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Responding to the convoy
In this edition: the latest on the truckers convoy, meet the NDP's new president, bracing for a possible Russian invasion, ONA meets with Ford
It’s Monday, February 14. Welcome to POLICORNER — your insider’s guide to Canadian politics, policy and power. It’s a newsy Valentine’s Day around here. Have a love message for the newsletter? Drop us a line.
In this 10 minute read, Trudeau invokes the Emergencies Act — we have the latest on the response to the ongoing demonstrations. NDPers gather and the party elects a new president. Plus, Canada prepares for a possible Russian invasion in Ukraine and the VP of the Ontario Nurses’ Association speaks on the meeting with Ford.
The demonstrations in Ottawa have entered their third week and Windsor Police have cleared a week-long border blockade that the White House urged Ottawa to end with federal powers before it impacted supply chains.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invoked the never-before-used Emergencies Act in response to the ongoing situation. Caucus and the first ministers were informed of the decision following a rare Sunday night caucus meeting. Trudeau says the measures will be time-limited and geographically limited, citing the “serious challenges to law enforcement's ability to effectively enforce the law.”
The declaration will be formally tabled in seven days and an oversight committee of MPs will be drafted, Justice Minister David Lametti said. The House can revoke the measures earlier if necessary.
Here’s what you need to know about the act: The Emergencies Act replaced the three-times used War Measures Act in 1988. While it has never been used, it allows the government to take “special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies.”
There were signals. Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair made rounds on Sunday shows hinting at the possibility. Blair told CTV News’ Evan Solomon that there was a “near-constant and vigorous examination of those authorities.”
As demonstrators amassed in the nation’s capital on Saturday, the province’s own emergency powers took effect over what Premier Doug Ford called an “illegal occupation” in Ottawa. Flanked by his top ministers, Ford announced hefty fines and jail time for those who counteract the new orders.
Cabinet huddled on Saturday morning to ratify the now-published emergency orders “that will make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure.”
What’s in the emergency order? Protesters cannot block critical infrastructure. That includes hospitals and COVID-19 vaccination clinics, highways, airports, border crossings and telecommunication sites. Providing protesters with supplies or fuel is prohibited. Police can order protesters to disperse. Noncompliance could result in vehicles being removed or the loss of vehicle licenses.
Ford’s message to protesters. Go home.
Opposition parties fired back at the provincial response. NDP leader Andrea Horwath — who called the situation an “insurrection” — said Ford “could have taken action two weeks ago” but has been refusing to “use his powers and withholding resources.” Liberal chief Steven Del Duca said Ford has “completely failed the people who work and own” businesses.
Meanwhile, Ottawa announced a “backchannel” agreement with organizers. Mayor Jim Watson struck a deal to meet with convoy representatives on the condition that trucks are removed from all residential neighbourhoods in the city. Trucks will reposition to stay within the Parliament Hill area.
“We recognize that this is not a long-term solution to the occupation, but it represents a positive first step to lessen the impact of the convoy on the well-being of our residents,” Watson’s office told councillors.
The latest on the Ukraine-Russia tensions
Canada has pulled out troops from Ukraine “as a result of the complex operational environment linked to Russia’s unwarranted aggression” and has relocated diplomatic staff to Lviv in western Ukraine.
“Canada’s diplomatic presence and strong engagement in Ukraine will continue. Services for Canadian citizens will also continue to be offered from the temporary office, by appointment only. However, our ability to provide consular assistance could become increasingly limited.”
Ottawa will provide $7.8 million worth of lethal equipment to Ukraine and a $500 million top-up to the previously announced $120 million loan amid concern over a possible Russian invasion of the country, Trudeau told Hilites today.
Trudeau spent the last three days making phone calls to foreign leaders. He participated in a meeting with NATO leaders and had one-on-one chats with the leaders of Ukraine, Poland, and Germany.
If an invasion were to occur, it is unclear when it would begin. CBS News reported yesterday that the United States has intelligence that “Putin has told his commanders to be ready to go” on Wednesday, though the Biden administration forewarned of a possible “false flag” operation to trigger an invasion.
The exact number of Canadians in Ukraine remains unclear. Global Affairs Canada says “there are currently 793 Canadians registered with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service in Ukraine.” However, the department would not “discuss operational details of our missions abroad out of security considerations.”
NDPers huddle at a virtual weekend convention
In a two-day virtual pre-election convention, NDP delegates gathered to discuss party policy and vote on the question of Andrea Horwath’s leadership.
Day one was dominated by technical issues and a speech by federal leader Jagmeet Singh — where he took shots at Premier Doug Ford and Liberal leader Steven Del Duca ahead of the June election. NDPers approved ten resolutions ranging from public health measures to $10 per day childcare.
Delegates elected a new party executive: Janelle Brady (President), Oliver Kent (Treasurer) and Ali Chatur, Marjorie Knight, Kevon Stewart, Alex Felsky, Susan Barclay and Taranvir Dhaliwal (Vice Presidents).
Sunday’s convention headliner was a feature speech from leader Andrea Horwath ahead of a leadership review by the party delegates. Horwath outlined her priorities and vision heading into the next election — her fourth at the helm of the party. Horwath's leadership was endorsed by 85% of the members.
Meet the Prez — Q+A with Janelle Brady
Janelle Brady — an assistant professor at Ryerson University's School of Early Childhood Studies and a community organizer — was elected as the party’s new president. She succeeds Mary Rita Holland, who will carry the orange banner in Kingston and the Islands for the upcoming June vote.
Brady spoke with newsBeyond about her election, party priorities and how the NDP can surge to victory in the next election. Here’s what she had to say:
Why did you decide to put your name forward for the role?
“I served as vice president for about five years now. Before that, I also got involved in the party through the racial equity committee. What’s always been really important to me is to ensure that the party is a place where people can see themselves. That’s been my reason for getting more and more involved. And that was my reason for running for President as well.”
You are running the party during an election year. How are members feeling going into this election?
“I’m seeing a lot of excitement. Folks are really engaged. You would’ve seen at the convention — really high registration numbers. A lot of people who didn’t see themselves as political are now getting active because they’re inspired by our leader. I think it’s a fun time for me to be involved.”
There has been a lot of criticim of the party — especially when it comes to inclusivity and party candidates. How does the NDP learn from these mistakes and rebuild trust with disappointed communities?
“I think in terms of rebuilding and inclusivity, I think Andrea’s strength is bringing multiple people from multiple spaces into the party and making sure that their voices are included and heard. I think we have a really solid foundation. We have a Black caucus. We have elected MPPs who did a lot of really good grassroots organizing and continue to do so. We’re not starting from a really low point. We are in a good place. And there's so much community outreach happening. But that's not to say that there is always more work that can be done.”
What is your biggest goal as the NDP’s president?
“It goes back to the principle of listening. I don’t think it's appropriate for me to say this is what we are going to do. It actually wouldn’t fly because we have such an active and vocal membership. I think a lot of it would come down to me really listening to people. In this role, I'll get to understand and learn about different members and different communities and how we can come together as a party and ensure that we were being responsive to the needs of Ontario.”
This Q+A was edited for length and clarity.
Erin O'Toole is out as Conservative leader following a leadership review vote by his caucus. O'Toole was replaced by interim leader Candice Bergen, who will lead the party until a full-time leader is elected. Bergen named the party's house leadership team — John Brassard will be the House Leader and Blaine Calkins is the Chief Opposition Whip. Read our story on the turmoil that led to O'Toole's removal here.
A retention bonus is on the way for Ontario nurses. In a Friday night statement, the Ontario Nurses’ Association — which met with Premier Ford — said an agreement was reached to provide a “lump-sum, $5,000 payment” for nurses working in publicly-funded facilities and resurrect several programs targeting the province’s nursing shortage.
Speaking to newsBeyond following the meeting, the ONA vice president Angela Preocanin said the bonus is “a really huge step to address the significant nursing retention issues.” Here are the highlights of the conversation:
On repealing Bill 124: “[Ford] didn't rule it out. We are going to have future talks with him about the repealing of the bill. And we're going to continue to work towards having it repealed. But he didn't make a firm commitment that he would. He was very clear that he felt it was a positive for his government. We'll continue to press him on why it is not favorable for our nurses.”
On the mood of the meeting: “When we went to the meeting last week, we came prepared with a list of ideas and suggestions on how we could work with the government. Unfortunately, at that meeting, they weren't prepared to give us any responses. Today we were able to come back and have some really good discussion around a plan. There was a different mood.”
On government initiatives to address the nursing shortage : “We're still in the planning stages of how [the programs] will roll out. The Late-Career Nursing Initiative gives an opportunity to nurses who are closer to retirement to mentor our new nurses. The New Graduate program is for nurses to register and are provided mentorship.
On an upcoming meeting: “We will be meeting again in the next little while to work on the implementation plan for the bonus.”
Pierre Poilievre is running for Conservative leader. “Trudeau thinks he’s your boss. He’s got it backwards — you’re the boss. That’s why I’m running for prime minister, the MP for Carelton said in a video announcing his candidacy. Commentator Tasha Kheiriddin and former Deputy Prime Minister Jean Charest are mulling over a run.
College faculty in Ontario will participate in a forced contract vote starting tomorrow. In a statement, the College Employer Council — which represents the province’s 24 publicly-funded colleges — said it urges the union “to keep their promise to put students’ needs first by not escalating the labour dispute” and allow faculty “to continue working until the results of the employer vote come in.” Catch up on the issue here.
Ontario is speeding up the economic reopening and will axe the vaccine passport program in March. Premier Ford discharged the updated itinerary for the post-Omicron wave easing of restrictions with two key dates. Last week, the province rescinded direction to pause all non-urgent and non-emergent and the province allowed the resumption of extra-curricular activities — including high-contact sports — in schools.
WHAT WE’RE READING
TORONTO STAR: “The Emergencies Act has been invoked. What does that mean?” by Jacques Gallant
NATIONAL POST: “23 Liberal MPs signed letter urging cabinet to rescue Afghan interpreters” by Bryan Passifiume
GLOBE AND MAIL: “Crypto enthusiasts keep funding convoy protests as traditional banks take action against it” by Temur Durrani and James Bradshaw
THE GUARDIAN: “The edge of war: what, exactly, does Putin want in Ukraine?” by Simon Tisdall
CBC NEWS: “Mississauga councillor resigns amid allegations another councillor repeatedly keyed her SUV at city hall” by Samantha Beattie and Ryan Patrick Jones
Last week’s question was: who told CTV News’ Evan Solomon “can you imagine what our party could do — instead of training our guns against one another — we unified and held the Liberals to account...” That was Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner (Calgary Nose Hill) in an interview.
THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: What are the three instances where the now-replaced War Measures Act has been invoked? Send your answers to email@example.com or reply to this email.
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