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The push to vax and undeputize
In this edition: journalists name the planes, Fisman resigns, Sloan runs in Alberta
Welcome to the first edition of POLICORNER — your insider guide to Canadian politics, policy, and power. It’s a bi-weekly political newsletter that will take you inside the corridors of power, providing original, in-depth reporting on the biggest political headlines. To learn more about the newsletter, click here.
In this 7 minute read, opposition demands Nicholls be replaced as Deputy Speaker, Ontario reveals a mandated vax policy, Fisman resigns from the Science Table. Plus, our weekly look at how the leaders spent the first week of the election campaign.
MPP Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Leamington) was ejected from Premier Doug Ford’s caucus after refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking to the reporters at a 4 PM presser on Thursday, Nicholls said he made “the personal decision not to inoculate with the COVID-19 vaccine,” prompting a statement by Premier Ford saying that Nicholls “is no longer a sitting member of the PC caucus, and will not be permitted to seek re-election as a PC candidate.”
The former Tory legislator, first elected in 2011, told CBC News that he was not planning on running for re-election in the June 2022 election.
“Being told I will not be allowed to campaign under the PC banner in the next provincial election, I guess that kind of limits my choices but to be honest I have made a commitment to my wife that I will not be running in the next election. Things can change, things can change. But at this point the answer is no, I will not be running.”
Opposition requests Nicholls’ removal as Deputy Speaker
Nicholls currently serves as the Legislature’s Deputy Speaker, but Opposition parties are now calling for his removal.
In an email provided to newsBeyond, NDP House Leader Peggy Sattler requested a meeting with Government House Leader Paul Calandra to discuss “next steps” to replace Nicholls as Deputy Speaker.
“I am writing to follow up on my request to convene a House Leaders’ meeting to discuss COVID protocols necessary to ensure the safety of Legislative Assembly staff and MPPs. This meeting should also include conversations confirming a mandatory vaccine policy and next steps to replace MPP Nicholls as Deputy Speaker in light of the events of the last week.
In a statement, Liberal leader Steven Del Duca told newsBeyond that his party does not believe “Mr. Nicholls should even be allowed inside the [legislative] precinct unvaccinated, let alone continue in his role as deputy speaker.” Green leader Mike Schreiner joined other Opposition parties in their call to remove the ex-PC MPP from his position, telling newsBeyond that while “MPP Nicholls has every right to choose not to be vaccinated,” he should not hold a position of “prestige” as Deputy Speaker because “it sends the wrong message to Ontarians.”
The government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Welcome to week two of the federal election campaign — 28 days left until Canadians head to the polls. Here are the highlights of the past week:
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau spent the week traveling to battleground ridings, announcing plans to invest $9 billion into long-term care, creating more homes, and raising employees’ wages to at least $25 per hour. Trudeau also confirmed that unvaccinated individuals “will not be able to board a plane or a train in Canada” unless they have a medical exemption.
Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole began his campaign with breaking news on Sunday night — a Conservative government would require unvaccinated public servants to take daily rapid tests and require proof of a negative test for air and train passengers. O’Toole, who spent the first few days of his campaign at his party’s headquarters in Ottawa, was the first leader to unveil his election platform, titled “Canada's Recovery Plan.” The 5-pilar plan (which created a buzz for its cover page) includes promises to enact a new anti-corruption law and balance the budget over the next decade.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh started his campaign by attending the Montréal Pride Festival, later making headlines after declaring that federal civil servants who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 could face termination if an NDP government is elected. Singh made several campaign promises, including a 20% foreign homebuyers tax and building 500,000 affordable homes in ten years. During a visit to Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan, Singh promised to “work in partnership with Indigenous communities who wish to search former residential schools,” and fully implement all outstanding recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
Green Party leader Annamie Paul made headlines this week after calling for an “emergency recall” of Parliament to hold an emergency debate on the emerging situation in Afghanistan” — something experts say is not possible. Paul, who plans to stay in the GTA for most of the campaign, introduced her climate platform, calling for an end to fracking, gas exploration, and the creation of new pipelines.
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet launched his federal election campaign at the National Assembly of Québec, “at the foot of our nation's only parliament,” he said. Blanchet later unveiled his party’s platform, declaring that he believes Quebec has “reconciled” with the party. The party’s plan proposes increasing health transfers to provinces to 35%, allowing Quebec to sign international treaties and implementing a wealth tax.
The main political parties unveiled their campaign slogans:
LIBERAL: “Forward, for everyone”
CONSERVATIVE: “Secure the Future”
NDP: “Fighting for You”
GREEN PARTY: “Be Daring”
BLOC QUÉBÉCOIS: “Québécois”
Where the parties stand in the polls
According to CBC’s Poll Tracker, here is where the political parties stand after week one of the election campaign:
LIBERAL: 33.7% (-0.3)
CONSERVATIVE: 30.5% (+0.2)
NDP: 19.6% (-0.2)
GREEN PARTY: 4.6% (—)
BLOC QUÉBÉCOIS: 6.3% (—)
The federal leaders’ debate set for September 8 and 9
The Debate Broadcast Group announced that the English Leaders’ Debate will be held on September 9 at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.
The debate will begin at 9 PM ET, moderated by Angus Reid’s Shachi Kurl, CBC News’ Rosemary Barton, CTV News’ Evan Solomon, Global News’ Mercedes Stephenson, and APTN News’ Melissa Ridgen. The French Leaders’ Debate will take place on September 8, starting at 8 PM ET. More from the DBG.
What do you want the main party leaders to talk about? Tell the DBG here.
The plane name game
As leaders crisscrossed the country, journalists covering the election named the campaign planes, in what is a hallowed tradition every four years (or two years, in this case).
THE NDP: Mike Le Couteur, the Parliamentary Correspondent for Global News unveiled the unofficial name of the NDP’s plane — “Influence-Air”
THE CONSERVATIVES: “Flex Air” is the name journalists covering the Conservative campaign chose for their plane, said Global News’ Abigail Bimman in a tweet.
THE LIBERALS: Reporters covering the Liberal campaign named the plane “NecessAIR? / NécessAIR?,” The Globe and Mail’s Marieke Walsh made official on Twitter.
Ontario unveils mandatory vaccination policies for high-risk settings
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health unveiled major policy changes for high-risk settings on vaccination.
As first reported by the Star’s Robert Benzie, Moore issued a directive on Tuesday requiring hospitals and home and community care service providers to have a COVID-19 vaccination and testing policy in place by September 7 for all staff, employees, contractors, students, and volunteers.
DETAILS OF THE DIRECTIVE: Individuals working in the directed settings will be required to provide proof that they’ve received the COVID-19 shot, have a medical exemption, or have completed an educational session. Those who refuse to be vaccinated must undertake regular COVID-19 testing, according to the government.
WHAT’S IN THE EDUCATIONAL SESSIONS: According to the directive, the educational sessions “must be approved by the covered organization” and address the following topics: how the vaccines work; vaccine safety and benefits, risks of not being vaccinated against COVID-19 and, possible side effects.
Vaccine eligibility extended to youth born in 2009
Dr. Moore also confirmed what newsBeyond first reported — Ontario will extend vaccine eligibility for youth born in 2009, aligning its policy with British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
The announcement came after a weekend of confusion for some parents, when the Middlesex-London Health Unit reversed a decision, initially announced on Thursday, to extend vaccine eligibility to those turning 12 this year. Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s Medical Officer of Health explained that the “provincial government requested this be rolled back due to lack of Health Canada approval.”
WHAT CHANGED: "Ontario has closely monitored data from Alberta and British Columbia in making this decision, and these provinces have offered the Pfizer vaccine to youth born in 2009 for several months with no risks identified,” the province said.
Economic reopening paused “out of an abundance of caution”
The province also confirmed that it would be pausing any further economic reopening, while providing third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable populations, including residents of high-risk congregate settings and transplant recipients.
Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Toronto resigned from Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table after questioning why the table has not released “important modelling work that projects a grim fall.” In his resignation letter, Fisman said that he has become “increasingly uncomfortable with the degree to which political considerations appear to be driving outputs from the tables, or at least the degree to which these outputs are shared in a transparent manner with the public.”
In a resounding victory, the Progressive Conservatives defeated the governing Liberals in Nova Scotia and will form a majority government. Premier-designate Tim Houston, who will lead the province’s first Progressive Conservative government since 2009 will be sworn in on August 31 in Halifax.
Canada “has no plans” to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government in Afghanistan, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday, a day after Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau told the CBC’s Power and Politics that it is “too early” to make that decision.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer reintroduced COVID-19 restrictions in the province’s interior due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Henry told reporters on Friday that it is very unlikely the province would loosen any more restrictions “in the near term.”
Ontario Liberals formally requested “an immediate investigation by Elections Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police’s Anti-Fraud Branch” into fake “invoices” sent by the Ontario PC Party to residents demanding a donation. The PCs later released a statement saying they “regret that this correspondence was sent.”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said that his party will seek to rename the riding of Toronto–Danforth to Danforth–Layton when the House of Commons resumes following the election, in honour of the late NDP leader Jack Layton’s legacy.
Derek Sloan, the former Conservative leadership candidate and Ontario MP who was removed from the federal Conservative caucus says he plans to run in the riding of Banff-Airdrie in Alberta. During an event in Cochrane, Alberta, Sloan said his run would be “a barometer of the status of freedom.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
CTV NEWS: “Unvaccinated employees at Toronto hospital network told they will be fired” by Katherine DeClerq
QP BRIEFING: “Nicholls kicked from PCs over refusal to vaccinate; Mitas will stay due to medical exemption” by Jack Hauen
CBC NEWS: “'I feel hopeless': Ottawa man waits to hear from Canadian government on flight out of Kabul” by Michelle Allan
TORONTO STAR: “Moderna to start human trials of HIV vaccine following success of COVID-19 jab” by Alex Boyd
THE CANADIAN PRESS: “People’s Party of Canada, Maverick Party left out of federal leaders’ debate”
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