted 10 were flagged by Alexie Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader.

The announcement came during a news conference with Mr. Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Mr. Trudeau, who also met Monday with Queen Elizabeth, is going on to Latvia, Germany and Poland this week for talks on the conflict.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly was meeting in Bucharest with Romania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bogdan Aurescu.

Defence Minister Anita Anand and the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre, are travelling to Latvia and joining Mr. Trudeau for part of his trip. They are also meeting with European counterparts and visiting personnel with the Canadian Armed Forces deployed on Operation REASSURANCE to support NATO efforts in the region.

And International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan is headed for Geneva to discuss the pandemic response and humanitarian crises in Ukraine and Afghanistan with UN and international partners. He is also travelling to various Eastern Europe locations, but a statement said, specific locations would not be disclosed before travel due to the security situation in the region.

Please watch check here for live updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

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

TRUDEAU MEETS THE QUEEN - Britain’s Queen Elizabeth met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Windsor Castle on Monday. It was her first official in-person meeting after she tested positive for the coronavirus last month. Story here.

QUEBEC GREEN’S RUSSIA TWEETS CAUSE CONTROVERSY - Quebec’s Green Party leader has posted a series of tweets calling on Western countries and the Ukrainian government to accept certain Russian demands related to the continuing conflict with Ukraine. Story here from CTV.

PRIVACY BREACHES FOR SETTLEMENT COMPANY - The company overseeing the federal government’s $900-million settlement deal with military members who experienced sexual misconduct in uniform has admitted to more privacy breaches. Story here.

POILIEVRE PLEDGES TO SCRAP `ANTI-ENERGY’ LAWS - Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre says he would repeal what he calls Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “anti-energy” laws if he becomes the next leader of the Conservatives. Story here.

GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES IN NUNAVUT - As the first legislative sitting of Nunavut’s new government began Monday, Premier P.J. Akeeagok was expected to table a government mandate statement that included a comprehensive elder care strategy, reinvestments in education an enhancing health, mental health and addictions services. Story here from CBC.

THIS AND THAT

LAST SHOW (FOR NOW) BY DOMINION CARILLONNEUR - In the end, Dr. Andrea McCrady got to play her last show - for now. On Feb. 18, a police action to clear protesters from downtown Ottawa forced the cancellation of a final Dr. McCrady performance on the Peace Tower Carillon before the tower is off limits for several years due to the renovation of Centre Block. The Carillon, opened in 1927, is a series of 53 bells – ranging in weight from 4.5 kilograms to 10,090 kilograms – played on a keyboard in the tower. They have been a Parliament Hill tradition since Canada Day, 1927. (There’s a Q&A here with Dr McCrady, conducted, so to speak, last month.)

But Dr. McCrady, the Dominion Carillonneur since 2008, said Monday that, indeed, she did get a finale on Feb. 23. It was an hour-long recital that began with O Canada and God Save the Queen, but also included Come Healing, by Leonard Cohen, Getting to Know You, by Richard Rodgers, Peaceful Waters, by Gordon Lightfoot, and Until It’s Time for You to Go, by Buffy Sainte-Marie. She finished the show with Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley followed by a peal she devised for the kick-off of Canada 150, as a mash-up of Joy to the World, Auld Lang Syne, and the last measures of O Canada.

“I tried not to think about the nature of the event, but focused completely on the pieces as I played them,” Dr. McCrady said, in an e-mail, referring to the performance audio live-streamed via ParlVU and the Peace Tower Carillon website.

MP WORKING ON BILL ON EMPLOYER SURVEILLANCE - Liberal MP Michael Coteau has launched a nation-wide consultation on whether employees need protection from employer surveillance when they work at home. He’s aiming develop a private member’s bill on the issue. “We need a framework that clearly limits when and how employers can monitor what you do in the privacy of your home or on your personal devices,” Mr. Coteau, the member for Don Valley East said in a statement. “Employers need clear rules in terms of what is allowed, for what purpose and for how long.” Mr. Coteau said he plans to spend three months meeting with such parties as privacy experts, industry representatives and labour representatives, and also host some public town-hall consultations.

NOTLEY HAS COVID-19 - Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has tested positive for COVID-19. In a tweet on Monday, the provincial NDP leader said she has been triple vaccinated, her symptoms are mild, and she is planning to work from home.

TODAY IN THE COMMONS - The House of Commons is not sitting again until March 21.

THE DECIBEL - On Monday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Erica Alini , a personal finance reporter at the Globe explains why some people are being asked to pay back money they received through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The program provided $2,000 a month for up to seven months to people living in Canada that had stopped working because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government paid out $81.6-billion to almost nine million people. Ms. Alini also talks about how to figure out if you are one of those people and how this isn’t the first time there’s been confusion around CERB. The Decibel is here.

TRIBUTE: John Duffy, a former federal Liberal adviser who worked with prime minister Paul Martin and ex Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, and founded of the communications company StrategyCorp, has died, aged 58. Story here from iPolitics. There’s also a statement here from StrategyCorp. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, in a tweet, that he was “deeply saddened” by Mr. Duffy’s passing. “He was talented, energetic, and incredibly knowledgeable. His love for politics – and for this country – ran deep, and that was always evident in the work he did.” A memorial service is scheduled for March 8, 2022 at 6:00 pm at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

In London, the Prime Minister had private meetings. He then held a bilateral meeting , at an air-force base, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a bilateral meeting with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and, with the two prime ministers, visited with members of the Royal Air Force.

The Prime Minister then had an audience with Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle, and then held a meeting with Prime Ministers Johnson and Rutte at 10 Downing Street. The three prime ministers then held a news conference. The Prime Minister was later scheduled to depart for Riga, Latvia.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held a news conference on measures to help Ukrainians get to Canada.

No schedules released for other party leaders.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how opening the membership doors wide could save the Conservative Party: This is critical for the party. The more it can do to ensure there is a broad range of people from across Canada choosing the next leader, the better the odds that it won’t elect someone captured by a small group of paid-up voting members pushing narrow interests. And that means there is one more step the party must take: make membership free. That was one of the recommendations in an internal report commissioned by Mr. O’Toole last fall after the Conservatives lost a third election in a row to the Trudeau Liberals. It would help to address serious problems in the party’s leadership-election system, which has repeatedly been exploited by both activists and candidates.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on accusations of un-Conservatism dividing party’s early race: Who doesn’t count as a real Conservative? That’s already a divisive question in the Conservative Party leadership race. After Pierre Poilievre’s surrogates attacked potential leadership candidate Jean Charest as a “Liberal,” a senior Quebec Conservative is accusing them of sending an exclusionary message that will shrink the party. Richmond-Arthabaska MP Alain Rayes argues Mr. Poilievre’s team is trying to prevent a debate on Conservative ideas by casting out members of the Conservative “family.”

Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on how Edmonton’s real-estate market is the latest sign Ottawa should get serious about house-price inflation: “One month of ballooning house prices doesn’t make a year-long trend. But this year’s already sharp increases in Edmonton, one of the last big Canadian cities where the average price of a detached home is under half a million dollars, is a sign the issue of Canadian housing affordability hasn’t been addressed in a meaningful way. Runaway increases in Canadian home prices remain a political liability for the Liberals.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how Canada may finally have the political will to strengthen our depleted defence capacity: For more than a decade, both Conservative and Liberal governments have allowed this country’s military to degrade. Now, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has sent his armies into Ukraine. The Baltic states could be next, and they are part of NATO. Canada is committed to their defence. Except we are not able to properly defend either them or ourselves. “Looking at the current state of our defence capabilities, I’d say that the story is mixed but overall not good,” said Charles Davies, a retired army colonel who is a research fellow at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, a think tank. Bringing the armed forces up to where they need to be in this darkening world will cost a great deal and require political will. The question, as Russian troops besiege Ukrainian cities, is whether that will has finally arrived.”

John Michael McGrath (TVO) on how Christine Elliott’s departure leaves a big hole in Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s team - and it may not be the last: “The problem for Ford and his party is not so much that Elliott is leaving — though she’ll undoubtedly be missed. It’s that she’s just the latest Tory MPP to decide that the 2022 election isn’t for her. Jeff Yurek — who was environment minister until he was turfed from cabinet is the most recent shuffle, last year — made his departure from Queen’s Park official this week, leaving another absence in the Tory caucus. Rod Phillips, of course, announced his own departure earlier this year. And to those names we can add long-serving MPPs such as Bill Walker, Randy Pettapiece, and Norm Miller, plus an assortment of others who were either elected for the first time in 2018 (Christina Mitas, Amy Fee, Daryl Kramp) or returned to Queen’s Park after losing their seat in 2014 (Jane McKenna). Incumbents are valuable assets in an election campaign, and the Tories will have many fewer running under their banner than they expected in 2022.”

André Pratte (The National Post) on how Jean Charest is a true conservative and Canada needs his leadership: “Yes, as a Quebec provincial politician, he opposed the abolition of the long-gun registry, because that is what the population of Québec demanded. Yes, he implemented a carbon tax, but more importantly, his government introduced a cap-and-trade system, a solution that the Conservatives used to support before they put their heads in the sand regarding climate change. What is not said by Charest’s adversaries is that, more importantly, he put Quebec’s finances back in order, in the process demonstrating a lot of political courage. He also cut income taxes. Aren’t those conservative policies, policies such as what are required today at the federal level?”

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. 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.