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Speaking with reporters at a news conference in Waterloo, Ont., Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the reported spike in hate crimes in Canada can be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and greater political polarization.

Mr. Trudeau was asked about the federal government’s plans to increase funding toward anti-racism infrastructure in Canada in light of recent attacks at Ontario mosques.

This past weekend, five men were attacked in a drive-by shooting outside a mosque in Scarborough, Ont. Last month, a man wielding an axe and bear spray attacked worshippers at Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre in Mississauga, Ont. No one was harmed.

The April 2022 budget announced $85-million in funding over five years related to a new anti-racism strategy and combatting hate. It also announced $11-million over five years for a special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combatting antisemitism, as well as a special representative on combatting Islamophobia.

“Over the past years, we’ve seen a rise in hate crimes, a rise in intolerance and racist acts. Part of it is the pandemic, sure, and the stress and the anxiety that comes from that, but a part of it is a trend toward greater polarization in our politics, greater intolerance in our communities,” Mr. Trudeau said.

The Globe and Mail’s Joy SpearChief-Morris and deputy Ottawa bureau Chief Bill Curry have more details here.

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TODAY'S HEADLINES

CANADA’S ANNUAL INFLATION RATE SPIKES TO 6.7% IN MARCH, HIGHEST SINCE 1991 - Canada’s inflation rate hit a new three-decade high in March and blew past expectations on Bay Street, an unwelcome sign for central bankers trying to douse the acceleration. The Consumer Price Index rose 6.7 per cent in March from a year earlier, a full percentage point higher than February’s 5.7-per-cent pace, Statistics Canada said Wednesday. Financial analysts were expecting an annual inflation rate of 6.1 per cent. Story here.

CANADA TO SEND HEAVY ARTILLERY WEAPONS TO UKRAINE, TRUDEAU PLEDGES - Canada will send heavy artillery weapons to Ukraine as its land battle with Russia intensifies, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday, calling Kyiv’s resistance to Moscow’s military assault a struggle for liberty and democracy. Story here.

FREELAND EXPECTED TO BOYCOTT RUSSIA’S G20 SPEECHES OVER UKRAINE WAR: SOURCE - Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to boycott any sessions at the G20 finance ministers’ meeting where Russian representatives attempt to speak, Global News reports. A Canadian government official said Ms. Freeland may also use the G20 gatherings to provide a direct rebuttal to any Russian statements made in the plenary session. Story here from Global.

LAW COMBATING MODERN SLAVERY AND CHILD LABOUR A PRIORITY: MINISTER - Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan says the Liberal government is planning legislation to make Canadian companies ensure that they are not using slave labour or exploiting child workers overseas. Story here from the Canadian Press.

FIRST DEADLINE ARRIVES FOR CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE, 10 DAYS UNTIL FINAL ONE - At least eight candidates have crossed the first threshold to having their names appear on the final ballot of the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race. Story here from the Canadian Press.

FORMER TOP COMMANDER VANCE ACKNOWLEDGES SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH SUBORDINATE IN COURT DOCUMENT - Retired general Jonathan Vance has acknowledged he was in a sexual relationship with a subordinate while he was the chief of defence staff, after having denied the allegations in the past. In an agreed statement of facts recently filed in court, Mr. Vance also confirmed he had one child with the woman, Maj. Kellie Brennan. Story here from CBC.

AT LEAST 20 PER CENT OF CANADIAN MPS HOLD RENTAL, INVESTMENT REAL ESTATE AMID HOUSING CRUNCH - At least 65 Canadian members of Parliament hold rental or investment real estate assets, according to their filings with the federal conflict of interest commissioner. However, that number may actually be much higher because 91 MPs either have not yet completed their disclosure process or the conflict of interest commissioner’s office hasn’t yet published their filings. Story here from Global.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

The newsletter reached out to the Conservatives leadership campaigns to see what they were up to on Wednesday.

Jean Charest will be in Pickering and Whitby, Ont., for meet and greets.

Roman Baber will present his national autism plan on Wednesday evening at a campaign event in Vaughan, Ont. Speaking to the National Post, Mr. Baber said as prime minister, he would match provincial funding of autism treatment of up to $500-million per year. Story here.

In a press release Wednesday, Scott Aitchison announced he would end supply management to help Canadians struggling with rising grocery bills and high inflation.

Pierre Poilievre’s and Leslyn Lewis’s campaigns said the candidates do not have any public events today.

The other campaigns did not reply.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The House is adjourned until Monday, April 25, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. ET.

THE BOLD, VARIED VISIONS FOR OTTAWA’S BLOCK 2 - The Globe’s architecture critic Alex Bozikovic weighs the design options for Block 2 of the Parliamentary precinct. Elite architects are competing to transform this strip south of Parliament Hill, and a jury is deciding the winner soon. Story here.

THE DECIBEL

On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, economics reporter Matt Lundy explains how inflation is resulting in a pay cut for most Canadians and what – if anything – you can do about it. With inflation eating into people’s bank accounts, some people are starting to wonder: Hey, is my paycheque shrinking? And according to a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, it is. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

The Prime Minister began his day in Waterloo, Ont., where met with families to discuss the budget commitments for housing and took questions from reporters.

Mr. Trudeau will meet with members of the Muslim community to mark the observance of Ramadan Wednesday afternoon. He will be joined by Treasury Board president Mona Fortier and MPs from the Waterloo region.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is in Montreal with Deputy Leader Alexandre Boulerice to discuss the party’s plan to address the housing crisis. Mr. Singh will host a townhall Wednesday evening, where he will be joined by House Leader Peter Julian.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet will hold a press conference Wednesday after a caucus meeting in Quebec City.

No other schedules released for party leaders.

PUBLIC OPINION

POILIEVRE FAVOURITE TO WIN CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP, BUT MAY STRUGGLE TO GROW PARTY: POLL - The race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party appears to be Mr. Poilievre’s to lose, according to a new poll that also suggests he may not be able to broaden the party’s appeal. The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found 20 per cent of Canadians surveyed think Mr. Poilievre will win the race, rising to 37 per cent among Conservative voters. That pales to his closest competitor, Mr. Charest, who earned 12 per cent support among Canadians polled and just 14 per cent among Conservative voters. Story here from Global.

OPINION

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how the Charter was more evolution than revolution: “It is for the courts to hold governments to their promises. But the courts are products of the same society as those we elect – whose handiwork, after all, the Charter was. The Charter embodied a broadly shared, though not universal, view of the relationship between the state and the citizen. Subsequent court rulings have likewise reflected, as much as shaped, evolving social attitudes. Ultimately, we are all in this together.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how Jyoti Gondek could be the most transformative – and controversial – mayor that Calgary’s ever seen: “Ms. Gondek has her hands full trying to push an aggressive, groundbreaking agenda amid tumultuous times that has the public in an angry mood. That could make her the most transformative mayor the city has known in decades – or a spectacular one-term flame-out. Only time will tell.”

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on why Canada is still telling people that two shots is ‘fully vaccinated’ against COVID-19: “For now, however, millions of Canadians with two doses may be under the impression they are ‘fully’ protected against COVID-19 – even though Health Canada knows that’s likely not true.

This semantic failure is no doubt contributing to the fact that the effort to get third shots into Canadians has all but stalled out.”

Chris Selley (National Post) on how Poilievre almost speaks the unspeakable: “The wealthy single-family homeowner is about as natural a Conservative voter as you’ll come across in urban Canada. You might think Poilievre would be averse to angering them. But then, urban-core ridings with lots of single-family homeowners haven’t been sending that many Conservatives MPs to Ottawa since 2011. The more Toronto and Vancouver grow despite those restrictive housing policies, the less clout those single-family homeowners have. And those on the outside looking in might quite like what they’re hearing from Poilievre.”

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