Doing it for the ‘gramNovember 24, 2021
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WELCOME TO OTTAWA PLAYBOOK. I’m your host, ZI-ANN LUM. It’s caucus day on the Hill and Finance Minister CHRYSTIA FREELAND is expected to introduce a new bill titled “An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19.” The House blesses/curses us this afternoon with the first question period in five months where Conservatives are expected to continue grilling Liberals on inflation and the cost of living while debate continues on the House’s vaccine mandate.
THE MEDIUM IS MESSAGE — The Throne Speech was a blitz of short sentences reminiscent of the Liberals’ 2015 text. Read by Governor General MARY MAY SIMON, and partially in Inuktitut for the first time, written with a digital audience (meaning one with a short attention span) in mind.
By the numbers:
— 109 words: Length of the longest sentence in the first Throne Speech in 1867.
— 2,705 words: Length of yesterday’s Throne Speech.
— 172 words: Length of Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU’s Instagram post summarizing yesterday’s Throne Speech.
— 4 million: Number of followers on Trudeau’s Instagram page.
— What’s different from the last Throne Speech: Gone was the bullet-point list of promises that the Liberals used to convey their priorities in the speech delivered by former governor general JULIE PAYETTE two years ago.
The declarative phrase “The government will” appeared 22 times yesterday compared to the 30 occurrences in the 2019 text. In the Trudeau government’s inaugural Throne Speech, the phrase showed up 28 times.
— What’s missing: Conservative MP ALEX RUFF noted the speech didn’t have one nod to the agriculture sector — a point Canadian Canola Growers’ Association’s DAVE CAREY made to Playbook. “We encourage the government to take more concrete action to unleash the full potential of Canadian agriculture and strengthen its resiliency,” he said.
Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association President FLAVIO VOLPE said the speech was “kind of expected for a minority government coming out of a pandemic.” He said there’s comfort in hearing a high-level pledge for investments in zero-emission vehicles. The auto industry relies on clarity to build anything, Volpe told Playbook. “Just don't give us billions of dollars down one route and then switch.”
The quick mention of the ongoing challenges of racism and pledge to address online hate got the attention of MUSTAFA FAROOQ, executive officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “We look forward to working together to ensure that platform promises, including the institution of recommendations from the Islamophobia Summit (including creating a specific office to challenge Islamophobia) are brought to fruition,” he said.
— What hasn’t changed: Shortly after Simon read the words “We need to embrace the diversity of Canada and demonstrate respect and understanding for all peoples every day,” Conservative Senator CLAUDE CARIGNAN released a statement criticizing her French. Her proficiency, in her role, is “a slap in the face to all French-speaking Canadians,” he said.
— For POLITICO Pro subscribers: Throne Speech presents child care and housing as an answer to inflation fears.
Bloc Québécois Leader YVES-FRANÇOIS BLANCHET didn’t explicitly knock on Simon’s French when given an opportunity with reporters. Mulling the nuances of language, Blanchet said “supporting” isn’t the right word to describe his party’s position on the vision outlined in the Throne Speech. “We will live with this empty piece of paper gently read in three languages,” he said.
CHANGING LEVERAGE — With the Bloc’s not-support support locked, the Liberals are set to survive their first parliamentary test: the Throne Speech confidence vote. After NDP Leader JAGMEET SINGH hit Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU with sharply worded attack ads during the campaign, calling him “bad for Canada,” the Bloc’s backing of the Throne Speech hints at shifting powers at play on the Hill.
Singh, who had been seen as kingmaker in the last parliament, told reporters there’s no guarantee his party will prop up the government this time around. The NDP’s support should not be taken for granted, Singh repeated four times.
— Today in QP: If the first post-Throne Speech intervention by rookie Conservative MP MELISSA LANTSMAN and party leader ERIN O’TOOLE’s response are any indication of what’s to come in question period this afternoon, then expect a fiery line of questioning on inflation and cost of living. Throwback: O’Toole’s first question as leader last year accused Trudeau of being “all talk and no action” on reconciliation.
COMING SOON: COMMITTEES, MAYBE — All eyes are on Government House Leader MARK HOLLAND if he can strike a deal with opposition whips to get the Procedure and House Affairs Committee (PROC) going so the four priority bills he identified Monday can be adopted by MPs before Christmas. Holland met with whips yesterday.
As The Hill Times’ LAURA RYCKEWAERT reported, getting PROC up and running is the first step in reconstituting committees — which play an essential role in passing legislation. PROC will have 10 sitting days to table a “Striking of membership of Standing and Standing Joint Committees” report. Then another 10-sitting day countdown starts for those committees to meet and elect chairs and vice-chairs. But the Liberals are running up against their own clock. It’s now Day 3 into the Liberals’ 20-day sitting calendar before winter break.
PMB DRAW NEXT WEEK — The beginning of a fresh session of Parliament means a new draw to determine the order of Private Members’ Business. MPs will be notified by the clerk of the House this week about the date and time of next week’s event where all members’ names are randomly drawn. Those who are lucky enough to have their names drawn early have a better shot at having their private member’s bill passed into law.
— Note to the 49 new MPs: Early slots on the list are a form of political currency. Those who have their names drawn in the top 30 can make deals with ambitious MPs lower on the list, keen to move on a private member’s bill.
BRIGHT SPOTS — Call them the exceptions that prove the rule. Brand new parliamentary voices that offered an all-too-brief respite from the chamber's near-immediate descent into rancor that will almost certainly define the life of this Parliament. Three cheers for BRENDAN HANLEY, MELISSA LANTSMAN, SOPHIE CHATEL and LORI IDLOUT, writes Playbook's NICK TAYLOR-VAISEY:
— The doctor: Tradition dictates that a relatively inexperienced politician on the governing benches delivers the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. That task suitably fell to Hanley, a doctor who served as Yukon's chief medical officer of health during the pandemic. This was not a man built for raucous debate. Hanley is soft-spoken, earnest and glued to his notes. But who would argue he isn't exactly what the place needs more of?
— The staffer: Hanley faced questions from the opposition benches. First up was the MP for Thornhill, Ont. Lantsman has spent years behind the scenes in Tory circles. She was a d-comm for then-foreign minister LAWRENCE CANNON, and later held the same gig for finance ministers JIM FLAHERTY and JOE OLIVER. She ran DOUG FORD's war room before turning to the world of consulting. Knowing everything she knows about the life of a politician, Lantsman put her name on the ballot and stood yesterday in the chamber.
— The tax expert: The House accommodated one more tradition. The second major speech about the Throne Speech comes from another newbie on the governing side. Chatel got the gig. Here was a career bureaucrat who negotiated global tax treaties, the kind of job in which a people person excels, trying her hand at a very different kind of speech. Some MPs always end up staring at their notes. Chatel looked her colleagues in the eye.
— The northerner: The Inuk woman who now represents Nunavut won her nomination by a coin toss, but Idlout sounded firm and confident as she delivered her first question to the government. Idlout set the tone as an advocate for Nunavummiut. "Nunavut has been facing a housing crisis for decades," she said. "Decades." When will the government, she wondered, start funding housing projects in Indigenous communities? One of Idlout's Twitter followers wants a notification every time Idlout speaks in the House. She's not alone.
DUELING PRIVILEGES — House of Commons Speaker ANTHONY ROTA cut off Conservative MP JOHN BRASSARD from reading into the record, complaints reported by CBC News about allegations of an “unhealthy and disrespectful workplace” fostered under House of Commons Clerk CHARLES ROBERT. “I’m disturbed by the attack on individuals in our administration from either side,” Rota said. “These items are personal items and normally dealt with at the board of internal economy.”
Conservatives pushed Rota to respect the House and to allow for the issue to be discussed inside the chamber. In response, the Speaker let slip that sexual harassment is on the agenda of the next meeting of the House’s secretive board of internal economy committee.
THIS JUST IN — Leaders of the three parties set to form Germany’s new government have sealed a coalition deal, which they will present later today. The center-left Social Democrats (SPD), who won the Sept. 26 election with Finance Minister OLAF SCHOLZ as their candidate for chancellor, the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) will form a three-party government, POLITICO's LAURENZ GEHRKE reports.
Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU will be on the Hill for caucus at 10 and QP at 2.
Deputy Prime Minister CHRYSTIA FREELAND will attend caucus and QP, then make an announcement at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Conservative Leader ERIN O’TOOLE will address his caucus at 9:30 ET in Room 100 of the Sir John A. Macdonald Building.
NDP Leader JAGMEET SINGH will hold a presser at noon on Parliament Hill. Later in the day, he’ll speak at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board meeting.
THE U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT is expected to announce its finalized rates for Canadian lumber tariffs. The U.S. put the industry on alert with its preliminary rates back in May when it moved ahead on doubling anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian lumber.
— Canadian ban on Huawei 5G may come with a whimper, not a bang IAN YOUNG writes in the South China Morning Post.
— CBC News reports: Federal agriculture minister 'working extremely hard' to resume fresh potato trade with U.S.
— On THE DECIBEL this morning: IAN BAILEY on infighting in the Conservative Party.
— Top of POLITICO: The Buttigieg presidential buzz has penetrated the White House.
— BEN WOODFINDEN admits to his Substack subscribers that he's feeling pessimistic about Canadian conservatism. The movement's internecine war between progressive and populist factions, he writes, won't beat the left.
— “No emergency cell phone alerts. No bulletins on TV. Just… silence. For days.” — Writing for The Line, KATIE LEWIS calls for an external review of the many failures in B.C.’s disaster communications.
— On CBC’s Frontburner icymi, host ANGELA STERRITT spoke with KRIS STATNYK and AMANDA FOLLETT HOSGOOD about the standoff and arrests in Wet'suwet'en territory. Statnyk later tweeted: “It didn’t make the final cut but I also said we need to support Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan calls for militarized RCMP to leave their territories, and that RCMP should be defunded and dismantled.”
If you’re a Pro subscriber, catch ANDY BLATCHFORD’s Canada PM newsletter: Throne Speech, and a C-10 revamp.
In other news for Pros:
— ‘All talk and no walk’: America ain’t back at the WTO.
— Biden acts to lower fuel prices — with help from GOP.
— Adapting to climate is a winning issue for politicians — even in red states.
— Apple sues NSO Group in latest U.S.-based slap at spyware.
Movers and shakers: The Canadian Science Policy Centre has awarded PETER NICHOLSON with a lifetime achievement award. … Rubicon's MIRIAM MATHEW is lobbying for CNOOC. … Labatt Breweries JEFF RYAN also registered to make his company's case on the Hill. … Crestview's ISHWARI SAWANT is repping Telesat Canada.
Spotted: RAFFY BOUDJIKANIAN at his first Cabinet ins; “Good morning!”
FATIMA SYED of The Narwhal hosted a Twitter forum last night to discuss press freedom in Canada. Speakers included JIMMY THOMSON, KAREN PUGLIESE, MIKE DE SOUZA, ETHAN COX and CAROL LINNITT.
STEPHEN TAYLOR hosted a post Throne Speech conversation Tuesday evening on Twitter, which was a draw for Conservative MPs MICHAEL BARRETT, PHILIP LAWRENCE, LAILA GOODRIDGE and RANDY HOBACK, along with former Conservative cabinet ministers LISA RAITT and JAMES MOORE.
The Curse of Politics recorded its latest pod live on Monday evening in Toronto. Noted in the crowd: MATT CAMPBELL, JONATHAN SCOTT, BROOKE PIGOTT, ROSELLE MARTINO, ALI OUELLET MATTHEWS and MATT STANTON, who left with a signed mug. Missed it? You can catch it here.
Birthdays: HBD to former Saskatchewan premier BRAD WALL, 66 today. … ONEX CEO GERRY SCHWARTZ is 80. … STUART MURRAY, former Manitoba PC leader, is 67. … HOWARD SAPERS, Canada's former correctional investigator, is 64. … YA mystery author ERIC WILSON (remember Murder on the Canadian?) is 81.
What are you hearing that you need Playbook to know? Any questions about the next session of Parliament? Send it all our way.
CODA ON TUESDAY’S PLAYBOOK: Hansard set us straight on LOUIS PLAMONDON's light-hearted wisdom for rookies, which he snuck onto the record before Monday's speaker election. Parliamentary Press Gallery prez CATHERINE LEVESQUE flagged for us that House interpreters mildly flubbed Plamondon's punchline in real-time. Here's what he had to say:
"In my riding, there was an old mayor who was always being confronted by his citizens. At every municipal council meeting, he was questioned, insulted and harassed, and then he would leave. One day, as he was leaving a meeting, a woman asked him if he was fed up and tired of being insulted, harassed and questioned. He replied, “My dear lady, a good politician is like a monument. Sometimes, a little dog passes by, pees on the monument and then continues on its way. It does not really hurt the monument, but it does the little dog a lot of good.”
Tuesday’s answer: Parliamentary proceedings were first broadcast live on television to Canadians on Oct. 17, 1977. This CBC feature notes that for a time MPs wore sunglasses against the glare of the lights.
Props to LEIGH LAMPERT, ANDREW SZENDE, BEN ROTH, SHEILA GERVAIS, DOROTHY MCCABE and MICHAEL MACDONALD.
Wednesday’s question: Name the first dog to live at 24 Sussex.
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