Politics Briefing newsletter: Census day; Proposed B.C. tax would hurt Alberta, U.S.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Statistics Canada is set to release more information from the 2016 Census, including data on age, sex and type of dwelling. Last year’s survey saw a record response rate. The lockup lifts at 8:30 a.m. (EST), and shortly afterward, The Globe will have coverage of what you need to know at tgam.ca/census2016.
A coalition of NDP and Liberal MPs is urging restrictions on the scope and powers of Canada’s spy agencies, as well as increased oversight. The report, produced by the House Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, was rejected by Conservative MPs on the committee.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is delivering a speech today in Ottawa that will lower expectations for available funds for essential military procurement projects into the next decade. He plans to blame the Harper government for the Canadian Armed Forces’ budget hole. Today’s remarks come after Mr. Sajjan pulled out of an annual fundraising event for veterans yesterday amid the controversy surrounding his comments regarding his role in Afghanistan.
The Senate Ethics Committee says that Senator Don Meredith should be expelled for having a sexual relationship with a teenage girl. The recommendation is the first of its kind in the Senate’s history. Mr. Meredith’s fate now will now be decided by his colleagues in the Red Chamber, who will decide to either accept or reject the recommendation.
The Parliamentary Budget Office released a report that says Canada will see “modest” gains from the Canada-EU trade deal. The budget watchdog estimates that the agreement will make Canada less dependent on trade with the U.S. and that if the agreement were in place in 2015, it would have boosted GDP by 0.4 per cent.
And in London, Ont., residents have voted to make the city the first in Canada to use ranked ballots to choose municipal leaders.
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Senator Don Meredith: “Don Meredith is the senator whose conduct was so egregious that it is making senators draw an indelible line: They appear set to concede, for the first time, that their privileged positions can be forfeited for bad behaviour. Think what a precedent this could make for the Senate, the institution best known for its utter lack of accountability, one that has lived through a litany of scandals. It would mean it is possible for a senator to go too far and pay for it with their plush seat.”
Kent Roach (The Globe and Mail) on Saskatchewan and the notwithstanding clause: “ The use of the override in this case may eventually be warranted. But right now, its use is the premature equivalent of using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. A fly that will reappear in five years’ time.”
Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on Quebec’s role in federal elections: “[O’Leary] overstated the importance of Quebec in electoral terms for the party. He had a good case for continuing, based on his strength in Ontario. The Conservatives can win without Quebec. They can’t win without Ontario.”
Susan Delacourt (iPolitics) on the Liberals’ fundraising woes: “The fundraising gap with the Conservatives is no doubt the subject of many heated discussions in the corridors of federal power. Is this just a temporary blip, the doldrums of power — or an early warning about that power in peril?”
Jennifer Mathers McHenry (Policy Options) on the Liberals’ parental leave plan: “The federal government is led by a self-proclaimed feminist, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new parental leave plan, while well-intentioned, still leaves a lot to be desired. It will be up to the provinces to ensure that its implementation at the provincial level fixes the gender divide rather than deepening it.”
BRIEFING: PRIVILEGE AND PROCEDURE IN THE HOUSE
By Gloria Galloway (@GlorGal)
Canadians might be surprised at the amount of time federal politicians have spent debating the proper response to an incident in which two MPs were prevented from reaching their seats in the House of Commons in time for a vote.
On March 22, budget day, Lisa Raitt, the Conservative MP for Milton and a candidate in the Conservative leadership race, raised a question of privilege saying she and Maxime Bernier, another Tory MP and leadership contender, were prevented from getting to the House of Commons in time for a vote when the Parliamentary bus they were waiting for was stopped by security guards.
Ms. Raitt said the guards told her the buses could not move until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cars, which were apparently empty at the time, had passed by.
“What kind of control is the Prime Minister, and the government, trying to exert over Members of the House, when I cannot return to vote on orders of the day and could perhaps be detained from hearing the budget?” Ms. Raitt asked House Speaker Geoff Regan.
Mr. Regan promised to look into the matter.
He reported back on April 6 saying it was not just Ms. Raitt and Mr. Bernier who had been stopped but also a number of other MPs who were on Parliamentary buses. Mr. Regan said he had asked the director of Parliamentary Protective Services to ensure that the security staff get better training and concluded that Ms. Raitt had “a prima facie question of privilege.”
Ms. Raitt then moved that the standing committee on procedure and House affairs be asked to look into the free movement of MPs within the Parliamentary precinct saying she wanted to know if the buses were stopped on a direct order from Mr. Trudeau.
After several hours of debate, the Liberals took procedural steps that would have killed her motion.
But the opposition cried foul and raised another point of privilege saying the government should not be allowed to stop Ms. Raitt’s motion from being sent to a committee for study. Mr. Regan agreed and allowed her to move her question of privilege a second time.
So the discussion in the House started anew with the Liberals, at some point, agreeing with the opposition that sending the motion to committee was the right thing to do.
Still, the debate went on for seven days until Monday night, when the Conservatives admitted they were essentially filibustering the House of Commons.
Bardish Chagger, the Liberal House Leader, then moved to end the debate, which was allowed to continue until Tuesday evening.
But it did not end without some harsh words. At one point, on Tuesday, Tom Mulcair, the NDP Leader, called Ms. Chagger a “buffoon” and said, “Where is the organ grinder? You’re not the monkey,” – remarks for which he later apologized both in person and in the House.
The vote to send the motion to the committee is now scheduled to take place today.
As an aside, the procedures and house affairs committee has been going through its own filibuster as opposition MPs protest changes the Liberals have been trying to make to the House of Commons, but that action had ended just in time for Ms. Raitt’s motion to be introduced.
The province’s two main party leaders will join The Globe and Mail’s B.C. bureau today for roundtable interviews about their platforms and the campaign for the May 9 election. We’ll be streaming the interviews live on the Globe’s Facebook page. NDP Liberal Leader John Horgan is set for 2 p.m. PT, while BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
The BC Liberals have finally walked back claims that a woman who encountered Ms. Clark in a North Vancouver grocery store last week was an NDP plant. With TV cameras rolling, Linda Higgins approached Ms. Clark and told her she’d never vote for her.
The encounter fuelled the #IAmLinda hashtag and prompted campaign director Laura Miller and campaign staffer Sam Oliphant to post tweets suggesting Ms. Higgins was sent by the NDP, which she says is not true. The party now says it’s “happy to stand corrected” but isn’t apologizing. Earlier this year, Ms. Clark was forced to apologize for falsely claiming, without any evidence, that the NDP hacked into the BC Liberal Party website.
For almost as long as the BC Liberals have been in government, they have been fighting with the province’s teachers and fending off claims they were short changing students. Ms. Clark was education minister in 2002, when the province used legislation to strip clauses related to the size and composition of classrooms from teachers’ contracts.
A Supreme Court of Canada decision restored those provisions last year, setting off the hiring of thousands of teachers. Ms. Clark has dismissed criticism by claiming B.C. students are among the best in the world, and the numbers support that — the province’s students have among the top test scores in the developed world, and high-school completion rates that have been steadily increasing.
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on #IAmLinda: “The Liberal Party’s admission that it wrongly accused Linda Higgins of being someone she wasn’t may have ended queries about this matter on the campaign trail. But in the process, the matter has raised questions of different sort, ones that speak to the essential character of someone running to be premier.”
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The White House is mulling an exit from the historic Paris Climate Agreements as early as next week. Top aides have been divided on how to proceed, but it appears as though the more moderate voices are losing this battle.
The Brexit saga continues as British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker trade barbs. Last week the two leaders met for what some officials have called a disastrous dinner. Ms. May promised on the campaign trail this week to be “bloody difficult” to Mr. Juncker as negotiations move forward.
U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke yesterday for the first time since the U.S. airstrikes on a Syrian air base. The White House and Kremlin agreed to seek a ceasefire. It remains unclear in practice how this plays out, given Russia’s continued support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
And ever wondered what it’s like to cover Mr. Trump for CNN? The Globe’s Marsha Lederman spoke to anchor John King, responsible for the electoral college map on election nights, who described it as “ being on a roller coaster blindfolded in the dark.”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on the French election: “The centre may hold on Sunday. But for how long after that?”
Ruth Ben-Ghiat (CNN) on authoritarianism in America: “Sometimes political change happens suddenly. You wake up, and a military junta has taken over your country, or some other kind of revolution has happened. But other times, the climate shifts little by little. A few big gestures of aggression, and then things settle down. Then the cycle repeats, until one day the tipping point is reached and you find your democracy has been transformed into an autocracy.We’re at serious risk of this happening in America.”
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The Ottawa Senators dropped Game 3 against the New York Rangers but maintain a 2-1 series lead. In the West, the Edmonton Oilers look to go up 3-1 in their series against the Anaheim Ducks tonight at home.
In basketball, the Toronto Raptors look to bounce back tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers after being trounced in Game 1.
Mayaz Alam in Toronto and James Keller in Vancouver.