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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he regrets some of the terms he used to describe activists in last winter’s convoy protests.

During a news conference Friday responding to the findings of an inquiry that found his government was justified in using the Emergencies Act to quell the protests, Mr. Trudeau said he wished he had found different terms that calling convoy protesters a “fringe minority.”

“I wish I had phrased it differently,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference on Parliament Hill. “The fact is there is a very small number of people in this country who deliberately spread misinformation and disinformation that led to Canadians deaths, that led to excessive hardship in people who believed them.

“I continue to be very, very firm against those individuals, but that is a small subset of people who were just hurting, and worried and wanting to be heard.”

He said he regretted saying something that could be “spread larger.”

In the meantime, Mr. Trudeau welcomed the results of the inquiry by Justice Paul Rouleau.

“Lawful protests descended into lawlessness, ending in a national emergency,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“We didn’t want to have to invoke the Emergencies Act. It’s a measure of last resort, but the risk to personal safety, the risk to livelihoods, and, equally, the risk of people losing faith in the rule of law that upholds our society and our freedoms, those risks were real,” he said. “Responsible leadership required us to restore peace and order.”

Tabled in the House of Commons on Friday, the inquiry’s report catalogues a series of missteps, finding that the unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act could have been avoided if not for failures in policing and breakdowns in federalism that allowed lawful protests to spiral out of control.

“I have concluded that in this case, the very high threshold for invocation was met. I have done so with reluctance,” Mr. Rouleau in the conclusion to his five-volume report on the government’s decision to issue an emergency declaration on Feb. 14, 2022.

Senior political reporter Marieke Walsh and Ottawa reporter Marsha McLeod report here. And there are five key take-aways from the Emergency Act inquiry’s final report here.

On another issue, Mr. Trudeau said China, among other countries, is trying to interfere in Canadian democratic processes, including elections which is why Canadian intelligence agencies are regularly trying to counter these efforts. “This is not a new phenomenon,” he said.

“We have one of the most robust election systems in the word, with full integrity for our elections,” he said, adding the results of the 2019 and 2021 elections were determined by Canadian voters alone.

Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife and senior parliamentary reporter Steven Chase reported here that China employed a sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy in the 2021 federal election campaign.

The strategy came as Chinese diplomats and their proxies backed the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals – but only to another minority government – and worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered to be unfriendly to Beijing.

The Politics Briefing newsletter will pause Monday, and return on Tuesday.

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.


N.B. RULES OUT FRENCH-LANGUAGE EDUCATION REFORM - The New Brunswick government says it will not move ahead with a French-language education reform planned for this fall following widespread public criticism of the plan to reduce French teaching. Story here.

LOOMING RECESSION WON’T BE AS SEVERE AS OTHER DOWNTURNS: BoC GOVERNOR - The Canadian economy may be on track for a recession this year, but it won’t feel as severe as other downturns the country has experienced over the past few decades, according to Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem. Story here.

SPY BALLOON WENT THROUGH `RADAR GAPS’: NORAD DEPUTY COMMANDER - The deputy commander of Norad says a suspected Chinese spy balloon passed through “radar gaps” during its flight over Canada. Story here.

OTTAWA AGREES TO FIVE-YEAR REVIEW OF HEALTH AGREEMENT - The federal government has agreed to Ontario’s request for a five-year review of the new health care agreement, as federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc praised Ontario Premier Doug Ford for helping to broker the deal with other provincial and territorial leaders. Story here.

SAJJAN UNCLEAR ON SHARING OF TRAVEL DOCUMENTS - Federal International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan won’t say whether he knew his top adviser sent Canadian travel documents to a senator’s office, which then distributed copies to hundreds of Afghans saying they had been granted a visa to come to Canada. Story here.

QUEBEC PLANNING ADVANCE REQUESTS FOR MAID - The Quebec government has tabled legislation that would allow people with incurable diseases to make advance requests for medical assistance in dying in the event they become incapacitated. Story here.

SMITH PROMISES CONDITIONAL COLLABORATION WITH OTTAWA ON CLIMATE, ENERGY - Alberta’s Premier Danielle Smith has penned a letter saying she will collaborate with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on certain climate and energy-related initiatives – if Ottawa agrees to certain terms. Story here from CBC.

B.C. CONSERVATIVES GAIN FORMER B.C. LIBERAL CABINET MINISTER AS MEMBER - A former British Columbia Liberal cabinet minister has joined the provincial Conservatives, becoming the party’s sole MLA, seven months after being dumped from the Opposition caucus for questioning the role of carbon dioxide in climate change. Story here.

MPS CAN NO LONGER ADD HOME INTERNET TO OFFICE EXPENSES - MPs have been banned from adding their home internet bills to their office expenses, after the body that administers the House of Commons decided the practice was no longer justified. Story here.

PM ETHICS VIOLATIONS MAY NOT SET GOOD EXAMPLE: ETHICS COMMISSIONER - Canada’s departing Ethics Commissioner says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s repeated ethics violations have probably complicated efforts to encourage his MPs and cabinet ministers to stick to the rules. Story here.


TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Feb. 17, accessible here.

MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is in Munich, Germany, through Sunday, attending the 59th Munich Security Conference and participating in a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting alongside the conference. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, in Montreal, announced a process to identify candidates to pitch to develop a High Frequency Rail project between Québec City, Trois-Rivières, Montréal, Ottawa, Peterborough and Toronto. Indigenous Relations Minister Patty Hajdu, also responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, in Thunder Bay, announced $2.2-million in FedNor funding for three training, skill development, and innovation initiatives in the city. Families Minister Karina Gould, in Scarborough, Ont., announced $31.4-million in funding to support projects by Black-led community-based organizations across Canada. Veteran Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay, in Charlottetown, announced a $98-million contract to renovate the building that serves as the national Veterans Affairs Canada headquarters and also houses the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. International Trade Minister Mary Ng, in Half Moon Bay, Calif., participated in the C100 Annual Summit and was also scheduled to participate in a roundtable discussion on increasing collaboration between Canada and California to combat anti-Asian hate and racism.

LIEPERT EXIT - Ron Liepert, the Conservative MP for Calgary Signal Hill, has announced here he will not seek re-election to the House of Commons. The MP since 2015 said it’s time for “new voices” to represent the community. The MP says he will serve until the next federal election.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departed Nassau for Ottawa after attending the meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in the Bahamas. On Friday afternoon, Mr. Trudeau was scheduled to deliver remarks and hold a media availability on Parliament Hill.


Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre held a news conference in Calgary.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, hosted an economic roundtable on the cost of living and affordability, including Armine Yalnizyan, the Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers, and Heather Scoffield, a senior vice-president of strategy at the Business Council of Canada.

No schedules released for other leaders.


On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Globe sports reporter Rachel Brady explains the dispute between Canada’s national women’s soccer team, which is protesting unequal treatment by the sport’s governing body, Canada Soccer. The players say Canada Soccer is not transparent with its finances, and that they won’t agree to be paid less than the men. MPs have called for Canada Soccer to explain itself at a parliamentary committee. The Decibel is here.


Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how the Safe Third Country Agreement is one big loophole: If you are wondering why, if Canada’s system is so liberal, so many of the asylum seekers in question go first to the United States, it is because it is easier to get a visa to enter the U.S. Canada may be more generous to asylum seekers once they are on our soil, but we go to some lengths to prevent them from getting here in the first place. And in this endeavour we have been greatly assisted by the United States, especially since the signing of the 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement.”

Marsha Lederman (The Globe and Mail) on how, to create a better future, students need an education about race: “Teaching about race is not indoctrination; it is education. And if the schools won’t do it, there are all sorts of nefarious websites and sketchy media platforms that are happy to fill in the gap with their brand of brainwashing. Misinformation has never been so accessible – and so dangerous. Knowledge is power, and public educators have an obligation to their students: to teach them to be critical thinkers, to teach them the honest history of their land, and to have faith that the kids will understand what to do with this information – contribute to a better society, for all.”

Andy Byford (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on the need to urgently reinvent public transit for the postpandemic world: “On the latter, the days of overreliance on fares are gone. While it is reasonable to ask riders to pay their fair share, constant increases in cost will exacerbate the death spiral and disproportionately affect those least able to pay but who are most reliant on transit. A more sustainable, more imaginative solution needs to be found, and it should include a mix of funding sources. It should also be one that reduces exposure to seismic economic shocks, and recognizes the broader social, environmental and financial benefit that well-run transit systems contribute to successful cities.”

Neha Chandrachud (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how young and diverse anglophones will not be bullied out of Quebec: This was perhaps my most seminal experience in Montreal, and it reflects my life in the city over the past 10 years: magical, frustrating, hilarious. But lately, I’d add another word to that list: siloed. For anglos in their 30s, like me – particularly those of us who are visible minorities – life in Quebec has become more and more onerous. Increasingly, it feels like the government is trying to push us further toward the perimeter of the public sphere. The message from the top is clear: Quebec wants my tax dollars, my investments and the cultural benefits of my creative output, but it does not want me.”

Greg Gormick (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how, after the holiday chaos, Via Rail has melted down again and, sadly, this will continue: When Via Rail executives appeared before the House of Commons standing committee on transport, infrastructure and communities on Jan. 26 to explain the reasons behind railway’s Eastern Canadian service collapse over the Christmas holidays, they described the situation as “unique.” It wasn’t. Another meltdown across the Quebec-Windsor, Ont., corridor routes during the first weekend of February, previously unreported, demonstrates that these snafus are becoming routine at Via – and throughout Canada’s frayed multimodal transportation system, including the highways and air services.”

David Matas (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on why Canada must end child marriages now: “Between 2000 and 2018, an average of 200 children in Canada, usually girls, were married every year – typically to much older men. This statistic, from a McGill University study, was derived from government records in all 13 provinces and territories. Statistics do not tell us how many of these children were pressured or forced into an early marriage. Experts in the field suggest that these numbers grew during an isolating pandemic that disproportionately victimized girls.”

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