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 raising the possibility of a shift forward in the September target for all Canadians who want COVID-19 vaccinations getting their shots.
The shift echoes, in spirit, U.S. President Joe Biden’s accelerated vaccination timelines announced this week.
Mr. Biden said the U.S. would have enough vaccine for every adult American by May 31, an adjustment of two months from the previous end-of-July goal.
In Ottawa, Mr. Trudeau said Wednesday that Canada’s eighth vaccine contract, announced last week with the Serum Institute of India, and the approval of more vaccines from Health Canada could help speed up the schedule for everyone to get their shots.
“We are very optimistic that we’re going to be able to accelerate some of these timelines,” Mr. Trudeau said.
According to a federal update, 2.1 million vaccine doses have been administered as of March. 4.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is warning Beijing of potential repercussions from the international community after its envoy to Canada rejected reports of genocide, forced labour and relocations of China’s Uyghur population. Ambassador Cong Peiwu held a virtual news conference Wednesday with select Canadians news outlets, including The Globe and Mail, in which he faced questions about Parliament’s recent vote declaring that genocide was being committed against Uyghurs in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region.
A former military ombudsman says he told Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan three years ago about an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour against then-chief of the defence staff Jonathan Vance. “[Gary] Walbourne said that while meeting with the Defence Minister, he reached into his pocket to show him evidence and that Mr. Sajjan “pushed back from the table and said ‘no.’” Mr. Walbourne said Mr. Sajjan refused to look at the evidence.” The Canadian Armed Forces have been rocked recently by two military police investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct involving both Mr. Vance and Admiral Art McDonald, who initially replaced the former defence chief. Experts have called for independent civilian oversight of the military.
From reporter Janice Dickson: “Gary Walbourne’s testimony is significant because two weeks earlier the Defence Minister told the same committee that he was surprised to learn about the allegation when it was first reported last month. It raises questions about why Mr. Sajjan didn’t tell the committee that he knew. However, he did say he disagreed with parts of Mr. Walbourne’s testimony – but did not specify which parts.”
Ottawa is committing $2.7-billion through a dedicated fund to electrify Canada’s public buses, with the money coming atop $1.5-billion funding for electric buses that was announced earlier this year by the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
More than 100 survivors of sexual exploitation along with hundreds of non-governmental organizations are urging Ottawa to pursue a “full criminal investigation” into Pornhub’s parent company.
Mark Machin already had one foot out the door of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board when he was forced, under pressure, to resign as chief executive officer last week after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination in the United Arab Emirates.
NDP MP Niki Ashton is facing criticism from a pair of Jewish advocacy groups over a public conversation planned for March 20 with former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was kicked out of Labour last year over accusations he had weakened party efforts to deal with anti-Semitism. In a statement to The Globe and Mail, Ms. Ashton acknowledged her participation in the event with Mr. Corbyn whom she said “has fought for peace and justice and against racism of all forms, throughout his life,” and that the event will feature many other activists who support the work of the organization linked to the gathering. Melanie Richer, communications director for party Leader Jagmeet Singh, said the leader and party are committed to fighting anti-Semitism, and will push the Liberal government for concrete action such as dealing with online hate.
Marieke Walsh and Greg McArthur on Canada’s missed shots: How Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine promises were out of step with reality. “A Globe and Mail analysis has shown that the Trudeau government’s lofty promises [on vaccine delivery] were never consistent with several hard realities: a severe lack of manufacturing capacity in a world obliged to vaccinate their own citizens first, as well as contracts with vaccine suppliers that appear to contain less-advantageous delivery schedules than those inked by Britain and the U.S.”
PRIME MINISTER’S ITINERARY:
The Prime Minister is meeting with the leadership of Nova Bus, a transit-bus manufacturer located in Saint-Eustache, Quebec and TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transportation network. He’s also virtually meeting with University of British Columbia researchers and scientists about a cancer-research project that received federal infrastructure research funding.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul’s itinerary includes a virtual press conference and media availability on Green Party prebudget consultations and a virtual meeting with Iain Rankin, the new Liberal premier of Nova Scotia
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Port Moody-Coquitlam, talks about party policy to help small businesses. 11 a.m. PST
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on shifting timelines for ending the pandemic in Canada: “Last fall, Canada entered the ring with what appeared to be a winning vaccination plan. The Trudeau government presented it as one of the world’s best. It involved buying vaccines from multiple companies, and hedging the nation’s bets by contracting for far more doses per capita than any other country. Canada expected to end the COVID-19 fight with arms raised, as a world’s vaccination champion. That was the plan. It looked like a good plan. But as soon as the bell rang, Canada got punched in the mouth – repeatedly. The country was hit with delayed deliveries, even as our peers saw production and shipments ramp up. The best-laid plans got clocked. Canada’s vaccination rate is near dead last in the developed world.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on President Biden helping Prime Minister Trudeau find a tougher tone on China: “But one thing has changed, and it has changed Mr. Trudeau. Mr. Biden came into the White House promising to join with allies to confront China. Mr. Trudeau evidently thinks that’s for real. If he’s right, that’s no small thing for the world. Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal government has in recent years felt it – and Canada – can’t take on the rising superpower in Beijing on its own. Other countries are wary, too. Former U.S. president Donald Trump’s beefs with China were bilateral, and he didn’t forge any alliances. But if Mr. Biden really is willing to lead, that could change the way U.S. allies deal with China. Allies such as Canada. Such as Mr. Trudeau.”
Andrew Cohen (The Ottawa Citizen) on U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris’s apprenticeship for the presidency: “When Joe Biden held his virtual summit with Justin Trudeau, he was accompanied by his secretary of state, his national security adviser and Vice-President Kamala Harris, which was predictable. But other than Biden, only she spoke for the Americans, which was not. In the early weeks of the administration, Harris has been surprisingly prominent in foreign affairs. Her apprenticeship for the presidency has begun.”
Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on the downfall of “America’s governor” : “The knives are out. Calls for his resignation are mounting. His style of stewardship, that of an overbearing pater familias, won Mr. Cuomo few friends in Albany, the state capital. He appears to have become a victim of his hubris. Hence, a flame-out worthy of Icarus.”
Vaughn Palmer (The Vancouver Sun) on a rare point of disagreement between the British Columbia and federal government. The subject is B.C.’s decision to extend the second-dose schedule for COVID-19 vaccines: “Premier John Horgan and his ministers had repeatedly passed on opportunities to publicly criticize Ottawa’s botched vaccine rollout. But now the Prime Minister’s science adviser [Mona Nemer] was accusing Dr. Henry of treating British Columbians as guinea pigs? Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix was first out of the gate in responding. He challenged the Justin Trudeau government for picking on B.C. when it hadn’t levelled similar accusations over the extended interval in Quebec. Quebec had been holding off delivering second doses for weeks, Dix told host Carolina de Ryk on CBC Daybreak North on Tuesday, adding with undisguised sarcasm: ‘I may have missed the federal government’s interest in that question.’ Dr. Henry delivered her own response to Nemer later Tuesday, using language that was pretty strong by her kindness-first standards. It was a ‘little bit unfortunate that the national science adviser’ had spoken out, when ‘obviously [she] was not involved in some of these discussions and decision-making, and perhaps didn’t understand the context.’ "
Steven J. Cooke, Nicolas W. R. Lapointe and John P. Smol on Canada is failing its freshwater fish populations: “From brook trout populations that used to be abundant in the once pristine and frigid streams of southwestern Ontario to the endangered Salish sucker that lives in the highly altered lower mainland of British Columbia, too many of our freshwater fish populations are in steep decline. A forthcoming study reports that fully 56 per cent of Canada’s species or unique populations of freshwater fish are at risk. Canada already has lost 13 species (10 extinct, 3 extirpated), and another 62 are considered endangered, including white sturgeon and some populations of Atlantic and Pacific salmon. Even many common species have declined in abundance. Over two decades ago, Canadian scientists reported evidence of the “invisible collapse” of high-profile rainbow trout, walleye, and lake trout recreational fisheries, which are not even among the species considered at risk.”