The Bloc Quebecois leader says a meeting with Canada’s first special representative on combatting Islamophobia has not convinced him she should keep her job.
On Thursday, Yves-François Blanchet said Amira Elghawaby has to go, suggesting she failed to address his concerns about her views on Quebec a day earlier.
“She said frankly and candidly that she actually did not know much, or very little, about Quebec and Quebec history,” Mr. Blanchet told journalists on Parliament Hill.
Also, he said her past comments disqualify her for being the bridge-builder that the position requires, he said.
“This is a bad choice by the Prime Minister who, making such a choice, kind of destroyed the possible credibility of the function.”
Ms. Elghawaby, a human rights advocate and journalist, has been under fire over written comments on Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans certain public servants from wearing religious symbols, such as hijabs, while at work.
In an opinion column that Ms. Elghawaby co-wrote, she said a majority of Quebeckers appearing to be swayed, in regards to Bill 21, by “anti-Muslim sentiment.” Ms. Elghawaby told The Globe and Mail that the line in question was not her opinion, but rather, a summary of a specific poll, and last week, she clarified that she does not believe Quebeckers are Islamophobic.
Ms. Elghawaby apologized ahead of this week’s meeting with Mr. Blanchet.
Ottawa Reporter Marsha McLeod reports here on developments Wednesday on this issue, including efforts by Mr. Trudeau to calm the uproar in Quebec over the appointment, and Ms. Elghawaby’s apology ahead of this week’s meeting with Mr. Blanchet.
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GOVERNMENT SEEKS MAID DELAY – Canadians whose sole condition is a mental disorder will not be eligible for a medically assisted death for another year under legislation introduced in the House of Commons Thursday. Story here.
NO ROLE IN INCREASED FEDERAL CONTRACTS TO MCKINSEY: BARTON – Dominic Barton, the former head of global consulting giant McKinsey & Co., told MPs he had nothing to do with the rise in government contracts awarded to his former company in recent years, and rejected opposition party suggestions that he’s a close friend of the Prime Minister. Story here.
FORD AND EBY COMMENT ON HEALTH TALKS – Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government says it is in “full support” of Ottawa’s call for national health care data reporting as part of an upcoming funding deal with the provinces and territories. Story here. Meanwhile, British Columbia’s Premier David Eby is drawing the line on an expanded role for private medicine ahead of next week’s health care talks among first ministers. Story here.
SEX-WORKER SUIT HIGHLIGHTS NEED TO DECRIMINALIZE SEX WORK – A Halifax sex worker is fighting for her right to be paid in what her advocates say is the first case of its kind to be tested before a Canadian court and highlights the need to decriminalize sex work in this country. Story here.
CANADA URGED TO ACT ON CRITICAL MINERALS – Canada needs to quickly ramp up production of critical minerals and play a global leadership role to defend against energy security crises triggered by countries that use fossil fuels as a weapon, said the head of the International Energy Agency. Story here.
CHINA DENOUNCES MPS MOTION ON UYGHURS – The Chinese government says a motion MPs passed Wednesday to provide asylum to persecuted Uyghurs amounts to political manipulation by Canada. Story here.
BRITBOX MAY HAVE TO PROMOTE CANADIAN CONTENT – BritBox – a streaming platform that features only British TV programs and films – may have to promote Canadian content after a bill regulating online streaming services passes, unless the regulator explicitly rules it out, senators and experts are warning. Story here.
ONTARIO FIRST NATIONS SEEK COMPENSATION FOR BROKEN TREATY – Indigenous communities are in court seeking billions of dollars in compensation after almost 150 years of receiving small annual payments in return for ceding an area the size of France. But the Ontario government is arguing they are owed nothing, or at most $34-million. Story here.
SASKATCHEWAN MINISTER RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT OTTAWA ACTIONS – Saskatchewan’s Justice Minister, while promoting a bill she touts as giving the province more autonomy, says Ottawa’s actions have a larger effect on investor confidence than pushback on the legislation from Indigenous and environmental groups. Story here.
JIM CARR’S SON TO SEEK LIBERAL NOMINATION FOR FATHER’S SEAT – After a month of deliberations, the son of late Liberal MP Jim Carr has decided to seek the party’s nomination to run in a by-election expected in Winnipeg South Centre later this year. Story here from CBC.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Feb. 2, accessible here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY – Chrystia Freeland, also Finance Minister, attended private meetings in Toronto, and held a working dinner with provincial and territorial finance ministers.
CLARK POSTED TO NEW YORK – Former broadcaster Tom Clark has been named Canada’s new Consul General in New York. Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced the appointment on Thursday. After 45 years in journalism that included hosting the political talk shows Power Play on CTV and The West Block on Global News, Mr. Clark worked as chair of the public-affairs company Global Public Affairs. He was previously appointed as chair of the Independent Advisory Committee for Appointments to the CBC/Radio-Canada Board of Directors.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the Ottawa region, held private meetings and spoke with Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, on Parliament Hill, held a media availability to present his official statement following his Wednesday meeting with Amira Elghawaby, the special representative to deal with Islamophobia.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, met with B.C. Premier David Eby and attended Question Period.
No schedules released for other party leaders.
On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Garth Mullins, an organizer with the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, and host of the podcast Crackdown, talks about British Columbia’s plan to, as of this week, decriminalize possession of 2.5 grams of some drugs. Mr. Mullins talks about the impact criminalization has had on him and people he knows, and what he thinks would lead to fewer people dying from drugs. The Decibel is here.
A state funeral for former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion will be held Feb. 14 at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in the city where Ms. McCallion was mayor for 12 terms. Limited seating will be available for the 11 a.m. service to members of the public, with ticket information available here as it becomes available. The funeral will also be livestreamed here, on the Government of Ontario’s YouTube channel. Ms. McCallion, who died on Jan. 29, was 101.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how Canadians who are angry about airlines are finding the Liberals have a case of ‘bureaucratic governmentitis: “Sometimes, politicians in power can start to talk like their officials, or the people they talk to over and over again. Maybe that’s why Canadians who are getting angry about airlines, and asking whether anyone is listening to their complaints, are finding the Liberals have a case of governmentitis. So when the Canadian Transportation Agency has an 18-month backlog of complaints, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra shouldn’t waste his breath defending the airlines, or the system. But it sure sounded like that was what he was doing on Tuesday, when New Democrat MP Taylor Bachrach asked him why the agency, a transportation industry regulator and complaints body, hasn’t fined airlines for failing to compensate mistreated passengers.”
Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on how the battle over a ‘just transition’ between Alberta and Ottawa is nothing compared to what could be coming: “Let me count the ways that Canada is an outlier of one sort or another. We were an early adopter of taking a mix of COVID-19 vaccines. Canadian senators have a mandatory retirement age. A key ingredient of the country’s signature cocktail is clam juice. Here’s another: No other major oil-producing country is planning an emissions cap for its oil and natural gas sector. The federal government sees this pledge – to reduce the energy sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2030 – as positioning the country as a global climate leader. But Alberta’s Environment Minister says Ottawa’s ambitious plan has failed to recognize what’s actually feasible.”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s anti-Islamophobia adviser’s job is to preach to the converted: “The noxious effects of identity politics have been on full display in Canada since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Jan. 26 nomination of Amira Elghawaby as his government’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia. In Quebec, the reaction to Ms. Elghawaby’s appointment has gone far beyond the boilerplate outrage that usually awaits external critics of the province’s efforts to preserve its language, identity and values. This time, the indignation is real and proportional to the offence Mr. Trudeau committed in promoting someone who has perpetuated stereotypes about Quebeckers as hostile toward “others.”
Erica Ifill (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canadian police’s condemnations of the killing of Tyre Nichols amount to a cynical bit of PR: “Like body cameras, diversity is just another performative “solution” that obfuscates the need to address the institutional anti-Black racism that is apparent in many police forces around the world. That racism is why, in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death and the protests that followed, defunding the police and reallocating that money toward social services became a rallying cry, at one point supported by 51 per cent of Canadians, according to a 2020 Ipsos poll. Yet, as TVO reported this month, Canadian police budgets have only increased. The 2021 federal budget even handed the RCMP $75-million over five years and $13.5-million on a continuing basis to “address the issue of systemic racism” in the organization, whatever that means – just a few months after the RCMP got $238.5-million, plus $50-million ongoing, for body cameras.”
Allison Hanes (The Montreal Gazette) on how the Elghawaby uproar shows how criticism of Quebec is weaponized: “Cue the outrage. The Quebec government has officially requested her removal. Three out of four parties adopted a motion in the National Assembly calling for her to apologize – or resign. Media commentators have deemed her unfit to serve as the federal government’s discrimination watchdog. Premier François Legault has said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “100 per cent” support for Elghawaby is proof of his “contempt” for Quebec. There’s nothing like criticism from an outsider to prompt Quebec’s political establishment to forget their differences, band together and circle the wagons.”
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