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Politics Briefing: Governor-General Mary Simon opens 44th Parliament with dire warning on climate change



The federal government delivered a stark warning about the decades ahead as Governor-General Mary Simon opened the 44th Parliament Tuesday, describing a world “in danger” from climate change and urging legislators to turn “talk into action.”

Ms. Simon delivered the minority government’s road map in the Senate, but the Prime Minister’s Office does the majority of the writing for the Speech from the Throne. The address outlined the key election promises for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, who again put ending the pandemic, economic recovery and addressing climate change at the top of the priority list.

“Our Earth is in danger,” Ms. Simon said in the speech’s introductory remarks, written by her office. “From a warming Arctic to the increasing devastation of natural disasters, our land and our people need help.”

“We cannot afford to wait.”

Parliamentary Reporters Marieke Walsh and Kristy Kirkup report here on the Throne Speech.

The text of the Throne Speech is available here.

The Liberal government, meanwhile, will introduce legislation as soon as this week that would implement plans to scale back COVID-19 benefits and the Bloc Québécois says it is prepared to offer its support. Story here.

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THRONE SPEECH DAY IN MANITOBA – Tuesday was also Throne Speech Day in Manitoba, but there was a twist. The CBC obtained a copy of the first throne speech scheduled to be delivered since Heather Stefanson became Premier by winning the Progressive Conservative leadership. Story here. Meanwhile, Manitoba Opposition Leader Wab Kinew says he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating.

BANK OF CANADA ON HOME PRICES – The Bank of Canada said that investors have likely contributed to the rapid spike in home prices, exposing the housing market to a downturn where the fallout could spread to other parts of the economy. Story here.

NEW SPEAKER – Members of Parliament have re-elected veteran Liberal Anthony Rota as Speaker of the House of Commons.

TERMS OF NDP SUPPORT FOR LIBERAL GOVERNMENT – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party will oppose imminent government legislation to scale back COVID-19 benefits unless the Liberals agree to changes, a stand that creates uncertainty as to how the re-elected minority Liberals will obtain parliamentary approval for the $7.4-billion plan it announced last month. Story here.

SUZUKI FOUNDATION DISTANCES ITSELF FROM DAVID – The David Suzuki Foundation has distanced itself from environmental activist David Suzuki’s warning that ‘pipelines will be blown up’ if political leaders do not act on climate change. From The Vancouver Sun. Story here.

PETITPAS TAYLOR COMMITS TO PROTECTING INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES/FRENCH – New Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor says protecting Indigenous languages to make sure they are taught to future generations is a priority for the Liberal government, alongside promoting French throughout Canada. From CTV.

FLOODS AND MUDSLIDES CREATE ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY IN B.C. – British Columbia’s economy was on track toward a strong economic rebound in its latest financial results, but uncertainties remain, especially stemming from the damage caused by recent floods and mudslides, says Finance Minister Selina Robinson. Meanwhile, some evacuees were set to return home Tuesday and a key railway corridor expected to reopen. Story here.

N.W.T. LEGISLATORS PONDER EXPULSION OF MEMBER – In a historic moment, legislators in the Northwest Territories must decide whether to expel one of their own. At issue is Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn, the subject of a legislative inquiry into his actions earlier this year when he was alleged to have broken COVID-19 self-isolation protocols, and misled the public about it through statements to Yellowknife media. From CBC. Story here.


CABINET COMMENT: Ahead of and after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, ministers spoke to various issues. Gen. Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff, attending the meeting, said going in that, based on a B.C. assessment, the Canadian Armed Forces have enough troops in the province to deal with the aftermath of rainstorms and mudslides. At the same time, Defence Minister Anita Anand noted 500 solders are in B.C. with ” thousands more ready to be deployed if necessary.” On the same file, Bill Blair, Minister of Emergency Preparedness, said he isn’t yet prepared to offer a cost forecast for rebuilding critical infrastructure in B.C. “I don’t want to, sort of, assign an arbitrary figure to it,” he said, adding he expects a “substantial investment.”

On the prospect of a childcare deal with Ontario, Families Minister Karina Gould said “We’re having some good conversations now with Ontario, so I’m looking forward to update soon.”

VISIT BY NEW ZEALAND FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER – Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister, was in Ottawa Tuesday to begin a three-day visit that will include meetings with several cabinet ministers. Ms. Mahuta is New Zealand’s first female foreign affairs minister, and the first Maori woman to hold the post. Her visit is part of a seven-country tour. While in Ottawa, she will meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, International Trade Minister Mary Ng, International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan, and Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu.


Private meetings. The Prime Minister chaired the cabinet meeting. He then participated in the Speech-from-the-Throne procession and ceremony, at the Senate of Canada, to officially open the first session of the 44th Parliament . The Prime Minister was then scheduled to meet with the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu.


Private meetings. The Deputy Prime Minister attends the cabinet meeting, and will watch the delivery of the Speech from the Throne.


Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a news conference on Parliament Hill following the Speech from the Throne.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh holds a news conference, on Parliament Hill, to react to the Speech from the Throne.

No other leaders schedules released.


Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how Erin O’Toole’s Tories are making Justin Trudeau’s life easy:At a news conference on Monday as Parliament resumed, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh complained that in a time of pandemic, floods in B.C. and high costs of living, all Canadians hear from the Conservatives are the party’s demands for “special treatment” to avoid vaccination. “They should be embarrassed,” Mr. Singh said. But the thing is, the Conservatives already are embarrassed. At least, many Conservatives are. This “are-you-vaccinated” stuff has made some believe the party sympathizes with vaccine hesitancy. Erin O’Toole, the party’s leader, has been embarrassed over and over. And certainly, Mr. O’Toole and most of his caucus of MPs would very much like the Canadian public to hear other things about the Conservative Party besides speculation about MPs’ vaccination status. But the party just can’t seem to let go. It just can’t seem to tell the world that all its MPs are vaccinated – or conversely, that X number remain unvaccinated, with an explanation.”

Eric Morse (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics would put athletes in danger: “China has been acting more than aggressively whenever it feels its face is threatened and has shown it will stop at nothing to retaliate against real or imagined slights. Canada’s detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was followed by China’s detention of the two Michaels, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. IOC member in Canada Dick Pound, who also went through the events of 1980, has noted that the current situation could spin out of control very easily. If anything, he’s understating.Half a provocation is a provocation still. Think of our young people in the place of the two Michaels and ask whether the risk to them is worth it. When observers are beginning to wonder increasingly whether travel to China is safe, we should not take the risk of shovelling Canadian athletes into the Wolf Warrior’s maw. There should be a boycott indeed, but if Canada is to go that route, it must be all or nothing.”

Jessica Scott-Reid (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how drowned animals in B.C. are a further facet of a flawed farming system: “According to the National Farm Animal Care Council code of practice, which is created and overseen largely by the agriculture industry itself, farmers are supposed to develop a plan for evacuating animals in the event of an emergency. That plan, according to the council’s website, “should include consideration of emergency housing, transportation and personnel.” But because these codes are essentially voluntary, and because there are no actual laws in Canada governing the everyday treatment of animals on farms, there is no real need to have this evacuation plan in place ­­– as we have seen.”

John Michael McGrath (TVO) on the role of the Ontario government in the Ottawa LRT debacle: “All this drama has moved Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney to do what this government wouldn’t with the thousands of dead in long-term care: call a formal public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act. Except that, aside from announcing the government’s intentions to call the inquiry, Mulroney’s announcement last Thursday was decidedly short on details: the government hasn’t named a commissioner to lead the inquiry, nor has it settled on terms of reference to determine the precise scope of the inquiry. It’s worth at least asking why this is a provincial matter at all: on the surface, it is a relatively narrow local matter, despite Ottawa’s status as the nation’s capital and one of Ontario’s most populous cities. It’s not like the Progressive Conservative government is above any suspicion of political shenanigans here, given that an inquiry allows it to put an unpleasant spotlight on a project that’s been backed by Liberal politicians at all three levels of government.”

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