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The saga of the John A. Macdonald statue in Victoria continues – and the Ontario government wants to get in on the story.

Victoria city council removed a statue in front of city hall over the weekend in response to concerns about Macdonald’s treatment of Indigenous people.

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Ontario’s government House Leader Todd Smith sent a letter to Victoria last week offering to take the statue – a request the mayor promptly rejected.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the city will hold on to the statue in the meantime, and figure out a better place to display it. “The city has no intention of getting rid of the statue,” Ms. Helps said.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa, Mayaz Alam in Toronto and James Keller in Vancouver. If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

“We continue to engage diplomatically, but as I’ve said, Canada will always be very clear on standing up for human rights,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said when asked about the ongoing diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia. Canadian hospitals are scrambling as Saudi medical students have begun withdrawing from their duties ahead of an August 31 deadline, under orders from Riyadh. How did the relationship between the two countries worsen to this point? Get caught up with our explainer.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will be making an announcement at a Hamilton steel mill today. He will also be meeting with local business leaders.

A group of Canadian premiers and governors from New England are calling for an end to the trade war between Canada and the U.S., adding that they would like to see the successful renegotiation of NAFTA.

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In Ontario, the Progressive Conservative government is making a big change in how the province will sell marijuana when it becomes legal. As The Globe previously reported, Ontario will open up the recreational cannabis market to private retailers instead of keeping it in government-run stores. The sudden change comes after the PCs were elected in June and means no physical stores will be open until next April – though online sales will begin in October.

Elsewhere in Ontario, a new board of directors has been appointed at Hydro One, a month after the old board resigned en masse.

And Ontario’s largest teachers’ union says it will “vigorously defend” educators who choose to use the updated sex-ed curriculum in their classrooms, rather than reverting back to the program developed in 1998.

The federal government has approved British Columbia’s request for up to 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to help communities threatened by wildfires. Nearly 600 fires are currently burning across the province, forcing thousands from their homes and placing many more on alert to flee at a moment’s notice.

The Saskatchewan government is reviewing HIV rates in the province after the release of new statistics that show infection rates have increased for the third year in a row. The province has the highest rate in the country, Indigenous people disproportionately affected.

Glenn De Baeremaker, a long-time Toronto city councillor, says he won’t be seeking re-election because of the Ontario government’s proposal to change ward boundaries and drastically slash the number of councils to 25 from 47.

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China is denying accusations that it rounded up hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in its Xinjiang province and sent them to internment camps for political re-education. A member of China’s Communist Party told a United Nations committee that such places do not exist. Former detainees in these facilities, and a former instructor, have detailed how Muslims are taken to camps to study Mandarin and communist ideology.

North and South Korea have agreed to hold a summit in Pyongyang in September, which will be the third meeting this year between leaders Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in. The two men have met twice in the truce village of Panmunjom, located in the demilitarized zone separating the two countries.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, ruled out the prospect of war with the U.S. and said that his country “will not enter talks” amid sanctions.

The prosecution in the tax evasion and bank fraud case against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has rested its case. The trial, the first from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, does not delve into any allegations of election interference or collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

And South Africa’s top court ordered the country’s chief prosecutor to leave his role, ruling that his appointment under former president Jacob Zuma was invalid.

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on foreign policy: “On bad days, Canadian foreign policy is an unwholesome mix of high-minded declarations, inadequate commitment and confusion. The Trudeau government has experienced more than its share of bad days. It’s time to post some wins.”

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Michael Stephens (The Globe and Mail) on Canada, alone: “While this might be good propaganda for the Saudis, the truth is a little different, and the facts seem to have slipped between the cracks. So let me state it clearly: Canada is not alone, and it will not be left to face this crisis alone. The notion that Canada would be left to fend for itself is unthinkable.”

Lama Fakih (The Globe and Mail) on justice in Syria: “After years of silence, the recent trickle of information from the Syrian government about people who disappeared during the war into government prisons has felt like a deluge. The tragic news brought with it more questions than answers for families who have waited for years to find out the fate of their loved ones.”

Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Scheer’s test of leadership: “So far, he has fallen short – especially, of late, by allowing other MPs to take the lead with increasingly hyperbolic language overstating the challenges posed by asylum seekers. The result is a party that seems to be shifting from a pragmatic conservatism that at its best appealed to large swaths of the electorate, toward something that at its worst could veer into outright xenophobia and reckless anti-institutionalism.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Bernier and Scheer: “Where does Andrew Scheer draw the line when Maxime Bernier talks about the need to draw the line on diversity? So far, the Conservative Leader is leaving it fuzzy. But, he’s got a Mad Max problem.” (for subscribers)

Colin Bennet (The Globe and Mail) on data and elections: “In the run-up to the 2019 federal election, there needs to be far more transparency about how personal data is captured, processed, mined, communicated and profiled by our main political parties. And we need to have a far more open debate about whether these practices are healthy for our democracy.”

Stephen Marche (Open Canada) on multiculturalism: “It’s unclear, at the moment, whether the trend to xenophobia is a passing fad or a permanent fact of the twenty-first century. But it has become clear that it’s just as stupid and violent as it has always been. You have to swallow your own sense of reality to believe that you are special because you come from one place or another on this earth.”

Margaret Wente (The Globe and Mail) on the Democrats: “The party’s progressive wing – which includes Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillebrand, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker – has taken a clear message from Mr. Trump’s traumatizing victory. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong one. Instead of concluding that they lost the 2016 election because they had an awful candidate who couldn’t connect with ordinary middle-class voters, they concluded that the Democratic Party needs to move more left than ever.”

Samantha Vinograd (Politico) on the real Omarosa scandal: “The Omarosa episode is unfortunately only the latest example of rule-breaking in this president’s White House. The abuse of the security clearance system, which came to light after former staff secretary Rob Porter was granted an extended interim clearance and access to highly classified information despite his history of alleged domestic abuse, was an earlier example of playing dodgeball with established processes and procedures. Only the president can fix this culture – he can start by giving up his cellphone. There’s no time like the present to lead by example.”

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