June 27, 2017

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Politics 204 for November 30

Quote of the day

  • Robert Falcon Ouellette, Liberal MP for Winnipeg Centre, has apologized for suggesting the Speaker of the House of Commons has power to influence the prime minister.

    At a town hall with my constituents, I suggested that the Speaker has the ability to call over a minister or the prime minister; I at no time intended to convey that there was any suggestion of quid pro quo. I deeply regret any impression I gave of the Speaker’s role. While I never intended to imply anything other than that the Speaker, as MP, still has the capacity to bring constituents’ concerns to the attention of government, I must take responsibility for my clumsiness in the way I expressed myself. — Winnipeg Centre MP Robert Falcon-Ouellette withdrawing from the competition for the Speaker’s position in the House of Commons.

Climate change

  • Maurice Strong in 2003. Strong, whose work helped lead to the landmark climate summit that begins in Paris today, has died. He was 86.

    Trudeau travels: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrapped up the final day of his second overseas tour with a speech at the climate change conference in Paris. Trudeau pledged $300 million a year for research on clean-energy technology, as part of an international effort led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, U.S. President Barack Obama and French President François Hollande. The money was in the Liberal’s election platform. The initiative intends to help develop better green energy systems, including better storage systems for solar and wind generation.
  • Premiers in tow: Five premiers are with Trudeau at the opening day of the conference, but Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger won’t head across the Atlantic until the weekend, after the Legislature rises for Christmas break.
  • Big loss: Lloyd Axworthy weighs in on the life and legacy of Manitoban Maurice Strong, who died Friday. Without Strong’s foresight, there might not have been world efforts, such as the Paris conference this week, in the struggle to get climate change under control.

Syrian plans

  • A Syrian refugee cooks on a fire outside her tent at an informal settlement near the Syrian border.

    Fighter jets: In Ottawa, Conservative Defence Critic and Manitoba MP James Bezan continues to push for Canada not to withdraw its fighter jets from the war against IS. He said Canada must “stand shoulder to shoulder” with France following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago.
  • Refugee camp visit: Immigration Minister John McCallum, Health Minister Jane Philpott and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan are back in Canada after a quick trip to a refugee camp in Jordan as the refugee processing centre in Amman opened its doors. Canada will begin welcoming the first plane loads of Syrian refugees this week. There are 10,000 refugees expected to land in Montreal and Toronto in the next month, and another 15,000 by the end of February.

Provincial legislature

  • Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh

    Family violence: Attorney General Gord Mackintosh is to introduce legislation today to boost protection to victims of family violence. Measures are expected to include a ban on firearms possession, easier-to-get protection orders and expanding GPS monitoring to cases involving domestic violence.

Business news

  • New rules prohibit expiry dates on some types of gift cards.

    CentreVenture: Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman is proposing a plan to make CentreVenture more accountable, but will he merely make it less effective? Our editorial weighs in.
  • Low productivity: Manitoba’s business productivity rate did an about-face last year in Manitoba, according to new Statistics Canada data released today. The data show Manitoba went from having one of the largest productivity gains in the country in 2013 — a revised 2.7 per cent — to one of the lowest in 2014, at 1.3 per cent.
  • Just in time: The province has outlined new regulation for gift cards, just in time for Christmas. The new regulations go into effect Tuesday.

In case you missed it

  • People eat and mingle in the new section of the RBC Convention Centre during a Grey Cup gala dinner Saturday.

    Lessons for city hall: Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman announced council had renewed the mandate of CentreVenture, the city’s downtown development agency, with new requirements that it report directly and regularly to elected officials on its activities. This is a bit of a slap for the agency.
  • Municipalities: At the recent meeting of municipalities, there was some heat and little light shed on possible funding deals with municipalities, which want new sources of revenue, such as a tax on consumption. Revenue from sales taxes, for example, grows as the economy grows. It’s not clear which political party has the best deal.
  • Indigenous language: Seven Oaks School Division wants to hear from parents who would like to enrol their kids in Ojibwe, Cree or Michif immersion classes next September. And it may be time to take a serious look at introducing Tagalog immersion to the curriculum, Seven Oaks superintendent Brian O’Leary said.

On the calendar

  • Former Manitoba premier Howard Pawley

    In Ottawa: Ambassador Gary Doer delivers speech on Canada-U.S. relations as he prepares to leave office after six years in Washington. Wednesday, Dec. 2. Parliament resumes. Thursday, Dec. 3. First order of business will be electing a Speaker. And Friday, the Liberal government will provide its first Speech from the Throne.
  • At the legislature: Jobs and the Economy Minister Kevin Chief has served notice that he will introduce a bill on Tuesday to amend the Advisory Council on Workforce Development Act.
  • Anniversary: Today, in 1981, Howard Pawley was sworn in as premier of Manitoba, replacing Sterling Lyon. The caucus included Conrad Santos, the first Filipino-Canadian elected in Canada.

The Free Press Politics: 204 is published weekday afternoons.

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