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FIRST READING: Erin O’Toole, the socialist crusading rainbow warrior?

Liberals propose a Canadian DARPA (but for nice things)

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Throughout Election 44 we are publishing this special daily edition of First Reading, our politics newsletter, to keep you posted on the ins and outs (and way outs) of the campaign. To get an early version sent direct to your inbox every weekday at 6 p.m. ET, sign up here

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TOP STORIES

Seventeen days after they called the election, the Liberals released their platform today. Here it is in PDF, and here are the main parts that people are happy/angry about:

  • Mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all federally regulated transport.
  • Bring back C-10 (the regulate-the-internet bill).
  • Free in vitro fertilization.
  • No interest payments on federal student loans.
  • Strip charitable status from “anti-abortion” organizations.
  • Create a Canadian version of DARPA, the U.S. military agency that develops far-out technology like human exoskeletons and robot dogs.
  • Give CBC another $400 million.
  • Force the owners of previously legal firearms recently classified as “assault style” to either destroy them or sell them to the government (the owners had originally been offered “voluntary buyback”).
  • $70 billion added to the national debt over the next five years. No plans to balance budget.
  • It mentions the word “racism” 28 times (and “deficit” twice).

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Global Affairs had reassuring words yesterday for the more than 1,200 people with ties to Canada who are stranded in Afghanistan: Hide. Specifically, stay in a “safe location” until Canada can negotiate with the Taliban to have them leave the country somehow.

Liberal MP Raj Saini is being allowed to run for re-election in his riding of Kitchener Centre despite a string of sexual harassment allegations going back to 2015, when he was first elected. Trudeau said this week that he had “zero tolerance” for candidates engaged in harassment or intimidation, but nevertheless gave Saini a pass because the candidate had gone through “rigorous processes.” It might be worth noting that the allegations came to light after the cut-off date for federal candidates, so if Saini steps down the Liberals will be unable to run a candidate in Kitchener Centre.

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The Liberals’ “rigorous processes” for Saini weren’t good enough for the Liberals’ former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who tweeted “anyone who has a responsibility to address this and does not is not fit to lead.” Writing for the National Post, employment lawyer Kathryn Marshall has serious doubts that the Liberals subjected Saini to anything approaching a “rigorous” investigation.

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After days of being met by protest mobs at Ontario campaign stops, Trudeau accused Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole of being on the side of anti-vaccination protesters and of refusing to “correct” them. Reporters at the event noted no signs of party affiliation among a small throng of nearby protesters, and both the Liberals and Conservatives have essentially backed the same policy of requiring mandatory vaccines for civil servants, with regular testing as an option for employees who want to avoid the shot. For what it’s worth, a recent Abacus poll of the vaccine-hesitant found that a plurality of them leaned Liberal.

Liberal Party canvassers told The Hill Times that they’re really having a rough time on doorsteps this election. “What’s really shocking to me is how much the leader has lost popularity in the last few years. Intellectually, it makes no sense, it really doesn’t. I’m just like, ‘Okay, this is a bit ridiculous,’” one unnamed Liberal MP told the paper.

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The fine people over at Blacklock’s Reporter have discovered that Steven Guilbeault, Trudeau’s Heritage Minister (and the guy who tried to regulate the internet), is in pretty serious arrears to Revenu Québec. Guilbeault is reportedly five figures behind on his taxes.

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Quebec’s vaccine passport is now in force, with proof of vaccination required for entry into most non-essential businesses. Ontario’s is coming Sept. 22.

FRINGE PARTY CHECKUP

Marijuana Party founder Marc Emery is officially a candidate for the People’s Party of Canada. A longtime advocate for cannabis legalization, Emery was in a U.S. jail from 2010 to 2014 for mailing marijuana seeds across the border. A longtime libertarian, Emery has previously backed the NDP, the Liberals and even the Conservatives. Pitching his candidacy on Twitter, Emery wrote “there is no other candidate in this country that has gone to 40 prisons & jails in civil disobedience in principled opposition to bad laws & injustice.” Also, as appears to be popular among 2021 candidates lately, Emery has previously faced sexual harassment allegations

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SOLID TAKES

Strange as it may seem for a party that initially opposed Canada’s passage of same-sex marriage, even under Stephen Harper the Conservative Party had a pretty good record on international gay rights. Adam Zivo writes that this is continuing under O’Toole, with the Tory platform offering much broader means to accept LGBT refugees than either the Liberals or the NDP.

Since we’re on the subject of Conservatives championing unorthodox political issues, Justin Ling wrote up all the ways O’Toole is pitching labour policies that are verging on those of a “socialist crusader.” This includes measures to ease unionization, protections for gig workers and mandates to have employee representation on corporate boards.

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This week, the Conservatives promised to ban puppy mills (and of course used it as an excuse to stage a photo op with adorable puppies). But Sabrina Maddeaux says the policy is better than it looks, since tough measures on animal abusers often have the effect of curbing domestic abuse.

GO RIGHT TO THE SOURCE

After galvanizing Canadian public opinion for much of the summer, Indigenous issues dropped precipitously off the national radar the moment an election was called. So, The Assembly of First Nations is here to remind candidates what they would like from the next federal government. Their newly released draft of federal priorities includes recognizing Indigenous jurisdiction over cannabis sales, convening a Council of Federation meeting with First Nations leaders and appointing an Indigenous judge to the Supreme Court.

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University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist has been the fiercest critic of Liberal internet policy, calling them the “most anti-internet government in Canadian history.” He’s not a fan of the platform. Wrote Geist in a tweet thread, “the current government consultations on everything from online harms to news to copyright are clearly just theatre. The Liberal platform already says what they’re going to do.”

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Get all of these insights and more into your inbox every weekday at 6 p.m. ET by signing up for the First Reading newsletter here

From now until the bitter end of Election 44, the National Post is publishing a special daily edition of First Reading, our politics newsletter, to keep you posted on the ins and outs (and way outs) of the campaign. All curated by the National Post’s own Tristin Hopper and published Monday to Friday at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. Sign up here.

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