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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.


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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is willing to work with Ontario on a request from the province to suspend the arrival of international students amidst concerns about dealing with the pandemic’s third wave.

During a Friday news conference, Mr. Trudeau said Ontario Premier Doug Ford raised the idea during a conference call the previous day with premiers and territorial leaders.

“Because, at this time, Ontario is the only province requesting this, we’re happy to work more narrowly with them. We’ll be reaching out to their officials today to formalize that request,” said the Prime Minister.

Mr. Trudeau said provinces and territories previously gave border services a list of postsecondary institutions that have adequate measures in place to welcome students and ensure proper quarantine as part of talks on the issue.

The Prime Minister said Ontario has to set out a list of institutions it no longer wants to have exceptions for international travellers. “My office is currently working with Premier Ford’s offices and the authorities in Ontario to do a follow-up to make sure this approach is formalized.”

Thursday’s conference call was the 30th with premiers and territorial leaders. Also in on the call were Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Deputy Prime Minister - and Finance Minister - Chrystia Freeland, who provided an update on the federal budget.

The readout Mr. Trudeau’s office issued on the meeting is here.

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On Friday, the Prime Minister said talks at the meeting included discussions “at length” about borders.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been calling on Ottawa to tighten international and provincial borders.

Sexual Harassment in the Military:

ARBOUR APPOINTMENT - Ottawa has appointed former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour to examine sexual harassment and misconduct in the military, charting a path for how the Canadian Armed Forces could set up an independent reporting system.

VICTIMS SUPPORT - Ottawa must urgently set up an independent mechanism for members of the Canadian Armed Forces to report allegations of misconduct, survivors of military sexual trauma and experts on the matter told a House of Commons committee on Tuesday.

EXPLAINING THE ISSUE - Janice Dickson and Kristy Kirkup provide an overall explainer here on the story so far on sexual misconduct in the military and what is being done to confront it.

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ARBOUR RECORD - A look at former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour’s record on the national and global human-rights stage as she takes on the issue of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military.

Other Headlines:

PHILLIPS TRIP - Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s top staffers were aware that former finance minister Rod Phillips would be away from Toronto and “not available in person,” more than a week before he embarked on a trip to the luxury island of St. Barts during the coronavirus pandemic, documents show.

MONTREAL PORT STRIKE - A strike at one of Canada’s busiest ports could be coming to an end as the Senate prepares to deal with back-to-work legislation today that would force 1,150 dockworkers back on the job at the Port of Montreal.

QUEBEC LANGUAGE REFORM - From The Montreal Gazette: Quebec Premier François Legault, discussing upcoming language reforms, talks about using the notwithstanding clause as part of the process of enacting them.

NDP vs NDP - From The Regina-Leader Post: A review of the Saskatchewan NDP’s performance in the 2020 provincial election urges the party to be harder on the federal party when Saskatchewan’s interests are at stake, noting that national leader Jagmeet Singh’s position on resource development and pipelines have hurt the brand in the province. The report is available here.

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Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet receives his COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, but don’t look for photos or footage. His office says the event will be closed to the media.


Private meetings. Address on COVID-19 and news conference. Virtual visit to Ile-a-la-Crosse Fish Company in Île-à-la-Crosse in Saskatchewan with Jim Carr, Special Representative for the Prairies. Discussions with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver.


Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole speaks virtually to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh does a virtual tour of Peel Region, holds a media availability on paid sick leave and vaccination with NDP members of the Ontario legislature, and hosts a roundtable with essential workers.

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Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the “endless spin and circles of inaction” around the federal Liberal response to sexual harassment in the military: “Thursday was supposed to be a political reset starting with an admission of contrition, followed by an announcement of the next step – Ms. Arbour’s review. Mr. Sajjan said the government was sorry for failing to live up to its responsibility to victims. That’s a good thing. Mr. Sajjan and Mr. Trudeau sure would’ve done themselves a lot of favours if they had only taken an attitude of responsibility and contrition from the get-go.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on whether Quebec’s daycare program really the model to be followed by the rest of Canada?: “Is there an alternative to this looming public policy disaster? Surely there is something we can do for hard-pressed working parents, especially those on low income? Yes, there is: It is to send the subsidy straight to them, rather than, as under the Liberal plan, to providers, by way of the provinces.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on why it’s easier to cast a ballot in Georgia than Canada: Although Elections Canada has loosened some restrictions, and legislation currently before Parliament would loosen them further still if an election is held during the pandemic, the fact remains that it’s harder to cast a ballot in a Canadian federal election than it is in a presidential election in many U.S. states, even though there is no credible evidence of widespread electoral fraud in either country.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on why you should be angry about the issue of sexual harassment in the military: “If hundreds of (mostly) women were being sexually assaulted in any other federal workplace – and were accused of lying by their superiors – there would be marches in the street and demands for resignations. The minister on the file would not be able to get away with claiming he didn’t want to look at allegations for fear of “political interference,” as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan claimed, implausibly, when questioned about Mr. Vance during a committee hearing. Similarly, the Prime Minister would not be allowed to both boast about his government’s “feminist credentials” and claim, also implausibly, that no one in his office knew the charge against Mr. Vance was a “Me Too” complaint – though e-mails show otherwise. And the minister would not be able to announce, with a straight face, a new independent review by another former Supreme Court justice – as Mr. Sajjan did Thursday – as a remedy just six years after the completion of the last one.

Shachi Kurl (The Ottawa Citizen) on how what we’re learning from COVID-19 could help us confront climate change: “Soon-to-be released data from the Angus Reid Institute will show that while more people in this country than ever believe climate change is real and primarily caused by people, a significant minority representing millions of adults — concentrated in a handful of provinces — do not. Just as public health officials cannot afford to write off the one-in-six Canadians who are unsure or unwilling to receive a vaccine, policymakers cannot turn their backs on those still struggling to co

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Vaughn Palmer (The Vancouver Sun) on the legacy of Thomas Berger: “As a politician Tom Berger had limited success. One term as an MP, another as a B.C. MLA. He defeated Dave Barrett in the 1969 NDP leadership race, the most bitter in party history. Then went straight into a provincial election and a defeat so crushing that Berger lost his seat. Just 36, he quit the political arena, never to return. If that were the whole story, Berger would rate no more than a footnote — last leader of the NDP before it took power under Barrett in 1972 and implemented a revolution. But Berger, who died this week at age 88, had a far-reaching impact as lawyer, jurist and commissioner, particularly on Aboriginal rights and title in B.C. and Canada.”


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.

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