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WELCOME TO OTTAWA PLAYBOOK. I’m your host Zi-Ann Lum with Nick Taylor-Vaisey. Everybody’s talking about gas prices. We’re talking about gas prices. Parliamentarians are now carrying panic buttons. Natural Resources Minister JONATHAN WILKINSON answers a question about fertilizer. Plus, as the House winds down for the summer, MPs pay tribute to CANDICE BERGEN.
ABOVE THE FOLD — Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU’s Liberal government has another potential political interference scandal on its hands.
The Globe reports from the public inquiry into the April 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting. It heard Tuesday that RCMP Commissioner BRENDA LUCKI pressed the Mounties to disclose the weapons used by the perpetrator to help advance the Liberal government’s gun-control legislation.
The Globe’s story is here.
And here’s the start of the Halifax Examiner’s report: “RCMP Commissioner BRENDA LUCKI ‘made a promise’ to Public Safety Minister BILL BLAIR and the Prime Minister’s Office to leverage the mass murders of April 18/19, 2020 to get a gun control law passed.
Lucki issued a statement last night insisting she did not jeopardize the investigation.
HOLIDAY SEASON — President JOE BIDEN could officially greenlight or pass on the idea of a federal gas tax holiday today.
Biden is expected to deliver remarks about gas prices this afternoon. He signaled earlier in the week that he was gunning to find a way for consumers to save money at U.S. pumps by week’s end.
“While not perfect, it is something that should be under consideration as a policy,” Treasury Secretary JANET YELLEN told reporters in Toronto this week.
POLITICO’s SARAH FERRIS spells out why the measure is likely doomed.
— All together, now: What about Canada?
While Canadians haven’t stopped talking about gas prices since the national average topped C$2 per liter for the first time last month, Liberals have so far been cool on the idea.
Conservatives have been asking for a GST suspension on fuel since March, a novel idea that has differing results depending on your family income level for existing quarterly credits.
— Wait for it: Standing next to Yellen on Monday in the basement of Toronto’s MaRS building, Deputy Prime Minister CHRYSTIA FREELAND said the situation is different for Canada. The government hasn’t closed its doors on anything, she added. Well, almost anything.
— Pivot to affordability: There are measures wiggling their way through the legislative process, she said, referencing her budget bill, that are expected to pass before Parliament adjourns for summer this week.
Measures meant to reduce poverty and enhance affordability are already in the pipeline, said Freeland. “We don’t need new legislation.”
— Second opinion: What is actually needed is a better delivery plan to get those benefits to those who need it the most, according to Auditor General KAREN HOGAN. A recent audit found the Canada Revenue Agency and Employment and Social Development Canada continue to struggle getting benefits to hard-to-reach populations.
Natural Resources Minister JONATHAN WILKINSON repeated to reporters Tuesday the government’s focus is on addressing affordability, an umbrella term that covers gas price shocks.
Canada’s medium- to long-term plan to help stabilize energy prices is to increase oil and natural gas production to the tune of 300,000 barrels per day.
“We’re actually working with the sector right now to look at how close we are to the 300,000,” Wilkinson said. “We will ensure we make the 300,000 by the end of the year.”
— Different political situations: Biden is under pressure to find new ideas and measures to deliver consumer relief ASAP or face inevitable electoral doom come November’s midterms. Whereas in Canada, the Liberals’ deal with the NDP gives Trudeau a longer runway, boosting Cabinet ministers’ confidence in pointing to past budget promises as solutions for tomorrow’s gas bill and affordability problems.
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INCOMING — Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister MARC MILLER is expected to introduce a new bill titled “An Act to provide for the establishment of a national council for reconciliation” after putting it on the notice paper.
POLITICS IN 2022 — Some Parliamentarians are now carrying panic buttons to feel safe.
Public Safety Minister MARCO MENDICINO told reporters outside the Cabinet room Tuesday that MPs started using panic buttons at the beginning of the year.
— A threat is a threat: “In the online space, we have seen a degree of vitriol and toxicity and extremist expression that incites violence and that, frankly, clearly crosses the Rubicon into criminal content where people receive death threats,” Mendicino said.
The new panic button program involves the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Parliamentary Protective Service — and the police of jurisdiction where a Parliamentarian is from.
“Some cases it’s the RCMP, in other cases, it’s provincial police and/or local authorities,” Mendicino said. “They, too, are engaged so that we can protect MPs off the Hill as well.”
Here’s what the PM and other cabmins had to say about panic buttons for the Hill and beyond:
— Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU: “Listen, we know unfortunately that there’s a significant amount of anger and frustration out there directed at government, directed at officials. We need to make sure that anyone who steps up to serve their community at any level of politics is safe and that’s what we’re taking very seriously.”
— Families Minister KARINA GOULD: “I have to say that over the last seven years, the threats that I felt to my person have increased dramatically. The threats that I felt to my family have increased dramatically. … This is something that I find extraordinarily disappointing in Canada, that this is something that MPs, ministers, colleagues, frankly from all political parties, are experiencing.”
— Labor Minister SEAMUS O’REGAN: “I think the hostility is what’s new, and I think some of it just has to do with the ability to, you know, transmit that over social media. And it’s tough. It’s tough to know how much of it is just taking advantage of the anonymity and venting over social media and how much of it is real, right? It’s — it’s tough to know that, and you just can’t take any chances.”
POLICY DRIP — Conservative leadership candidate SCOTT AITCHISON has some catnip for the chattering classes in his latest policy pitch, proposing to recognize Taiwan as an independent country if he becomes PM.
“For the better part of 50 years, Canada’s and Western foreign policy was premised on the basis that increased trade and prosperity with China would lead to greater adherence to human rights and liberalization of communism’s harsh edges,” Aitchison said in a statement Tuesday. “We were wrong.”
Western countries have been playing with more forceful language on Taiwan. Biden, for example, signaled the potential end of his country’s “strategic ambiguity” approach last month when a reporter asked if he was willing to get the U.S. military involved to defend Taiwan.
Biden responded with an unequivocal, “Yes.” However, his staff quickly indicated that Biden did not change U.S. policy.
— Other CPC candidates’ positions: Aitchison’s language on Taiwan is clearer than the words JEAN CHAREST used when the topic came up during an interview with the Epoch Times in April. “If something were to happen in Taiwan, Canada would definitely be part of all the efforts made to secure the autonomy of Taiwan,” Charest said at the time.
— Campaign endorsement watch: Tory MP ZIAD ABOULTAIF is a newly minted member of Team PIERRE POILIEVRE. The Edmonton Manning MP endorsed Poilievre in a statement Tuesday, touting “Pierre will lead a very inclusive Conservative government.”
HERE’S THE DIRT — Natural Resources Minister JONATHAN WILKINSON spoke with Playbook about fertilizer, a slow-burn of a topic feeding into growing global food insecurity concerns.
— The issue: Russia is a major producer of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. When Canada stripped the country of its most-favored-nation tariff status on March 2, a 35 percent tariff began to apply on all synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, including products bought before March.
Conservatives have pressed the government to exempt fertilizer from the tariff.
Farmers, especially in Quebec and Ontario, using Russian products face paying more, which eats into their bottom lines. Another option is to use less, which can cut crop yield and supply — and eat into their bottom lines just the same.
The House agriculture committee has recommended Canada increase its domestic production of nitrogen fertilizer amid rising gas prices. The following exchange has been edited for length and clarity.
PLAYBOOK: Synthetic nitrogen fertilizer requires natural gas as a hydrogen feedstock. Those input costs are increasing. Are there any ideas or measures on the table right now to help producers reduce their input costs in the production of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer domestically?
WILKINSON: “There’s nitrogen based fertilizers and then there’s the whole area of potash and a lot of work done on potash over the last little while. … In terms of input costs, it’s not just nitrogen fertilizer that is being impacted by rising prices of natural gas — that is true for many industries that actually utilize natural gas as an input.
“We’re looking at a whole range of things that hopefully can be done to try to address the supply issues that were caused by the invasion of Russia, by and large, that have seen elevated prices for natural gas and for oil
“[At] the end of the day, we need to see stability in the market. And we need [to] see, ideally, increased supply that is going to help us to address those pricing issues.
“But that is not an issue that is specific to Canada. … That’s an issue that’s a global issue. In fact, it’s actually even more of an issue for Europe where prices of natural gas are significantly higher than they are here.”
— 5:40 p.m. (CAT)/11:40 a.m. (EDT) Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU arrives in Kigali, Rwanda to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The CBC’s MURRAY BREWSTERsets the scene.
— 10 a.m. Deputy Prime Minister CHRYSTIA FREELAND is on deck to introduce Ukrainian President VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY for a virtual address to University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy students. Question period at 2 p.m. is also on her public itinerary, as is a 4 p.m. meeting with Toronto Mayor JOHN TORY.
9 a.m. The Parliamentary Budget Officer will release a new report titled “Trans Mountain Pipeline – Update” on its website.
9:30 a.m. NDP Leader JAGMEET SINGH will attend his party’s national caucus meeting. He’ll hold a media availability at 12:30 p.m. and will attend question period at 2 p.m.
9:30 a.m. Bloc Québécois Leader YVES-FRANÇOIS BLANCHET is holding an end-of-session media availability. Blanchet will be joined by Bloc House Leader ALAIN THERRIEN and Bloc Caucus Chair MARIE-HÉLÈNE GAUDREAU.
11 a.m. Innovation Minister FRANÇOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE will make an announcement in Toronto, on the sidelines of the Collision conference, related to the “support the development of responsible AI in Canada.”
3:45 p.m. Health Minister JEAN-YVES DUCLOS will make an announcement at the Ottawa Hospital to kick off a “major new initiative that will increase clinical trial capacity in Canada.”
CANADA IS SIX PEOPLE — A political staffer in Veterans Affairs Minister LAWRENCE MACAULAY’s office recused himself from a meeting last week involving a specialty smokehouse in Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island.
The declaration, posted on the ethics commissioner’s website Monday, showed MICHAEL FERGUSON recused himself on June 16 from any matters involving Cape Reef Seafood & Smokehouse.
Why? “To avoid any opportunity to further the private interest of my friends, Megan and Murray MacLeod, the owners of that company.”
FOR THE RECORD — MPs from all parties paid due to “one of the hardest working MPs in Canada” on Tuesday afternoon, thanking CANDICE BERGEN for leading the Conservative caucus after ERIN O’TOOLE’s ouster in February:
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party LUC BERTHOLD: “She is not only a hard worker, but a principled woman of values who knows how to listen to others and, above all, knows how to make decisions while respecting the differences of each of the other members of the team.”
Liberal MP BARDISH CHAGGER, former Leader of the Government in the House: “While I believe that my colleague across the way, rightfully, was honored by this responsibility and all the glitz and glamor that it comes with, I, for one, can say that I may not have been as eager to move into Stornoway as perhaps she was. Yet now with this experience, I would welcome her thoughts and any additional insights on public or government-funded housing.”
Bloc Québécois Leader YVES-FRANÇOIS BLANCHET, en français: “The member for Portage–Lisgar has fulfilled her duty as interim leader brilliantly. She held the helm of her party during the storm, not losing sight of the priorities of the people of Manitoba who placed in her their trust. Today, she has earned the right to a wonderful summer.”
Green MP ELIZABETH MAY: “We hug a lot. I ran over to congratulate the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar because she, unlike so many in this place, did not go into politics for a career in door-knocking as a political nerd wanting to someday be an MP; rather, her career path was more like mine. She cared about issues and she let the care for those issues bring her into politics to make a difference.”
NDP MP RACHEL BLANEY: “I thank the member for her incredible work of showing leadership of what women in this place can do. I hope as part of her ongoing legacy she would encourage more women to run in her party.”
For her part, Bergen told the House that it was the honor of her life to head the party.
“I am still the leader until Sept. 10,” she noted.
— ‘Inflation is here, there and everywhere.’ The Star explains why economists see prices rising by another percentage point today.
— The Curse of Politics features JORDAN LEICHNITZ and heaps of advice from the panel for the federal government.
— ERICA IFILL writes: Liberals on collision course to entrench anti-Blackness.
— Nullify terra nullius: POPE FRANCIS is heading to Canada July 24-29 and BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE has a papel policy pitch: Ditch the Doctrine of Discovery. CBC News has more from the living legend.
— On the latest episode of his pod, law professor MICHAEL GEIST shares the sounds of the House heritage committee’s clause-by-clause review of Bill C-11.
“Cutting off debate was a political decision designed to allow Canadian Heritage Minister PABLO RODRIGUEZ to claim victory in ushering the bill through the House of Commons,” Geist argues at the start of the episode. “I think that so-called political victory comes at a high price for Rodriguez, who’ll forever be associated with the Bill C-11 legislative malpractice and democratic betrayal in the name of personal political ambitions.”
— As Toronto gets hotter, not everyone is sweating equally, INORI ROY writes in a project that brings together The Narwhal and The Local.
If you’re a POLITICO Pro subscriber, don’t miss our latest policy newsletter: Where Canada could work harder to spur investment.
In other headlines for Pros:
— Smugglers’ secrets: How Russia can beat EU sanctions.
— Biden administration commits to limiting use of land mines.
— French antitrust authority approves Google pledges over paying news publishers.
— Top global health organizations to be eligible for pandemic preparedness money.
Birthdays: HBD to the newly retired WAYNE EASTER.
HBD +1 to Ontario Native Women’s Association founding member JEANNETTE CORBIERE LAVELL.
Also celebrating: MNA HAROLD LEBEL, former MPs BEV SHIPLEY, IAN MCLELLAND and JENNIFER COSSITT, former MLAs GORDON DIRKS and DAVID THOMAS KING, and Rogers Communications Inc. Chairman EDWARD S. ROGERS III.
Send birthdays to [email protected].
Movers and shakers: The federal Greens have two new deputy leaders: Indigenous land defender ANGELA DAVISON and Montrealer LUC JOLI-COEUR, an ex-JACQUES PARIZEAU and PAULINE MAROIS-era political adviser.
Liberal MP JEAN YIP has put forward a petition supporting WON ALEXANDER CUMYOW, the first Chinese-Canadian born in Canada, to be the face of a new C$5 bill.
International Development Minister HARJIT SAJJAN has named DOROTHY NYAMBI as the new chair of the International Development Research Centre’s board of governors. Other newly appointed board members include AKWASI AIDOO, PURIMA MANE, NURJEHAN MAWANI and GILLES RIVARD.
Spotted: Sen. LUCIE MONCION, recipient of the Canadian Club’s Stéphane Teasdale Tribute Award … NDP MP RICHARD CANNINGS named a recipient of the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Canadian Legislator Award … High Commissioner RALPH GOODALE in Kigali, Rwanda at CHOGM with Canadian officials.
Winnipeg artist BLAKE ANGECONEB and partner DANIELLE H. MORRISON’s Google doodle celebrating NORVAL MORRISSEAU.
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Keep up to House committee schedules here.
Find Senate meeting schedules here.
9 a.m. Employment Minister CARLA QUALTROUGH and Families Minister KARINA GOULD are scheduled to make a funding announcement related to early learning and child care centers.
9:30 a.m. USTR Ambassador KATHERINE TAI will testify at the Senate appropriations commerce justice science subcommittee’s hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget for the USTR.
9:30 a.m. U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chair JEROME POWELL will testify at the Senate banking committee hearing on the semiannual monetary policy report to Congress.
10 a.m. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions makes its semi-annual Domestic Stability Buffer announcement.
10 a.m.The U.S. Senate environment and public works committee will hold a hearing on “Toxic Substances Control Act Amendments Implementation.”
11 a.m.The United States Energy Association holds a virtual discussion on “Just Transition: Reducing the Human Impact.”
12:45 p.m. Innovation Minister FRANÇOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE is on a “How Canada is taking on the tech world” panel at the Collision conference in Toronto. Clearco Co-Founder/CEO MICHELE ROMANOW and media personality AMBER MAC join him.
3:30 p.m.The House committee on official languages meets to discuss Bill C-13.
6:30 p.m.The Senate transport and communications committee meets to discuss Bill C-11.
Behind closed doors:
3:30 p.m.The House natural resources committee meets to discuss a draft report of its study of a greenhouse gas emissions cap for the oil and gas sector.
3:30 p.m. The House heritage committee meets on CHPC business.
Tuesday’s answer:JANET YELLEN is the first person to have led the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the Federal Reserve, and the U.S. Treasury Department.
Props to AKANKSHA BHATNAGAR,STEPHEN HAAS, DAVE EPP, VICTOR KRISEL, CULLY ROBINSON, BRAM ABRAMSON, ROBERT MCDOUGALL, DG STRINGER, JOANNA PLATER, DOUG RICE, TOD COWEN and LEIGH LAMPERT.
Wednesday’s question: “If a prime minister of Canada is lucky — and I mean really lucky — he will wind up with a MICHAEL WILSON in his Cabinet.” Who wrote these words? For bonus marks, tell us where.
Send your answers to [email protected]
Playbook wouldn’t happen without Luiza Ch. Savage, Sue Allan and editor John Yearwood.