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Hello,

Vancouver is preparing to ask the federal government for permission to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart -- a former MP -- will table a motion in city council next week, which, if approved, will lead to a formal request to Ottawa.

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Mr. Stewart said the measure was needed because of the city’s worsening opioid criss, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19.

“This can help to reduce stigma and connect folks with health care," Mr. Stewart told The Globe.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. 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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Canada’s electronic spy agency named China and Russia for the first time today as primary cyber threats to this country. The Communications Security Establishment said in its annual report released today the countries were already trying to steal intellectual property related to COVID-19 tests and vaccines, and they were preparing the capabilities to attack critical infrastructure.

The federal government has hired three experts to investigate why the federal government essentially shut off its pandemic early-warning system, months before COVID-19 outbreaks began.

Ontario says it won’t extend winter break for schools as they have so far seen low transmissions of the novel coronavirus.

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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said it isn’t ethical for members of Parliament to hire their in-laws, though deputy leader Candice Bergen said she didn’t think it was a problem. The comments were made after it was revealed that Andrew Scheer employed his sister-in-law in his constituency office, and once had his sister on his payroll.

The House of Commons is set to vote later today on a Conservative motion calling on the federal government to finally make a decision on whether to allow Chinese telecom giant Huawei access to the next-generation 5G mobile network. The Liberals say they are working on it.

And Celina Caesar-Chavannes, the outspoken former Liberal MP, has a new book coming out about her experiences in Ottawa and her “mad as hell and not going to take this anymore” last phone call with the Prime Minister.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on MPs hiring relatives: "So here is a simplified guide for MPs: Don’t hire relatives. To elaborate: Don’t hire your siblings, or children, or your step-children, or your spouse, or in-laws. Don’t hire your colleagues' siblings or spouses or children and so on. And since Mr. Scheer’s situation raised the question, don’t hire your spouse’s employer, either, because as other parties pointed out, that looks like a quid pro quo. In fact, if you have an ethical question that begins with the words, ‘Am I allowed to hire my …’ then assume the answer is ‘No.’

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on federal-provincial relations during COVID-19: “Questions of relative competence aside, there is little about the pandemic, which varies greatly in severity from province to province and region to region, that lends itself to a one-size-fits-all ‘national strategy.’ Most of the jurisdictional tools needed to combat it are in provincial hands, as is most of the experience in using them.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on why the provinces need more financial help from Ottawa: “The combined deficits of Canada’s provinces will approach $100-billion this year, expanding an already surging national public debt burden driven by an expected federal shortfall of as much as $400-billion. Ontario ($38.5-billion), Alberta ($24.2-billion), Quebec ($15-billion) and British Columbia ($12.8-billion) have all projected record deficits for the current fiscal year.”

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Farida Deif (Ottawa Citizen) on Saudi Arabia and the G20: “Prime Minister Trudeau should be enraged that Saudi Arabia is targeting Saudis who had hoped to find safe haven in Canada through digital espionage and an alleged extra-judicial killing attempt on Canadian soil. He should demand answers from the Saudi authorities on these cases. Turning a blind eye to the continued lack of transparency and accountability for Khashoggi’s violent murder at the G20 would also fly in the face of Canada’s efforts to promote media freedom globally.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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