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Welcome to Ottawa Playbook. I’m your host, Nick Taylor-Vaisey with Zi-Ann Lum and Maura Forrest. Today, we probe a Liberal poll of Liberal people that hints at a ranking of the party’s policy agenda. Also, experts raise figurative alarm bells about one of those government bills introduced in the Senate. And from the tenders: apology infrastructure.
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LIBERAL BRAIN — A Monday email from Grit HQ offered a revealing — and to be clear, entirely unscientific — window into the brains of party supporters (and anyone else who signed up for party emails and decided to cast a ballot just for kicks). And a glimpse into the issues the party places above all else.
— Potential priorities: The survey presented two long lists and asked readers to select their faves. The first question focused on Budget 2022. The next one quizzed respondents on 31 assorted Liberal issues (some of which were also budget promises).
— Top priorities: The party asked its people for their opinion, but simultaneously pointed them to the latest thinking from the cool kids. Before a respondent could even click on the poll, they were greeted by five issues highlighted with slick graphics and running vote totals keeping track of the popularity of priorities in real time.
Open the email, see the results. Refresh the email and, voilà, new numbers appear. Pollsters everywhere would cringe at the response bias.
Still, people voted.
Late Monday, the graphics said 1,452 respondents — that’s 57 percent — picked “making life more affordable.” Twenty-one percent clicked “delivering clean air and a strong economy while fighting climate change.” In a distant third at 9 percent? Strengthening gun control, ahead of “creating good-paying middle class jobs” at 7 percent. In fifth, with 6 percent, was C$10-a-day childcare.
— A huge caveat: We repeat, this was not a scientific effort. For one, even though the graphics highlight “making life affordable” it was not an explicit option under any of the survey questions, though the word affordable did appear in the context of childcare, housing and zero-emission vehicles.
Another oddity? The percentages on those top-five priorities added up to 100, but surely at least some respondents selected some of the dozens of other options — say, Indigenous reconciliation, support for mental health services or reducing surgery backlogs.
Clearly, this was heavy on optics and light on methodology. But for anyone who’s curious about what the Liberal Party hopes will define its agenda, here’s your answer.
ALBERTA WATCH — The United Conservatives are back ahead in Wild Rose country. Okay, it’s just one poll. But PHILIPPE J. FOURNIER‘s 338Canada says that’s enough to give the party still sorta led by JASON KENNEY the edge in a seat projection snapshot for the first time in a year and a half.
Leger’s latest survey for Postmedia pegged UCP support at 42 percent, compared to the NDP’s 40. That’s a 7-point gain for the governing party since March, and a four-point drop for RACHEL NOTLEY‘s New Democrats.
— Battleground Calgary:Fournier’s map has the UCP cleaning up in rural Alberta and the NDP virtually sweeping Edmonton — as well as both seats in Lethbridge. Nothing surprising there. Fournier also predicts an NDP gain in Kananaskis Country. But Calgary is where the fun will be. Back in 2015, Notley won 15 ridings in the central city and surrounding suburbs on her way to a stunning majority. Fournier projects NDP wins in seven, with two NDP-leaning tossups and three others that lean UCP.
Leger gives the quasi-leaderless party a 48-35 advantage in Cowtown. But here’s a wrinkle. Notley trounces UCP leadership contenders BRIAN JEAN and DANIELLE SMITH in that city. One caveat: The sample size is only 330 Calgarians. Another: Again, this is one poll.
— The upshot: Notley’s path to electoral resurrection is narrow, but that’s why savvy observers have already noticed the party piling resources on the province’s biggest city — with more to come.
PATENT WAIVER — The Council of Canadians recently asked the pollsters at Abacus Data to take the country’s temperature on what they see as a key piece of global vaccine equity: a waiver of intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines. The results just came in.
— Key finding: The Abacus poll found that 67 percent of Canadians support a waiver “so that poorer countries can manufacture and export them.” That includes 71 percent of Quebecers, 70 percent of Albertans, and 76 percent of Liberals.
(The poll was conducted with 1,500 Canadian adults between May 27 and May 29. The margin of error is 2.53 percent, 19 times out of 20.)
— The backstory: Canada has been ambivalent about a possible waiver, which India and South Africa first proposed in October 2020. Proponents argue waiving patents would help developing nations access vaccines faster, but the proposal has met opposition from the pharmaceutical industry and many wealthy countries that have signed bilateral deals with vaccine makers.
As POLITICO’s MAURA FORREST reported in April, industry representatives have met several times with government officials to discuss the proposed waiver during the past year, including at least one meeting with International Trade Minister MARY NG, according to documents released to the House foreign affairs committee.
Records of the meetings show industry reps praising the government’s muted response to the waiver idea, and Ng assuring them “IP is just one part” of the discussion about vaccine access and that Canada had made no commitments.
PANDORA’S BOX — Privacy experts don’t understand why an electronic device should be subject to a lower legal threshold for search than physical pieces of snail mail.
Unlike most physical mail, a smartphone contains varied and large quantities of data about a person’s life, including protected banking and health information.
If passed, Bill S-7 would update the Customs Act and the Preclearance Act and give officers the authority to cite “reasonable general concern” to search digital devices. The bill’s untested legal term is setting off alarm bells as it makes its way through the Senate.
The term has left the federal privacy commissioner’s office bewildered. “It’s not clear what the evidentiary basis is for this novel threshold, and its novelty creates a high potential for ambiguity in its interpretation and implementation,” said BRENT HOMAN, deputy commissioner of the watchdog’s compliance sector, in Monday’s meeting.
— Legal context: The thresholds “reasonable grounds to believe” or “reasonable grounds to suspect” appear in the Customs Act, but not “reasonable general concern.”
“Privacy is absolutely at stake,” the Canadian Bar Association’s DAVID T.S. FRASER told senators Monday. The new legal standard will sow confusion which, he said, will invite litigation and a “very high chance” it will eventually be found incongruent with the existing legal system and therefore unconstitutional.
Fraser used the example of police obtaining a warrant to search a house. If they find any computers or smartphones, he said, police have to go back to a judge for special permission to search those devices.
— Double-standard dread”: Sen. MOBINA JAFFER, who described herself as an “old Muslim senator,” dug into her lived experience where being pulled aside for “random” secondary searches happens “almost every time” she travels.
Jaffer has concerns about a potential double standard. She said Bill S-7, as worded, would establish a lower threshold for a border agent to search someone’s device than a physical piece of mail.
In a post-9/11 era of national security, the untested legal standard “is not only legally unfounded, but also unreasonably broad and low,” said PANTEA JAFARI with the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association.
“I would highly venture that things are going to get disproportionately and significantly worse for racialized Canadans at the border,” Jafari told senators.
9 a.m. The Equal Futures 2022 summit kicks off in Ottawa with a speech from Women and Gender Equality Minister MARCI IEN. Speakers include International Development Minister HARJIT SAJJAN and former Liberal cabinet minister MARYAM MONSEF.
10:30 a.m. Environment Minister STEVEN GUILBEAULT will speak to reporters after tabling of a new bill to protect historic places in Canada.
10:30 a.m. NDP leader JAGMEET SINGH will hold a West Block media avail on “helping Canadians with the growing cost of living crisis.”
11:30 a.m. Chief electoral officer STÉPHANE PERRAULT will hold a press conference in Gatineau to discuss Elections Canada’s recommendations report from the 43rd and 44th general elections.
12 p.m. Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Minister AHMED HUSSEN, Sen. HASSANYUSSUFF, RBC board chair KATHLEEN TAYLOR, and AIMCo chairman MARK WISEMAN headline an Empire Club of Canada talk, “Human Capital’s Role in the Canadian Economy: Investing in Canada’s Future.”
1:30 p.m. The new heads of seven missions will present their credentials to Governor General MARY SIMON at Rideau Hall.
5:30 p.m. Former NDP MP PEGGY NASH returns to the Hill, to the Metropolitain Brasserie, to launch her new book, “Women Winning Office: An Activists Guide to Getting Elected.” MEGAN LESLIE will host.
6 p.m. The Hub and Cardus are co-hosting a talk on how a new generation of conservatives — hello, millennials! — are changing their movement. Panelists include SEAN SPEER, MP ADAM CHAMBERS, Cardus policy director ANDREAE SENNYAH, and Canada Strong & Free Network president JAMIL JIVANI. It all goes down at 45 Rideau. Register here.
APOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE — On July 9 in Nova Scotia the feds will deliver a formal apology to No. 2 Construction Battalion, a segregated unit of Black Canadians rejected from combat service in World War One and forced to endure racist hate and prejudice.
A big crowd is expected. Public Services and Procurement is contracting out the work of building temporary bleachers at Truro’s Amateur Athletic Club Grounds (somewhere on this field). The stands will seat up to 1,500 onlookers. DOUGLAS RUCK, the son of a serving member of the battalion, spoke at an event marking the announcement of the apology. “The minister’s words are important. They must make a difference. But if things remain the same, then all of this is for naught,” he said. (The Halifax Examiner reported on that event.)
ABOUT THOSE TREES — Remember that Liberal promise to plant 2 billion trees before the end of the decade? That deadline is now 2031, and the feds have pledged C$3.2 billion to get it done. (We checked in on Tree #1 last summer.) The latest call for proposals, which ended in February, attracted more than 200 applicants.
Last year’s planting partners owe the government their final reports this spring. Natural Resources Canada wants to make sure all the tree-planting groups that have already scored federal dough “have met the financial terms of their respective contribution agreements,” and that “the financial information provided by recipients is free of material misstatement.” In other words, the department wants an auditor.
HINDSIGHT IS 20/20 — In the pandemic’s early days of economic calamity, the Liberals launched a billion-dollar Regional Relief and Recovery Fund that eventually doubled in size. Now, one of the six regional economic development agencies that doled out the dough is looking for some real talk on how it all went down.
— So, how’d it go? Prairies Economic Development Canada will task a consultant with reporting on “the extent to which objectives and short-term outcomes of the RRRF have been achieved in the Prairies,” and measuring the “effectiveness of the design and delivery” of the program.
The agency’s timelines for the final report are murky. The date by which the winning bidder is expected to present their findings is TBD.
— From POLITICO’s NAHAL TOOSI:6 things to watch during the Summit of the Americas. And from JONATHAN LEMIRE:Biden is making a bid to unite the hemisphere. Attendance is an issue.
— And from our colleagues in London: The party’s not over for Boris Johnson. Yet.
— Three senior executives let go from oil sector lobby group, EMMA GRANEY reports from Calgary for The Globe.
— iPolitics features a Q&A with DANIELLE SMITH.
Birthdays: HBD to Liberal MP ROB OLIPHANT and NDP politician JINNY SIMS (70)!
Movers and shakers: Quebec’s Superior Court has a new chief justice: MARIE-ANNE PAQUETTE, a former partner at Woods and lawyer at McCarthy Tétrault who once clerked for former Supreme Court chief justice BEVERLEY MCLACHLIN. Paquette also clerked for former Supreme MORRIS FISH, back when he sat on Quebec’s Court of Appeal.
SABINA SAINI, whose resumé includes stints as chief of staff to three Liberal ministers, is now practitioner-in-residence at the Riddell School of Political Management. Saini was also legislative assistant to then-Liberal leader STÉPHANE DION. She’ll teach courses on women in politics, as well as Parliament and political parties.
VANDANA KATTAR, formerly JUSTIN TRUDEAU‘s director of ops for outreach and planning, started a new gig in her pre-political digs at TD Bank: Head of comms, global diversity and inclusion.
Walmart VP PAUL DYCK is the newest board member at the Canadian American Business Council.
ÉLODIE COLLIARD is repping the National Ballet, Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Independent Music Company and the Writers Guild on the Hill … Compass Rose’s KELLY HUTCHINSON is lobbying for Microsoft … McMillan Vantage’s JESSICA BRANDON-JEPP is on the Hill for Lockheed Martin.
From the ethics files: Transport Minister OMAR ALGHABRA recused himself from a May 10 discussion involving his friend DANY ASSAF, a partner at Torys, and the Canada Race Relations Foundation. Cabinet later appointed Assaf to the CRRF’s board of directors.
Spotted: Conservative MP ADAM CHAMBERS, rising in the House to celebrate the butter tart.
All charges dropped against former MP ROB ANDERS. The CBC’s Meghan Grant has details.
Hitched: Kenora MP ERIC MELILLO and DANAKA HOWDEN were married Friday. They met by chance at Toronto’s Pearson Airport in 2019.
Earlier this year, Melillo endorsed fellow MP SCOTT AITCHISON‘s run for the Tory leadership. Aitchison officiated the ceremony.
“It was particularly special and a bit tearful for me when I was able to pronounce these two amazing people husband and wife,” Aitchison said Monday in the House. “At the reception following the ceremony, there were a number of speeches, including remarks delivered by the member for Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry [ERIC DUNCAN] that left the guests and the happy couple in stitches.”
9 a.m. Parliamentary Budget Officer YVES GIROUX will release two new reports, including an analysis of recent consumer price inflation data. The PBO will also post a new legislative costing note entitled “Increasing Loan Forgiveness for Doctors and Nurses in Rural and Remote Communities.”
9:30 a.m. Giroux will be at the Senate national finance committee to take questions about supplementary estimates (A).
9:30 a.m.The Senate energy, the environment and natural resources committee meets to continue its study of Bill S-5.
10 a.m. The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Conservation, Climate, Forestry and Natural Resources Subcommittee holds a hearing on The Western Water Crisis: Confronting Persistent Drought and Building Resilience on our Forests and Farmland.
11 a.m. The House committee on public safety is in camera for its first hour to discuss its report on ideologically motivated violent extremism. At noon, MPs will continue their study assessing Canada’s security posture with relation to Russia.
11 a.m. The House environment committee will hear from officials from multiple departments on clean technologies in Canada.
11 a.m. Environment watchdog JERRY DEMARCO will be at the House committee on public accounts. Subject: Report 1, Just Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy, of the 2022 Reports 1 to 5 of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.
11 a.m. The House public accounts committee will hear from government officials on the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development’s report on the “Just Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy.”
11 a.m.The House public safety and national security committee will consider its report on the rise of ideologically motivated violent extremism in Canada. Starting at 12 p.m., the committee will continue its “Assessment of Canada’s Security Posture in Relation to Russia.”
11 a.m.The House of Commons committee on procedure and House affairs will continue its study of Bill C-14 on electoral representation. The committee will hear from Université Laval constitutional law expert PATRICK TAILLON at 11 a.m., followed by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister DOMINIC LEBLANC at 12 p.m.
3:30 p.m.The House committee on government operations and estimates will hear from Treasury Board President MONA FORTIER and government officials on supplementary estimates (A).
3:30 p.m.The House committee on Indigenous and northern affairs is studying Arctic sovereignty and emergency preparedness.
6:30 p.m.The special joint committee on the declaration of emergency will hear from government officials.
Behind closed doors:
11 a.m. The House committee on fisheries and oceans will discuss two draft reports, including one on marine cargo container spills.
3:30 p.m.The House industry and technology committee will discuss its draft report on quantum computing.
3:30 p.m.The House status of women committee will consider a draft report of MPs’ study of intimate partner and domestic violence in Canada.
3:30 p.m. The House committee on justice and human rights will consider its draft “Review of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.”
6:30 p.m. The subcommittee on international human rights will consider its draft report on “Human Rights in Repressive States: The Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Journalists and Media Organizations.”
If you’re a POLITICO Pro subscriber, don’t miss our latest policy newsletter: Inside Putin’s war on food security.
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— Tai presses China to send trade minister to WTO decision-making meeting.
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— Global crises undermine efforts to get climate talks back to normal.
— U.S. skeptical U.N.-Russia talks will free trapped Ukrainian grain.
— How many Covid deaths are acceptable? Some Biden officials tried to guess.
Monday’s answer: Some 156,000 soldiers landed or parachuted in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
Props to BRAM ABRAMSON, ROBERT MCDOUGALL, NANCI WAUGH, DOUG RICE, and GARY ALLEN.
Tuesday’s question: Name two former federal party leaders who served as MPs in the 1980s — and went on to become premiers.
Send your answers to [email protected]
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