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politics briefing newsletter

Good morning,

If you live in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan or New Brunswick, good news – your cheque will soon be in the mail.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is announcing this morning the details of his carbon-tax rebate program. The federal carbon tax kicks in on Jan. 1 at $20 a tonne − or 4.3 cents a litre of gasoline − and will rise to $50 in 2022. The revenue from the tax will be rebated back to households (hence the cheques) or directed towards energy-efficiency programs. The ultimate goal of the program is to suppress the rising emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Today’s announcement affects only four provinces – Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick – because those are the provinces that declined to create their own carbon-pricing plans, leaving it up to the federal Liberals to impose a national plan on them.

Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are still working on their own provincial carbon-pricing plans and will be able to direct the revenue how they like. British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec have existing carbon-pricing plans that mean they are also exempt from the federal policy.

And worth noting: Mr. Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Science and Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan are making the announcement this morning at Humber College. The school is in Toronto’s Etobicoke North riding, which is represented at the federal level by Ms. Duncan, but which is also represented at the provincial level by...Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Mr. Ford, who has been decrying the carbon tax all year, will presumably still get his rebate cheque next summer, too.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa. It is exclusively available only to our digital subscribers. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


Ontario’s municipal elections saw incumbents John Tory and Jim Watson re-elected with substantial margins in Toronto and Ottawa, respectively. London, a city that made waves by using a ranked ballot in its vote, is still counting. Former Conservative MP Ed Holder led on the first round. The biggest surprise was in Brampton, a city of over half a million people just outside Toronto, where ousted provincial conservative leader Patrick Brown won the mayoralty. “Tonight’s results were not what, I think, any of us expected," incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey said in her concession speech.

Germany froze its exports of military goods to Saudi Arabia on the weekend, and now the Canadian government says it could do that, too. The federal Liberals say they are very concerned about what happened to journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and do not trust the Saudi account that Mr. Khashoggi died accidentally in a fistfight. Days earlier, the Saudis said the journalist had left the consulate without incident. Turkish newspapers have consistently reported that Mr. Khashoggi was assassinated by Saudi agents. Mr. Trudeau said that, while they ponder how to respond, Canadian officials are carrying out some high-level emergency meetings.

The New Brunswick Liberals will put up a candidate for Speaker of the legislature today, though given that will leave them two votes short of the opposition Progressive Conservatives, it’s not clear how long the minority government will last.

And Canada could be headed for the moon – or at least in orbit around it. Canadian scientists are working away on the Canadarm III, which would go to the proposed Lunar Gateway space station.

Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on the women of Saudi Arabia: “The decision to allow women to drive was seen as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s package of modern reforms, Western feminists celebrated. Car companies celebrated. What wasn’t noticed in all the celebrations, is that Saudi women who campaigned against the kingdom’s oppressive system of male guardianship were being thrown in prison, often under the guise of being foreign agents.”

Alex Neve (The Globe and Mail) on the Saudi human rights record: “The waves of outrage about what has happened to Jamal Khashoggi also reflect a growing sense that we have had enough. Enough of tolerating Saudi Arabia’s unrelenting repression, institutionalized misogyny and discrimination, secrecy and injustice, and heartless, brutal war crimes that have been whitewashed and overlooked by the world for decades.”

Michael Petrou ( on selling arms to the Saudis: “There is a realist school of thought that says a country’s foreign policy should be guided solely by its interests, not its values. Canada has an interest in upholding norms that prevent the (alleged) state-sanctioned murder of dissident journalists. But, a realist might argue, it has a greater interest in the money and jobs accruing from selling military equipment to a state that allegedly sanctioned such a murder. The problem is this isn’t how Trudeau has portrayed Canada’s role in the world."

Colin Robertson (The Globe and Mail) on Canada-China trade: “The sense that Chinese behaviour is predatory and posing significant threats to the U.S. that need to be countered is driving current U.S. policy. The Donald Trump approach – threats, bombast and tariffs – is antagonizing China and prompting retaliation. We will need to be careful that we don’t become collateral damage.”

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