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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.

In an election-style announcement Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled more than $400-million in federal funding for Algoma Steel to help the company produce steel in a more climate-friendly manner.

Mr. Trudeau, who has largely been based in Ottawa during the pandemic, travelled to the Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie to make the announcement, tying it into his government’s climate-change policy.

It all led a reporter to ask why, given the tone of the proceedings, Mr. Trudeau didn’t just call an election so he could stop using taxpayer resources to make announcements.

The Prime Minister did not directly address the issue about pre-writ electioneering.

He said the government has not just been managing the pandemic, but making announcements on how to bolster the economy with specific supports to industrial sectors such as the manufacture of zero-emission vehicles, and electric buses.

“We have been demonstrating that as we move forward, investing in the economy and the environment at the same time is something every government should be doing, and we have been doing it for the past six years, and we’re going to continue doing it,” he said.

The announcement comes amidst speculation that Mr. Trudeau will call an election this summer or in the fall, seeking to transition his minority government to a majority.

Monday’s commitment is for $420-million so Algoma can retrofit their operations and phase out coal-fired steelmaking at their facility in Sault Ste. Marie.

“As the world transforms towards lower emissions, investments like this create jobs, create sustainability, and create a better future for us all,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“We have realized it’s so important to fight climate change, but unlike others, like the Conservative Party, we have always known that fighting climate change is an opportunity to create good jobs and prosperity.”

The shift to an electricity-based process is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 900,000 passenger vehicles -- almost the number of such vehicles in Toronto -- off the road by 2030, said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT LIBERAL PARLIAMENTARY SPENDING- A U.S. data software company that runs Liberal digital voter outreach has been paid $1-million from parliamentary funds since 2016 to exclusively handle constituency case work for party MPs, raising more questions about whether taxpayer dollars are being used for election-related activities.

EASING OF TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS - After nearly 16 months of rigid travel restrictions, Canada is finally starting to loosen the rules – but only for a specific few. Effective Monday, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents – those who have had a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada – will be able to skip the 14-day quarantine.

SENATE MAY BE RECALLED - Leaders of the various groups in the Senate are discussing a government request to recall the chamber after senators faced criticism for recessing for the summer without passing a bill that would effectively ban the practice of conversion therapy.

DROP IN PARTY FUNDRAISING Federal parties appear to have seen a drop in their fundraising in 2020, a year when the pandemic dented donations of all kinds and made parties rethink some of their traditional fundraising tools. Details here.

THE GLEN CLARK STORY - Whatever happened to Glen Clark, the feisty former NDP premier of British Columbia? He was the last B.C. NDP leader to lead his party to a majority before John Horgan accomplished the same last year. Mr. Clark’s win was in 1996. Reporter Brent Jang brings us up to date on Mr. Clark in a new feature headlined: The billionaire and the socialist: No longer the odd couple, believe it or not. The story is here.

KENNEY CONCERNED ABOUT HARASSMENT OF MINISTER - Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he’s concerned people will hesitate to run for public office or take jobs as public servants in the wake of harassment linked to a fringe candidate in Calgary’s mayoral race. The concerns came after Health Minister Tyler Shandro and his family were swarmed at a Canada Day event. From The Edmonton Journal.

ELECTION FORECAST INTEL:

Philippe J. Fournier reports in Maclean’s that the latest round of federal polling until the summer break and perhaps the election writ is drawn up in August shows the Conservative Party and its leader Erin O’Toole falling further behind the governing Liberals. Story here.

The Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board on why an early election is a bad plan: “Canada’s newly shaven Prime Minister ended June by dodging questions about a possible election call later this summer. Yet there is a growing possibility that Canadians won’t see Parliament return Sept. 20. Even with a few Liberal bills awaiting Senate sign-off, the political calculation may be irresistible to Justin Trudeau. But the idea of an election is not irresistible to Canadians, exhausted as they are by the last 18 months. As political manoeuvres goes, calling one would be tone-deaf. Just leave the voters alone.”

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

The Prime Minister visits Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. After private meetings, the Prime Minister and Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, tour the Algoma Steel Inc. facility, then make an announcement and hold a news conference. The Prime Minister also visits the Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig Centre of Excellence in Anishinaabe Education.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet continues a tour of the Quebec North Shore with a stop in Baie-Comeau, and a meeting with the chief and band council of the Pessamit First Nations community.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Burnaby, B.C., holds a news conference, visits a hotel workers picket line and holds a community discussion with young people seeking to pay student debt.

PUBLIC OPINION

The late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who served as Canada’s prime minister for more than 15 years and died more than two decades ago, remains more popular nationally than the current office holder, his son Justin, a new survey suggests. From The Montreal Gazette.

OPINION

The Editorial Board of The Globe and Mail on why Ottawa needs to start collecting all the taxes it’s owed: As the pandemic recedes, and pandemic debts loom, collecting taxes owing will be a critical source of much-needed revenues. It is also the right thing to do. Most people pay their taxes. The return on investment of greater enforcement is obvious.”

Dean Beeby, Justin Ling, James. L. Turk and Wesley Wark (Contributors to The Globe and Mail) on shortcomings in The Treasury Board review of the Access to Information Act: Today, we have an access to information system in name only. A lack of firm timelines means requests regularly stretch on for months, if not years. Broad exemptions mean crucial information is withheld from the public. A culture of secrecy in many departments undermines the act almost entirely. The Office of the Information Commissioner is underresourced to handle the deluge of complaints. The current review process is not going to fix all that. Unlike in past consultations, the Treasury Board is not releasing any kind of green paper or other consultative document to chart a course for the reforms, nor has the government sought independent expert advice.”

Bernadette Hardaker (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on why, amid shameful residential-school revelations, she cannot remain a Catholic: If every one of the 12.8 million Catholics in Canada contributed a toonie today, then the church would have the $25-million it promised to raise from Canadian Catholics after signing a side deal as part of the Indian Residential School Survivors Agreement in 2005. Instead, after raising less than $4-million, a court ruled that because of a miscommunication, the church could walk away from the rest of the compensation it owed. Asking all Catholics to help is a great idea, but don’t ask me – I won’t be dropping anything into the collection basket any more. I’ll be donating directly to an Indigenous agency, because the only kind of Catholic I am now is a former one.”

John Vaillant (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on how the forest fire that destroyed Lytton, B.C. could happen anywhere: “Most cities and towns in Canada are far more vulnerable to fire than we want to admit. Glenn McGillivray, managing director at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction in Toronto, has been saying this for years. “There are so many of these little towns that are exposed,” he told me. “Too many to list.” It isn’t just the little towns.”

Murray Mandryk (Saskatoon Star-Phoenix) on Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe providing an important moment on residential schools: “Premier Scott Moe showed great leadership on one file this week and not-so-great leadership on another. One suspects it’s the great leadership moment for which he will be better remembered. It was a truly meaningful gesture — the kind of moment that, time often proves, makes a province better.”

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