Media Article Series for Canada 150 Note

Four public figures featured on the Canada 150 commemorative bank note.

For the first time, four portrait subjects are featured on a single Bank of Canada note.

On 1 June, the Bank of Canada will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation by issuing a commemorative $10 bank note.

What makes the Canada 150 note unique is that it features four portraits rather than the usual one. Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Étienne Cartier, Agnes Macphail and James Gladstone are four parliamentarians who’ve each played a significant role in Canada’s history.

Let’s turn our attention to Agnes Macphail, the iconic Canadian woman in the group.

Macphail was a champion of equality and human rights who, in 1921, became the first woman elected to the House of Commons in Canada. Macphail entered politics to represent the interests of farmers in her riding of Grey South East (Ontario), and she became an advocate of the working class and defender of marginalized groups such as women, miners, immigrants and prisoners.

In 1929, she was the first woman to represent Canada at the League of Nations (the forerunner of the United Nations) and the first woman appointed to the Disarmament Committee of the League of Nations.

Her support of prison reform culminated in the 1939 Penitentiary Bill that recommended 88 changes to the penal system, including more outdoor time and exercise for inmates and mandatory education for inmates who were illiterate.

Macphail was an outspoken advocate of gender equity and worked toward ending legal discrimination against women. In addition to her support for female workers, she founded the Elizabeth Fry Society of Canada, which supported women in conflict with the law.

Macphail spent about 19 years as Member of the Parliament of Canada before serving as Member of the Provincial Parliament of Ontario. There she advocated for Ontario’s first equal pay for equal work legislation in 1951.

In 1955, a bronze bust of Macphail was unveiled in the antechamber of the House of Commons in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill.

Beginning 1 June 2017, 40 million commemorative bank notes will be distributed through Canada’s financial institutions.

It should be noted that this commemorative note is separate from a new regularly circulating $10 note, featuring the portrait of Viola Desmond, that was recently announced and is expected in late 2018. As such, two iconic Canadian women will appear on two different $10 bank notes in the next two years.

Visit to learn more about the design and security features of the Canada 150 commemorative note. Follow the Bank on Twitter (@bankofcanada) for the latest news as we prepare to issue this special note marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Key Dates

  • Born: 24 March 1890, Proton Township, Grey County, Ontario
  • Died: 13 February 1954, Toronto, Ontario
  • Elected MP for Grey South East: 6 December 1921
  • Member of Parliament: 1921–40
  • Member of Provincial Parliament (Ontario): 1943–45, 1948–51

On a bench at the corner of Queen Street and Victoria Row in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, sits a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald. Relaxed, with legs crossed and arm extended, Macdonald leans over as if ready to chat with whoever sits down next to him. Whether it is this statue or the school or pub named for him in your neck of the woods, Macdonald is unquestionably a noted figure in Canadian history.

Throughout 2017, Canada will celebrate 150 years of Confederation. The Bank of Canada will mark this milestone by issuing a commemorative $10 bank note in the lead up to the Canada Day celebrations. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Canada 150 note will feature Macdonald’s portrait.

But this commemorative $10 note is unique in that it marks the first time that four portraits are featured on a single Bank of Canada note. Macdonald is joined by three other parliamentarians—Sir George-Étienne Cartier, Agnes Macphail and James Gladstone—who have each played significant roles in Canada’s history.

For his part, Macdonald was Canada’s first prime minister and one of the Fathers of Confederation. Under his leadership and vision, the Dominion of Canada was founded and expanded until it stretched from sea to sea to sea.

To physically unite the new and sprawling country, Macdonald supported the building of a transcontinental railway that stretched thousands of kilometres.

Always controversial, he was at the forefront of Canadian politics for close to half a century and, in doing so, left a lasting impression on the history of Canada.

Macdonald was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in January 1815. He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of United Canada in 1844 and became Canada’s first prime minister in 1867. He served as prime minister from 1867 to 1873 and from 1878 to 1891, totalling close to 19 years, making him the second-longest-serving prime minister in the history of Canada (after William Lyon Mackenzie King).

Macdonald also has an enduring place in the heritage of Canada’s currency. He has appeared on the front of Canada’s $10 note since the Scenes of Canada series was issued in the early 1970s.

Beginning 1 June, 40 million commemorative bank notes will be distributed through Canada’s financial institutions.

Visit to learn more about the design and security features of the commemorative note. Follow the Bank on Twitter (@bankofcanada) for the latest news as we prepare to issue this special note marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Key Dates

  • Born: 10 or 11 January 1815, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Died: 6 June 1891, Ottawa, Ontario
  • First elected to the Legislative Assembly of United Canada: 1844
  • Prime Minister of Canada: 1867–73, 1878–91


James Gladstone may not be a household name, but that could soon change.

On 1 July, Canada will celebrate 150 years of Confederation. The Bank of Canada will mark this milestone year by issuing a commemorative $10 bank note. This is only the fourth time in its 82-year history that the Bank has issued a commemorative bank note. And this note is unique in that it marks the first time that four portraits are represented on the front of a single Bank of Canada note. Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Étienne Cartier, Agnes Macphail and James Gladstone are four parliamentarians who have each played significant roles in Canada’s history.

The Canada 150 bank note also marks the first time that an Indigenous Canadian appears as a portrait subject on a Bank of Canada note. Gladstone, whose Blackfoot name is Akay-na-muka, meaning “Many guns,” committed himself to the betterment of Indigenous peoples in Canada and, on 1 February 1958, became Canada’s first senator of First Nations origin. In fact, when he spoke Blackfoot as part of his inaugural address, Gladstone was the first person to address either the House of Commons or the Senate in a language other than English or French.

When he was appointed to the Senate, Gladstone, like all Status Indians, did not yet have the right to vote. He advocated for this right, which came into effect on 31 March 1960 when the vote was extended to all Indigenous Canadians. He also advocated for improved education, economic opportunities, equality and greater self-determination for Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

James Gladstone was born in May 1887 at Mountain Hill, Northwest Territories. A member of the Kainai (Blood) First Nation of Alberta, Gladstone served in the Senate until the year of his death in 1971.  In acknowledgement of his significant contribution to the Senate and to Canada, a bronze bust of Senator Gladstone wearing a feathered headdress is displayed in the antechamber to the Senate in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill.

Beginning 1 June, 40 million commemorative bank notes will be distributed through Canada’s financial institutions.

Visit to learn more about the design and security features of the commemorative note.  Follow the Bank on Twitter (@bankofcanada) for the latest news as we prepare to issue this special note marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Key Dates

  • Born: 21 May 1887, Mountain Hill, Northwest Territories (District of Alberta)
  • Died: 4 September 1971, Fernie, British Columbia
  • Elected president of the Indian Association of Alberta: 1949
  • Appointed to the Senate: 1 February 1958
  • Senator of Canada: 1958–71


Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s patriotic song “Ô Canada! Mon pays! Mes amours!” conveys that nothing is more beautiful than one’s country.

In 2017, Canada celebrates 150 years of Confederation and the Bank of Canada will mark this milestone by issuing a commemorative $10 bank note depicting our history, land and culture.

Four portraits are featured on this special note, and among them is a portrait of Sir George-Étienne Cartier. He is joined by Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, as well as parliamentarians Agnes Macphail and James Gladstone. These four individuals have each played a significant role in Canada’s history.

Like Macdonald, Cartier was one of the Fathers of Confederation. He was a principal architect of Canadian federalism and a proponent of Confederation as a means of safeguarding French Canada and other minorities.

Cartier was born in 1814 in Saint-Antoine, Lower Canada. He was a prominent Montréal politician and lawyer who led Quebec into the Dominion and later participated in the expansion of Canada west to the Pacific and north to the Arctic Ocean.

He helped create the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia and oversaw the negotiations between the Canadian and British governments and the Hudson’s Bay Company in the purchase of Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory.

Cartier and Macdonald shared a long political relationship and a loyal friendship. Shortly after Cartier’s death in 1873, Macdonald unveiled a statue on Parliament Hill to commemorate his friend and to honour Cartier’s commitment and dedication to the united Dominion of Canada.

Now, 150 years later, these two Fathers of Confederation take their place on the Canada 150 commemorative note. Together with Macphail and Gladstone, they remind us that the Canada of today was shaped by people of different backgrounds who, through their vision, courage and effort, helped create a better country.

Beginning 1 June, 40 million commemorative bank notes will be distributed through Canada’s financial institutions.

Visit to learn more about the design and security features of the Canada 150 commemorative note. Follow the Bank on Twitter (@bankofcanada) for the latest news as we prepare to issue this special note marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Key Dates

  • Born: 6 September 1814, Saint-Antoine, Lower Canada
  • Died: 20 May 1873, London, England
  • First elected to the Legislative Assembly of United Canada: 7 April 1848

Principal Canada East representative in Charlottetown (1–9 September) and Quebec (10–27 October) conferences, 1864

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Canada 150 tulips are blooming in Edmonton

Red and white Canada 150 tulips are blooming in 73 flower beds in neighbourhoods across Edmonton.
City of Edmonton / Supplied

As Canada celebrates its 150th year as a country, Edmontonians are being told to keep their eyes on the city’s flower beds. Specially bred red-and-white Canada 150 tulips are now popping up across the city just in time for this summer’s anniversary festivities.

Last fall, Edmonton joined other municipalities across the country in planting the special bulbs to mark Canada’s sesquicentennial.

Amber Brant, Edmonton’s community greening co-ordinator, said the city planted approximately 30,000 Canada 150 tulip bulbs across the city. She said the tulips can be found in 73 neighbourhood garden beds.

Reports from gardeners across the country say that the bulbs, specially bred in the Netherlands for Canada 150, aren’t exclusively blooming red and white. Some of the bulbs have bloomed in hues of red and orange or orange and yellow. Brant says the majority of Canada 150 tulips in Edmonton have the correct colour pattern.

The patriotic tulips can be located by using the City of Edmonton’s Canada 150 tulip map. It features locations and photos of the tulip beds across the city and can be accessed on the city’s website.

The City of Edmonton is inviting people to snap a selfie with the flowers and post it on social media using the tag #YEGParks. The Canada 150 tulips will also be featured during the Edmonton in Bloom scavenger hunt. Residents can take part in the hunt by following YegParks on Facebook and Twitter.

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One of these two Democrats will be L.A.’s next member of Congress. Here’s what you need to know for the election

Yes, Los Angeles already had a congressional election this year, and yes, it’s about to have another. With a super-crowded field competing in the April primary to represent the 34th Congressional District in central L.A., we’re now down to just two candidates.

As the campaign wraps up, here’s what you need to know:

The contenders

In the primary election, voters whittled down a field of 24 candidates to the top two vote-getters: Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, 42; and former L.A. city planning commissioner Robert Lee Ahn, 41. Both are Democrats.

Neither of them received anywhere near 50% of votes in the last round, so they have to face each other in a runoff election.

On the other hand, less than 10% of Ahn’s donations have come from outside California. But contributors from the wealthy enclaves of Beverly Hills, La Cañada Flintridge and the Palos Verdes Peninsula have helped Ahn make up the difference, as has the $490,000 he’s lent himself.

Where do they fall on the political spectrum?

Gomez is regarded as a reliably progressive vote in the Legislature and has received perfect legislative scores in the Assembly from groups such as Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters and Equality California. He often touts his work expanding California’s paid family leave law and his votes to increase the minimum wage.

In an L.A. Times questionnaire sent to candidates in the primary, Gomez said he would fight to save the Affordable Care Act and push for a single-payer healthcare system, and would oppose using taxpayer funds to build a border wall while pushing to make Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals a permanent policy.

Ahn, who was a Republican until switching parties in 2012, has promised to bring a “business sensibility” to the office if elected and appears to be taking a more centrist approach. He calls himself a progressive who can also be pragmatic, saying in the questionnaire that Democrats should negotiate with Republicans on healthcare and immigration policy. He said he would fight any immigration policy that would include “breaking families apart” as part of immigration reform.

Gomez has criticized Ahn for suggesting he would negotiate with Republicans to protect parts of Obamacare. In a recent debate, Gomez said Democrats need to take a “hard line” and that Ahn was too soft on support for Medicaid. But Ahn maintained that “we’re going to have to talk to the other side.”

Ahn has also criticized Gomez for taking special interest money, suggesting it would be “payback time” for his donors if Gomez is elected to Congress.

How much is all this costing?

The estimated cost of the April 4 primary alone was about $1.3 million, according to L.A. County election officials and the June runoff is expected to cost another $1.3 million.

The 24 candidates in the primary spent at least $2.9 million collectively, or an average of about $67.97 per vote.

The full taxpayer cost of both elections won’t be known for months.

For more on California politics, follow @cmaiduc.


Here’s what the candidates running for an L.A. congressional seat think about the top issues

Korean Americans have his back, but Robert Lee Ahn will need more to become L.A.’s next congressman

MAP: How did your neighborhood vote in L.A.’s open House race?

Updates on California politics


June 2, 2:10 p.m. This article was updated with additional campaign finance data and other information.

April 20, 5:18 p.m.: This article was updated with the latest estimated taxpayer cost of both elections.

This article was originally published April 19.

An earlier version of this story misstated the average amount of money spent per vote as $86.74.

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“I had the balls to call an election,” British PM says

LONDON  — With less than a week until Britain votes in a national election, Prime Minister Theresa May faced tough questions from voters Friday about her Conservative government’s cuts to welfare and health spending. 

She was also accused by opponents of failing to stand up to the United States over its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

May and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appeared before a live audience on prime-time TV – but consecutively, rather than side by side.

May has refused to take part in any televised debates, saying she prefers to answer questions directly from voters. Friday’s show may have tested that preference, as audience members criticized the prime minister for presiding over stagnant wages for nurses and cuts for those needed physical and mental care.


Puppets of Conservative Party leader Theresa May and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn are seen during a protest against the BBC’s broadcast restrictions on the Captain Ska song “Liar Liar” outside Broadcasting House in London, Britain June 2, 2017.

Reuters / Neil Hall

May said the government had “had to take some hard choices across the public sector” to curb spending and reduce the country’s deficit.

She also denied breaking promises, including her vow not to call an early election. May said she “had the balls to call an election” because it was important to give the government a stronger mandate to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union.

May spoke after President Trump’s announcement that he would pull out of the Paris accord sent the issue of climate change – and May’s attempts to bolster the trans-Atlantic “special relationship” – to the top of the agenda in campaigning for Britain’s June 8 election.

May’s said she spoke to Mr. Trump by phone “and told him that the U.K. believes in the Paris agreement and that we didn’t want the United States to leave the Paris agreement.”

But Britain did not sign a joint statement by the leaders of Germany, France and Italy, who said they regretted Mr. Trump’s decision and insisted that the accord cannot be renegotiated.

May’s office would not say whether she had been asked to sign it. May noted that Japan and Canada – fellow members of the G-7 group of rich industrialized nations – also were not signatories, but like Britain remain committed to the Paris agreement.

“I made the U.K.’s position clear to President Trump last week at the G-7 meeting, as did the other G-7 leaders, and I made the position clear to President Trump last night,” May said Friday.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said not signing the declaration was an “appalling abdication of leadership.”

Corbyn accused May of “subservience” to Trump.

The Labour leader, a veteran left-winger who was given little chance of beating May at the start of the election, has had a good campaign and seen his poll ratings rise.

Corbyn also was made to squirm by the television audience, who pressed him on his opposition to Britain’s nuclear arsenal, and asked if he would be prepared to use atomic weapons if Britain was threatened.

He did not answer definitively, but said he would “do everything I can to ensure that any threat is actually dealt with earlier on by negotiations and by talks.”

“I think the idea of anyone ever using a nuclear weapon anywhere in the world is utterly appalling and terrible,” Corbyn said.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Canada is disappointed by U.S. withdrawal from Paris climate deal Trudeau tells Trump

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump walk together during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy on Saturday, May 27, 2017.
Photo Credit: PC / Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called U.S. President Donald Trump to express Canada’s disappointment with the president’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

In a news conference at the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, Trump slammed the 195-country accord because it “disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries.”

Trump held out the prospect of renegotiating the Paris accord or reaching a new deal “on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.”

“So we’re getting out,” Trump said. “But we’ll start to negotiate and we will see if we can get a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”

President Donald Trump speaks about the U.S. role in the Paris climate change accord, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks about the U.S. role in the Paris climate change accord, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. © Andrew Harnik
‘Disheartening’ decision

According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the two leaders spoke briefly after Trump’s speech.

The two leaders also discussed trade relations and “undertook to stay in close contact and see each other at the G20 Leaders Summit in Hamburg” on July 7 and 8, according to a readout of the phone call provided by the PMO.

“We are deeply disappointed that the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement,” Trudeau said in the statement released by the PMO. “Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth. Canadians know we need to take decisive and collective action to tackle the many harsh realities of our changing climate.”

Trudeau said that while the U.S. decision is “disheartening,” Canada remains inspired by the growing momentum around the world to combat climate change and transition to clean growth economies.

“This is not only about the huge economic opportunities of clean growth and the need to address the pressing threats of climate change,” Trudeau said. “This is about an ambitious and unshakeable desire to leave a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet for our kids and for generations to come.”

Opportunity for clean growth
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is pictured after delivering a policy announcement in Toronto , on Wednesday May 31 , 2017. McKenna says the Canadian government remains committed to the Paris Accord amid concerns that the U.S. will walk away from the landmark global climate agreement.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is pictured after delivering a policy announcement in Toronto , on Wednesday May 31 , 2017. McKenna says the Canadian government remains committed to the Paris Accord amid concerns that the U.S. will walk away from the landmark global climate agreement. © PC/Chris Young

Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna echoed Trudeau’s sentiment saying Canada will continue to take leadership on climate change.

In September, Canada will co-host a Ministerial meeting with China and the European Union to move forward on the Paris Agreement and clean growth, McKenna said.

The Paris Agreement has opened up $23 trillion in clean innovation opportunities for green-tech investments in emerging markets between now and 2030, McKenna said.

Businesses too understand that tackling climate change is the right thing to do and it is good for their bottom line, she said.

“With or without the United States, the momentum around the Paris Agreement and climate action is unstoppable,” McKenna said.

Holding out hope

Trudeau said Canada will continue to work with the U.S. at the state level, and with other U.S. stakeholders, to address climate change and promote clean growth.

“We will also continue to reach out to the U.S. federal government to discuss this matter of critical importance for all humankind, and to identify areas of shared interest for collaboration, including on emissions reductions,” Trudeau said.

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BC Election Post-Mortem: Fifteen Perspectives on the Campaign and its Aftermaths

Photo by BC NDP

After sixteen years in power, British Columbia’s Liberal government is teetering on the brink of collapse. On May 31, 2017, the BC NDP inked a deal with the BC Greens and set in motion a process that will all but certainly end with the toppling of Christy Clark’s premiership.

We asked fifteen researchers and organizers to reflect on the campaign that got us here, and what might come next.

Success and Failure for the Left

by Matt Hern

Any post-mortem of the BC election has to start with the Greens and the shocking position they now find themselves in. As a fledgling amalgam of traditional environmental, grassroots soft-left and green capitalist sensibilities, I’m curious how the Greens might wield their newfound power as part of a tenuous minority government. Electoral reform and campaign finance reform are the two pieces of their platform that are the most hopeful in instigating long-term systemic change. If something substantive can be achieved on those fronts, then the 2017 election will be an important watershed.

In many ways, though, this election has to be read as both a success and a failure of the left. Overthrowing the Liberal regime is a breath of fresh air to be sure, and opens up a new landscape of possibilities. On the other hand, the NDP was unable to win the popular vote or seat count over a widely disdained government that has ruled for 16 years. Clark’s hyper-partisan permanent campaign-mode, ongoing scandals around big money, and her tone-deaf style on issues such as Kinder Morgan, LNG and Site C left her vulnerable to real critiques. Despite the Liberals claims to a so-called ‘balanced budget success’, the economy has been built on a massive social and ecological deficit.

Disappointingly, and predictably though, the NDP and Greens alike failed to articulate any substantive policy daylight that gained traction with the general public, and the real policy differences between the three parties remained narrow. Each party offered only slight variations on key issues, maybe most gallingly around land politics. There was every opportunity for the NDP or Greens to articulate a substantively affirmative vision for systemic change around land allocation, but housing affordability, renter’s rights, speculation, homelessness, child poverty and other profoundly important issues barely registered in the election.

This was most glaring in the unwillingness of both the Greens and the NDP to speak with substantive vision about Indigenous issues. In a time of global warming, profound ecological questions, energy uncertainty, and the ongoing brutality of colonial policies – the most pressing political question in front of the province has to be addressing the theft of Indigenous land. To date, no party has expressed any interest in talking about decolonization, land rematriations, and the ongoing and kaleidoscopic repercussions of theft, exploitation and profiteering from land. Until that happens, BC politics will remain mired in untenable contradictions.

Matt Hern has a new book (with Am Johal and Joe Sacco) called Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: In Search of an Ecological Future. It will be published by MIT Press in early 2018.


‘Green Green, It’s Green They Say, on the Far Side of the Hill’

by Frank Tester

In the eyes of most Canadians, BC politics have always been ‘on the far side of the hill.’ This election was no exception. The fate of the NDP in the presence of a 16% Green share of the vote is disappointing – and mildly disturbing. In 1991 I wrote a chapter “The British Columbia Greens: The Ecology of an Improbable Politics” for a book called To See Ourselves, to Save Ourselves: Ecology and Culture in Canada. My point was that the Green Party is a collection of folk all over — or missing from — the ideological map, hoping the environment has enough glue to hold them together. Little has changed. The Green Party, out of power, can do a postmodern dance, issue by issue, all over the ideological map. But the fact remains: we are drowning in the culture, logic and carnage of global capitalism, something even David Suzuki seems reluctant to articulate. Recognizing that capitalism is not “a force of nature” is only a start.

The rise of the BC Greens has been attributed to a public tired of acrimony and traditional political debate. The challenges facing the NDP are pressing and difficult: how to address the employment of working people, many of whom labour in resource extraction industries impacted by technological change and that, given climate change and other environmental realities, are ‘sunset industries’? Challenges facing the NDP don’t stop there. The techy service sector is a source of employment for many young people inclined to vote Green. This is an often ideology-less, postmodern generation, split over ‘issues’ that play with the nature, content and delivery of rhetoric, bypassing the structural mud identified with the Liberals and NDP. The mud — taking seriously the deficits this generation faces in addressing the cost of living relative to wages (especially the costs of accommodation) — is ultimately something they can’t avoid. Issues of equity and equality require an analysis of capitalism and its machinations, and a critical response. These can’t be disappeared in a Green fog. In fairness, Green policies dealing with things like income security seem headed off in some right directions. When they encounter the structural impediments to actually ‘getting there,’ the ideological sensibilities they’ll confront and that they and their supporters have studiously avoided may leave them looking a lot like the NDP. That being the case, it was a good time to shake hands. Hopefully they’ll soon be covered in mud that needs to be taken seriously.

Frank Tester is an Adjunct Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba and a restorative justice advocate.


Photo by Earthsave Canada

Campaign Offered Little on Homelessness Crisis

by DJ Larkin

“Housing” is a word of deep significance to us all, but an illusory promise for many. As the numbers of homeless people increase year over year across British Columbia, politicians of all stripes have promised little to stem the tide, let alone end homelessness. The Liberal track record on housing for people living in poverty has been abysmal, exacerbated by their deeply disrespectful view that people who are homeless are whiners and malcontents. Meanwhile the NDP have made overtures to renters and families, and have promised to create a poverty reduction plan to address homelessness. Where, however, was that discussion during the election? Where were politicians when people needed them the most? In the run up to this election, two former Liberal MLAs in Maple Ridge facilitated the rejection of two proposals to house homeless people in their community, while ensuring the closure of the temporary emergency shelter that has been home to 40 people for almost two years. Instead, these MLAs allowed a non-transparent, biased and unaccountable group of citizens, many known to be openly discriminatory towards those struggling with homelessness, determine that there should not be accessible shelter and housing in their community. Because of them, people will be forced back onto the streets where we know their average life expectancy is about half that of a housed British Columbian. Those two MLAs lost their seats, but there is no clear sign the NDP is ready to do better — to save the lives of people who are being pushed farthest to the margins. In BC, no political party has stepped forward to acknowledge that housing is a human right and one of the key indicators to improve a person’s health and wellbeing. It is a right we all deserve.

DJ Larkin is a lawyer and campaigner with Pivot Legal Society.


NDP/Green Coalition Offers More Robust Challenge to the Impulses of Globalisation

by David Ley

Canada’s only real political debate about globalisation occurred during the 1988 ‘Free Trade Election’ won by Brian Mulroney, though anti-Free Trade Agreement parties actually secured more votes. Since then globalisation has rarely been problematized, and has been accepted as an inevitable part of economic life in the twenty-first Century. Nowhere has this been truer than in British Columbia under the provincial Liberal Party. Globalisation has been welcomed, facilitated, and promoted through constant international trade missions, accommodating immigration regimes, and minimal barriers to capital flows. The provincial Liberals have acted consistently to sustain and benefit from a growth coalition with the property development industry, whose own practices have globalised substantially in the past 20 years.

There are several weaknesses with this economic model. A major one is its failure to hold global forces and their local promoters accountable for the negative consequences of the unfettered hand they have been given. Monitoring and regulatory agencies were weakened by the Liberals, the extent of offshore real estate investment was denied as data that would have suggested otherwise was suppressed, and the principal justification for the absence of housing policy was that house prices were rising, so all must be well! The province gave up management of land and property resources to voracious investors and entrepreneurs, to use a Biblical metaphor abandoning citizens’ birthright of a home for a ‘mess of pottage’. Many people have been left to endure housing insecurity, crippling debt loads, and an intensifying lack of affordability so deep that correction will be exceedingly difficult.

In the past five years, opinion polls by Angus Reid and others have found that the housing question has become dominant in Greater Vancouver, with widespread opposition to the neglect of property stewardship by the provincial Liberals. A panicked response by the party was to introduce the 15% foreign buyers’ tax in summer 2016 but it has proven to be too little and much too late. In the recent provincial election, the swing against the Liberals in Greater Vancouver was decisive for the outcome of the election, with several Liberal ministers losing their seats.

The NDP/Green coalition offers a more critical response to the impulses of globalisation. There is an expectation that economic liberalism will have to co-exist with other policy criteria, notably social redistribution, environmental protection, and transparent democracy that does not privilege special interests. This more ambitious policy perspective will raise more challenges, as sometimes competing goals will have to be resolved. But it is a morally and politically more mature response than the self-serving and one-dimensional model it replaces.

David Ley is a Canada Research Chair in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia. He is author of Millionaire Migrants: Trans Pacific Life Lines (Wiley 2010).


Photo by David Hugill

BC Election Holds Promise for Temporary Foreign Workers

by Natalie Drolet

The BC Election presented an opportunity to highlight issues affecting temporary foreign workers (TFWs), particularly in regard to their recruitment for jobs in BC. The temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) is not only a matter of federal jurisdiction. The provinces play an important role in regulating and enforcing minimum labour standards for all workers. One of these standards is that workers should not have to buy jobs. Yet, temporary foreign workers are routinely charged thousands of dollars in fees for low-wage, precarious jobs in BC. Too often, these jobs are vastly different than promised, or do not exist at all.

In 2015, over half of the 18,783 approved TFW positions in BC were for low-wage jobs in the agriculture, caregiving, hospitality, food services, and manufacturing industries. These workers are brought to Canada mainly from countries in the Global South and arrive with hopes for a brighter future. Yet, the reality is that TFWs are uniquely vulnerable to exploitation. Not only are they dependent on employers for work visas, the lack of monitoring and enforcement of their rights by the province means that extreme power imbalances inherent in their employment relationships go unchecked.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan have led the way in terms of legislating protections for TFWs in their recruitment and employment. BC brings in the 2nd highest number of TFWs, but the approach under the BC Liberal government has been to deny that TFWs need protection.
Our experience tells us otherwise. Founded in 1986, the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association is the only non-profit organization in Canada dedicated to providing legal aid to caregivers and other temporary foreign workers. We have been fighting illegal recruitment fees in the courts on behalf of our clients for years, and in December 2016, launched the Rising Up Against Unjust Recruitment campaign (, which calls for legislation based on the Manitoba and Saskatchewan models, proactive enforcement, and access to information and services for TFWs.

In the lead up to the election, we worked with the BC Employment Standards Coalition to provide submissions to the BC Liberal government and the opposition parties on the need for improved protections for TFWs.

The BC NDP was the only party to include in its campaign platform a commitment to end the collection of illegal recruitment fees by introducing legislation that will require TFW recruiters and employers to be registered, as in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Post-election, the prospect of a BC NDP minority government supported by the BC Greens holds promise for change by putting people first. Regardless of whether they are citizens or temporary foreign workers.

Natalie Drolet is Executive Director and Staff Lawyer for the West Coast Domestic Worker’s Association.


‘Progressive Majority’ or Left-er than the Libs?

by Geoff Mann

As the days passed in the lead-up to the election, like many others I felt increasingly confident there would be a meaningful shift in the make-up of the legislature, although I was unsure what it would look like. Despite the fact that the NDP seems to lack leadership, it appeared the Liberals’ arrogance, ill-will and deceit were turning voters to other parties, even if it was not exactly clear what those other parties were offering other than simply not being Clark and the Liberals. To me, the results look a lot like the outcome one might expect in that situation, and less like the “progressive majority” I have heard of in post-election discussions with friends on the Left.

That’s not to say I think the outcome merely represents a fickle reaction, or that there is not in fact real support for the NDP (and, to a much smaller degree, for the Greens) among constituents. It is to say, though, that I don’t think most folks in BC—both those who might have voted Liberal in the past and the largely urban self-identified “Lefties” among NDP supporters—were under any illusions that we could depend on the NDP to deliver a full suite of effective Left policies over the next four years. I think all we could reliably expect is that the NDP would be Left-er than the Liberals. It is not hard to be Left-er than the Liberals. Brian Mulroney was Left of BC’s Liberals.

Which means that we might very well have gotten the best possible result of those available — assuming Clark’s refusal to step down now is not the first part of a dirty trick. While I don’t believe a change of provincial government can produce a radical shift in political-economic direction, I do think that a situation in which the Greens (who were better on housing and on climate) and the NDP (who were better on virtually everything else) have to work together — and so hopefully feeling like they have to walk the talk — could be about as good as we could expect. I would have preferred a couple of more seats for cushion, I suppose, but maybe this means people will have to be in the legislature every day, doing the “progressive” job they said they would do.

Geoff Mann is the author of In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy, and Revolution (Verso 2017) and Disassembly Required: A Field Guide to Actually Existing Capitalism (AK Press 2013).


Christy Clark in Pemberton • Photo by dbsteers

Why was the Overdose Epidemic not an Election Issue?

by Michael Ma

During the 2017 campaign, the top provincial public health crisis was shockingly absent from the concerns of party platforms. Overdose deaths were part of the news-cycle, but not the election cycle.

In January, the BC Coroner announced that 922 people died of drug overdoses in 2016. During the announcement, Health Minister Terry Lake implored the federal government to declare a public health emergency. Despite stunning overdose-fatality figures no federal intervention was made or offered. The Provincial Minister of Health and various other agencies declared a public health crisis, and health authorities across the province pitched in to address the crisis with overdose-prevention measures (e.g. helping to distribute Naloxone and supporting overdose prevention sites). But all of these measures were just stop-gap band-aid solutions. Recent figures tell us that the deaths (488 overdose deaths for the period January to April) have not stopped but have increased in 2017. But throughout the election none of the parties addressed this overdose issue as a systemic public health issue or an election issue.

It should have been a key issue, but it was not. If 922 people died of a flu epidemic and the epidemic continued to rise after it was declared an emergency, then that would have been a key election issue eclipsing all others. Why was the overdose epidemic not an election issue? That’s easy to answer: substance users were disenfranchised as an underclass unworthy of representation. Substance use and addiction are understood by the general public as a “choice” and there is stigma attached to those who “choose” to be substance users or addicts. Addiction, and by extension, overdose deaths are understood as private self-inflicted individual problems, and not a matter for the public. Politicians don’t get any mileage out of fixing problems for addicts. There is little in the way of voter representation or advocates in the electoral system for these disenfranchised in society.

According to Dr. Gabor Maté, it is unresolved pain that drives much of – if not all — addiction. And it was clear that the story of personal pain was not part of this election. And perhaps elections are actually not about “people” at all, or their pain, nor are they about the need for society to take up the challenge of alleviating that pain or resolving problematic societal situations that give rise to pain and suffering. Rather, election cycles are about what “goodies” parties can promise (e.g. more affordable housing, daycare, hydro rates, and better hospitals, schools, and jobs). Despite the mounting deaths, addiction and harm reduction, were never tackled during the election. Shameful.

Michael Ma is an activist scholar who researches issues pertaining to social justice, ethno-racial politics, community activism, and immigrant resettlement. He teaches criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.


Tinder Politics and the One Living Room Campaign

by Clint Burnham

We are in a curious suspended time in BC politics, with such a close race (Liberal with 43 seats, NDP with 41, the Greens with 3) that the actual results may well be determined after absentee votes and recounts have taken place.

One of the closest ridings is that of my hometown, Courtenay-Comox, where the NDP candidate, Ronna-Rae Leonard, took 10,058 votes, and the Liberal, Jim Benninger, took 10,049 (the Green candidate, Ernie Sellentin, took 4,907). Yes, a nine vote difference. And in the last provincial election, according to a story in the Victoria Times-Colonist, 3,505 absentee ballots were counted for the riding – due, no doubt, to the high number of military members (the riding is home to the Comox air force base) who may be away on training missions and the like. Now, given that Benninger is a former base commander it is tempting to see that this particular recount will be a referendum on the politics of Canadian military members: as a CBC radio commentator put it the day after the election, will they vote for their ex-boss or not? But I think the really apocalyptic outcome is that fewer and fewer voters (low voter turnout continues to plague BC politics, for all its circus-like atmosphere of unlimited corporate donations, Green party spoilers, etc.) mean that, sooner or later, we will see, I don’t know, maybe one voter per riding?

You can imagine the scenario, where parties essentially campaign in the one living room of that one voter, with slightly different demographics depending on the riding (single mom in Vancouver Mount Pleasant, Syrian refugee in Surrey Fleetwood, gas patch worker in Peace River North, hedge fund motherfucker in Vancouver Quilchena). Perhaps the last standing voter will change from election to election, or eventually only one person will vote for the entire province. Or, why not, an Uber-like “disruption,” and instead of a politician representing you who is paid a salary to debate policy, you just find someone nearby on your phone’s app. Tinder politics.

But no, I’m not saying electoral democracy is broken. Not at all.

Clint Burnham teaches in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. He is author of Smoke Show (Arsenal Pulp 2005), Pound at Guantánamo (Talonbooks 2016), and Frederic Jameson and the Wolf of Wall Street (Bloomsbury 2016).


BC NDP leader John Horgan • Photo by Joshua Berson

NDP Needs to Bite the Bullet on Difficult Systemic Issues

by Sid Shniad

At the time of writing, the parties’ final decision about forming a new government has not been made. As things stand, it appears likely that the Greens and the NDP will form one. While being dependent upon the Greens may compel the NDP to make some of the pro-environmental decisions it has been avoiding for years, given the BC NDP’s track record and the conservative politics of the BC Greens’ leader, Andrew Weaver, prospects for progressive change are not good.

Decades ago, while working as a staffer at one of BC’s major unions, I was very active in the NDP. Toward the end of my activism as an NDPer, I participated in the BC party’s Green Caucus, which actively supported efforts to save the first growth forest in the Carmanah from being logged. Instead of responding to that confrontation with a strong, pro-environmental stand, the party establishment sided with the I.W.A.’s company unionism in opposition to environmental activism within the party. It was after witnessing this and other, similar, intra-party debacles up close that I parted company from the NDP.

Fast forward to the election of 2017, in which environmental issues like the building of the Site C dam drew great deal of attention. BC NDP Leader John Horgan, concerned about alienating the building trades unions on the one hand and environmentalists on the other, declined to support or oppose the dam. Instead he said that an NDP government would send the project to the BC Utilities Commission for a review on whether it should proceed.

In short, both the NDP and organized labour continue to avoid taking on the difficult issues, hoping against hope that they can get by in the face of the vast increase in corporate power resulting from the advent of neoliberalism and corporate-driven globalization. Not only has this approach not worked; it has meant their acquiescence to the social and environmental devastation that have been the hallmark of neoliberal capitalism. Under these circumstances, the best we can hope for in BC is that Andrew Weaver might use his influence to make the NDP bite the bullet on some of these tough environmental issues.

What’s sorely needed in Canada right now if we are to escape from the politics-as-usual that dominate in Canada at every level is something comparable to the campaigns that Bernie Sanders ran on Stateside and that Jeremy Corbyn ran on in Britain, addressing vitally important systemic issues of concern to the entire population.

Sid Shniad is a longtime social activist, currently involved in Palestine solidarity work via Independent Jewish Voices Canada.


Headbanging on a Friendlier Wall

by Tamara Herman

In the run-up to this year’s election, I found myself doing two things I don’t normally do. One was organizing a demonstration featuring children’s performers and bubble machines. The other was volunteering at a provincial NDP candidate’s office.

My toddler had just left an East Vancouver unlicensed daycare when another child was found dead in January. To say finding daycare is difficult is an understatement: We’d tried for months to find an arrangement that we could afford and were comfortable with before this happened. Needless to say, the incident left me with a sense of urgency in terms of fighting for safe, affordable, and quality daycare. The parents of the toddler who died pledged their support for the $10 a Day Childcare Plan, which the NDP had included in their party platform. And so I found myself organizing “Stroller Brigades” for public daycare and – after many years of organizing outside the party system – volunteering at an MLA candidate’s office.

I did so with reservations: The NDP’s platform falls short on critical social issues, such as raising social assistance rates, ending the overdose crisis, building enough social housing, and reforming the Residential Tenancy Act. But after 16 years of austerity, I was ready to bang my head against a friendlier wall. I felt that even small reforms could mean concrete changes for some.

It looks like 60% of BC felt the same way. If the campaign itself was unremarkable, the outcome was astounding. It also reflected deep divides in BC, especially between urban and rural areas. The NDP have a challenge ahead of turning the job discourse on its underbelly and focusing on the real issues: a legacy of colonialism, deep inequalities and rising poverty.

My hope is that we will push fears of breaking this fragile new government aside and fearlessly push it to meet higher expectations in however long it has.

Tamara Herman is Program Director at the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.


An End to Vote Splitting?

by John-Henry Harter

The announcement of the NDP/Green cooperation agreement may finally end the issue of vote splitting and usher in a new era of proportional representation. However, during this past election accusations of vote splitting were rampant. “If you vote Green you are voting Liberal” was a common theme. This never really resonated with me. At first glance the results suggest a vote split: Liberals 43, NDP 41, and Green 3. However, the numbers do not support this idea, especially when compared to the 2013 election.

This election the Liberals garnered 40.36% of the popular vote; in 2013 it was 44.13%, a decline of almost 4%. The NDP was at 40.28% compared to 39.72% in 2013 – they gained a bit but clearly not the 4% the Liberals lost. The Greens doubled their vote: 16.84% in 2017 from 8.15% in 2013. These numbers show they did not steal that gain from the NDP; it probably came from the Liberals or new voters (likely both). This is borne out by the numbers – Voter turnout in 2013 was 55.32% and 2017 was 57.1% so there was an increase in voters. An interesting example of how a Green vote does not equal an NDP vote is the Burnaby North constituency. The 2013 results saw Liberal Richard T Lee win with 46.82% of the vote, Janet Routledge NDP with 43.86%, Carrie McLaren GP with 7.00% and 2.32% for an independent. This was a key example used to prove vote splitting in the 2013 election. A common thing to do when discussing vote splitting is to simply add the losing candidates total to the next lowest losing candidate to see if together they add up to more than the winning candidates, this is then used as evidence to ‘prove’ vote splitting has occurred. This is the evidence to prove that vote splitting has occurred. Interestingly, this most recent election presented a rematch between Lee and Routledge, this time with the NDP winning. Janet Routledge NDP won with 48.57%; Richard T. Lee at 39.42%, and Green Peter Hallschmid 12.01%. Clearly, this NDP victory did not come at the cost of the Greens. The Greens and the NDP each increased their vote. If the vote splitting theory from 2013 were true, a 5% increase in the Green vote should have spelled a worse loss for the NDP, not a win. Hopefully, BC will have proportional representation in the near future and accusations of vote splitting will be a thing of the past.

John-Henry Harter teaches history and labour studies at Simon Fraser University and is the author of ‘New Social Movements, Class, and the Environment: A Case Study of Greenpeace Canada’ (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2011).


NDP’s Minimum Wage Commitments Were Inadequate

by Daniel Tseghay

Many of us welcomed the BC NDP’s decision to support the Fight for $15 movement. In their 100-page platform, the party rightly challenged a few of the myths resisting efforts to raise wages for, largely, precarious workers. They noted that businesses in Seattle, where the $15 minimum is law, are thriving. Significantly raising the minimum wage won’t threaten employment, the party made clear. It will simply raise wages and make it easier to live in an expensive province. But the party’s plan is to bring workers to $15 an hour by 2021 (albeit with increases every year). In light of the recent announcement that Ontario workers will be there by January 2019 (and at $14 an hour by January 2018, up from $11.49), the BC NDP’s promise felt inadequate. Now, the post-election coalition between the BC NDP and the Green Party is forming a Fair Wages Commission which will look into making recommendations for implementing a $15 an hour minimum wage. Whether this Commission will bring about the increase any sooner is an open question now. But what we do know is that significantly raising the minimum wage requires no legal changes. It’s a political decision — and it’s one that was achieved in Ontario because there was widespread public support. Ontario isn’t so different from BC. If the Fight for $15 campaign in BC wasn’t a prominent aspect of the election, it was certainly on the minds of many, and workers in this province need to see their wages go up sooner rather than later.

Daniel Tseghay is a writer and organizer living in Vancouver-Unceded Coast Salish Territories. He writes for and other publications.


Photo by Garth Lenz

Pipelines and Provincial Politics

by Sean Carleton

As someone who grew up on the west coast but has since relocated to Alberta, I watched the most recent BC election with great interest. Though I am not, and never have been, a member of the NDP (provincially or federally), I hoped that the BC NDP could eke out a win against Christy Clark and the BC Liberals.

I was rooting for the NDP, not so much because I think they will radically alter BC’s political culture overnight, but because I think their position against pipeline development could put the Alberta NDP into an interesting (and possibly more progressive) position regarding climate issues, which they are currently sidestepping for political capital. The prevailing logic in Alberta, and within much of the Alberta NDP, is that an anti-pipeline stance is electorally untenable: you can’t get elected unless you support the “rip it and ship it” oil and gas economy. Whether this is true or not, it is the party line and the Alberta NDP continues to push for new pipeline projects.

The election of Donald Trump in the United States has buoyed the spirits of some Albertans. Trump has greenlit projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL, which will take tar sands oil south to be shipped to international markets. But access to west coast shipping to Asian markets – something greatly desired by oil companies – remains in doubt. Over the past few years, the BC Liberals have advanced pro-pipeline positions and, had they won a majority government, likely would have pushed through pipeline projects (with Justin Trudeau’s support), despite increasing opposition from activists and Indigenous land defenders.

Thus, the outcome of the BC election – with the Greens supporting the NDP to bring down Clark’s Liberals and form government – is an interesting one on both sides of the Rockies. At the time of writing, it is still unclear how the politicking will play out. Is there truly a meaningful basis for convergence, or will the Greens bristle and try to block the NDP’s social-democratic budgeting and spending to grow their political capital? There are many possibilities. Regardless of what happens, the Alberta NDP will be watching closely to determine its policy directions and pipeline prospects. There can be little doubt that a long overdue leftward (ish) shift in BC provincial politics, supported by social movements, could pump the brakes on pipeline development to the coast, which – in addition to being better for the planet – could also pressure the Alberta NDP to develop a more progressive position on economic diversification and environmental sustainability.

Sean Carleton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of General Education in Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7, and a member of Canadian Dimension’s Coordinating Committee.


Public Policy Failure on Working Poverty

by Deanna Ogle

Affordability was the buzzword of the 2017 BC provincial election. Like most of Canada, wages in BC have been stagnating while basic costs have been increasing. Between 2007 and 2014 child care costs in Metro Vancouver increased by 35% while the median income only increased by 10%. Since the Liberal government was elected in 2001 there has also been a decrease in investment in public programs. Fees for services, like the Medical Services Premium (MSP) which is a monthly fee for basic health care provision, have increased. This downloading of costs onto the individual together with the approximately 34% of two parent families in Metro Vancouver not earning the living wage meant that families who had previously not felt the pinch of government cuts were willing to engage in a conversation on affordability.

The vision for addressing affordability became one of the main issues which the election was fought over. The three parties put forward two competing visions of the role of government. In evaluating the impact of low wages, the Living Wage for Families Campaign looks at both the earned income that would allow a family to meet their costs in a community as well as the policy solutions that could reduce the need for high wages. Metro Vancouver has the highest living wage in Canada with two parents each needing to earn $20.62/hr to meet their costs in contrast to a provincial minimum wage of $10.85/hr. The high living wage is partially a result of public policy failures on the issue of working poverty.

The Liberals put forward a jobs plan and insisted that there was no need to address social assistance and disability rates. This reinforces a neoliberal narrative of personal accountability for poverty and makes invisible the structural inequality, like discriminatory practices in hiring and access to housing that Indigenous people, people with disabilities, single moms, people of colour, trans folks and immigrants and refugees face. This jobs plan included major investments in oil and gas and BC Hydro’s investment in the controversial Site C dam. It did not address low wage work or a process to increase stagnating wages.

The Green and NDP, although having distinct solutions to affordability, emphasized the role of government in providing universal services. The NDP made a $15 minimum wage, eliminating Medical Services Plan payments and universal affordable child care core planks of their campaign. These campaign promises came directly from the advocacy of community organizations, activists and labour. The Green part advocated for a basic income pilot, increasing the minimum wage, and an expansive universal child care system.

Sixty percent of voters supported the call for a broader range of public services. This is a rejection of the narrative of neoliberalism. However, moving forward it will be up to us as community organizations, activists and labour to continue to push for full implementation of the policies promised while organizing to win a poverty free BC.

Deanna Ogle is an organizer with the Living Wage for Families Campaign.


Time to Tighten the Activist Boots

by Lisa Freeman

The first time I voted in a BC election was May 9, 2017. Consequently, I experienced many firsts in relation to electoral politics here. I moved to Vancouver in 2013, shortly before the last election and was eager to watch the results but could not find a pub that prioritized the election over a ‘big’ Canucks game. When we found a spot showing the election, my friend gasped when she saw the coverage. All she could see was red (figuratively and literally) and all I saw was the lack of blue on the election map. For the first time in nearly 40 years, I did not see any Conservative blue! The optics were jarring. I resisted the urge to smile, knowing that B.C Liberals were Conservatives in a red disguise.

Another four years of Liberal rule was nothing to smile about; I know provincial conservatives, I came of voting age during Ontario’s ‘Common Sense Revolution.’ Clark’s approach to housing, environment, and welfare rates, felt all too familiar. In 2013, I knew what to do, tighten my bootstraps and get to work. Fast forward, four years. My bootstraps were tied tightly but it was hard to move. I felt a helplessness and rage that was echoed by many activist friends who wanted to stop Clark’s liberals. Panic motivated my next set of electoral ‘firsts.’ I volunteered for a political party, knocked on doors, and scrutineered.

Then, another first. Both of the NDP candidates I volunteered for beat incumbents. Score! Watching this election with a group of friends was, I am certain, more exciting than any Canucks game could ever be. We were on the edge of our seats. This time the lack of blue on the screen did not alarm me but the balance of red and orange did. My excitement soon turned to nervousness. Tight races. Courtney-Comox. Ballots recounted. Final count announced three weeks post-election. A knot in my stomach formed that would not go away. If I believed in purgatory, I am sure this is how it would feel.

Then, my final first. Standing in line for a Greyhound bus in Ontario watching the initial formation of a NDP minority, feeling a mix of relief and caution, I tightened the straps of my activist boots, ready for the work ahead. I finally allowed myself to smile, albeit tentatively.

Lisa Freeman is an activist-academic who teaches at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and lives on Coast Salish Territory.

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Scheer, Lyme and lumber: how federal politics touched Canadians this week

OTTAWA – It was an intense week of repudiation on Parliament Hill.

U.S. President Donald Trump entrenched — with gusto, and to Canada’s consternation — his inward-looking approach to global affairs by stridently announcing his intention to pull out of the Paris accord to prevent climate change.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard shattered the back-burner status of constitutional truce by launching national discussions meant to deal with his province’s long-standing concerns about being excluded from the Constitution.

And Liberal hopes to address energy and the environment in tandem — by introducing carbon pricing while also approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline — were thrown into disarray by this week’s pact between the B.C. Greens and the NDP to wrest provincial power from Christy Clark’s Liberals.

Amidst all the moving pieces, there were concrete developments in the dynamics of the House of Commons, in confronting Lyme disease and in dealing with the softwood lumber dispute with the United States.

Here are three ways politics touched us this week:


The new Conservative leader finally took up his post in the House of Commons this week, beginning to better define the political dynamic that will accompany voters into the next election.

Andrew Scheer received a warm welcome from his caucus and even the other parties’ MPs as he took up the mantle of leader of the official Opposition.

He then set down some markers that will undoubtedly return as key themes leading up to the next campaign. He highlighted familiar Conservative policies on balanced budgets and smaller government, and resurrected Stephen Harper’s focus on a “job-killing carbon tax.”

And he added a flavour of his own, calling for a denial of funding to universities that stifle full freedom of speech by shouting down and drowning out unpopular views. He also cited “radical Islamic terrorism” — a politically loaded phrase — and the threat it poses as justification for his call to send Canada’s fighter jets back to the Middle East.


As tales of torrents of ticks swarmed through social media this week, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the government’s intentions to improve research around Lyme disease.

Ottawa will put $4 million towards a better understanding of the disease, setting up a network to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Critics say the pace of government programs is no match for the pace of infected ticks and the complexities of the bacteria they carry.

Lyme-carrying ticks can now be found in most provinces in Canada, and no longer just the southernmost points of Ontario. Experts predict the number of people affected by the disease will grow steadily, from 700 in 2015 to about 10,000 a year by 2020.

Diagnosing and treating Lyme disease is often very tricky; it can sometimes take years to defeat the disease in a single person.


The federal government is papering over the pain of its eternal softwood lumber dispute with the United States, putting up $867 million this week to boost the competitiveness of companies and give new skills to sideswiped workers.

The supports are meant to partially make up for damages caused by the U.S. imposition of duties introduced in April on Canadian lumber sales into the United States.

The package is just one of the ways the federal government is stickhandling through its increasingly antagonistic trade relationship with the United States.

Ottawa is also threatening to end its talks to buy Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing Co., now that the U.S.-based aerospace company is using the American legal system to challenge Canadian government support for rival Bombardier Inc.

And on climate, Ottawa is finding common cause with the rest of the world in sticking steadfastly with the Paris accord to cut emissions while loudly proclaiming its disappointment with the Trump administration for pulling out of the pact.

On NAFTA re-negotiations, however, the federal government is being careful not to make any loud, aggressive moves for now — preferring to watch quietly while Trump sorts out his position.

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Discord over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion rattles Canada’s political landscape

Early this year, Christy Clark’s Liberal government announced a deal with Kinder Morgan Inc. that outlined cash payments over two decades in exchange for a clear “yes” on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

That contract would see the company give British Columbia annual amounts for 20 years to fund environmental projects in exchange for provincial approval of the pipeline. The Premier’s critics called it a shakedown, saying it was unprecedented for a company to pay a provincial government for crossing its territory to deliver goods to market.

However cynical it appeared, the deal between Kinder Morgan and the B.C. government was also seen as a pragmatic political solution. It gave Ms. Clark the ability to say that the controversial pipeline expansion to transport Alberta heavy crude to global markets, adding more oil tanker traffic in coastal waters, would also be in her province’s interest.

The federal government had already approved the pipeline. B.C.’s agreement gave Ottawa a reprieve from the dangerous political territory of being forced to assert its authority over such projects.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark listens to a question during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday May 30, 2017.

But the contract now faces an unravelling – and along with it, the fine political balance that was in place to get the pipeline expansion built across provincial lines.

The BC Liberals lost their majority in the May 9 provincial vote after 16 years of government. And, although NDP Leader John Horgan said little about his party’s opposition to the pipeline project during the campaign, it became clear the New Democrats would need a partner to win control of the legislature.

Enter the three newly elected Green MLAs.

With clout that now exceeds the size of his small caucus, BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver entered into a partnership with the NDP this week around opposition to the pipeline. Mr. Weaver now says one of the first orders of business will be to seek legal counsel from the Attorney General about walking away from the 20-year deal brokered by Ms. Clark.

The changes Mr. Weaver’s Greens and the NDP could enact go far beyond the elimination of one profit-sharing contract, or even the protection of British Columbia’s coastal waters from increased tanker traffic, or the interests of Alberta’s oil-fuelled economy.

B.C. Green party leader Andrew Weaver speaks to media in the rose garden on the Legislature grounds in Victoria, B.C., on May 10, 2017.

The fate of the $7.4-billion project has become a defining moment in the national debate over natural-resources development and environmental protection; over what role other levels of government have in approving interprovincial projects; and the degree of consultation and consent that is required from Indigenous Canadians.

It may take rulings from the Supreme Court and fractious political battles on a national scale to fully answer those questions.

Hanging in the balance is the relationship between provinces, the protection of coastlines, the country’s resource economy and Canada’s climate-change strategy knitted together by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“This isn’t just about Trans Mountain. This is not just about B.C. It’s not just about one region of the country,” said Martha Hall Findlay, president and chief executive of the Canada West Foundation, who believes it’s essential to stick with regulatory and cabinet decisions to approve the pipeline project. “This is about the whole country.”

If the Trans Mountain deal is derailed, Mr. Trudeau’s climate plan will be seriously undermined as conservative politicians and industry skeptics ratchet up their attack on the Alberta carbon-pricing plan, which is a cornerstone of the federal effort.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley chat prior to a roundtable meeting with oil and gas producers in Calgary, Alberta, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.

Mr. Weaver berated Alberta Premier Rachel Notley this week for being stuck in 20th-century devotion to fossil fuels. Yet, she faces election in two years and significant challenges from conservative parties who want to scrap her province’s carbon tax. A pipeline victory, while not securing her re-election, would certainly help.

The battle in B.C. will reverberate in Quebec, where TransCanada Corp. faces provincial scrutiny over its proposed $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline, currently under review by the National Energy Board as well as Quebec’s regulatory body. The company says it will co-operate with the provincial regulator but insists it is Ottawa that has the final say.

If an incoming NDP government can block the Trans Mountain expansion in British Columbia, critics in Quebec will be emboldened to demand their provincial government take similar action in the event Ottawa approves Energy East.

If a spat between two Western provinces would be a political headache for Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals, a battle between Alberta and Quebec over the fate of crude-oil exports could precipitate a full-blown national-unity crisis.

For his part, Mr. Weaver is showing no sign he’s interested in diplomatic entreaties; nor that he’s scared of a showdown with Ottawa. The climate scientist is unmoved by the argument that killing the pipeline project will hurt Ottawa’s ability to move forward with the national framework on climate action. “The horse-trading that went into that is frankly shocking,” Mr. Weaver said of Mr. Trudeau’s countrywide deal.

In an interview, he added that the Prime Minister was wrong to sign the Paris accord on climate action, and then approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to win support for his policy moves in Alberta.

“Mr. Trudeau was a hypocrite to stand up and sign Paris and then sign these pipeline deals.”

The Trans Mountain expansion would see the pipeline twinned to increase the system’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day from the current 300,000. But, even before Mr. Weaver was set to become a political kingmaker, there were serious hurdles to the project, which already faced 19 court challenges launched by First Nations, environmental groups and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby.

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project’s Westeridge loading dock, at bottom with green tanks, is seen in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016.

The increase in oil-tanker traffic and the risk of bitumen spills into the Pacific remains the biggest bone of contention. Right now, a total of about 250 commercial vessels, of all types, traverse the ocean waters each month. The pipeline expansion would increase the number of oil tankers travelling from the Westridge Marine Terminal each month to 34, from the current five.

Activists have predicted that Burnaby, B.C., could see months of protest similar to those against the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the U.S. Midwest.

And opposition to the Trans Mountain expansion isn’t limited to the coast.

Near Merritt in B.C.’s Central Interior, Chief Lee Spahan of the Coldwater Indian Band has said his community is concerned about the impact of the expanded pipeline on the aquifer the band relies on for drinking water and irrigation. “A spill would be catastrophic,” he said.

But for those who want the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline expansion to go ahead, Trans Mountain is a key to having unfettered access to global markets. Indeed, Ms. Notley argues that the Trans Mountain expansion goes to the very heart of Confederation: A land-locked province must be able to move its commodities through neighbouring jurisdictions.

“At the end of the day, we are at a turning point,” Ms. Notley said in an interview this week with The Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason.

By giving local concerns “veto power over overall national benefits – then that’s where we take the wrong path in relation to a 21st-century economy,” she said.

Her province’s carbon tax is under siege from the right-of-centre Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties. Facing an election in 2019, Ms. Notley has been eager to demonstrate to voters that her government’s action on climate change would facilitate access to new markets on behalf of the province’s beleaguered oil industry and tens of thousands of unemployed energy workers.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks in Edmonton, Alta. on Monday May 30, 2016.

Last fall, Ms. Notley told reporters her support for the federal carbon pricing initiative that eventually reaches $50 per tonne – a critical part of the Liberal government’s pan-Canadian climate strategy – would be revisited if the Trans Mountain expansion isn’t built. This week, her office said she remains committed to Alberta’s own Climate Leadership Plan, which includes another increase to carbon taxes and a cap on emissions from the oil sands, and Ottawa’s plan.

Even if it’s unclear what steps the Alberta Premier could take if the pipeline is not built, the NDP-Green alliance next door has made her more combative in recent days. She told a radio show that Canada “can’t be a country that says one of its two functional coastlines is only going to do what the people who live right beside it want to do.”

Nothing stops the province from shipping oil by rail, she also told The Globe.

From an economic point of view, many in the resource-focused province are concerned that the constant delays and regulatory costs will kill the expansion project.

They fear a lack of new pipeline capacity will leave Canada shut out of competitive international markets for oil in the decades to come. The United States, a consumer of and competitor to Canadian oil, is moving quickly to ship oil internationally – it exported a record 1.3 million barrels of crude a day onto the world market late last month.

And more pressure for the Canadian industry could come further down the road: As renewable energy technology becomes economic and efficient beyond any predictions made just a few years ago, and growth in the global demand for oil slows, Canada needs to capture market share while the worldwide appetite for oil still exists.

More immediately, the industry argues it doesn’t make good business sense to be beholden to the United States for virtually all – 99 per cent – of its export market.

“Not all pipelines are created equal,” said Michael Tran, a commodity strategist for RBC Dominion Securities.

“Pipelines facing the Pacific are by far the most important given the growth potential on the other end,” said Mr. Tran, who works in New York but who grew up in Kitimat, B.C. “It’s imperative that Canada obtains access to the Asian market. Emerging Asia, countries like China and India, are really, by far, the biggest oil-demand drivers on a global basis.”

A pipeline is pictured at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project in Burnaby, B.C.

There is also speculation in Calgary’s downtown office towers about whether environmental opposition to major infrastructure projects allows anything, including natural gas projects, to be built in a timely manner.

Dan Allan, president of the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources – an industry group – says stricter environmental rules and political uncertainty means some foreign investors are rethinking investments in Canadian energy projects.

“Money has started to move elsewhere,” he said. “Our assessment is our activity levels are going to drop off. And the wealth creation that was fuelling Canada is going to start to dissipate.”

There are other complications, as well. Former Alberta cabinet minister Ted Morton, now a fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, said if a new B.C. government is successful in blocking the project, Kinder Morgan may have an avenue to successfully sue the province for billions of dollars under the North American free-trade agreement investor-state section.

For its part, Kinder Morgan has shown no sign it’s wavering from its plan to have shovels in the ground in September. On Friday, the company’s Canadian president said he’s open to talking to the provincial NDP and Green parties, but emphasized the project has already been federally approved and has the support of the Prime Minister.

“We’ll continue to listen,” Ian Anderson said. “But I don’t have any concessions planned for any further discussion at this point.”

Even so, uncertainty about the project weighed on the stock-market debut of the company’s Canadian unit. Shares of Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. tumbled on their first day of trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange this week, after the company raised $1.75-billion in an initial public offering. Investors were spooked by a prospectus that listed public blockades, legal challenges, the risk of not obtaining land rights and the failure to resolve aboriginal-rights issues as possible reasons why the pipeline may not be built

Replacement pipe is stored near crude oil storage tanks at Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline terminal in Kamloops, B.C.

The attempt to unwind the 20-year deal between British Columbia and Kinder Morgan could be the first test as the NDP-Green partnership works to oppose the pipeline’s construction. According to recent court rulings, provinces can review interprovincial pipeline projects and can add conditions “provided they do not render the project impossible,” said Erik Richer La Flèche, partner at Stikeman Elliott LP in Montreal

Eugene Kung, who has been working on the Kinder Morgan file for West Coast Environmental Law, believes a New Democrat-led government in B.C. will have to take its contract with Kinder Morgan seriously. But he noted there is nothing in the deal that can hinder the B.C. legislature’s ability to pass laws.

However, Mr. Kung believes the strongest avenue to fight the pipeline will be found in Indigenous rights. Because there are few treaties settled in British Columbia, Indigenous rights are a large part of the 19 court challenges the project faces in federal and provincial courts.

Mr. Kung added that Alberta’s Premier is only partly correct when she said the B.C. government must allow her province access to the coast because it cannot can lay solitary claim to western tidewaters.

“It’s true B.C. doesn’t own the coast – it’s the Indigenous people who never ceded that land who own the coast,” Mr. Kung said. “That is part of the toolbox that this new B.C. government has.”

Opponents also question the need for a pipeline project that would entail heightened risks to coastal waters – particularly if Enbridge Inc. proceeds with the expansion of its main Line 3 export pipeline to the U.S. and TransCanada gets the green light to build the Keystone XL line to the Gulf Coast refining hub.

“There are more pipelines proposed than are required to meet the needs of the Canadian oil sector,” said Tom Gunton, a former B.C. deputy minister and professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management.

A protester dances with a sign during a march against the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline, on the Cambie Street bridge in Vancouver, B.C., on November 19, 2016.

Prof. Gunton also challenges Ms. Notley’s position that access to Pacific markets would fetch higher prices for Alberta’s crude. In a global marketplace, prices in different regions tend to converge, adjust for crude quality and the cost of transportation, he said.

The eventual resolution of the Trans Mountain issue will also serve as a precedent for another controversial pipeline project: TransCanada’s proposed Energy East line. It will travel from Alberta through Ontario and Quebec to a refinery and export terminal in Saint John, N.B. It has stirred a hornet’s nest of opposition in Quebec from municipal politicians, the Parti Québécois and First Nations.

In Montreal, Mr. La Flèche expects the jurisdictional tussle in B.C. to end up in the federal courts.

“That has a huge impact for Quebec because politically if [a] pipeline can’t go through B.C., there is no way it’s going to go through Quebec. If it can’t go through the immediate neighbour, why should it go through one so many kilometres away?”

What is clear is this has created a much greater political headache for the Trudeau government. The federal Conservatives want to make sure the Prime Minister cannot simply repeat time-worn lines of support for the project, and avoid the political fray.

This week, the party introduced a House of Commons motion in favour of the project. Conservative MP Mark Strahl, who represents the B.C. riding of Chilliwack Hope, urged Mr. Trudeau to work harder to sell the benefits of the pipeline to British Columbians.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr insisted the government’s support for the project has not been affected by the political upheaval.

“While the government in B.C. may change, the facts, the science, the evidence, the environmental considerations; the economic benefits, the jobs – all of these remain unchanged. This project was and this project is in the best interest of Canadians.”

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Politics Briefing newsletter: House of Commons reports on harassment

Good morning,

When we think of the House of Commons, we think of the green-carpeted chamber where members of Parliament debate legislation (and, for an hour a day, yell at each other). For each of the 338 members, there are many more political staffers, as well as non-partisan support staff like clerks and librarians, who all help to keep the heart of our democracy beating. And as much as we expect a robust sparring in the chamber, outside of it, everyone deserves a respectful workplace.

The House reported this week that in the 2016-17 year, there were 19 official complaints of harassment. Most of those complaints were lodged by women, mostly against men. Of the 19 complaints, nine were made against MPs. Some complaints were resolved, and two were investigated and found to be “not substantiated.” The House wouldn’t elaborate on the nature of the complaints lodged against the MPs because, a spokesperson said, it could (somehow) be used to identify them.

But all this may not be the full story: as The Hill Times wrote earlier this year, there are many reasons why female staffers won’t report sexual harassment in the workplace. And what happens when victims do go public? The Coast, in Halifax, shared the harrowing story this week of a woman who says she was abandoned by the Nova Scotia Liberals (for whom she used to work), after her staffer partner pleaded guilty to assaulting her. The partner was fired by the Liberals…then quietly rehired months later. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the man deserved a “second chance.”

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa 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. Let us know what you think.


The U.S. lumber lobby says Canada’s $867-million in aid for the softwood industry is just more government subsidies — the kind that fueled the original trade dispute that led to the need for federal aid in the first place. “Canada is standing up to the U.S.,” Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Thursday.

The military says it will scale back the use of mefloquine for treating malaria, after concerns of long-term health impairment. The Forces say their studies still do not turn up evidence of the drug causing harm, though veterans insist it is a source of long-term brain damage.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the government is working to get two Canadian winery owners released from Chinese detention.

Quebec sent two shots at Ottawa yesterday, neither of which the Liberal government says it intends to pay attention to: on reopening the Constitution or giving provinces special provisions in the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the Liberals’ process for appointing Madeleine Meilleur as Official Languages Commissioner is a “dumpster fire.

There appears to be an 8,000-vote discrepancy in just how many people voted in the narrowly-won Conservative leadership race, which the party is blaming on “human error.

And the Prime Minister will make an appearance on daytime TV on Monday, as a guest on Live with Kelly and Ryan. The show is filming from Niagara Falls, Ont., and will also feature an appearance by Tatiana Maslany of the science-fiction hit Orphan Black.

Alicia Elliott (The Globe and Mail) on the legacy of residential schools: “If you’re willing to accept that all Canadians don’t always agree, it shouldn’t be that hard to accept that the same holds for Indigenous peoples. Residential school survivors have always been able to speak for themselves. The problem is that Canadians haven’t always been willing to listen.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on corporate subsidies to aircraft makers: “Not all subsidies are illegal under international trade law. After its subsidies to Bombardier were successfully challenged more than a decade ago by Brazil’s Embraer, Ottawa restructured aid programs in the aerospace sector to withstand trade complaints. Hence, federal loans to Bombardier that cover research and development expenses are not considered illegal.”

Supriya Dwivedi (Global News) on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer: “Criticism of Scheer is not based on his Catholicism, but his voting record and his own statements. It’s fair to say that the criticism of Scheer will ultimately be rendered moot, as he himself has stated that he is apparently able to separate himself from his religion in order to move the party forward and ultimately be viable to win the next election. Indeed, Scheer has asserted that he has no interest in re-opening civil rights issues such as marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose.”

David Reevely (Ottawa Citizen) on the government-funded tour of a giant rubber duck: “We’ve collectively decided that festivals are something we’re willing to spend public money on because they’re good for tourism, they make people happy and it’s important to mark anniversaries. Having made that decision, insisting that we only spend money on the same snoozes we’ve always spent money on makes no sense.”


B.C.’s NDP leader and prospective premier says he plans to follow through on a campaign promise to travel to Washington to press the province’s interests in the softwood lumber dispute. But John Horgan is not saying whether he will adopt Premier Christy Clark’s recent calls for retaliation by targeting thermal coal exports through British Columbia. Ms. Clark, who remains premier but is likely to fall in a confidence vote next month, has called on Ottawa to ban thermal coal exports and has promised to impose a tax if that doesn’t happen. Now those measures are in doubt. It’s not clear when Mr. Horgan plans to visit the U.S. capital or who intends to meet when he’s there.

When the B.C. NDP and Greens released their power sharing agreement, notably absent was any detail on what they plan to do about the housing market. Housing was a major issue in the election campaign, with both parties promising measures to boost supply and target speculators. But they differed on who to tax: the NDP want to tax owners who don’t pay income tax in B.C. while the Greens want to impose a steep tax on foreign buyers at the time of purchase. The NDP say they’ll press ahead with their speculation tax, first applying it at a rate of two per cent in Vancouver, and they’ll talk with the Greens about other measures. Regardless, both parties say they’re largely aligned on what they believe the problems are — and how to fix them.

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta and B.C.: “Today, relations between Alberta and B.C. are about as bad as they’ve ever been. And they are possibly about to get even worse.”


Are you a Globe reader in Toronto? On June 7, we are hosting a live panel discussion called “Globe Talks: NAFTA in Play,” on the future of trade with our biggest partner. It features Globe journalists Barrie McKenna and Joanna Slater with experts Dan Ciuriak, Laura Dawson and Michael Kergin. Click here for details and tickets.


The United States, the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, will no longer honour the Paris climate-change accord, President Donald Trump says. It will take four years for the country to actually withdraw from the deal, however, and leaves it up to cities, states and businesses to find other ways to cut down on emissions that are contributing to global warming. The withdrawal of the U.S. will also leave room for China to emerge as a world leader in addressing climate change, though that country suffers more acutely from severe air pollution.

Former FBI director James Comey will testify in the Senate as early as next week.

And the Economist has made a surprising endorsement in the British election: the Liberal Democrats. The British-based magazine, a staunch proponent of free trade, says the leading Conservative and Labour parties are too protectionist under their current leaders and the shadow of Brexit.

Bill McKibben (New York Times) on the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris accord: “It’s a stupid and reckless decision — our nation’s dumbest act since launching the war in Iraq. But it’s not stupid and reckless in the normal way. Instead, it amounts to a thorough repudiation of two of the civilizing forces on our planet: diplomacy and science. It undercuts our civilization’s chances of surviving global warming, but it also undercuts our civilization itself, since that civilization rests in large measure on those two forces.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the case for optimism: “Governments, businesses and individuals act in their own self-interest. As the consequences of climate change become more apparent each year, and as the economic attractiveness of renewable energy and energy conservation increases, people, businesses and governments rationally decide to go green – not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing.”

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Politics Briefing: Gender-neutral anthem bill may not pass before Canada Day

Good morning,

It was one year ago today that Liberal, NDP, Green and some Conservative MPs voted to change a few words of the national anthem from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.” It was the final legislative bid by veteran Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, who died just a couple of months later. The goal was to make the anthem more “gender-neutral” in time for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations on July 1, 2017, but, like many bills, the Senate took a leisurely approach to studying it. One year later, and with just a few weeks left in the sitting, an 11th-hour move by a Conservative senator could effectively kill the bill and Canada’s national anthem may not change after all. More on the story here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa 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. Let us know what you think.


There was a moment during negotiations to navigate B.C.’s unprecedented minority legislature when it seemed Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals were close to a deal to remain in power. The Liberal negotiating team, which was trying to win the support of the Greens’ three seats, had reached agreements with the party on key issues such as electoral reform and campaign finance. But it soon became clear there remained too large a gap on environmental issues, and the Greens faced tremendous pressure from supporters not to prop up the Liberals, whose brand of politics the party campaigned so loudly against. The Globe’s Justine Hunter looks at how those negotiations unfolded, and why Ms. Clark’s government lost out.

The prospect of an NDP minority government in B.C. supported by the Greens continues to cast doubt on the future of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. Much of the concerns in B.C. focus on protecting the coast from increased tanker traffic, but Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the coast is a resource that belongs to all Canadians, not a single province. Ms. Notley has warned there is nothing B.C. can do to stop the pipeline project.


The Liberal government is set to announce $860-million in aid for the softwood lumber industry today, which has been at the centre of a long-running trade dispute with the United States. The Canadian government will be careful not to characterize the money as a bailout, so as not to give new fuel to the fire of U.S. lobbyists.

The Liberals’ new political financing bill may make fundraising more transparent, but opposition parties say it won’t actually stop the criticized “cash for access” events.

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, who had a hand in selecting former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Madeleine Meilleur to become the federal Official Languages Commissioner, may have a connection with the watchdog: some of her current staff used to work directly for Ms. Meilleur.

More and more federal bureaucrats who work in the Privy Council Office, the nerve centre of the government, are facing lifetime gags from ever talking about what they did.

A Russian activist is warning Canadians not to let Vladimir Putin influence elections here and in other western democracies. Vladimir Kara-Murza has been poisoned twice and almost died, allegedly for his political activities, but he says it won’t keep him from continuing to speak out. “There’s no better gift we could give the Kremlin than to give up and run away. And we are not going to give them that pleasure,” he told The Globe.

A body near the Canada-U.S. border in Manitoba has been identified as a Ghanaian woman who may be the first to have died trying to illegally cross the border this year.

First Nations leaders are urging the government and RCMP to address a “policing crisis” in Thunder Bay, after a spate of deaths of local indigenous people.

Ottawa Police are the latest service to adopt new ways of dealing with sexual-assault investigations, after a Globe investigation shone a light on how often those complaints are dismissed.

And new Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has his work cut out for him: only about 8 per cent of respondents to an Angus Reid Institute survey say they are “familiar” with him, and 75 per cent say, at most, they’ve heard his name.

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on the Trump administration and climate change: “In the broader context, a U.S. pull-out would rock the international order. It would be a sign that the America Firsters are winning the internal White House debate, that the President is preoccupied with his populist base, which, along with reactionaries around the world, would surely celebrate his repudiation of the Paris accord.”

Kathryn Harrison (The Globe and Mail) on the B.C. election and the Kinder Morgan pipeline: “Prime Minister Trudeau on Tuesday restated his government’s support for the Trans Mountain pipeline. But as for Trans Mountain’s IPO investors, that support comes with significant risks. Just how much political capital is Mr. Trudeau willing to spend to see the pipeline built?”

Drew Fagan (The Globe and Mail) on the Canada Infrastructure Bank: “The perception that Ottawa is in cahoots with Bay Street and Wall Street has been sowed by Ottawa’s own actions. It spoke to moneyed interests, often behind closed doors, more assiduously than it explained the CIB’s role to the public. How did BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, get so close as to appear to be both pitcher and umpire? However, this doesn’t change the fact that Canada needs the CIB.”

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s economy: “This no longer looks like a mere bounce-back from a rough first-half of 2015, and the severe but temporary impact of the Fort McMurray wildfires. This looks like an economy that has quite definitively turned the corner.”

Marni Soupcoff (National Post) on freedom of speech on campus: “Let’s be clear: there’s more at stake here than an Ann Coulter speech or two. Whether it’s forming a student group for the sympathetic discussions of men’s issues or the intellectual questioning of the mandatory use of gender neutral pronouns, expressions of unpopular or controversial opinions are now regularly shut down by Canadian university administrators and activist students alike. The negative results range from an impoverished education for Canadian post-secondary students – who are denied the opportunity to debate views in the very spot that is supposed to be devoted to a free exchange of ideas – to an outright infringement of civil liberties.”

Vicky Mochama (Metro) on prison policy: “By making changes that are less punitive and more humane – for example, counseling and drug therapies rather than solitary confinement and prolonged sentences – the justice system can help prisoners escape the cycle of poverty and criminality. ”


Are you a Globe reader in Toronto? On June 7, we are hosting a live panel discussion called “Globe Talks: NAFTA in Play,” on the future of trade with our biggest partner. It features Globe journalists Barrie McKenna and Joanna Slater with experts Dan Ciuriak, Laura Dawson and Michael Kergin. Click here for details and tickets.

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