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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in British Columbia on Friday, taking his first look, in person, at some of the massive damage caused by rainstorms and mudslides in the province.

Although the planned focus of the day was the devastation in the province, Mr. Trudeau was expected to face questions from the media at a joint news conference with Premier John Horgan about Canada’s response to the discovery of a complex new COVID-19 variant detected in five countries.

As parliamentary reporter Marieke Walsh and Queen’s Park reporter Laura Stone report here Canada is imposing multiple restrictions on travel from countries in the southern region of Africa, including banning all foreign nationals who travelled there in the last 14 days and requiring anyone already in Canada to immediately go into quarantine as a result of a new COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa and dubbed a variant of concern by the World Health Organization.

Following a meeting in Montreal with recently re-elected Mayor Valérie Plante, Mr. Trudeau travelled to Abbotsford to visit areas affected by flooding, and meet with varied officials, including the city mayor, and Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth.

The Prime Minister was also scheduled to travel to Victoria for a meeting with Mr. Horgan and the joint news conference.

The B.C. situation has been a high-profile, high-priority file for the federal Liberal government, with more than 500 Canadian Armed Forces members now deployed to the region to deliver food and supplies to communities, place sandbags, and rescue livestock among other tasks. Various aircraft have also been deployed.

On Nov. 17, Mr. Horgan announced that B.C. had formally requested the deployment of federal resources, including the armed forces, to assist with evacuations, managing and resupplying supply chains, security in inundated areas, as well as the restoration of safe drinking water and help with other logistics. “I do know that the federal government stands ready to help,” he told a news conference.

During an emergency debate in Parliament this week, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the government has initiated a “whole-of-government response” in which each minister has been asked to outline the steps they are taking to address B.C.’s most pressing needs.

“As a small example, the Minister of Employment mentioned this past weekend that British Columbians who had lost their jobs or been displaced could and should apply for EI online as soon as possible, even without records of employment,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau, who lived in British Columbia for several years, noted during the debate that it has been a tough year for B.C., with record-breaking heat and devastating forest fires.

“Our focus is getting everyone through this crisis,” he said. “We are here to help with whatever British Columbians need, and we will work hand in hand with the government of B.C. on direct support.”

He added that support means “being there” with military resources, investments and money to help displaced people, help rebuild homes and highways. And he said there is a long-term necessity to deal with climate change linked to extreme weather.

Meanwhile:

CHALLENGES AHEAD IN FIXING KEY B.C. HIGHWAY - British Columbians got a sobering assessment Thursday of the immensity of the repairs needed to the Coquihalla Highway as the province’s Transportation Minister explained it will be two months before the crucially important artery allows a slow stream of trucks to return. Story here.

MERRITT RESIDENTS RETURN HOME - Residents of Merritt, B.C., are returning home after their evacuation to find destruction and sorrow as streets are broken or buried, homes are caked in mud and some utilities aren’t fully functional yet. Story here.

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

FREELAND MEETS PRIVATE-SECTOR ECONOMISTS - Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is meeting with private sector economists Friday afternoon ahead of a promised fall fiscal update, while a new report from her department shows the federal deficit stood at $68.6-billion at the halfway point of the current fiscal year.

CANADA’S POOR EMISSIONS RECORD SPOTLIGHTED - Canada has had the worst record among the G7 countries for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases since 2015, the year the Liberals took office, the federal environment commissioner says. Story here.

WORKING FROM HOME ALLOWED FOR MPs AGAIN - Members of Parliament are able to work from home again after passing a motion to resume hybrid sittings of the House of Commons. Liberals and New Democrats joined forces to pass the motion over the objections of Conservative and Bloc Quebecois MPs who had wanted to fully return to regular in-person operations.

QUEBEC ECONOMY PROMISING - Quebec’s economy is poised to outperform every other Canadian jurisdiction this year in a remarkable rebound from the pandemic that has put the province on track to record its highest annual GDP growth on record.

NEW ZEALAND FOREIGN MINISTER CITES AGENDA DURING VISIT - Climate change, the prolonged presence of COVID-19 and Indigenous relations were key aspects of discussions between Canadian cabinet ministers and New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta during her first trip abroad since the pandemic began.

SUZUKI APOLOGIZES - Environmentalist David Suzuki has apologized for comments he made about pipelines being blown up if government leaders don’t urgently address climate change. Story here.

NEW GREEN LEADER TALKS FAMILY TRAGEDY - In a Q&A with the CBC, interim Green Party of Canada Leader Amita Kuttner talks about how a devastating family tragedy taught them about the trauma of environmental damage. Available here.

NEW HEAD OF THE CANADIAN MILITARY - General Wayne Eyre has been named head of the Canadian military, taking command as the Forces struggle with a sexual misconduct crisis that has rattled the top ranks.

YUKON PREMIER DENOUNCES CONFIDENCE VOTE - Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says the opposition Yukon Party is floundering after a failed non-confidence move against Mr. Silver’s government this week. “I think the least-confident leader in the Legislative Assembly right now is the leader of the Yukon Party,” Mr. Silver told the media. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS - Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Nov. 25, accessible here.

ETHIOPIA WARNING - In light of the security situation in Ethiopia, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is urging Canadians to leave the country. “Since Nov. 18, we have been asking Canadians to avoid all travel to Ethiopia. We are now asking Canadians who are already there to leave immediately if it is safe to do so. Should the situation continue to worsen, the availability of commercial flights could soon become limited.” There’s a story here on the situation in Ethiopia.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

In Montreal, the Prime Minister met with Mayor Valérie Plante. The Prime Minister then travelled to Abbotsford, B.C., to meet with officials including Deputy B.C. Premier Mike Farnworth, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver as well as members of the Canadian Armed Forces, first responders and volunteers. The Prime Minister was also scheduled to visit areas affected by flooding. The Prime Minister then travelled to Victoria for a meeting with Premier John Horgan, followed by a joint news conference with the Premier.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

The Deputy Prime Minister meets virtually with private-sector economists.

LEADERS

No schedules released for party leaders.

OPINION

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on the rise of vulgarity while wit is in decline: As politics has increasingly become an insult-hurling enterprise, humour has become a lost art. Too bad, because as Mr. Udall points out, humour can work wonders for the image of politicians, humanizing them, connecting them, defusing criticism. If progressives tried poking fun at themselves once in a while, they might deflate accusations of being such woke-soaked elitists. A little self-mockery would surely help Justin Trudeau.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how Jason Kenney is far from a dead Premier walking: While I acknowledge this is a minority view, I believe Jason Kenney has the chance to author a stunning political resurrection. There next election in the province isn’t until the spring of 2023 – and a lot can happen between now and then. In some respects, lots already is. It can be found in the Premier’s enthusiastic tweets heralding positive economic news – rosy forecasts being received in the province like nectar from the gods.”

Shachi Kurl (The Ottawa Citizen) on how political debates over inflation are meeting grim reality for many Canadians: “Politicians may square off over how we got here (Too much money in the market! Not enough action on housing affordability!). But they would do well to remember that where economic forecasts meet housing foreclosures, it is real people, with real aspirations and dreams, who stand to lose much more than political bragging points over who was right.”

André Pratte (The Montreal Gazette) on whether the Quebec Liberal Party should remain faithful to its values: “Members of the Quebec Liberal Party are meeting this weekend in Quebec City. With their party standing way below the Coalition Avenir Québec in the polls, and their support among francophone voters barely reaching the 10-per-cent level, the Liberals have a choice: either they reaffirm their long-held values and principles, or they take a nationalist turn, as several commentators have suggested is necessary. I am not a member of the party, but I will attend the convention as an observer. I will be curious to see whether the party’s leader, Dominique Anglade, and the assembled members will uphold the historic liberal ideas that have been at the heart of the party’s purpose and action for more than 150 years.

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