Canada: government & governance December 2021-

Written by  //  July 18, 2022  //  Canada, Government & Governance  //  No comments

Emergencies Act
Canada’s 44th Parliament

Kevin Lynch: Federal government must better deliver core services
…critics accuse this government of being more about announcements than implementation, that it is not focussed on, or good at, delivery.
What do the provision of passports, airport security screening, immigration processing, dealing with refugee claims, military procurement, public service payroll systems, keeping border crossings open, preserving public order in the nation’s capital, handling harassment in the military, responding to the mass casualties in Nova Scotia and enforcing anti-money laundering have in common?
All are core government services and they are not being delivered well at all.
… What is essential for the credibility of the government is to show it is serious about improving the delivery of core government services and programs. Canadians would prefer better government to bigger government. Fixing the unacceptable problems with passport renewals, airport screening and immigration processing would be good places to start.
Good government is about more than lofty rhetoric. It’s about turning worthy intentions into reality for Canadians through effective and efficient delivery of government programs and services. Canadians invest great responsibility and power in their elected governments; in return, they rightly expect peace, order, and good government.

8 July
Making the point raised in Kathryn May’s article.
The Prime Minister announces changes in the senior ranks of the Public Service
Christiane (Chris) Fox, currently Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services, becomes Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, effective July 18, 2022….
The Achilles heel of the federal public service gives out again with passport fiasco
Politicians and ambitious senior bureaucrats have little interest in the delivery of frontline services, until things go catastrophically wrong.
By Kathryn May
(Policy Options) Delivering services to Canadians has been an Achilles heel of the federal government for 30 years because of political disinterest and a senior management of “travelling salesmen,” who hop from job to job and barely know the business of the departments they lead, says the former senior bureaucrat who proposed the creation of Service Canada. “You have deputy ministers and senior executives … who very rarely have deep experience and knowledge of departments, operations and services for which they’re responsible. They haven’t worked their way up in that department and are flying blind to a significant degree”.
Passport and immigration backlogs with long lineups of frustrated and fuming Canadians at Service Canada offices across the country in recent weeks prompted the government to create a new ministerial task force to find ways to improve service.
The 10-member task force is expected to make recommendations outlining short and longer-term solutions that would reduce wait times, clear backlogs and improve the overall quality of services provided.
Big barriers to improving service are investment in technology and recruiting the right people. That’s money and, notably, the minister of finance is not a member of the task force. The task force also comes as the government is launching a strategic review to find $6 billion in savings.
Prime Minister announces new task force to improve government services for Canadians
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the creation of a new task force to improve government services, with a focus on reducing wait times for Canadians. The task force, a Committee of Cabinet ministers, will review service delivery, identify gaps and areas for improvement, and make recommendations to ensure Canadians from coast to coast to coast receive the highest quality of service.
The task force will drive action to improve the processing of passports and immigration applications by identifying priority areas for action and outlining short- and longer-term solutions, with a focus on reducing wait times, clearing out backlogs, and improving the overall quality of services provided to Canadians. As labour shortages continue to lead to air travel delays around the world, the task force will also monitor the situation at Canadian airports.

16 June
Some excellent suggestions for improving the system
Just another day in Canada’s passport purgatory
For weeks, media outlets had chronicled the chaos: the long wait times, the desperate travellers who camped overnight at passport offices. I had known my visit would be a lengthy one.
(Ottawa Citizen) I also had a lot of time to ponder what might make the process more efficient:
• Hire and train passport officers to be on standby even if they typically work in other areas so they can be pulled in temporarily at times like this. That would allow for the extension of office hours, which would help clear the backlog.
• Allow Canadian citizens who hold child passports to upgrade to adult passports through a renewal process rather than having them fill out a brand-new adult passport application as though they’ve never held a Canadian passport before. I’m certain this is the cause of a lot of errors and delays, as it was with us.
• Allow Canadian citizens who hold a current adult passport that’s about to expire to renew online. This would force the government to come up with some acceptable process for the use and verification of digital photos, but isn’t it past time for that?
• Develop a new electronic passport form that flags obvious errors, like not including an address or postal code for your guarantors while you’re filling it out (rather than having the passport officers flag it for you when you get to the office).
Canadian passports are precious things and issuing them is a basic function of our federal government. We’ve got to get it right. The front-line officers are doing their job exceptionally well under these circumstances. Now it’s up to our elected representatives to ensure this situation never happens again.

Privacy bill sets out rules on use of personal data, artificial intelligence
(CTV) The proposed law, Bill C-27, is a much-anticipated step toward Champagne’s mandate to advance the digital charter, a series of principles intended to strengthen consumer privacy protections and guide the development of the digital economy.
He told reporters it is “one of the most stringent frameworks you would find among G7 nations,” with Justice Minister David Lametti adding: “We’re racing to the top.”
Though some advocates were hoping for a more formal enshrining of privacy as a fundamental right, the updated bill’s preamble spells out that the protection of privacy interests is “essential to individual autonomy and dignity and to the full enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms,” and states an intention to align Canadian regulations with international standards.
It would create a Consumer Privacy Protection Act to increase Canadians’ control over their personal information and how it is handled by digital platforms.

14 -17 June
CORRECTION: Meals for Governor General actually cost $80K on Middle East flight, says DND
(National Post) The tab included ‘three dinners, three breakfasts, two lunches and various snacks for the 29 passengers plus 17 crew, including the flight crew and security personnel’
“This amount includes the meals, delivery and handling of the catering to the flight,” the statement read, explaining CAF doesn’t pay for any in-flight alcohol that may get served aboard Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft.
Governor General, entourage amass $100K in-flight catering bill during trip to Middle East
(CTV) Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and her guests racked up a nearly $100,000 catering bill during their flights to and from the Middle East from March 16 to 24.

14- Update 16 June
Tom Mulcair: Recent Liberal decisions point to a whole-of-government incompetence
(CTV) Everybody, all at once, has been doing everything possible to show how weak the federal government and its innumerable ministries and agencies have become in terms of simple public management.
This isn’t an accident in one place or an exception, it’s generalized. Red lights are blinking across the Privy Council Office dashboard, but no one is in charge. The PCO is the “ministry” of the Prime Minister, but actually managing things has never been Justin Trudeau’s strong suit.
4 June
Conrad Black: Canada not hopeless but desperate for leadership
…a joint discussion chaired by the Fraser Institute’s President, Niels Veldhuis, in which I was privileged to join former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell. The ostensible subject of discussion was how we all thought Canada was doing.
The principal points we were asked to address were the state of Canadian federalism, Canada‘s economic condition, and Canada’s standing in the world.
The consensus that seemed to emerge and to be supported by the distinguished audience was that Canada had squandered its former status built up by the Chretien and Harper governments as a fiscally strong, budget-balancing, hard currency country; that public and private debt levels were now dangerously high, that federalism is in potentially serious crisis because of the present federal government’s hostility to the oil and gas industry, which constitutes an unjustified economic war on Alberta and Saskatchewan, and because of the government of Quebec‘s repression of the language and education rights of English-speaking Quebeckers.

2 June
Hundreds wait outside passport offices in Montreal as Service Canada deals with major backlog
Currently, the office is only accepting emergency cases with flights or travel plans scheduled within the next 24 to 48 hours. People are being told otherwise to come back closer to the date of travel.
Service Canada has been experiencing an “unprecedented volume of applications” whose processing has been delayed by in-person capacity limits set during the pandemic, it said in a news release last month.

1 June
Trudeau government has adopted dozens of secret cabinet orders since coming to power
Government refuses to reveal whether any of the orders are related to the convoy protest, COVID or Ukraine
A review by CBC News of nearly 8,900 orders-in-council (OICs) — or cabinet decrees — adopted by the federal government shows the number of secret or unpublished OICs has been rising since Trudeau came to power in 2015.
The only outside indication that a secret OIC even exists is a missing number in the Privy Council’s orders-in-council database. OICs have a wide range of applications, from stopping a foreign company from buying a Canadian business to outlining who is authorized to give the order to shoot down a commercial airliner hijacked by terrorists.
… Laurie Bouchard, spokesperson for Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, said 32 of the secret OICs adopted between November 2015 — when the Trudeau government came to power — and March 31, 2021 were related to the Investment Canada Act.

31 May
Behind Joly’s plan to modernize Canadian diplomacy
Cabinet minister says Canada’s foreign service needs to keep up to a rapidly changing world.
(Politico) Joly announced a review exercise on Monday during a town hall with staffers from the foreign affairs department, which is called Global Affairs Canada. The department has 12,000 employees and offices in 110 countries.
Joly said she wants to better equip her department with the tools it needs to operate in the rapidly advancing world of digital technologies. She noted how foreign powers are using the digital space to push their own narratives and interests.
The plan will also look for ways to strengthen Canada’s voice in multilateral organizations and ensure the country can attract top talent to its diplomatic corps, she said.
The department will survey its staff for ideas and draw input from an external advisory board, which will be made up of former heads of mission and senior officials, Canadian business leaders and youth representatives.

30 May
Paul Tellier: All-powerful PMO, mistrust “destroying” the public service The former top public servant and corporate CEO says the long-term trend toward centralized decision-making must be reversed to restore trust.
(Policy Options) Tellier made his comments after the release of a new report, Top of Mind, by two think tanks – the Ottawa-based Institute on Governance, and the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at St. Francis Xavier University – which threw the spotlight on the increasingly troubled relationship after probing public service executives at all levels of government about their biggest challenges.
The report found that today’s executives worry about falling public trust in government; the decline in senior bureaucrats giving “fearless advice” to ministers; a hollowing-out of policy capacity; a post-pandemic economic reckoning; conflicts among levels of government; and the need for public service reform.
Top of Mind
Today, a plethora of negative forces are sowing the seeds of social polarization and eroding trust in democratically elected governments. The pandemic has accelerated, or potentially magnified, these trends in Canada. More recently, citizens have been moved to individual and collective action outside of government processes to effect change.

19-20 May
Andy Blatchford: Canada joins Five Eyes in ban on Huawei and ZTE
Decision on Chinese telecoms was three years in the making.
(Politico) Canada will ban Huawei and ZTE from the country’s fifth-generation wireless network over national security concerns, a long-awaited decision it announced Thursday after years of pressure from allies.
The Trudeau government’s move to block gear and services from the Chinese telecoms may be more about symbolism than anything else.
Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne acknowledged Thursday that the vast majority of Canada’s 5G and even 4G networks already exclude products and services from the two companies.
Champagne told companies using Huawei and ZTE equipment to stop doing so — and rip it out. He stressed that telecoms will not be compensated for losses.
The Trudeau government also announced Thursday that it plans to introduce legislation to protect Canada’s critical infrastructure in areas of finance, telecommunications, energy and transportation.
Ottawa’s announcement has been delayed for years, likely in part due to the diplomatic freeze over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, followed by China’s detention of the two Michaels. Their safe return to Canada in September opened a door for Canada to move forward with a ban.
Canada will ban Huawei and ZTE from the country’s 5G network, federal ministers announced Thursday, stating that a national intelligence review concluded the two Chinese firms pose potential security risks.Why is Canada banning Huawei from participating in the country’s 5G network? Privacy concerns are the main driver behind the ban. Conservatives have been pushing the Trudeau government to make the move to prevent Huawei from building Canada’s 5G infrastructure, arguing that it would allow China to spy on Canadians. Huawei and the Chinese government have vigorously denied the accusations, saying that the company poses no security threat.

CBC The Current: Welcome back, air travellers! After a couple of years of staying puts, many Canadians are flying again. And what greets them at the airport isn’t good. Epic lines for security. Passengers stuck on planes on the tarmac, misconceptions and luggage that doesn’t make it in 30 minutes. Why? It’s a mess at many of this country’s largest airports. Why that’s likely to get worse and why one infectious disease doctor wants COVID travel restrictions eliminated. Transcript

18-22  April
How to build an Advisory Council
(Politico Ottawa Playbook) The budget offered few details on how a CEA would work, or who even would be asked to join. As backroom Liberals mull its structure and membership, we reached out to economists and bankers with a question: Who makes their dream list of appointees?
One big piece of feedback came our way: Don’t only appoint economists.
Advice for the PM: Ask these people for advice
The Liberal budget snuck in a promise to establish a permanent Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), a panel that would “reinforce the government’s access to expert advice and provide policy options for harnessing new opportunities and navigating increasingly complex economic challenges.”
Liberals made this promise on the campaign trail. They wanted a new CEA to “help Canada achieve a higher standard of living, better quality of life, inclusive growth, and a more innovative and skillful economy.”
They pledged to create a gender-balanced group that would “reflect Canada’s diversity.” And they said they’d draw on voices “inside and outside of government.”
Will the CEA matter? One respondent reminded Playbook that the Council of Economic Advisors south of the border hires a team of staff economists that power the panel’s work — and the competition is fierce for a limited number of jobs. Larry Summers, who was later treasury secretary to Bill Clinton, worked for the CEA in the Reagan era.
“People want to be part of it. Being appointed to it is career-defining for some,” said another Playbook correspondent. As for the Canadian equivalent: “To me, we need to see how it’s staffed, what it’s tasked to do, how much true independence it has, and other factors to know if it will be important and effective.”

7-8 April
Politico Ottawa Playbook: Budget 2022: Lockup to afterparty
We all spent several hours in a room with a book prepared by a Liberal government that has a new lease on life after inking a three-year deal with the opposition New Democrats. They tabled it on a Thursday and then skipped town into a two-week break from the House. Here’s what we learned.
The Liberals spent too much. The Liberals spent just enough. The Liberals didn’t spend enough. That was Thursday’s Budget Day non-consensus in Ottawa.
The POLITICO Canada team read the entire budget document so you don’t have to. We came up with five takeaways:
Uncertainty is certain: The budget devotes pages to war and its potential spillovers. “The Canadian economy is less exposed to the economic fallout than other regions (e.g. Europe),” the document says. “On the other hand,” it adds, there’s a long list of vulnerabilities: sanctions, disrupted global trade, tighter financial conditions and additional pressure on supply chains.
Affordability is everything: A suite of housing measures take top billing in the government’s budget, reflecting Canadians’ anxieties about the cost of living. They include new programs to support more rent-to-own projects; a new multi-generational home renovation tax credit to help families build secondary suites; and a promise to increase housing stock by doubling the rate of new builds over the next decade.
It’s time to let good times roll, for now: A boost to commodity prices, driven in large part by Russia’s war, has helped the resource-rich country’s bottom line. But Freeland’s budget warns that the steep climb in prices risks hurting households and further disrupting the global trade of goods and services.
Covid is in the rearview, probably: “We bent but we did not break,” Freeland told MPs as she tabled her budget documents in the House. Note the past tense. The finance minister’s speech and her 280-page budget mostly treat Covid-19 like something Canada is done with.
Climate policy is economic policy: A senior government official used Canada’s rich critical mineral deposits as an example for how natural resources can be harnessed to fuel an economy recovering from the pandemic. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said a subset of Canada’s critical minerals sector is currently valued up to C$340 billion. “The question is are we going to emerge from it a poorer country or a more prosperous country,” they said.
Promising more fiscal restraint, Freeland tables a lower-spending budget focused on housing
With corporate Canada jittery about Ottawa’s sky-high deficit spending in recent years, Freeland acknowledged the country’s ability to spend is “not infinite” and — with interest rates now rising to tame inflation — it’s time for the government to “review and reduce” spending.
New tax-free home savings account, foreign buyer ban top budget plan to tackle housing affordability
Federal budget 2022: Here are the highlights
Electronic espionage agency getting major funding boost to ward off cyber attacks
To that end, Freeland tabled a relatively thin 280-page budget — 500 fewer pages than last year’s document — that is much more focused on a few key areas than Liberal budgets of the recent past. The budget allocates only $31.2 billion in net new spending over the next five years — a fraction of the sums in recent budgets.

22 March

Delivering for Canadians Now

Today, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced an agreement reached by the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party in Parliament, Delivering for Canadians Now, A Supply and Confidence Agreement.
Liberals agree to launch dental care program in exchange for NDP support
(CBC) According to a release from the Prime Minister’s Office detailing the grounds of the agreement, the proposed dental program would start with those under 12 years old in 2022, then expand to under-18-year-olds, seniors and persons living with a disability in 2023. Full implementation would be rolled out in 2025.
The deal would also see a Canada Pharmacare Act passed by the end of 2023 to task the National Drug Agency to develop a national formulary of essential medicines and a bulk purchasing plan by the end of the agreement.
On housing, another key issue for the NDP, the government has agreed to extend the rapid housing initiative — a program to create new, affordable housing for people and populations who are vulnerable — for an additional year and to look at changing the definition of affordable housing.
Under the NDP proposal, “affordable housing” would be defined as housing costing 80 per cent or less of an area’s average market rent.
While the Liberals have signed multiple child-care agreements with the provinces, the NDP is asking them to now introduce an Early Learning and Child Care Act by the end of 2022 to enshrine those agreements into law, and to make sure they have long-term protected funding prioritizing non-profit and public spaces.
The confidence-and-supply agreement was presented to NDP MPs for a vote late Monday night. Under such arrangements, an opposition party agrees to support the government on specific measures under specific conditions, and to not vote to defeat the government for a period of time.
This is not a coalition deal — no NDP MPs will sit at the cabinet table.
This deal comes into effect Tuesday and would last until when Parliament rises in 2025, allowing for four budgets and staving off an election.
Chatter about a deal between the two parties emerged not long after the last election, although at the time, sources in both parties said there was no actual proposal on the table.
“In the late fall we started talking about our priorities,” Singh said. “It took some time and there were some pauses and gaps in between, but we were immediately interested in using this opportunity to help people, using our power to get people the help they need, and that is what we did.”
Both leaders mentioned the crisis in Ukraine, with Trudeau citing Russia’s invasion as a source of global and economic uncertainty.
Asked whether his party would support an increase in defence spending in the coming budget, Singh said he is watching to see if that comes at the expense of his priorities.
Delivering for Canadians Now
How the Liberal-NDP agreement will work and what it might mean for Canadians

Trudeau’s Ottawa
We’ve plotted out the 32 parliamentarians and players who’ll hold sway in 2022 as the prime minister works to define his legacy.
By Andy Blatchford, Zi-Ann Lum, Nick Taylor-Vaisey and Beatrice Jin
(Politico) Count on many unknowns to overshadow typical minority government drama in Canada’s 44th Parliament. After a national election in September, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals still require the support of at least one of the three main opposition parties to pass legislation and to keep the government afloat. The good news for Trudeau is that after elections in 2019 and 2021, his rivals are unlikely to trigger another vote anytime soon.
The future of the Liberal Party—without Justin Trudeau
Paul Wells: The biggest question in Canadian politics in 2022 is whether Trudeau will still be PM when the year is done. The Grits may be forced to consider life after him—and what they even stand for without him.

16-19 February
Parliament axes Friday plans to meet over Emergencies Act amid ‘police operation’
Friday meetings of the House of Commons and the Senate over the invocation of the Emergencies Act in response to the so-called “freedom convoy” demonstrations were cancelled due to safety concerns.
Government House Leader Mark Holland later confirmed that the debate will resume on Saturday, with Speaker Anthony Rota adding the House will sit from 7 a.m. to midnight Eastern.
Debate is still expected to continue Sunday and Monday. Holland said the final vote on the measure will be held Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern.
André Pratte: A Liberal once warned the Emergencies Act was ripe for abuse. Now his party has done just that
In 1988, as Parliament was studying the bill that would become the Emergencies Act, MPs spent a great deal of time defining the term “national emergency.” In the end, Parliament set forth exacting criteria that would, it was hoped, prevent the invocation of the legislation in all but the gravest of situations. The reasons advanced this week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government meet none of those benchmarks.
Morning Update: Ottawa pushing ahead with Emergencies Act as border protests end
The federal government is pushing ahead with sweeping Emergencies Act powers that could ban gatherings around legislative buildings and national monuments, even as police announce resolutions of border blockades in Alberta and Manitoba.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced heated criticism from the Conservatives yesterday for enacting the never-before-used legislation. The Opposition noted the legislation was not needed by police who have resolved various border protests across the country, including reopening traffic on the Windsor-Detroit Ambassador Bridge.
The Prime Minister said the new powers are needed to address cross-country disruptions, including the nearly three-week-old protest over COVID-19 measures in downtown Ottawa.

14 February
Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act for 1st time to aid convoy blockade response
(Global news) Trudeau also vowed to introduce within the coming days business support measures for the local Ottawa companies that have been forced to shut down due to the blockades, many of the participants of which have repeatedly refused to respect public health measures like masking indoors.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that under the scope of the Act, the federal government is now broadening Canada’s anti-terrorist financing laws and laws targeting the proceeds of criminal activities to apply to crowdfunding websites.
The first change is that of Monday the platforms as well as their payment processors must register with FINTRAC, Canada’s financial services watchdog, and report any “large and suspicious” transfers.
“Second, the government is issuing an order with immediate effect under the Emergencies Act authorizing Canadian financial institutions to temporarily cease providing financial services where the institution suspects that an account is being used to further the illegal blockades and occupations,” Freeland said.
… “If your truck is used in these blockades, your corporate accounts will be frozen. The insurance on your vehicle will be suspended. Send your rigs home.”
Attorney General and Justice Minister David Lametti emphasized the temporary nature of the measures, which last for 30 days, and said the government will adhere to the requirement laid out in the law to both table the motion invoking the Act in Parliament.
Lametti said the government will also strike a parliamentary oversight committee within the coming days to oversee how the powers issued under the Act are being enforced.

Help wanted: a courageous national leader to speak up for the rest of us
By Susan Riley
(Hill Times) We desperately need a confident leader, not just to stare down the incoherent bullies who have been tormenting the citizens of downtown Ottawa and wreaking economic havoc at our borders, but someone who could lead, or even inspire, a massive groundswell of hope and unity after the insurrection and the pandemic are over.
Of course, politicians are mortals, flawed, and their reputations rarely survive the meat-grinder of political life. In Pierre Trudeau’s Quebec, thousands of artists, and peaceful separatists, were jailed and their justified resentment feeds the sovereigntist movement to this day. Justin Trudeau’s early promise risks ending in lassitude and personal folly. Harper’s hostility to science, environmentalists—to anyone who disagreed—not to mention his disgraceful embrace of the “barbaric practices hotline,” brought his eventful 10-year term to an ignoble end.
But, with inspired leadership, the bitter and angry voices that so dominate the present discourse can at least be sidelined for a time.

12 February
‘This could cost him his job’: A blockaded Canada turning on Trudeau, poll finds
‘The last time I’ve seen numbers close to this were in the final days of Brian Mulroney,’ says Maru pollster
(National Post) As Freedom Convoy marks its second week entrenched in the Canadian capital, a new poll is providing some of the clearest evidence yet that this affair could end up dealing a catastrophic blow to the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Although Canadians sympathize with the anti-mandate demands of Freedom Convoy, they increasingly hate the protests themselves. A new Maru Public Opinion poll found that 56 per cent of Canadians don’t have an iota of sympathy for Freedom Convoy — and two thirds wouldn’t mind seeing their blockades cleared by military force.
But Canadians are also turning their ire on a “weak” government response and an intransigent prime minister whom they blame for “inflaming” the situation.

9 February
Justin Ling: The problem with Ottawa’s protesters
(Politico) The convoy occupiers want a meeting with government leadership, but their conspiratorial mindset makes that a no-win for Justin Trudeau.
… These grandiose demands, particularly to have an audience with Canada’s unelected governor general — a largely ceremonial role, as the queen’s representative in the country, who has no say over government policy — show not only a clear misunderstanding of Canada’s democratic system, but also underscore why meeting with them is so fundamentally difficult, if not impossible.
Trudeau’s opposition in Parliament has had a different take on the occupation. Before the Conservative Party, led by interim leader Candice Bergen, began calling for a solution to the “crisis point,” she was enthusiastically meeting with the occupiers.
In an emergency debate held Monday night, Bergen told the House of Commons that Trudeau shoulders responsibility for worsening the protests “by calling people names who did not take the vaccine.” She implored the prime minister: “Will he agree to meet with the leaders here, the other opposition leaders and me, so that we can talk about a solution?”

28 January-8 February
Aaron Wherry: The protest convoy could cast a long shadow in Canadian politics
The anger is real — and no one in any party seems entirely sure of what to do next
The key lesson of Ottawa’s siege might be that it’s difficult to get populist, anti-democratic anger to leave once you’ve invited it in and allowed it to get comfortable.

Ottawa declares state of emergency as police boost enforcement, target protest’s fuel supply
Protest is ‘most serious emergency our city has ever faced,’ mayor says
(CBC) A local state of emergency will allow Ottawa to work more efficiently to manage essential services and make procurement more flexible, the city said. Provincial legislation grants mayors powers during an emergency to make orders “not contrary to law to implement the emergency plan of the municipality and to protect property and the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the emergency area.”
… Politicians have also increasingly denounced the protest over COVID-19 public health restrictions, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and others calling it an “occupation” and the head of the Ottawa Police Services Board referring to it as an “insurrection.”
Toronto police to maintain road closures and heavy presence downtown day after large protest
Police plan follows crowds at Queen’s Park, trucks blocking intersection, 2 arrests
Ottawa protest faces rising resident anger, uncertain finances in its 2nd week
The protest’s main fundraiser was shut down, and it now faces a class-action suit
Just over a week since the first vaccine mandate protesters rolled into Ottawa, ongoing demonstrations face financial uncertainty and increasing frustration from local residents — even as more protesters are expected to join the group this weekend.
The number of protesters in the downtown Ottawa area has fluctuated during the past week, from thousands in the city last weekend to about 250 by Tuesday, police said. But Ottawa police announced they expect potentially thousands more protesters to arrive this weekend.
Protesters have maintained a near-constant level of noise and disruption in the downtown core of the nation’s capital, blocking traffic, honking horns, setting off fireworks and organizing loud music.
28 January
Canada must confront the toxic ‘Freedom Convoy’ head-on
By David Moscrop, host of the podcast Open to Debate, and the author of “Too Dumb for Democracy? Why We Make Bad Political Decisions and How We Can Make Better Ones.”
Those taking part are on their way, ostensibly, to protest pandemic measures, including vaccine mandates for truckers, but that’s just the tip of the spear. The leadership of the group is promising to remain peaceful, but the convoy is made up of many individuals and far-right groups that have embraced the convoy as a Canadian version of the Jan. 6 rioting in the United States. The movement shares an affinity with Trumpist toxic authoritarianist politics. Indeed, the convoy has received attention from Donald Trump Jr. Police and security services are preparing for the worst as experts express concern about the online vitriol and journalists covering the convoy are harassed.
MPs Told to Hide From Anti-Vaxxer Convoy by Parliament Security Chief
The convoy, dubbed “Operation BearHug,” is seeking to abolish all measures in place to fight COVID-19 and removing Justin Trudeau’s government from power. If they don’t get their way, they intend to blockade Ottawa until their demands are met. This has been the plan from the very beginning.
The convoy, organized by some people with connections to extreme-right or anti-vax movements, has garnered support from some mainstream Conservatives.
Right now, hundreds of vehicles, maybe more, are barrelling towards Ottawa, with a plan to blockade Canada’s capital to protest, among other things, vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers.
The convoy has been enthusiastically endorsed by some Conservative Members of Parliament. It has been lauded in the pages of the Toronto Sun. It has been promoted the world over, on Fox News, and by Twitter philosophers like Jordan B. Peterson and Elon Musk.
…there are mounting concerns the convoy could turn ugly. The stated objectives of the founders and organizers of the movement go well beyond vaccine mandates for truckers. … The protest, originally, had nothing to do with truckers: The freedom convoy began as one man in his winnebago.
James Bauder registered the Canada Unity Facebook page in late 2019, when he was a fervent supporter of the United We Roll anti-carbon tax convoy. Things didn’t exactly take off: In March 2021, his recently-registered website boasted a membership count of 30.
Bauder’s Facebook is littered with videos from Fox News broadcaster Tucker Carlson and MAGA politician Louie Gohmert. He has endorsed the false idea that the 2020 U.S. election was rigged. He has repeatedly shared the hashtag “#WWG1WGA”—the rallying cry for the QAnon movement. He has endorsed the idea that the terror attacks of 9/11 and the anti-Muslim massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, were planned by some shadowy government body. He has called COVID-19 a “political scam” and a “plandemic,” and has pointed fingers at George Soros, Bill Gates, and vaccine-maker Pfizer for creating the virus. In 2020, he warned, “​​I think WW3 could start as soon as Feb 2021. I also predict this war will take place on Canadian soil.”
Canada Unity Memorandum of Agreement
Dear Canadian Citizens, Indigenous Communities, and Permanent Residents:
Thank you for choosing to take part in this unprecedented Nationwide movement.
Canada Unity represents and defends a coalition of Concerned Canadian Citizens, Permanent Residents, Indigenous Communities, Employers, Employees from private and government bodies, Institutions and Businesses at large.
The bond we have in common is that we stand opposed to the current unlawful restrictions and discriminatory SARS-CoV-2 (and not limited to SARS, CoV 2 subsequent variations) mandates.

12-21 January
Politico Ottawa Playbook — The House industry committee agreed to question Innovation Minister FRANÇOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE, along with senior public servants, about why the feds didn’t conduct a national security review of critical minerals miner Neo Lithium’s takeover by a Chinese state-owned firm. The committee will also study the critical minerals sector more broadly.
‘Irrelevant’: Liberals say no national security issue in Chinese takeover of lithium company
(National Post) Neo Lithium Corp. not really a Canadian company, with a ‘dubious’ mine project in Argentina, says Liberal MP, Andy Fillmore, parliamentary secretary to Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne,
He says it only registered here to get on the Toronto Stock Exchange in a bid to raise money for what he called a “dubious” mine development project in Argentina.
Moreover, Fillmore says that mine involves lithium carbonate, not the lithium hydroxide used to manufacture batteries that are critical for electric vehicles.
Consequently, he says the company’s takeover by China’s Zijin Mining Group Ltd. is “irrelevant” to Canada’s national security.
(Politico Ottawa Playbook) Conservative leader ERIN O’TOOLE called for another emergency meeting on the Hill, this time convened by the industry committee.
O’Toole wants a Cabinet minister to defend that decision, and he also wants the Liberals to reverse it. You’re on notice, FRANÇOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE.
Ottawa allows Chinese acquisition of Canada’s Neo Lithium to pass with no formal national security review
(Globe & Mail) Ottawa did not conduct a formal security review on the pending acquisition of Canadian lithium company Neo Lithium Corp by Chinese state-owned firm Zijin Mining Group Ltd., paving the way for the deal to close.
Last year, Canada designated lithium as a critical mineral, meaning it is essential to the economy. Ottawa and Washington in 2020 finalized a joint action plan on critical minerals, with commitments by both governments to build secure North American supplies of battery minerals, as fears of a growing stranglehold by China on global supplies intensify.
At the moment, Canada has no lithium mines, no lithium ion battery plants and no lithium processing facilities. The country is an also-ran compared to the United States, Australia and especially China, which processes about two-thirds of global lithium output.
All foreign takeovers of Canadian companies are subject to an initial security screening by Ottawa. If the federal government suspects the transaction could be a threat to national security, the deal undergoes a more thorough review under Section 25.3 of the Investment Canada Act.
According to Neo Lithium, no such review transpired.

11-18 January
CASE CLOSED — Ethics commissioner MARIO DION won’t be investigating ex-China ambassador DOMINIC BARTON’s dealings with Rio Tinto while he was still top envoy in China in 2021.
Global’s MARC-ANDRÉ COSSETTE reported on a statement from Dion’s office, which concluded that Barton “did not have direct and significant dealings” with Rio Tinto before accepting the mining giant’s chairmanship, which he’ll take on later this year. Dion’s office added that Barton did consult the office on his post-diplomatic post options while he was still ambassador.
11 January
(Ottawa Playbook) When news broke that ex-ambassador to China Dominic Barton would be taking up a post-diplomatic job as Rio Tinto chair, the Politico bureau in Ottawa was abuzz in Slack. Can he do that? What are the rules?
Watchdog asked to probe former China ambassador Dominic Barton’s job appointment
The federal Ethics Commissioner has been formally asked to investigate whether Canada’s former ambassador to Beijing, Dominic Barton, violated ethics rules when he accepted an offer to become chair of Rio Tinto, a global mining company that does much of its business in China.
Two New Democratic MPs wrote to the commissioner, Mario Dion, on Friday. Their letter says they believe Mr. Barton is in breach of the Conflict of Interest Act because he met with executives of Rio Tinto shortly before the end of his time as a diplomat.

12 January
Six decades later, we are overdue for a study of the public service
By Andrew Caddell
Aside from the Lambert Commission in 1979, there has been no recent study on the public service. It is as if the cars, machines, or computers of today were the same models as six decades ago, with a few tweaks.
(Hill Times) To start the year off right, there was an announcement from the PMO, which most Canadians missed: a major shuffle of senior public servants. A total of 18 changes were made, moving 13 men and five women to leadership positions.
… it’s hard not to look at these changes as much more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Put aside the challenges of the pandemic and look at the bloated deficit, the inefficiencies of the Phoenix payroll system, and the size of government (2010: 283,000 employees; 2021: 320,000 employees). The Government of All Canadians is adrift.
Much of that is due to the dearth of leadership and imagination in the Prime Minister’s Office and the fatigue of a government in its third mandate. But beyond that, the actual machinery of government has ceased to function. To quote Monty Python, “it don’t work.”

(Politico Ottawa Playbook) Conservative leader ERIN O’TOOLE called for another emergency meeting on the Hill, this time convened by the industry committee.
O’Toole wants a Cabinet minister to defend that decision, and he also wants the Liberals to reverse it. You’re on notice, FRANÇOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE.
Ottawa allows Chinese acquisition of Canada’s Neo Lithium to pass with no formal national security review
(Globe & Mail) Ottawa did not conduct a formal security review on the pending acquisition of Canadian lithium company Neo Lithium Corp by Chinese state-owned firm Zijin Mining Group Ltd., paving the way for the deal to close.
Last year, Canada designated lithium as a critical mineral, meaning it is essential to the economy. Ottawa and Washington in 2020 finalized a joint action plan on critical minerals, with commitments by both governments to build secure North American supplies of battery minerals, as fears of a growing stranglehold by China on global supplies intensify.
At the moment, Canada has no lithium mines, no lithium ion battery plants and no lithium processing facilities. The country is an also-ran compared to the United States, Australia and especially China, which processes about two-thirds of global lithium output.
All foreign takeovers of Canadian companies are subject to an initial security screening by Ottawa. If the federal government suspects the transaction could be a threat to national security, the deal undergoes a more thorough review under Section 25.3 of the Investment Canada Act.
According to Neo Lithium, no such review transpired.

11 January
24 Sussex Dive: Fixer to fabulous?
The 2021 report concluded that 24 Sussex’s condition is “critical,” the most dire score a federal building can receive. The electrical system is a fire hazard. The plumbing fails on a regular basis. The walls include asbestos, lead and mould.

Monday’s Playbook featured an expert’s appeal to the government to finally make a decision on Huawei’s future role in Canada’s 5G infrastructure. Today in overdue decisions, we can’t stop thinking about 24 Sussex. The most recent National Capital Commission calculation on necessary repairs includes C$36.6 million in deferred maintenance on the main residence that features 34 rooms and spans 12,000 sq.-ft.

1 January
Four decisions Justin Trudeau has to stop avoiding
Campbell Clark
We’re not talking here about the promises that were broken and consigned to the trash heap, like the pledge to reform the first-past-the-post electoral system that Mr. Trudeau jettisoned after a year in office, or those they have worked on but not fulfilled, like the commitment to end all boil-water advisories in First Nation communities by March, 2021.
These are the decisions in limbo – the things Mr. Trudeau kept putting off. Here are four things that have lingered on Mr. Trudeau’s To Do list.
Fighter jets – The decision on Canada’s next fleet of fighter jets has been an exercise of procrastination on top of obfuscation on top of procrastination.
Huawei and 5G – It is hard to imagine that Canada won’t restrict the deployment of Huawei 5G equipment. The U.S. warns it poses a security risk. Allies in the Five Eyes intelligence all apply a 10-foot-pole to the Chinese gear, and expect Canada to do the same.
24 Sussex Drive – Justin Trudeau didn’t take up residence when he became Prime Minister because the place was falling apart. Six years later, it is still falling apart, and nothing has been done.
High-frequency rail – The Liberal government needs to make a go or no-go decision on the multibillion-dollar project to build new tracks for the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, at a cost of $4-billion to $6-billion.

2021

The most important committees you’ve never heard of
(Politico Ottawa Playbook) At long last, the federal Cabinet has committees and ministers have parliamentary secretaries. Friday’s announcements reveal a post-election hierarchy: Who the PMO trusts most, which cabmins are workhorses, and which Liberal caucus colleagues are on the outside looking in. (6 December 2021)

29 December
Transparency is a pillar of democratic governance. Canada is continually falling short
(Globe & Mail editorial) In October, a University of Toronto history professor tweeted part of the result of an Access to Information request. The information, of course, was littered with the usual redacted sections, pretty much a universal experience in such endeavours.
What was peculiar in this case was what the Privy Council Office believed had to be hidden from public view. It was sections of a 1959 speech in the House of Commons by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker about the Avro Arrow.
The episode is surreal – the PCO redacted Hansard – yet it also crystallizes Canada’s widespread and continuing failings in access to information. Governments in Canada claim to believe in openness when in fact the opposite is the case. The problems run the gamut, from a recent unjustified tightening of the Freedom of Information law in British Columbia to the day-to-day workings of governments at all levels.

22 December
Andrew Coyne: When you try to run everything out of the PMO, sooner or later something’s bound to break
Is it just me or is there something a little off about the Prime Minister’s Office lately? I don’t mean the Prime Minister himself, who has always had, needless to say, an erratic streak to him. I mean the people around him, the brain trust, the pros, the people who are supposed to keep the ship tight and the clocks wound.
Because some of the decisions coming out of there of late have been more than a little odd. Again, there will always be strange decisions coming out of any prime minister’s office from time to time. But usually these show some evidence of being the product of, well, not thought exactly, but at least intent. Whereas I’m not sure the current PMO is even aware of some of the things they’re doing.
Take, for example, the utterly baffling decision to strike two separate cabinet committees with the same name and the same mandate but different rosters of ministers: the Cabinet Committee on Economy, Inclusion and Climate A, which will consider “such issues as sustainable and inclusive social and economic development, post-pandemic recovery, decarbonization and the environment as well as improving the health and quality of life of Canadians,” and Cabinet Committee on Economy, Inclusion and Climate B, which will consider the exact same set of issues.

20 December
Robert Fife: Dominic Barton met Rio Tinto executives months before firm named him chair
Dominic Barton, Canada’s outgoing ambassador to Beijing, met with Rio Tinto executives in October, two months before it was announced he would take over as chair of the Australian mining giant that does half its business with China.
Federal conflict-of-interest guidelines restrict the ability of a former official, such as Mr. Barton, to take jobs with companies they dealt with during their final 12 months of government work.

16 December
Finally!
Prime Minister releases new mandate letters for ministers
Mandate letters outline the objectives that each minister will work to accomplish, as well as the pressing challenges they will address in their role.

November/December
Getting Parliament to Work Again
(Policy) While the composition of the new Parliament will not shift political power beyond the status quo dynamic that existed before the September 20th election, there is now an opportunity to reform our democratic institutions, including Parliament, if the political will can be mobilized. Former Clerk of the Privy Council Kevin Lynch and former CN and BMO executive Paul Deegan offer a brief prescription for positive change.

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