Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff will testify at a parliamentary committee on foreign election interference, ending a standoff over the issue between the government and the opposition.
Katie Telford will appear before the House of Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee as part of their study into the issue.
The turnabout came in a statement Tuesday morning from the Prime Minister’s Office, which said that despite serious constraints about what can be said in public about sensitive intelligence matters Ms. Telford had agreed to appear before the committee in an effort to make Parliament work.
Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre, in Question Period, urged Mr. Trudeau to take a step further and launch a full public inquiry.
In response Mr. Trudeau cited the measures launched to date, with former governor-general David Johnston named to look into the issue, and make recommendations, which could include a formal inquiry.
The Prime Minister also noted two independent bodies are looking into in the situation.
That was a reference to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which consists of MPs from each party and senators with top-secret security clearance. Also, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, consisting of independent experts.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc told journalists that officials and ministers have previously appeared before the committee to discuss the election interference by China and other countries.
“Ms. Telford has decided to go I believe with some officials for a couple of hours to answer questions in a transparent way. She’s been before House committees on at least a couple of other occasions,” he said on Parliament Hill.
Senior political reporter Marieke Walsh reports here.
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FORD’S OFFICE BRIEFED BY CSIS - Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his office was briefed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service about Toronto MPP Vincent Ke, who has since left the Progressive Conservative caucus following allegations of foreign interference, but that the information was sparse and “very secretive.” Story here. Meanwhile, Yukon’s chief electoral officer says he’s preparing a report that looks at how to protect the territory’s elections from potential foreign interference. Story here from CBC.
SUPREME COURT DOWN A JUSTICE FOR KEY HEARING - The Supreme Court of Canada is sitting with seven judges, rather than eight, for a major federalism case that began Tuesday morning, in the absence of a judge who tangled with a U.S. Marine in Arizona. Story here.
INFLATION FALLS; GROCERY PRICES RISE - Canada’s annual inflation rate fell by the most since the early stages of the pandemic, although grocery prices are still rising by more than 10 per cent, a strain on household finances. Story here.
OTTAWA TO ‘INVEST AGGRESSIVELY’ IN CLEAN TECHNOLOGY: FREELAND - The federal government will “invest aggressively” in clean technology, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said during a prebudget event in which she outlined the main themes of the economic plan she will deliver in next week’s federal budget. Story here. Meanwhile, there are eight predictions here of what could be introduced in the budget.
DUCLOS OFFICE BLAMED FOR DIVISION AND RESIGNATONS AT DRUG PRICE REGULATOR - A former board member of Canada’s drug price regulator is challenging Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos’s assertion that it failed to consult with him on price reforms, saying the behaviour of the minister’s office led to division and caused several resignations. Story here.
MPS DENOUNCE INDIAN GOVERNMENT CRACKDOWN - A cross-section of Canadian MPs are calling out an Indian government crackdown in the state of Punjab, and those criticizing internet restrictions are receiving threatening responses online. Story here.
LANDOWNERS REFUSE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SURVIVORS ACCESS - Some private landowners are refusing access to residential school survivors who are looking to perform ceremony or search their properties for possible unmarked graves, a Senate committee heard Tuesday. Story here.
CANDIDATES LINING UP TO BECOME TORONTO MAYOR - Candidates are entering the race to become Toronto’s next mayor. Former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders is in. Story here. So is Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow. Story here. Also, former Toronto Sun columnist Anthony Furey.
ANTI-ABORTION GROUPS CONCERNED ABOUT TORY NOMINATION RACE - Two national anti-abortion groups are raising concerns about Pierre Poilievre’s leadership after the federal Conservative party upheld the disqualification of a candidate for a party nomination in Ontario although he was backed by five MPs. Story here.
P.E.I. PC LEADER FACES QUESTIONS ABOUT TRANS ISSUES ANSWER - P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis King is defending himself and his party’s stance on protecting transgender rights after audio was released of him saying “you don’t gotta drive everything down everybody’s throat” when asked about trans issues. Story here from CBC.
JOLY COMMENTS PROMPT RUSSIA TO SUMMON CANADIAN DIPLOMAT - Russia has summoned a senior Canadian diplomat in Moscow over Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly’s musings about “regime change.” Story here.
U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AND FIRST LADY JILL BIDEN VISIT OTTAWA, MARCH 23-24:
AGENDA EMERGES FOR BIDEN VISIT - The Trudeau government is hoping to push Joe Biden on his Buy America policies and for progress on the issue of irregular migration from the U.S. into Canada in the President’s first official visit this week. Story here.
PRESIDENTIAL ARRIVAL IN OTTAWA - Details of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit are beginning to emerge, with news that Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden will be met, on arrival at the Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport on Thursday evening, by Governor-General Mary Simon and her partner, Whit Fraser.
AIRCRAFT WARNING OVER OTTAWA - Ahead of this week’s presidential visit, Ottawa-region residents are being warned they may see or hear CF-18 Hornet fighter jets and CH-146 Griffon helicopters from the North American Aerospace Defense Command. A statement from the National Defence Department and Canadian Armed Forces say the aircraft could be over the region as early as Wednesday and throughout the course of the visit, which begins Thursday evening and concludes on Friday.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March 21, accessible here.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, in Markham, Ont., made an announcement at the Rouge National Urban Park.
BLOC MEMBER HAS COVID-19 - Jean-Denis Garon, a Bloc Québécois MP for the Montreal-area riding of Mirabel, has tested positive for COVID-19 with a rapid test, and placed himself in isolation as a result, the caucus said in a statement.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the Ottawa region, attended private meetings, chaired the weekly cabinet meeting and attended Question Period.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, in Ottawa with co-leader Jonathan Pedneault, holds a news conference to comment on Ms. May’s private members Bill C-226 on developing a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and advance environmental justice.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, on Parliament Hill, held a news conference, attended Question Period, and met with representatives of the Northwest Territories Association of Communities.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast: The Globe and Mail has been reporting extensively on China’s interference in Canadian elections. This information came to light, in part, because of a whistleblower who wrote an Opinion piece in The Globe this weekend. The Globe rarely publishes Opinion pieces by confidential sources. David Walmsley, The Globe’s Editor-in-Chief, explains why he decided to publish this piece, and how he feels it contributes to the broader conversation of China’s interference in Canada. The Decibel also includes the entire piece from the whistleblower, in their own words. The Decibel is here.
TO-DO LIST IN PRIME MINISTER-PRESIDENTIAL TALKS - Canadians polled by the Angus Reid Institute say shared economic and security concerns with China should be a top priority for talks between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden as the pair meet in Ottawa. Details here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Budget 2023: Ottawa must support child care: “Usually, it takes Ottawa a decade or two to walk away from a shared fiscal commitment with the provinces. In the case of child care, that stroll is starting much earlier. Next week’s budget should be broadly focused on spending restraint. Child care, however, needs to be an exception, with Ottawa fulfilling the moral commitment it made two years ago to be a full partner in a national subsidized system.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s industrial-sized budget question: “It is fitting that U.S. President Joe Biden will be in Canada this week because his economic policy will be here next week. The big question for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is how far she will go to compete with the massive subsidies in Mr. Biden’s grand industrial policy. The answer, if we are to read between the lines of a prebudget speech she gave on Monday, is pretty darn far.”
Irwin Cotler and Noah Lew (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canada must do more to protect diasporas from transnational repression: “The recent revelations regarding China’s interference in the 2019 and 2021 Canadian elections have raised concerns about the influence of foreign governments in Canada. For the first time, many Canadians are realizing the grave dangers posed by authoritarian regimes to their country’s democratic institutions. For some Canadians, however, the spectre of authoritarian interference is an issue they have been painfully aware of for years – and indeed one that looms over them on a daily basis. These Canadians – most of whom are newcomers to Canada or members of diasporic communities – regularly face the significant and growing threat of transnational repression.”
Daniel Larouche (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Quebec owes Newfoundland nothing for the Churchill Falls power contract: “Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador are renegotiating the Churchill Falls power contract, most likely at an increased price. But that doesn’t mean that the present contract was, or is, unfair. It simply reflects the technological and financial constraints that prevailed at the time. Given the present energy prices, the terms do seem to favour Quebec. But these terms reflect the risk the province took when it agreed to buy the electricity all those years ago.”
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