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.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is paying tribute to his former justice minister, who this week announced her exit from politics denouncing the “toxic and ineffective” nature of Parliament and the excessive power of the prime minister.
Following a transit announcement in Surrey, B.C., today., Mr. Trudeau said he wanted to recognize the contributions of Jody Wilson-Raybould to the federal government “particularly in the early years.”
“We worked together on a broad range of projects,” Mr. Trudeau said, citing the legalization of cannabis, and progress on a regime of medical assistance in dying.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould was eventually expelled from the Liberal caucus after she refused to intervene in a criminal proceeding.
Of her exit concerns, Mr. Trudeau said, “I recognize politics can be extremely difficult and indeed toxic sometimes, but I also believe it takes good people to continue to step up both in and outside politics to make a difference.”
On her concerns about the power of the prime minister, Mr. Trudeau said it was extremely important that government by cabinet was established “once again.”
“We have an extraordinary team of cabinet ministers, many of whom are here today,” he said, referring to, among others, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna.
On Thursday, Ms. Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister announced she would not be seeking re-election in her Vancouver-Granville riding because she was discouraged by the political system in Parliament.
“It has become more and more toxic and ineffective while simultaneously marginalizing individuals from certain backgrounds,” she said in a note to her constituents.
Among the failings of the political system she cited was “The power of the prime minister and the centralization of power in the hands of those who are unelected.”
NEW AFN CHIEF - RoseAnne Archibald, from the Taykwa Tagamou Nation in Northeastern Ontario, has been elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the first woman to hold the position in the advocacy organization’s 50-year history.
DATE SET FOR FEDERAL ISLAMOPHOBIA/ANTISEMITISM CONFERENCES - The federal government has announced that two emergency national summits — one on antisemitism and one on Islamophobia — will take place on July 21 and July 22 respectively. Details here. From CBC
LABOUR MARKET BOOST - Canada’s labour market is roaring back as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Following two months of job losses, the economy added 230,700 positions in June and the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 per cent from May’s 8.2 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday. The June result exceeded a 175,000 gain that was expected on Bay Street.
COMMONS ETHICS COMMITTEE RECALLED -The House of Commons ethics committee is being recalled to discuss whether to investigate the hiring with parliamentary funds of two companies that are also central to the Liberal Party’s digital campaign operations. The committee is expected to meet Monday after four opposition members wrote a letter to the chair, asking for a meeting to launch an investigation into possible misuse of parliamentary funding of the Liberal Research Bureau and the office budgets of Liberal MPs.
HOLD OFF ELECTION, BUSINESS GROUPS SAY - Business groups are urging the minority Liberal government to hold off triggering a federal election until Ottawa unveils a comprehensive plan to reopen the Canada-U.S. border and allow the entry of fully vaccinated foreign travellers, saying the tourism industry is being unnecessarily devastated this summer.
LEADERS ON THE PRE-ELECTION ROAD - The federal party leaders are all hitting the travel circuit this week for the first major political tours after more than a year of lockdowns and with a potential election campaign looming. In Calgary, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said he’s confident his party will maintain broad support across Alberta – and possibly turn the only non-Conservative riding in the province blue – if an election is called in short order. In Surrey, B.C. Mr. Trudeau promised federal investments for a pair of transit projects in the Vancouver region. He said his government would put up $1.3-billion in funding for a planned SkyTrain extension running 16 kilometres and eight stations from Surrey to Langley. In addition, Mr. Trudeau said the government would fund up to 40 per cent of planning for an extension of the Millennium Line. At this point, the transit line is being extended to a station on Arbutus Street on Vancouver. The commitment by the prime minister would contribute to plans to extend it to the main campus of the University of British Columbia. Earlier this week, federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said, in a statement, that his party would also provide federal funding to ensure the extension of SkyTrain between Surrey and Langley is completed by 2025.
CALL FOR A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR - Nunavut’s member of Parliament is calling on the federal government to appoint a special prosecutor to delve into crimes committed against Indigenous people.
AMOS EXPLAINS EXPOSURE - Liberal MP William Amos says he mistakenly appeared naked twice during virtual House of Commons proceedings because of issues with “hyperactive multitasking” and a “lack of focus” and not because of any “mental health disorder.” Story here. From The National Post.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Private meetings. The Prime Minister makes a transit announcement in Surrey with Premier John Horgan, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, and others.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh holds a “meet and greet” in Victoria with Victoria MP Laurel Collins (Victoria) and also holds a media availability.
A Data Dive here with pollster Nik Nanos, contributing to The Globe and Mail, on whether now is the right time for an election: “The Liberals should not get too comfy. They do enjoy an advantage today, but it is likely overstated. The gap between the Liberals and the Conservatives will close. Anxiety about the future will grow as the stimulus winds down and awareness of our debt levels rise.”
Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on whether high-profile candidates will be enough to help the Liberals regain ground in Alberta: “The pandemic has turned the world so upside down that federal Liberals are acting as if they have a chance at acquiring a toe-hold in Alberta – like there’s a potential return to having some MPs in Calgary and Edmonton after being completely locked out of the province in the 2019 vote. What the Liberals have their sights set on – whenever the federal election is called – wouldn’t be considered much of a breakthrough in most other parts of the country. The governing party is looking to recoup a few ridings in Calgary where it has a small chance of eking out a victory on the home turf of Canadian conservatism. There’s two high-profile candidates to help with this.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the challenges facing RoseAnne Archibald as national chief of Assembly of First Nations: “The AFN confronts a federal government and a country with a long and lamentable record of hostility to the rights of Indigenous peoples. It must advance those rights, and also help to heal Indigenous wounds at a time of great national shame, as gravesite after gravesite emerges of children – hundreds, even thousands – who were buried at former residential schools. But Ms. Archibald’s first act of healing must be within the AFN itself. My colleagues Steven Chase and Kristy Kirkup reported in February that the AFN had launched an inquiry into allegations against Ms. Archibald of harassment by four AFN employees, when she was the AFN’s Ontario regional chief. Ms. Archibald has said the accusations were unfounded, and were a backlash to criticism of the AFN’s administration by Ontario chiefs.”
Michaëlle Jean (Contributor to the Globe and Mail) on challenges facing Haiti: “What is to be done? What is the way forward? These are the harrowing questions that Haitian opposition parties and civil society organizations are facing at this juncture as they urgently seek to save the nation. There must be dialogue, and a coalition government to organize new elections, based on the rule of law and democracy. For Haiti to have a future, the corruption that is rotting its bowels must be eradicated. Robust policies must restore confidence, dignity, justice, equity and security, along with respect for life – all of which the people have been clamouring for; all of which can no longer be flouted.”
Hayden King (Contributor to the Globe and Mail) on the job of Canada’s governor-general being merely symbolic – except when it’s not: “The incoming Queen’s representative actually helped shape discussions during Canada’s Constitutional patriation, with campaigns for Inuit and Indigenous women’s rights, and has a long record of effective diplomacy. Ms. Simon will be someone who Inuit – and Indigenous people generally – will be proud of. But simultaneously and in addition to representing the Queen, governors-general also unavoidably represent colonialism. So could there be somewhere within this contradiction a path to resist underwriting the oppressive and oppositional nature of the Crown/Indigenous relationship? Ms. Simon has already defied one convention – the requirement that the governor-general be bilingual in English and French, having instead led her remarks on Tuesday with Inuktut. Perhaps there will be more to come. What if she refused to sign federal bills that would harm Indigenous people, or rewrote the Speech from the Throne to commit tax dollars to return Indigenous lands to Indigenous communities?”
Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It's not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.