Canada: government & governance March 2021-

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
The history of the notwithstanding clause
House of Commons
Canada: government & governance
Quebec 2020

Trudeau deals with loss of four female ministers as he crafts new cabinet
(Globe & Mail) The three ministers failed to win their seats in Monday night’s election and Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna didn’t run in this campaign. The loss of four female ministers in total makes a significant cabinet shakeup likely. Mr. Trudeau has made gender parity a priority of his cabinets since his first victory in 2015.
Two senior government officials told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Trudeau will outline his government’s next steps once Elections Canada has finalized the seat counts, which could be as early as Thursday. Mr. Trudeau has not held a news conference since Monday’s election.
The officials suggested Parliament will resume fairly quickly and the government’s immediate focus will be on issues raised in the campaign, including climate change, child care, housing and Indigenous reconciliation.

NDP may hold the balance of power in Parliament
(CTV) A key issue the NDP will likely try to negotiate with the Liberals is on his campaign pledge to tax the ultra-rich. He told reporters over the weekend that his “number one priority” was to ensure billionaires contribute their fair share through an increase in taxes.
Singh will also likely continue to press Trudeau and the Liberal government on affordable housing, climate change and the environment, Indigenous issues, and clean drinking water in Indigenous communities.
The biggest loser in Monday’s federal election might just be Jason Kenney
The election is bad news for the federal Conservatives but it is a disaster for Kenney, writes Graham Thomson
(CBC) As federal Conservatives cut through the clutter of the election to figure out why they lost, they’ll be pointing their knives in the direction of embattled Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
They are upset, to say the least, with Kenney for so mishandling the fourth wave of the pandemic that he became an issue in the final week of the election campaign as he chaotically tried to prevent Alberta’s health care system from collapsing under the weight of COVID-19 cases.

20 August
Canada ramping up evacuation from Kabul with faster processing, immigration minister says
Veterans and advocates have complained for weeks about the government’s handling of the crisis. Their concerns include complicated forms for Afghans to fill out, unrealistic and confusing application requirements and complete silence from the department after paperwork has been submitted.
(CBC) In an interview with The Canadian Press, Mendicino said his department is ramping up processing Afghan refugees by adding resources to the operation.
He said the government is not requiring passports or COVID-19 negative tests from the Afghan passengers and is deferring biometric screening to a third country, where it’s safe for evacuees and government officials to be screened.
“We have now two of our largest air carriers running back and forth from Kabul. We’re going to keep those flights going for as long as possible,” he said.

18 August
Canada has reached a deal for 2 military planes to resume ‘flying regularly’ into Kabul
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says two Canadian military aircraft are set to resume “flying regularly” into Kabul as part of the international effort to evacuate civilians and citizens fleeing the Taliban takeover.

17 August
Progressive Conservatives surge to surprise majority win in Nova Scotia election
The Tories will return to power for the first time since 2009 and deny the Liberals a third consecutive win.
The Progressive Conservatives will form a majority government in Nova Scotia as Tim Houston led his party Tuesday night to a resounding win over the Liberals, which have led the province since 2013.
As of Tuesday night, with two seats left to call, the Tories had 39.1 per cent of he vote, which translated to 31 elected candidates, with 28 seats needed for a majority in the 55-seat legislature.
The Liberals, meanwhile, had 36.7 per cent of the vote, but only managed to elect 17 people. The NDP elected five candidates and are leading in a sixth race, taking 21 per per cent of the vote.
For Houston, the result is vindication of the party’s almost single-minded focus on health care for the last 31 days. He repeatedly targeted the Liberal record of the last eight years, pointing to a growing wait list for family doctors, ambulance delays and a lack of long-term care beds.
O’Toole Tories cheer Nova Scotia PC win, Trudeau Liberals look for lessons

Trudeau warns of ‘consequences’ for public servants who duck COVID-19 shots
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said today the government will demand that virtually all federal public servants get a COVID-19 shot — and warned of workplace repercussions for those who defy the rule.
“We’re unequivocal that civil servants must be vaccinated. If anyone doesn’t have a legitimate medical reason for not getting fully vaccinated — or chooses to not get vaccinated — there will be consequences,” Trudeau said, without explaining what sort of punishment a bureaucrat could face for shunning the vaccine.
The federal policy — hastily announced Friday only two days before the election campaign launched — would make vaccines mandatory for federal employees and those working in some federally regulated industries (airlines and railways, among others) in an effort to boost stalled vaccination rates.

14 August
Ottawa ministers vow to bring 20,000 Afghan refugees to safety
The refugees being brought from Afghanistan will be those most in danger, four federal ministers said at a news conference late Friday afternoon. They will include women leaders, human-rights advocates, journalists, LGBTQ individuals, those who belong to persecuted religious groups, and families of interpreters already resettled in Canada.
The Afghans will arrive through family-class sponsorship and government-assisted refugee programs, as well as private sponsorship, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said.
Mr. Garneau said he has been in touch as recently as Friday morning with Canada’s ambassador in Afghanistan. “The situation is troubling,” he said.
There is a responsibility for duty of care of embassy staff, he said, and that includes locally engaged staff. “This is something we have to be prepared to act quickly on, so we’re looking at all the possible contingencies with respect to any decisions with respect to embassy staff,” he said
… The new initiative to bring 20,000 refugees to Canada follows a special immigration program announced three weeks ago to resettle Afghans who worked with the Canadian government in the country and are now at risk of Taliban reprisals.
… With passport offices and embassies shutting down, Mr. Morrow said that Canada needs to get people out of Afghanistan as fast as possible and worry about the documentation once they’re safe. “Fill [the planes] up,” he said. “We’ll sort out the paperwork on Canadian soil.”

7 August
Canada wants immigrants but the pandemic is in the way. So it’s looking to keep people already there.
(WaPo) The overarching aim of these new initiatives and Canada’s increased immigration targets have been generally well received. Some analysts, however, have raised concerns, including about whether they could have been better designed, exclude too many vulnerable people or are feasible given processing times and backlogs.
… Canada had already invited more than 27,000 people to apply for permanent residency under one stream of its “express entry” program for skilled economic immigrants with recent work experience in Canada — more than five times the previous record.
The program uses a points system to score applicants based on criteria such as age, education and work experience. In recent years, the minimum score needed to qualify for an invitation was well more than 400 points, according to government data. For that particular round, in February, 75 points cleared the bar.
… Then, in May, the government opened a new program: a temporary pathway to permanent residency for 90,000 people already in Canada with temporary status. They include 40,000 recent international student graduates, 20,000 health-care workers and 30,000 people in other “essential” jobs such as cashiers, janitors and butchers. … Advocates took aim at the exclusion of asylum seekers and undocumented people in “essential” jobs from the temporary pathway program that opened in May.
… These efforts have not been without critics. Analysts at the C.D. Howe Institute said lowering scores under the points system amid the economic recovery would mean “admitting immigrants who will experience more significant integration challenges.” Advocates took aim at the exclusion of asylum seekers and undocumented people in “essential” jobs from the temporary pathway program that opened in May.

4 August
OPENING THE TAPS
(Politico Canada Corridors) With the August long weekend in the rear-view mirror, federal Liberals got to work handing out checks. Summertime funding announcements are an annual tradition. … And the projects aren’t purely pork-barrel politics. But it’s hard not to tally up the dough and keep a close eye on where it’s spent.
Take Madawaska-Restigouche, a Liberal riding in New Brunswick that will see headlines today about C$2.2 million for local roads. Or C$1.8 million for fishing equipment and infrastructure in Quebec’s Gaspé Region and the Magdalen Islands, where Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier won the last election by a mere 637 votes. London International Airport will see C$4.5 million to help cover fixed costs. Liberals lost the incumbent advantage in one of that city’s ridings when Kate Young declined to run again.

1 August
A fall election? The Liberals may not get a better window.
Philippe J. Fournier: The latest 338Canada model suggests it will be a challenge for the Liberals to win a majority, and it’s unlikely to get any easier
(Maclean’s) Who is in the mood for a general election in Canada this fall?
Not many of us, according to a recent Nanos Research poll published by CTV News. Results from this survey indicate that only 26 per cent of Canadians “support the prospect of a federal election in the fall,” while 37 per cent would be upset if the writ were to drop in the coming weeks.

29 July
Advisory council could strip Julie Payette of her Order of Canada
CBC News has learned the 11-member Advisory Council for the Order of Canada, chaired by Chief Justice Richard Wagner — who took over the governor general’s duties for six months after Payette stepped down — is considering whether to terminate Payette’s appointment to the Order of Canada.

26 July
Notwithstanding the notwithstanding clause, the Charter is everyone’s business
Jason MacLean, Assistant Professor of Law, Kerri Anne Froc, Associate Professor, University of New Brunswick
(The Conversation) Canadian politicians are beginning to use the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause more than ever expected, raising questions about when it’s legitimate to override rights guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Sec. 33 of the Charter allows a government to declare that a law will operate despite — in other words, notwithstanding — one or more Charter guarantees under Sec. 2 or Secs. 7 to 15. …
We propose adding three procedural requirements governments must meet to legitimately invoke Sec. 33:
(1) Governments must give broad public notice of their intention to invoke Sec. 33 to pass a law violating one or more Charter guarantees, and they must clearly spell out those guarantees;
(2) Governments must facilitate meaningful public deliberation of the merits of their proposed laws and their reasons for violating — potentially or actually — one or more Charter guarantees; and
(3) When an individual or group goes to court to challenge the validity of a law shielded from Charter scrutiny, the government must not pass the law until the process is complete


Mary Simon officially becomes Canada’s first Inuk Governor General
I was born Mary Jeannie May in Arctic Quebec, now known as Nunavik. My Inuk name is Ningiukudluk. And prime minister, it means ‘bossy little old lady,’
‘My view is that reconciliation is a way of life,’ says Simon
“I have heard from Canadians who describe a renewed sense of possibility for our country and hope that I can bring people together,” she said in her address.
“Every day, inside small community halls, school gyms, Royal Canadian Legions, places of worship, and in thousands of community service organizations, there are ordinary Canadians doing extraordinary things. As governor general I will never lose sight of this — that our selflessness is one of our great strengths as a nation. I pledge to be there for all Canadians.”
While the installation ceremony was smaller than in previous years, due to COVID-19 public health measures, it still offered some of the familiar pomp associated with the vice-regal position, including a 21-gun salute.
It was also punctuated by nods to Simon’s heritage, including the lighting of a Qulliq, a traditional Inuit oil lamp used to light and warm the home.
Photos of Mary Simon installed as Canada’s 30th governor-general

19-20 July
The Commissioner vs the Constitution
Philippe Lagassé, Associate Professor of International Affairs; William and Jeanie Barton Chair in International Affairs; Defence policy and procurement, Canadian government, and the Westminster system.
(Blog) The Commissioner of Official Languages, Raymond Théberge, is launching an investigation into the appointment of Mary Simon as Canada’s new Governor General.
As far I can surmise, it seems like Théberge is going to check if PCO officials and the advisory committee paid enough attention to bilingualism when looking at potential candidates. Or maybe that they failed in some way by offering up the name of someone who isn’t bilingual? Who knows.
The problem, though, is that PCO and the committee were offering non-binding advice. That’s it. The Prime Minister was free to ignore them and demand only bilingual candidates if he wanted. He didn’t. He decided that convention could be bent a bit, or perhaps allowed to evolve, to allow him to recommend Simon to the Queen. And the Queen, in keeping with constitutional convention, duly appointed who her Prime Minister recommended.
In essence, then, Théberge will be investigating bureaucrats and an advisory committee for providing non-binding advice, on a non-justiciable decision that was the Prime Minister’s to make, under a constitutionally-protected power that the Queen exercises.
Commissioner investigating after complaints pour in about next governor general’s lack of French
Commissioner Raymond Théberge said “I expected a lot of complaints because, for a great number of Canadians, the question of official languages and linguistic duality is very important. The complaints keep coming.” Théberge said his office recognizes Simon’s “personal qualities, her contribution but the question is: are we setting a precedent for the nomination of senior officials in Canada for years to come?”
Théberge said the investigation will look not into Simon personally but rather examine the process used to nominate a governor general.
Next governor general’s inability to speak French leaves francophone community conflicted
Appointment of 1st Indigenous GG hailed, but some wonder what happened to tradition of bilingualism
“Yes, she was schooled in English,” wrote one of the most popular columnists in the province, La Presse’s Patrick Lagacé.
“But decades have elapsed between her school days and her nomination as GG, when she did not feel it was useful to learn French. Am I supposed to applaud that she is promising to learn French at the age of 73?”
In Ottawa, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages said that as of Tuesday, it had received 59 complaints about Simon’s appointment.
Mary Simon is to be sworn in on July 26th.

12 July
Liberals filibuster opposition call for inquiry into parliamentary funds paid to Trudeau’s close friend
Robert Fife
The House of Commons ethics committee had been recalled during Parliament’s summer break to discuss whether to investigate the hiring with parliamentary funds of two companies – Montreal-based Data Sciences and U.S company NGP VAN – that are also central to the Liberal Party’s voter-outreach operations.
Conservative, NDP and Bloc Québécois MPs particularly wanted to hear from Tom Pitfield, the founder of Data Sciences and a close friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His company works with NGP VAN during election campaigns and The Globe and Mail has revealed that both companies are also being paid to do constituency work for Liberal MPs out of parliamentary budgets.

10 July
Conrad Black: Justin Trudeau should be wary of calling a narcissistic election
Whatever the polls say now, dissolving Parliament for completely unnecessary elections has its hazards

9 July
Incoming GG Mary Simon will be moving into Rideau Hall — unlike her predecessor
“Ms. Simon has been to the residence a few times this week,” Rideau Hall’s director of communications Natalie Babin Dufresne told CBC News.
“She’s very honoured to be moving in. The plans will be forthcoming but they are in the works.”
During Payette’s tenure, she was criticized for refusing to live in the 5,000 square-foot quarters reserved for her. The federal government spent more than $250,000 on measures meant to satisfy Payette’s desire for more privacy in the official residence, but she never moved in. The living quarters have been empty for roughly four years.

6 July
Mary Simon achieves historic milestone as first Indigenous Governor General of Canada
Mary Simon was the first Inuk to hold a position of ambassador for Canada, first as ambassador of Circumpolar Affairs and then ambassador to Denmark
Inuk leader Mary Simon named Canada’s 1st Indigenous governor general
(CBC) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the Queen has accepted his recommendation to appoint Simon — a past president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization — as the 30th governor general.
As governor general, she will serve a vital constitutional role; past governors general, most recently Michaëlle Jean, have had to adjudicate constitutional disputes. She’s also no stranger to Canada’s Constitution.
As an Inuit leader, she was on hand when the Constitution was repatriated in the 1980s. She was part of former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s attempts to amend the Constitution as part of the Charlottetown Accord process in the early 1990s.
Mary Simon, at the moment she’s needed most
Simon becomes the first Indigenous person to serve as Governor General, and arrives at a time of great reckoning
(Maclean’s) In 2010, Mary Simon, then the president of Canada’s national Inuit organization, may have noticed her name being bandied about in the press as a possible successor to then-Governor General Michaëlle Jean. Despite a hefty resume packed with leadership and diplomatic positions around the world, including three years as an ambassador to Denmark and a key founder of the Arctic Council, she didn’t get the gig. In hindsight, maybe that was for the best. Eleven years later, Simon will still be the country’s first Indigenous governor general—and now, in 2021, she will undoubtedly wield far more influence than she would have in 2010. Consider the cumulative effects over the last decade of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission; public outrage over missing and murdered Indigenous women; pipeline projects being delayed or abandoned after protests, court actions and blockades mounted by First Nations activists; and, most recently and heart-wrenchingly, an ongoing national effort to discover the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children buried on the grounds of former residential schools. Calls for an Indigenous governor general began as soon as Julie Payette resigned the post in January. The time is right. Reconciliation with First Nations will be a defining and consequential national discussion for years to come. Hopefully, Canadians can finally start having that conversation in earnest.
‘Honoured, humbled and ready’: Mary Simon’s first speech as incoming Governor General – transcript of the English portion of Simon’s first speech as incoming Governor General. She also spoke in French and Inuktitut, however these remarks have not been included below as they largely duplicated words she spoke in English.
Who is Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General?
(CTV) … Simon’s work has also included promoting the preservation of the environment in the North – an issue close to the current government’s heart. In 2007, she spoke out against a federal plan to allow the military to dump garbage and sewage into Arctic waters.
Her main focus, however, has been on achieving equitable health care and education for all. She returned to these issues repeatedly, advocating for the people of the North regardless of what positions she held at the time. In 2018, she called for more mental health and medical support in the North after her 22-year-old niece died by suicide.
(CBC)The appointment comes more than five months after Julie Payette resigned from the post after a scathing external review found she had presided over a “toxic” and “poisoned” workplace at Rideau Hall, with episodes of “yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, demeaning comments and public humiliations.”

3 July
Chris Hall: Can Canadian federalism cope with 21st century threats?
The pandemic and climate change are crises the Constitution’s drafters never saw coming
(The House) Jared Wesley is a political science professor at the University of Alberta and a former director of intergovernmental relations in the Alberta government. He said the early part of the pandemic was a period of “emergency federalism,” with the Trudeau government taking a leadership role.
“If the federal government had to come out with the Emergencies Act and dictated a national approach to this pandemic response or in the future on long term care, they become accountable for that strategy,” he said.
“And I’m not sure that federal governments are willing to do that. They’d rather have partners in the provinces that they can pass blame on.”
But there’s also a risk inherent in failing to learn the lessons from the pandemic response — or from the unprecedented heat wave now afflicting Western Canada. It’s up to political leaders to decide whether these challenges of today require a new, more flexible form of federalism.
Listen to CBC Radio’s The House: A federation under strain

30 June
From Dominion Day to Canada Day, there’s a long history of ambivalence
Canada Day came about 40 years ago thanks to 13 MPs pulling a fast one on their colleagues.

29 June
Campbell Clark: Catherine McKenna, and half of Trudeau’s first cabinet, are now going or gone
When Justin Trudeau’s first cabinet was sworn in on an unusually sunny day back in November, 2015, Catherine McKenna was a noteworthy figure in a lineup heavy with symbolism.
It was a cabinet full of shiny pennies – a former CEO, a doctor who tended the sick in Africa, the first Indigenous justice minister – and Ms. McKenna was one of the shiniest.
Now, in 2021, half of the ministers in Mr. Trudeau’s first cabinet are gone, or going. Fifteen out of 30, not counting the PM. Ms. McKenna is the latest to say she won’t run again.
The pandemic changed a lot of priorities, as Ms. McKenna noted Monday in her announcement to leave elected life, and politics can be exhausting. Mr. Trudeau’s government has, in one way or another, chewed up a lot of its shiny pennies.
It’s not about the rate of turnover. Former PM Stephen Harper lost as many ministers, though not so many front-bench leaders. But a lot of Mr. Trudeau’s symbolic stars have been ground out of the game in the past six years. As has the symbolism of a cabinet team driving an agenda.

Catherine McKenna quitting federal politics, says years of online attacks were ‘just noise’
Ottawa-area minister says she wants more time with her kids and to focus on climate fight outside of politics
McKenna also said she wants to focus her energies on fighting climate change from outside of government. She’s offered to help Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian delegation at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland later this year.
McKenna’s decision not to run again in Ottawa Centre creates an opening for another Liberal in a riding the party carried easily in the 2015 and 2019 federal elections after years of NDP representation by former New Democrat leader Ed Broadbent and later Paul Dewar.
There’s been some speculation that the former Bank of Canada governor, Mark Carney, may jump into politics after endorsing Trudeau and the Liberals at the party’s convention in April. Carney, who lives in the area, could make a bid to carry the Liberal banner in this urban seat.
McKenna said she will stay on as a minister until the next election is called. While Trudeau has said he doesn’t want an election while Canada is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s looking increasingly likely that there will be a vote sometime this year.
The Liberal Party has declared a state of “electoral urgency” to quickly appoint candidates ahead of a possible campaign and outgoing MPs gave their farewell speeches in the Commons last week.

23 June
Parliament’s last gasp?
(Politico Canada) The Senate sent four bills for chief justice/government administrator/stand-in GG Richard Wagner’s signature. He gave royal assent to Bill C-8, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino’s second attempt — and the Liberals’ third since 2015 — to incorporate Indigenous treaties into Canada’s oath of citizenship. Bill C-15, which forces the feds to harmonize federal laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is also the law of the land. A pair of supply bills rounded out the small flurry.

19 June
Under Justin Trudeau, official bilingualism as we know it is over
Bill 32 makes reference to supporting Indigenous languages and Quebec’s anglophone minority. But those are not the government’s priorities. Not at all.
(Globe & Mail editorial) On Tuesday, when the government tabled Bill C-32, its long-promised update to the Official Languages Act, that era appeared to be history.
Where the act was originally about ensuring that Parliament and the federal civil service operated in both official languages, and about protecting linguistic minorities – English in Quebec, French outside Quebec – the new Trudeau government is transforming it into its own version of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language, a.k.a. Bill 101.
Under Bill 32, the Official Languages Act would recognize that Bill 101 “provides that French is the official language of Quebec.”

18 June (UPDATE)
Silly season heads for crescendo
(Politico Canada) Unless the parties agree to more sitting days, a mere six remain for the Liberals to whittle down their long list of legislative priorities in the interest of turning something into a new law of the land.
High up on the list are Bill C-10, the Broadcasting Act overhaul that Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is absolutely determined to jam through the House. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland also insists C-30, her inaugural budget implementation bill, will be shuttled off to the Senate before the summer break.
For the Liberals, the key question is Quebec. We all expect there will likely be an election called this fall. The Liberals need 15 more seats for a majority. They can get them in Quebec.
They need to pass bills that appeal to Quebec and manage issues that are important in Quebec. Bill C-10 matters, so they want to get that through. Official Languages are really important in Quebec, so you saw the government table a bill on that. That was just putting down a position that the government is serious about strengthening the place of French in Canada — and Quebec.

16 June
The notwithstanding clause has long passed its best-before date
Section 33 threatens the even application of the law, it undermines individual rights and freedom of expression, and it handcuffs the judiciary.
(Hill Times paywall) The Ontario and Quebec governments, led by Premiers Doug Ford and François Legault, respectively, have recently invoked the notwithstanding clause, which Andrew Caddell writes diminishes the Charter every time it’s used.
…in 1982, Alberta premier Peter Lougheed and Manitoba’s Sterling Lyon would not sign the new Constitution unless provinces could avail themselves of a “safety valve” to ensure legislatures remained supreme. There was a fear the courts would overturn provincial legislation and undermine their authority.
Jean Chrétien, who was justice minister and Trudeau’s point man on the Constitution, worked out a deal that included the notwithstanding clause. The one restraint was the clause’s validity was limited to five years and had to be renewed. … The clause was meant to allow governments to restrain Charter rights, and is subject to a test of proportionality and the minimal impairment of rights. One could argue the arbitrary use of the notwithstanding clause is not a “reasonable limit” in a free and democratic society, and the impairment of rights is unacceptable.

15 June
How to get cities out of their constitutional straitjacket
by Alexandra Flynn, Nathalie Des Rosiers, Richard Albert
Constitutional change could be done province-by-province, but even short of that, there are tools to keep provinces from overpowering municipalities.
(Policy Options) Five simple words in the Constitution Act, 1982 have put cities in a straitjacket. Under section 92, provinces have exclusive jurisdiction over “Municipal institutions in the Province.” In short, what a province gives to cities, it may take away, without much explanation why. This leaves cities with little capacity to plan, limited power to build the fiscal capacity to deliver improved social services and fully at the mercy of provincial politicians who often have little if any experience in municipal matters. What makes this even worse is the democratic deficit: electoral district rules commonly squeeze many more people into urban ridings than in rural ridings, diluting the vote of Canadians living in cities. There are many reasons for the crisis of governance that impedes the work of cities, but the proximate cause is the subservient status of cities in the Constitution.

10 June
Trudeau will fight discrimination against Muslims – so long as they don’t live in Quebec
Robyn Urback
(Globe & Mail) How does one reach the level of shamelessness to at once pledge that the government will do everything in its power to combat discrimination and Islamophobia in Canada, and then, moments later, shrug off questions about Ottawa’s indifference to a patently discriminatory provincial law that prohibits those who wear religious symbols from working certain jobs?
Does partisan politics rewire certain structures in the brain? Is there an invisible border at Gatineau beyond which prejudice becomes imperceptible to federal politicians lusting over majority mandates? Or are leaders merely hoping that most Canadians won’t be able to understand the difference between separation of church and state and state-mandated secularism?
Surely it was not lost on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the same symbols that ostensibly made the Afzaal family a target for the man now charged with their murders and attempted murder in London, Ont., would have also made them ineligible for certain jobs in Quebec.
Bill 21 is quite clearly legislated discrimination, and it would almost certainly be in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had Premier François Legault not pre-emptively equipped it with the notwithstanding clause when he tabled it years ago.

8 June
Susan Delacourt: There’s a line Justin Trudeau won’t cross when it comes to fighting Islamophobia
(TorStar) reminding federal leaders that their unwillingness to call out Quebec’s discriminatory Bill 21 — which forces Muslims, Sikhs and Jews, among others, to relinquish any religious clothing if they want to work in public professions — proves there is much more work to do to curb institutional racism.

6 June
Why No One Knows How Many Children Died Inside Canada’s Residential Schools
Locating victims have been hampered by destroyed and missing records – but also inaction by the federal government and Catholic Church
(Press Progress) The former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is calling for an independent investigation into all burial sites located at the former grounds of residential schools across Canada.
The call from former Senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the TRC from 2009 to 2015, comes after the remains of 215 children were recently found in an unmarked and undocumented burial site at the former grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, located on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation territory.

2 June
Terry Glavin: Canadians have known about unmarked residential school graves for years. They just kept forgetting
This might have something to do with why the Indigenous community’s wounds remain unhealed after all these years
Because this history is important and still unfolding, and facts matter, it may be useful to know that, strictly speaking, there was no discovery of a mass grave at the site of the Kamloops residential school last week. That is not what Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Roseanne Casimir announced last Thursday, in a statement that was reported in such a way as to draw the whole country into a moment of genuine anguish and perfectly righteous outrage.
New ground-penetrating radar that was brought to the effort over the Victoria Day weekend “confirms” what the Tk’emlúps elders had long known, Chief Casimir stated. By precisely situating the remains of what would appear to be 215 children who had been enrolled at the residential school, the technology had allowed the Tk’emlúps community to “verify” what the people had known but could not properly document.

21 May
Andrew Coyne: Mere symbolism? Simple statements of fact? In a constitution, there’s no such thing
Here we go again. As if mounting deficits, resurgent inflation and fights over energy did not provide enough of a 1980s frisson, we seem bent on restarting the constitution wars. Have we learned nothing since then? Or is it merely that we have forgotten everything?
That Bill 96, Quebec’s new language law, would come wrapped in the notwithstanding clause, further depriving the province’s minorities of the protection of the Charter of Rights, was expected. What was not expected was the insertion of two clauses purporting to amend the Constitution of Canada: one declaring that “Quebecers form a nation”; the other, that the “common language” of that nation is French, “the only official language of Quebec.”
A constitution is supposed to provide us with the tools to govern ourselves, together with the principles by which we hope to be governed. To bend it from that purpose, from the prescriptive to the descriptive, from firm commitments to principle to bland assertions of fact – the majority language of Quebec is French, its principal exports are aircraft, aluminum and wood products – is not just beside the point, but hostile to it.

10 May
Canada is approaching four months without a Governor General. Can we do that?
Technically, Canada’s judicial, executive and legislative branches are all in the hands of the same guy
It’s not unusual to see First Nations contacting Rideau Hall directly regarding treaty matters. Most of Canada sits on treaties that were struck with the Crown, and many First Nations hold the view that while these initial contracts were good faith nation-to-nation agreements, they’ve been sullied under the devolved management of successful generations of Canadian authorities. …
When all your branches of government are in the hands of the same guy, awkwardness can result
Wagner is technically the head of Canada’s judicial, executive and legislative branches of government. On paper, this Montreal-born lawyer appointed by Stephen Harper is one of the most powerful Canadians to have ever lived — and there are a number of ways in which his varying roles are starting to overlap in strange ways.
… There’s also the issue of Wagner potentially having to write Supreme Court decisions about the same individuals or organizations whose interests he’s expected to faithfully represent as de facto governor general. The Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations mentioned this explicitly in their letter to Buckingham Palace. “The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as a ‘stand in’ does not give us comfort,” it read. “Many times, our Nations have been involved in litigation that ends up before the Supreme Court.”

26 April
Kelly McParland: Justin Trudeau’s war on committees
The less Canadians know about the government’s mistakes, the easier it is for the government to do nothing about them
(National Post) The see-no-evil performance put on by the Liberals is just about what women have come to expect when they try to bring forward complaints about the treatment they receive in the military. Trudeau, Vance and Vance’s successors have all loudly declaimed their determination to root out any form of discrimination or abuse, only to have committee members presented with ample evidence that nothing of the sort has been done.

14 April
Kenney’s political capital heading for bankruptcy
(iPolitics) The pandemic has made ashes of his promise for jobs, the economy and pipelines.
It has undermined his credibility, emboldened his enemies and demonstrated his United Conservative Party is not so united.
Then again, it was less COVID itself that upended Kenney’s world than his response to COVID.
He has vacillated between action and inaction, often choosing inaction as a salve to his anti-masking supporters. That has managed to simultaneously anger those who demand more action and irritate his supporters when he’s finally forced to take more action.
In the end, he has satisfied almost nobody and forced himself into no-win situations.

11 April
IP experts say Ottawa’s proposed regulations could harm their business and drive up patent costs for domestic innovators
By Sean Silcoff
(Globe & Mail) Canadian intellectual property professionals are warning that proposed federal regulations could devastate their profession and drive up patent costs for domestic innovators.
At issue is a change stemming from the Trudeau government’s IP strategy introduced in 2018 to address longstanding concerns that domestic innovators lacked savvy when it came to protecting their ideas. The government pledged to establish a Canadian College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents, which would take over regulation of the profession from Ottawa. Professionals had asked for their own self-regulating body for years.

31 March
iPolitics: WE Charity probe continues at House ethics committee
Under the binding order adopted by the House of Commons last week, the star witness for today’s session is supposed to be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s policy director, Ben Chin, who, according to evidence unearthed from the thousands of pages of internal documents turned over to the committee last year, received a LinkedIn message from WE Charity co-founder Craig Kielburger thanking him for his assistance in “setting up” the program.
As per the latest committee notice, however, the witness list is still “to be determined,” which would seem to suggest that the government hasn’t backed away from its decision to instruct the staffers named in the order to ignore the demand, which, they contend, is at odds with the basic principle of ministerial responsibility.

24 March
Is the carbon tax fight about to end?
(Politico) The Liberals seem confident they’ll emerge victorious when the Supreme Court of Canada rules Thursday on the constitutionality of the carbon tax. And they have some reason to be. Anyone watching the September hearing would have noticed several of the justices seemed sympathetic to the federal government’s argument that climate change is an existential threat requiring a national response.
But it’s not a slam-dunk. Appeal courts in all three provinces that challenged the law — Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan — issued split decisions. The Court of Appeal of Alberta sided with the province, finding the federal law is a “constitutional Trojan horse” that would give Ottawa sweeping powers to intervene in provincial affairs.
The carbon tax is the central pillar of the Liberals’ climate strategy, even more so since December, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new climate plan that would see the tax rise to C$170 per metric ton by 2030. It’s hard to see how the government could hit any climate target without it.

12 March
Liberals revive governor general advisory panel to help find replacement for Julie Payette
Canada needs a new governor general “on an expedited basis,” LeBlanc said, so the panel will work as quickly as it can.
The Liberal government is re-establishing an advisory panel to help select the next governor general.
The newly struck advisory group is mandated to submit a shortlist of candidates for the prime minister’s consideration.
Six people are on the panel, which was announced Friday by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
He’ll co-chair the group with Janice Charette, a former high commissioner to the United Kingdom now filling in as clerk of the Privy Council
In addition to LeBlanc and Charette, the members are:
— Inuit leader Natan Obed
— Université de Montreal rector Daniel Jutras
— Former secretary to the governor general Judith LaRocque
— Interim Canada Post chair Suromitra Sanatani

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