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It’s going to be a busy political week ahead, with some notable high-profile visitors to Ottawa.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady of the United States, will visit Ottawa on Thursday and Friday. It’s the first time a U.S. president has visited the national capital since Barack Obama was in Ottawa in 2016 for a G8 and G20 summit. Donald Trump did not visit Ottawa when he was U.S. president, but did attend a G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Que.

Mr. Biden will hold meetings with the Prime Minister and other senior officials and become the first U.S. president since Mr. Obama in 2016 to address Parliament. (There’s a helpful overview here on presidential visits to Canada)

In a story here, Canada’s ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman talks about U.S. goals in talks in Ottawa with the federal government. On the issue of foreign election interference, a subject that may arise in talks between President Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the U.S. ambassador to Canada says the question of whether foreign election interference is happening is less important than whether it’s been successful. Story here from CTV.

Mr. Biden is not the only high-profile visitor in Ottawa this week.

Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, who led the government from 2006 to 2015, will deliver a keynote address to the 2023 national conference of the Canada Strong and Free Network Conference. The network is the current iteration of the Calgary-based Manning Centre for Building Democracy, established in 2005 and named for former Reform Party Leader Preston Manning, to promote conservative principles.

Mr. Manning will join Mr. Harper, a former Reform MP, for a fireside chat to talk about the 30th anniversary of the Reform Party electing its first MP and the party’s legacy.

Other key speakers at the conference from Wednesday to Friday include current federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and former media magnate Conrad Black.

Also, this week, the federal Conservative caucus is expected to move for a House of Commons vote on a motion to call Katie Telford, Mr. Trudeau’s chief of staff, to testify before a parliamentary committee on election interference.

The Conservatives will seek Ms. Telford’s appearance before the House ethics committee instead of the procedure and House affairs committee, which had been seeking her testimony. There’s a story here on where this matter stood recently.

Asked about the plan, Mr. Poilievre said at a news conference Sunday that the matter is clearly an ethical issue.

“We need an ethical study on what exactly [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau did when he learned of this illegal interference by a foreign dictatorship to help him keep power and the ethics committee is the most independent and best place to do that,” Mr. Poilievre told the media in Ottawa.

“We call on the Prime Minister to stop the cover-up. If he has got nothing to hide, why doesn’t he allow his chief of staff to come and tell the truth.”

On Monday, government House Leader Mark Holland accused the Conservatives of an effort “steeped in partisan politics” in their actions on the matter.

“I think that the move to have the Prime Minister’s chief of staff [appear] is a political move. It is not a move aimed at trying to get answers or get information,” said Mr. Holland.

He said the government has put forward the directors of both the 2019 and 2021 Liberal election campaigns to appear and answer questions, noting that, from the government’s perspective, they are best qualified to answer questions because they were briefed on the relevant issues.

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.


ONTARIO BUDGET TO BE PRUDENT RESPONSE TO GLOBAL UNCERTAINTY: MINISTER - Ontario’s Finance Minister says his budget this week will be a prudent response to global uncertainty as the economy slows amid higher interest rates, even as his critics urge him to spend the billions of dollars the government has kept in contingency funds on the ailing health system. Story here.

PROVINCIAL RIGHTS ADVOCATE MISSING FROM SUPREME COURT DURING PROJECTS CHALLENGE - Alberta will challenge a federal veto power over provincial natural-resource projects at the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday and Wednesday – but the court will be missing its strongest voice for provincial rights because of a disciplinary matter. Story here.

LITTLE PROGRESS ON SHORING UP CROWN CORPORATION CYBERSECURITY - Ottawa has made little progress on recommendations meant to shore up the cybersecurity of Canada’s Crown corporations, more than 18 months after parliamentarians identified the risk of those organizations inadvertently acting as gateways into the federal government’s well-protected networks. Story here.

POILIEVRE ADVOCATES FOR STANDARDIZED DOCTOR AND NURSING LICENCE APPROVALS - Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling for a countrywide standardized testing process that would speed up licence approvals for doctors and nurses. Story here.

BIG UTILITY BILLS AT VACANT PM RESIDENCE - Twenty-four Sussex Drive, Canada’s venerable - though unused – prime ministerial residence is continuing to run up utility bills for heat, hydro and water – thanks in large part to Pierre Trudeau’s indoor swimming pool and sauna. Story here from The Ottawa Citizen.

REFUGEES WHOSE LOST FINGERS IN BORDER CROSSING BECOME CITIZENS - Two men who nearly died in 2016 during their treacherous walk across the Canada-U.S. border in the frigid cold say it’s a privilege to finally call themselves Canadians. Story here from CBC.

WILD TURKEYS CAUSE CONCERN IN NATION’S CAPITAL - Wild turkeys are causing concerns in the Ottawa region as they chase and peck at visitors to an area nature trail. Story here from CTV.


TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March 20, accessible here.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY - Chrystia Freeland, in Oshawa, Ont., was scheduled to hold private meetings, tour a union training centre and deliver an address about the Canadian economy and the government’s priorities heading into the 2023 budget. She was also scheduled to take media questions.

MULRONEY BIRTHDAY - Former prime minister Brian Mulroney turned 84 on Monday.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the Ottawa region, held private meetings and was scheduled, in the evening, to participate in a town hall with local tech employees.


Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet was scheduled to hold a media availability, on Parliament Hill, regarding foreign interference in Canadian elections. He was to be accompanied by Bloc House Leader Alain Therrien and ethics critic René Villemure.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was scheduled to host a prebudget economic roundtable, in Ottawa, to discuss international economics and rising inflation, with participants including Manulife Financial chief economist Frances Donald. Later Mr. Singh was scheduled to attend Question Period.

No schedules provided for other party leaders.


On Monday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, explains how a foreign agent registry might work in Canada, why it’s controversial and how the registry could slow China’s interference campaign in Canada. The U.S. and Australia have such registries where anyone acting on behalf of a foreign entity has to disclose it. Mr. Mulroney has been advocating for a foreign-agent registry for years. The Decibel is here.


CANADA’S PATH? - Canadians feel the country is on the wrong path. Nik Nanos, the chief data scientist at Nanos Research, and the official pollster for The Globe and Mail and CTV News, takes a Data Dive on the issue here.


The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Budget 2023: The growing generation gap between what Ottawa spends on older and younger Canadians:Ahead of the March 28 budget, this space will spend a week probing six major related topics. The conclusion on Saturday will assess the state of Ottawa’s bottom line, the deficit. We begin on Monday not at the start of a typical budget, with its big promises, but near the back. Look for the page headlined “Outlook for program expenses.” These are Ottawa’s outlays, present and future, distilled to a page. The first line item, the biggest number and the one rising most rapidly, is “elderly benefits”: Old Age Security, money that goes to almost all seniors; and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, paid to low-income seniors, about a third of people aged 65 and older.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can talk about big things with U.S. President Joe Biden: U.S. President Joe Biden wants to talk about Ukraine, global competition with China, continental defence, hemispheric migration, and Haiti. Justin Trudeau wants to push Canada’s interests on Roxham Road and trade. The two leaders’ political views are not miles apart, but there will be a disconnect when Mr. Biden travels to Ottawa on Thursday for his first visit to Canada as president. The U.S. President feels the world’s weight in a time of transformative change. Mr. Trudeau feels he has to use the time to draw attention to Canada’s bilateral business.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how opposition to David Johnston’s appointment shows how much politics has changed: “Much has been made of the toxicity of social media. But the decline of deference was under way long before that. In the main, it’s good that people are less willing than in the past to defer to authority, that they demand accountability from political and other leaders. But an engrained cynicism has become an unwelcome byproduct of that process. The headline on John Ivison’s column in the National Post said it best: “David Johnston is a man of trust in a post-trust world.” In this post-trust world, a new generation of conservatives is taking the stage. Many of them are fearsomely smart. Some of them are politically ruthless. All of them are contemptuous of the Laurentian political, academic and cultural elites who have traditionally run this country. Of course they would reject Mr. Johnston as rapporteur. He is as Laurentian as they come.”

Allan C. Hutchinson (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on what a Justice’s leave of absence reveals about politics and the Supreme Court: The controversy surrounding Justice Russell Brown’s leave from the Supreme Court, which began in February and is under investigation by the Canadian Judicial Council, has many different dimensions and implications. Apart from the question of whether he will or should return to the court following a confidential complaint from a member of the public, one issue occupying observers’ minds is what this means for the handling of cases presently before the court.

A National Security Official (Contributed to the Globe and Mail) on `Why I blew the whistle on Chinese interference in Canada’s elections.’ :With that said, we must all recognize that this is not a partisan issue. Nor is this a China issue. Your fellow progressive Canadians, your fellow conservative Canadians, and your fellow Chinese Canadians are all just that: Canadians. In having this conversation, we must resist the reflex to reduce the challenge that faces us to one of us versus them. We must recognize that protecting our civic values should not, need not and cannot come at the cost of abandoning our commitment to diversity and multiculturalism. We must come together as a national community and ask ourselves how we can do better – this time, the next time, and all the times that follow.”

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