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Politics Briefing: Ottawa in talks with Indigenous communities about raising flag for Remembrance Day



The Bloc Québécois leader says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has placed the Canadian flag in a “hostage” situation as questions arise on whether it will be raised for Remembrance Day.

During a Parliament Hill news conference today, Yves-François Blanchet was referring to flags on government of Canada buildings being at half-mast for several months to honour former residential school students.

“It seems – based on appearance, but not concrete action – that Mr. Trudeau has given his national flag in hostage to people who have legitimate claims. We are coming to the deadline after weeks and months and so he has to make a decision,” Mr. Blanchet told journalists.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau said that work is under way with Indigenous communities on how to go about raising the Canadian flag for Remembrance Day, and he is confident a solution can be reached.

Parliamentary Reporter Kristy Kirkup reports here on the situation.

Speaking to the issue, Mr. Blanchet said, “I am leaning towards the First Nations when it comes to their relations with the federal government.”

He added, “I think it is at least a paradoxical situation that the Prime Minister put himself in. That’s his problem.”

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


NEW BID FOR DOCUMENTS – Opposition parties plan to resume their parliamentary battle for the disclosure of documents on the firing of two scientists from Canada’s highest-security laboratory, a dispute that has pitted the Trudeau government against the House of Commons. Story here.

TRUDEAU’S COP26 PITCH – Globe and Mail climate change columnist Adam Radwanski writes here about Justin Trudeau’s pitch at COP26 to other countries to follow his government’s lead on carbon pricing. Check here for The Globe’s ongoing live coverage of the conference.

NEW U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CANADA – The U.S. Senate has confirmed tech executive David Cohen to be the next U.S. ambassador to Canada. Story from CTV here. There’s a White House-posted bio of Mr. Cohen here.

O’TOOLE FACES GRASSROOTS CHALLENGES – Erin O’Toole insists the Conservative caucus is united behind his leadership. But can he be as confident about the party’s grassroots? The reaction from a handful of third-party organizations, which represent swaths of the Conservative faithful, suggests the answer is likely a no.

RUNNER-UP CHALLENGES SELECTION OF NEW MANITOBA PREMIER – Former federal cabinet minister Shelly Glover says she is the new Manitoba premier, but Heather Stefanson has been sworn in as political leader of the province, and is initiating initial steps for government under her leadership. Ms. Glover, who narrowly lost when the leadership ballots were counted Saturday, is challenging Ms. Stefanson’s victory. Story here.

QUEBEC PREMIER AT COP26 – Quebec Premier François Legault is participating from Tuesday to Thursday in COP26, his first mission as Premier at a United Nations conference. “Quebec must be present, if only to put a little pressure on the other heads of state,” he said. Story from The Montreal Gazette here.

B.C. MAYOR APOLOGIZES FOR RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL POST – The mayor of the B.C. city of Williams Lake has apologized for a social media post that defended residential schools. Story here from My PG Now. The City of Williams Lake has posted a response here.

NOOSE LEFT AT HOME OF ALBERTA MLA – An Alberta member of the legislature says she is outraged after COVID-19 protesters came to her house on the weekend and hung up a noose. Tracy Allard, a United Conservative backbencher for Grande Prairie, calls the threats and intimidation inexcusable and says her private life and her family are out of bounds to protesters. Story here.

JACKET-AND-TIE-FREE PARLIAMENT – MPs are calling for the House of Commons’ “archaic” dress code – which requires men to wear a jacket and tie to speak in the chamber – to be scrapped.


COP26 – Premier Minister Justin Trudeau returned to Ottawa today from the COP26 conference in Scotland. However, he is leaving some of his cabinet there. Mr. Trudeau tweeted that Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson remain with the rest of the Canadian delegation at the conference. COP26 continues until Nov. 12.

DAVIS SERVICE – A celebration of the life of former Ontario Premier William G. Davis is being held at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto at 11 a.m. on Nov. 4. Details on attending are here. Mr. Davis died in August, aged 92. He was the Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario from 1971 to 1985.

SWEARING-IN – As of Tuesday, 203 newly elected MPs have been sworn in in Ottawa – or 60 per cent of the total, according to Heather Bradley, communications director for the Office of the Speaker and House of Commons. Of the 203, 38 (or 19 per cent) were done virtually and 165 (or 81 per cent) in person. About a dozen additional swearing-in ceremonies are scheduled for today. The House of Commons resumes sitting on Nov. 22.


The Prime Minister has returned to Ottawa from the COP26 conference.


Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet holds a news conference, on Parliament Hill, on the subject of COP26.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh attends the COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

No schedule released for other party leaders.


Heather Stefanson is the new Premier of Manitoba, but one of only two women among provincial and territorial leaders in Canada (the other is Caroline Cochrane, leader of the Northwest Territories). Through hosting the No Second Chances podcast about women in top political roles and her new children’s book Govern Like a Girl, Kate Graham has drawn on her longstanding interest in women in politics. Ms. Graham, who ran for the leadership of the Ontario Liberals last year, holds a PhD in political science, and teaches at Huron University College. The Globe spoke to her about the election of Ms. Stefanson and what it says about women in Canadian politics today.

What did you make of the news that Manitoba was going to have its first female premier, and the only female premier amongst Canada’s larger provinces?

Welcome to the party, Manitoba (and let’s get a move on, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick)! This brings the number of current female premiers to a total of two, of 13. It’s something to celebrate, but also a reminder of how much work there still is to do.

There was a time when Canada had several female premiers at the same time, leading the most populous provinces: Christy Clark in B.C., Alison Redford in Alberta, Kathleen Wynne in Ontario, Pauline Marois in Quebec. Kathy Dunderdale was also the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. What, in your view, happened to change that?

Canada has had more than 300 premiers, and only 13 – now 14 – have been women. Even more concerning, there are patterns to the political fortunes of these women: They tend to rise in challenging “glass cliff” circumstances, they serve about 60 per cent as long as men, and when they run for re-election, they lose. Canadians have never re-elected a female first minister to lead through a second elected mandate.

Here’s the problem: it’s us as Canadians. Consciously or not, we continue to hold women to different standards than we do with men. We have grown so used to seeing political leaders looking a particular way – specifically older, white, straight, affluent men – that there is still a subtle (and sometimes less subtle) discomfort with leaders who breaks this mould. We hold our leaders to an impossibly high standard, often full of contradictions. One female past premier explained it to me this way: “For men, you can be tough and likeable; for women, it’s one or the other.” This is part of why we continue to see fewer women rise up to our most senior roles, and it’s part of why we still see too little diversity in politics.

What’s missing from politics in the absence of gender diversity in provincial and territorial leadership?

The research here is clear: Diverse groups make better decisions. Period. Our leaders need to reflect the people they serve, in as many ways as possible. Having a diversity of views at our most senior decision-making tables means that the perspectives and lived experiences of more Canadians will be taken into account when decisions are made.

There is also a generational cost when we don’t see diversity at the top. It sends a not-so-subtle message to kids who don’t see themselves reflected that political leadership may not be a place for them. It takes years to address these gaps. Diversity in leadership now will yield greater diversity in our political leaders tomorrow, and that’s a very good thing.

What is the solution to this status quo?

The solution is that we need to see more women – and a greater diversity of women – run, win and lead. This won’t happen without action from us. As Canadians, we need to support female-identifying candidates who step forward to serve. We need to change the things about politics that tend to turn women off from running.


Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on why how much we cut carbon emissions is less important than how we do so: The Prime Minister deserves great credit for bringing in a national carbon pricing policy, and for sticking with it against sustained opposition. But we’re not actually a world leader on this. More than 60 countries and sub-national jurisdictions around the world have some form of carbon pricing in place; at $40 per tonne, the federal carbon price is currently lower than that charged in several countries, including Iceland, the Netherlands, Ireland, South Korea, France, Norway, Finland, Switzerland and Sweden. True, Canada’s carbon tax applies more broadly than most, with more than 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions now covered. Still, if the Prime Minister believes as passionately in carbon pricing as he says he does – “putting a price on pollution is the most efficient and powerful way” to reduce emissions, he told a panel discussion at the conference – it’s a mystery why his actions do not more fully correspond with his beliefs.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on why Steven Guilbeault is the right environment minister for our times: I’m sorry if I don’t share the same pessimism and sense of dread others do about Mr. Guilbeault’s new role. On the contrary, I think he’s precisely the person we need for the moment in which we find ourselves – someone not likely to compromise his principles and convictions (at least not completely) in the name of political expediency; someone who won’t abide governments in this country kicking the climate issue down the road.”

Lynette H. Ong (Policy Options) on why Canada’s relations with China need bold recalibration: “It is crucial that we differentiate Canada’s strategic interests from those of the U.S. Even though the U.S. is our key political ally and a major trading partner, U.S.-China relations are now dominated by competition in wide-ranging areas, from military to trade and technology. This is not Canada’s position. On trade, Canada’s agricultural production is still very much in tune with China’s economic demands. And Canada has no stake in the military or technology rat race. Therefore, in our relations with China, we need to have more independent thinking, and to chart a bold path that reflects our own strategic interests and national priorities.”

Tom Mulcair (The Montreal Gazette) on Quebec Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade expertly navigating rough Liberal seas: “Anglade’s articulate deconstruction of her adversary was finally starting to find echo in the mainstream media. Legault’s definition of a good Quebecer as someone who thinks like him, has the same prejudices as him and doesn’t question him was starting to grate with many observers. That is the result, in no small measure, of the patient work by Anglade exposing his intolerant policies and positions. Anglade has an incredibly tough task refitting the Liberal ship, left rudderless after the Couillard/Barrette years. She has done a great job recruiting younger staffers, and her communications game has been upped several notches. She represents the very best of supposed Liberal values of openness and inclusion, yet many party stalwarts apparently feel it’s not worth their effort to help take on the populist Legault.”

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