Western premiers decided at their meeting in Regina on Friday to press Ottawa for more sustainable health care funding, with British Columbia’s John Horgan expressing hope that momentum from the gathering will help make that happen.
The issue will be on the table this July when the 13 provincial and territorial premiers in the Council of the Federation meet in Victoria. Premiers have said Ottawa should increase its contribution to the Canada Health Transfer at a level that would amount to about $28-billion more this year.
“We’ll see what the council comes up with in July,” Mr. Horgan said in an interview Friday. “But the message coming out of Regina is really clear, and is consistent with where we’ve been for a long, long time: Ottawa, you need to get to a table. We need to sit down and work these things out.”
Friday’s annual meeting was convened for representatives from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this year that discussion on the issue should wait until the pandemic is over.
Mr. Horgan, the chair of the Council of the Federation, said at the conclusion of the Friday meeting that he is “optimistic,” noting he has met with federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Domenic LeBlanc and Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
“We’re making progress, but it’s just not fast enough to meet the emerging crises we’re finding in virtually every element of our delivery and in every part of the country,” said Mr. Horgan.
“We need to address these issues and now we’re being clear we need to address them now, not next year, not the year after that.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said additional federal health care funding would ensure that existing services are sustainable into the future.
“I think, in fairness, the federal government agrees on the priorities. What we need to do now and sit down and agree on what the funding level is to ensure these are sustainable into the future,” he told a news conference earlier Friday.
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NO LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR MASS MURDERERS: SUPREME COURT - The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously struck down the punishment of life without parole for mass murderers, retroactive to the time it was enacted in 2011 – giving a large number of sentenced killers hope of release some day. Story here..
DION TO BE NEW AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE - Former federal foreign affairs minister Stéphane Dion is to be Canada’s new ambassador to France, according to a report here in La Presse. Mr. Dion, also a former federal Liberal leader, has been Canada’s ambassador to Germany since 2017. The ambassador’s post in France has been vacant for about a year.
NEW FIREARMS LEGISLATION TO BE INTRODUCED MONDAY: LAMETTI - Justice Minister David Lametti is telling CTV that his cabinet colleague Marco Mendicino, the public safety minister, will table new firearms legislation on Monday. The plan is to see the new bill unveiled shortly after MPs return to the Commons on May 30 to kick off their last four-week stretch of sitting before adjourning for the summer. Story here from CTV.
TUMULTUOUS SPRING SETTING ENDS IN ALBERTA - Alberta’s legislature has wrapped up a tumultuous spring sitting highlighted by a balanced budget and overshadowed by Premier Jason Kenney announcing his long goodbye. Story here.
TORONTO AIRPORT CEO ASKS FOR FEDERAL ACTION ON MOVING PEOPLE - Deborah Flint, the CEO of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, is calling on the government to streamline the movement of people through the terminals by such measures as dropping some of the checks for COVID-19, and using biometrics to identify and expedite check-ins for trusted travellers. Story here.
TARGETED GOODS RELEASED - The only shipment of goods impounded by Canadian authorities since Ottawa banned imports made with forced labour in 2020 was later released after the importer successfully challenged the seizure. Story here.
LUXURY TAX TO HAVE $600-MILLION IMPACT: PBO - Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux says the federal government’s planned luxury tax will reduce sales of autos, boats and planes by more than $600-million a year. Story here.
ONTARIO ELECTION - Kelly Cryderman reports here on Ontario’s Doug Ford, a polarizing politician who has positioned himself as a steady leader and a friend of the working class. Meanwhile, in the ONTARIO ELECTION TODAY: Party leaders on the campaign trail are focusing on the Greater Toronto Area, and Hamilton region. And, in a bit of Ontario election history: TVO’s Jamie Bradburn here looks at how a “petulant and nasty” half-hour shouting match debate between Progressive Conservative leader Bill Davis and Ontario Liberal leader Robert Nixon changed the 1975 election. “
CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL - Scott Aitchison is in Toronto. Roman Baber is campaigning in the Vancouver region over the weekend, with a Saturday meet and greet in Vancouver and a second event in Coquitlam. Jean Charest is campaigning in Montreal. Leslyn Lewis, on Friday, is in Woodstock, Ontario. On Saturday, Ms. Lewis is going on to campaign in St. Catherines. And Mr. Poilievre is campaigning Friday in Woodstock, New Brunswick and then holding an event in Edmunston at the Grey Rock Casino at the Maliseet First Nation. There’s no word on the whereabouts of Patrick Brown.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The House is adjourned until Monday, May. 30.
APPOINTMENTS TO NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a series of appointments and changes at the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. Matthew Cassar and Foluke Laosebikan have been named members for five-year terms. Meanwhile, Craig Forcese becomes Vice-Chair for the remainder of his current term ending in 2024, and John Davies has been reappointed executive director. Details here.
TEACHING ASSIGNMENT FOR FORMER PRIVY COUNCIL CLERK - Ian Shugart, the former clerk of the Privy Council and secretary to cabinet, is to take on a new role as an educator, teaching in the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy’s Master of Global Affairs & Master of Public Policy programs. He begins his assignment, in a part-time capacity, in September 2022. Details here.
Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast features Dr. Kisha Supernant , one of the people at the forefront of the effort to look for unmarked graves at former residential schools. She’s a Métis archaeologist and chair of Unmarked Graves Working Group with the Canadian Archaeological Association. She explains how she does this work, what happens after potential graves are found, and what needs to happen next. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
The Prime Minister has a “Personal” day in Nova Scotia according to the itinerary provided by his office.
No schedules released for party leaders.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Ottawa wants to search your phone at the border, but its proposed rules are unreasonably suspicious: “Reasonable general concern” is the Trudeau government’s proposed threshold for allowing a border guard to access the contents of your cellphone, laptop or other digital device, any time you enter the country. It’s in a bill, S-7, that the government has weirdly introduced in the Senate rather than the Commons, provoking the first of many questions about this legislation. The proposal has also raised eyebrows for the fact that the legal standard it applies appears to have been created out of thin air. Unlike “reasonable suspicion” or “reasonable grounds to believe,” which are well established legal standards that police must meet in order to arrest someone or conduct a search, “reasonable general concern” is making its international debut. And it’s already not earning rave reviews.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the notion of getting rid of gatekeepers, for real: “The thing is, Pierre Poilievre has a point about the “gatekeepers.” Only it’s about much more than just a few blinkered municipal bureaucrats standing in the way of needed housing development. If he were serious, and not just test-driving applause lines, he’d broaden the discussion out to the other gatekeepers at work in other areas of the economy. As with housing, their function is to protect the interests of those already in the market at the expense of those who would like to enter it. Or, as the economists Assar Lindbeck and Dennis Snower have put it, of insiders over outsiders.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on Canada being inexcusably absent from another Indo-Pacific initiative: “Once again, governments of the Indo-Pacific region have agreed to co-operate with each other to contain China’s influence. Once again, Canada has been left out of the agreement. Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is responsible. He must fix this.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on the inexcusable gong show at our passport offices: “As COVID-19 vaccines began to do their work last year, more Canadians began to venture out and allow themselves to imagine vacations to exotic locales – or even just to the United States. Surely, the federal government was aware of this. It must have known that the demand for travel after two years of being cooped up at home would be unprecedented. Airlines began preparing for this eventuality months ago, when it was evident COVID-related travel restrictions were being lifted around the world. You would assume the federal government would have brainstormed as well: What should we be prepared for, when the travel surge occurs?”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how Quebec could play kingmaker in a Conservative leadership race: “Now, as Conservatives prepare yet again to choose a new leader, Quebec could play kingmaker anew, with surprising results. While former premier Jean Charest’s political network in the province should make him the hands-down favourite among Quebec Tories, Pierre Poilievre is catching the same populist wave that has turned the formerly fledgling Parti conservateur du Québec (which is independent from its federal Conservative Party namesake) into a player on the provincial scene.”
Grant Bishop (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Alberta Court of Appeal ruling is preview of future constitutional challenges for Ottawa’s climate policy: “The Alberta appeal court’s opinion raises nagging questions about the extent of federal jurisdiction to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs). Indeed, this case is likely a preview of further constitutional challenges, as Ottawa pushes ahead on a Clean Electricity Standard and a cap on oil and gas emissions. A critical unresolved issue is whether the federal government has jurisdiction to micromanage industries and projects in pursuit of national climate goals.”
Tony Farrell, Tillmann J. Benfey, Mark Fast, Kurt Gamperl, Ian Gardner, Jim Powell, Crawford Revie, Spencer Russell, and Ahmed Siah (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on a defence of Canada’s peer-reviewed science advisory process on salmon farming: “As scientists who have contributed to many peer-reviewed analyses on salmon conservation and farming for the DFO, we’re compelled to respond to prevent propagation of any misinformation. Canadians can trust the scientific facts and advice presented by CSAS, the science evaluation body of the DFO. Home-grown, ocean-farmed salmon is a valuable food resource for Canadians. It is an affordable, highly nutritious protein with year-round access. Such salmon – which is currently front and centre as the federal government is deciding whether to renew British Columbia salmon-farming licences – is affordable, in part, because it taps into renewable and free tidal power (driven by lunar cycles) for renewing oxygen and seawater.”
Shachi Kurl (The Ottawa Citizen) on how the Ontario election 2022 will be remembered as the Battle of the Bleah: “If Doug Ford’s ludicrous insistence that the building of highways somehow combats climate change has you worn down; if the Ontario Liberals’ bizarre fixation on chicken (the rotisserie kind, the seizure-inducing six-foot dancing, trolling kind) has you fed up; if you too, were tempted, every time you heard Andrea Horwath utter the words “fix what’s broken” to take a drink — take heart, dear readers. This campaign is almost over.”