Politics Briefing newsletter: Trudeau back in Ottawa after mountain holidays


Good morning,

Welcome back to the Politics Briefing newsletter, and we hope you had a pleasant holiday break. It’s back to work today for many in Ottawa, including the Prime Minister, who spent his holidays in Lake Louise, Alta., and Revelstoke, B.C.

As we warm up to work, the city of Ottawa, too, is thawing out. It’s set to rise to a balmy – 1 this afternoon, which is a real relief after a frigid few weeks. And, just in time, the Rideau Canal has opened for skating a little early this year.

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But don’t get too excited – Parliament is still on break for another few weeks.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa. If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

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Mary Dawson celebrates her last day as the federal Ethics Commissioner today after a decade in the post. In an exit interview with The Globe’s Laura Stone, Ms. Dawson says she felt she “went out with a bang” with her report that was critical of Justin Trudeau vacationing on the Aga Khan’s private island. Over her tenure, she says she found “not an awful lot of bad stuff going on” and that most of the political office holders were “pretty good” people.

Canadians are concerned about MPs accepting trips paid for by foreign governments or business groups, a Nanos poll suggests.

You can no longer be threatened with jail time for failing to complete the census.

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The House of Commons is working on providing in-person anti-harassment training for MPs this year.

The government says its reviewing its funding policies in the cultural sector to ensure it is supporting “harassment-free” workplaces.

Lithuania is asking Canada to sign on to a massive redevelopment effort for Ukraine, which is still facing aggressive Russian actions.

And Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould is set to become the first cabinet minister to give birth while in office. She says she hopes she can be a positive example for women of balancing work and motherhood. “I want to be ambitious and have a successful career, but I also want to have a family. I don’t see those things as being mutually exclusive,” she said.

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer: “For a candidate who was supposed to be the down-to-earth antidote to the celebrity politician that is Justin Trudeau, Mr. Scheer only seems to confirm that bland usually doesn’t work. It might sell in 1970s-era Ontario or Regina-Qu’Appelle, the sleepy Saskatchewan riding Mr. Scheer has represented since he was a 25-year-old. But the dimpled-doughboy shtick just isn’t cutting it among Canadians.”

Marina Adshade and Niko Bell (The Globe and Mail) on birth control: “Canada is one of the only countries with publicly funded health care that doesn’t provide some contraceptive coverage for women. And there is ample evidence that providing free contraceptives leads to a dramatic drop in unintended pregnancies, teen pregnancies and abortions.”

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Alicia Elliott (The Globe and Mail) on Indigenous people: “Canada has never accepted Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination. In fact, they – the individuals who, throughout history, have represented and made decisions on behalf of Canada – have actively suppressed it. By intentionally cutting essential funding at critical moments, wielding court injunctions to stop our land defenders and legislating the minutiae of our lives through the Indian Act, to name just a few examples, the Canadian government continually prevents us from creating meaningful change in our communities. It stops us from determining our own present and forging our own future. And like every decision Canada makes about us, without us, we’re supposed to smile and accept these arrangements, or laugh defensively, or, better yet, do nothing – regardless of how it affects our families and our lives.”

James Trottier (Ottawa Citizen) on the upcoming Vancouver Conference on North Korea: “Unfortunately, the Vancouver Conference will fail to achieve its stated objective of persuading North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program. However, the initiative will strengthen the hand of those within the Donald Trump administration and beyond (including South Korea) who are advocating for diplomatic rather than military action.”

Paul Wells (Maclean’s) on Finance Minister Bill Morneau: “Covering Justin Trudeau’s cabinet can be like finding yourself snowed in at a ski lodge with a touring production of Up With People: the non-stop cheerfulness and five-alarm groupthink can be wearying. Morneau stands a little distant from his colleagues and, indeed, from most other people in a room. He keeps his counsel.”

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