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Politics Briefing newsletter: Conservatives gather to elect new leader

Conservative Party leadership candidates shake hands following a debate last month in Toronto, where members are set to vote for a new leader this Saturday. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Good morning,

Well, Sens fans, it was not to be. After a hard-fought game, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators in double overtime, heading to the Stanley Cup finals against the Nashville Predators.

But back in Canada, there’s at least something like a finals for politics fans to look forward to: the election of a new Conservative leader. Party members are gathering in a convention centre in Toronto starting tonight, and vote counting starts at about 4 a.m. on Saturday. A winner is expected to be announced sometime between 6 and 7 p.m., though it could go later. We will send a special edition of the Politics Briefing newsletter Saturday night to help you get to know Canada’s new Official Opposition Leader.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa, with James Keller in Vancouver. If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Let us know what you think.


As Green Leader Andrew Weaver weighs whether to support the BC Liberals or the NDP in the province’s minority legislature, his precondition that electoral reform be part of any deal means he needs to secure a long-term arrangement. Mr. Weaver has said proportional representation is non-negotiable for his support. That could take at least two years to do, even without a referendum. In fact, the Greens say they want to figure out a way to ensure whoever forms government lasts a full four-year term.

Meanwhile, Vancouver’s mayor is openly calling for an NDP-Green government, saying the BC Liberals won’t come through with needed funding for housing and other projects. Mayor Gregor Robertson, himself a former NDP MLA, says the Green and New Democrat platforms are more in line with what the city is looking for.


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The two-day G7 summit begins in Italy today and one of the main focuses for the world leaders will be convincing U.S. President Donald Trump not to abandon the Paris climate change accord. “We believe climate change is one of the greatest threats facing Canadians and the world and it is a threat which is a global threat and which needs global solutions,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters this morning. Security will also be a serious topic of discussion, especially given the bombing in Manchester earlier this week.

The Liberals are set to announce today an advisory group on how to get more zero-emission vehicles on Canada’s roads. The policies will feature a fraught debate between environmental activists, who want more of those vehicles out as soon as possible, and the auto industry that is supplying them.

In Quebec, the provincial government has asked the Auditor-General to look into financial management of the province’s ferry corporation and look into the contracts awarded to Chantier Davie Canada Inc. That company, which The Globe has previously reported has a very complex web of ownership, is caught up in an RCMP investigation into Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

And CBC Calgary investigates some of the fake social media accounts set up by activists and trolls who get involved in online political debates.

Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on being a reporter: “There’s a huge gulf between the violence faced by journalists in Mexico or Russia or Turkey and the intimidation directed at reporters in the United States, which still has the robust protection of its First Amendment rights. … The threats all lie along the same continuum, though. When the loudest threats come from the very top, the echoes will be felt for a very long time.”

Christie Blatchford (National Post) on the ethics commissioner’s long-awaited report on Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff to Stephen Harper: “So more than a year after Ontario Court Judge Charles Vaillancourt cleared Duffy of all criminal charges and delivered a scathing rebuke of how Harper’s PMO worked, along comes [Mary] Dawson with her tortured finding. It has no effect. It carries no penalty. And given that all this evidence emerged at trial, it sheds no light.”

Stephen Maher (iPolitics) on Nigel Wright’s legacy: “Ultimately, I think, [the Senate expenses scandal] also brought about the end of Harper’s political career. Wright, a high-powered Bay Street guy, brought a level of competence to the office that was lacking after his awkward departure. And the emails and other documents unearthed by the RCMP investigation lifted the curtain on the thuggish, legally questionable back-corridor dealings of the Harperites in a way that was publicly damaging and internally corrosive. Harper might have recovered from the scheme, but he was never able to attract anyone as capable as Wright to his side, and, surrounded by squabbling loyalists, he gave into his baser instincts and looked too often nasty and incompetent in his last two years in office.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the Conservatives, after they get a new leader: “The Conservatives won a majority government in 2011 with low-tax, pro-business policies that attracted voters – many of them new Canadians – in the suburban and exurban ridings outside downtown Toronto and Vancouver. In 2015, with rhetoric that railed against “barbaric cultural practices” and the like, the Conservatives lost in most of those ridings to the Liberals, and as a result lost government. The new leader must reconnect the party to these suburban shires and immigrant communities, for those ridings determine the outcome of elections. Otherwise, the Tories will forever languish in opposition.”