Politics Briefing: The latest harassment allegations

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Good morning,

The issue of harassment in the workplace — whether bullying or sexual — has spread across the political sphere. It’s hard to keep up. Here are some of the latest stories on that file.

Independent Senator Marilou McPhedran says she will help any Senate staffers who have faced workplace harassment, including paying for their legal bills. (The funds coming from her office budget.) That offer won’t be much use for Green Leader Elizabeth May, who is asking members of her party for donations to help her fight an investigation into her conduct in the workplace. The Prime Minister’s Office, meanwhile, has set up a small unit to handle complaints coming their way. Small Business and Tourism Minister Bardish Chagger says she had no idea a member of her staff had faced allegations from someone applying for a job with her. In Toronto, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson said she was offered an appearance on television in exchange for sex. She says the offer was made by TV host Steve Paikin. TVO says it is investigating the incident but, based on what they know so far, they see no reason to take him off the air. And across the pond, the European Parliament is set to introduce new guidelines this week to deal with workplace harassment, all because of one little notebook.

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Editor’s note: in an item about the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party’s leadership race in Monday’s newsletter, we described Doug Ford as a “Toronto city councillor.” He is, of course, a former city councillor.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa, Mayaz Alam in Toronto and James Keller in Vancouver. 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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TODAY’S HEADLINES

Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, says North American free-trade agreement talks should wrap up in the next couple of months because they are putting a chill on investment by dragging on so long.

Two Canadians — a mother and her friend — have safely exited Syria after a failed attempt to recover the mother’s children, allegedly taken to the region by their father.

Multiple cabinet ministers will face the Senate today to talk about marijuana legalization. They hope to alleviate senators’ concerns that making the drug legal this summer is too soon.

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Marijuana won’t be sold alongside liquor in B.C., after the province became the latest to reject so-called co-location. The province plans to use a network of private and government-owned retail stores when marijuana becomes legal later this year, with the government controlling online sales.

British Columbia is shrugging off a move by Alberta to cancel talks about electricity sales, which was designed to punish B.C. for its opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Exports of B.C. power to Alberta have been declining steadily for a decade, and B.C.’s energy minister says that wasn’t expected to change.

And the Canadian government spent $7-million on social media in the last fiscal year.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the television station formerly known as Russia Today: “In recent weeks we’ve learned that Russia’s RT television channel, a mix of news, tabloid oddities and Kremlin-aligned views, pays Canadian cable companies to be carried in their lineup. The federal government, which shrugged at first, is not looking at that practice – but it should not hesitate to act. Allowing such payments is bad public policy – and asking for it to get worse.”

Andrew Coyne (National Post) on pipelines: “For B.C. to presume to block Alberta oil from reaching the coast is not only an invasion of federal jurisdiction. It is not only an assault on the rule of law. It is an attack on the whole idea of Canada. The reason the people of the former provinces of British North America united in federation was in large measure to form an economic union: not just a free trade area, limited and contingent, such as might be negotiated between sovereign states, but a single economic space, within which capital, labour, goods and services could move freely.”

Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star) on NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh: “Mulcair navigated his party’s oft-tumultuous policy waters by keeping minds focused on the NDP’s election prospects and the opportunity to oust the Conservatives from office. It helped that he had poll numbers that showed federal power to potentially be within the reach of the New Democrats. Singh can count on no public opinion crutch.”

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Globe and Mail editorial board on NDP House Leader Ruth Ellen Brosseau: “When parties cast about for people to run in elections, they should look for fewer ‘star’ candidates and for more plainspoken folk who aren’t in it for the limelight, and who have a willingness to learn.”

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