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A paper tiger? PMs could muzzle new security committee

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that Bill C-22 creates a committee that “will set its own agenda and report when it sees fit.”

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

POLITICS BRIEFING

By Chris Hannay (@channay) and Rob Gilroy (@rgilroy)

The Globe Politics is pleased to include a roundup of news and opinion on U.S. politics, through until this year's election in November. As always, let us know what you think of the newsletter. Sign up here to get it by e-mail each morning.

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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IN OTTAWA

> Transparency is a key theme of the Liberal government, and it fulfilled a key election promise when it announced a parliamentary watchdog would be created as part of Bill C-22, which is currently before the House of Commons. However, a report by the non-partisan Library of Parliament says the proposed independent committee of MPs could be kept on a short leash, or even muzzled, by prime ministers. This contradicts Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who said recently that C-22 creates a committee that "will set its own agenda and report when it sees fit." As The Globe and Mail's Colin Freeze notes, "Canada gives its elected politicians less information about and fewer review powers over the security agencies than most governments do. And, unlike its closest allies, Canada has not cleared any parliamentarians to hear state secrets."

> The Globe reports the RCMP will announce "a major settlement" today of hundreds of complaints of sexual harassment at a cost of more than $10-million. Sources say Commissioner Bob Paulson hopes that the settlement will "turn the page" on the dark chapter in the history of the national police force.

> Canada's largest banks are quietly embracing Ottawa's new mantra to share some risk in the country's mortgage system, a fundamental shift that would alter the way the country's $1.4-trillion mortgage market operates. The banks' change of heart comes amid growing worries about elevated levels of household debt in Canada and soaring prices for homes in Toronto and Vancouver.

> The Liberal government formally ratified the Paris climate accord Wednesday, after easily beating back an effort from the Conservative opposition to give provinces the sole authority to deal with carbon pricing.

U.S. ELECTION 2016

The debaters: Not so nice: In The Globe and Mail, St. Louis's own Sarah Kendzior says viewers will be forgiven if they failed to pick up on the actual viciousness of Tuesday's vice-presidential debate. She says the "debate was Midwestern Nice meets Midwestern Lies." Midwestern Nice, she writes, "is a vernacular of wholesome politeness masking bitter contempt," and it was on full display.

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Pence's pants on fire: In New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait analyzes Mike Pence's performance in the vice-presidential debate and notes that "there is usually little penalty for lying incessantly as long as you do it with proper body language and a reassuringly manly baritone." Pence's problem, Chait writes, is that "you should not lie about things that can be easily disproven with short video clips."

Trump? Never heard of him: Michael Brendan Dougherty takes a look at 'Mike Pence's bizarro world,' the one where the VP candidate, "perhaps for his own sanity, is pretending that his running mate is a generic Republican rather than Donald Trump. … So he just pretended to be Lindsey Graham's veep candidate instead."

A shout out to Republicans: In The Atlantic, David Frum says "Tuesday night's vice-presidential debate revealed something big: a deep appetite among traditional Republicans for traditional Republicanism.  … a candidate of strong defense, traditional alliances, social conservatism, lower taxes, and limited government — all things that have been a little out of style in the past 18 months."

WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Andrew Leach (Globe and Mail): "This [carbon price] plan is ambitious and complex, with many details to be clarified. But it should refocus our national discussion on actual policies, which will be better than talking about hypothetical targets."

John Ivison (National Post): "It might appease the zombie army of the unthinking to call the Liberal plan a 'heavy-handed and lazy tax grab,' but the reason the courts will likely judge the levy constitutional is that it is revenue neutral."

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Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail): "It is a cruel accident of history that has left the besieged residents of eastern Aleppo hostage to the U.S. electoral cycle, between an outgoing president who has all but washed his hands of Syria's civil war and an incoming administration months away from being able to offer them any hope."

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