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Conservatives gather in Ottawa for Manning conference


Conservative politicians and staffers are flocking to Ottawa for the Manning Centre Conference. The annual get-together is a chance to swap notes on how to organize local partisans and, this year, features a debate of Conservative leadership candidates. Maxime Bernier, who was one of the first candidates to announce, appears to be taking advantage of the party's anemic membership in Quebec to lock down a large bloc of support. Doug Ford, who's leading a panel called "Down with the elites?," says no single candidate has won over Toronto. "There's not a real strong voice for the average person, the blue-collar worker, that's going to protect them, return their calls, show up to their door when they need help. That's what people want," Mr. Ford told The Globe.

Manitoba's government and chief justices are teaming up to propose a temporary end to preliminary inquiries in the province. Ontario is making similar moves in a bid to speed up cases in the justice system.

The federal and B.C. governments are at odds over the takeover by a Chinese company of a chain of retirement homes. The federal Liberals approved the sale to Anbang, a company with a murky ownership structure, but B.C. says they're still conducting their own reviews.

A group of MPs will investigate the government's frequent use of national security exceptions in the awarding of sometimes mundane contracts.

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman -- who was suspended from his No. 2 job in the military -- has retained famed criminal defence lawyer Marie Henein.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett says she has a plan to fix failing water treatment plants on reserves.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on the phone Thursday. Not much detail about the call was released, but they did talk about softwood lumber and border issues.

And White House press secretary Sean Spicer and reporters shared a laugh yesterday about building a wall on the Canadian border.


B.C. independent publication The Tyee profiles Peter Julian, the Vancouver-area MP who was the first to jump into the NDP leadership race. As of this week, he has a rival.


Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "Maxime Bernier is arguably the front-runner in the Conservative leadership race and yet you don't hear much about one key part of his plans: slashing the size of the federal government with a proposal that will require huge spending cuts."

Andrew Coyne (National Post): "So the leadership race, which had once seemed at worst a snooze, at best mildly encouraging, is turning into something more existential. The party is being beckoned down a very dark road, and if it succumbs to that temptation will consign itself to the margins of Canadian politics for many years, though not without giving amplified voice to some pretty marginal sentiments."

Tony Keller (Globe and Mail): "Until now, Canada has never worried much about large numbers of people just showing up and claiming asylum, or becoming illegal immigrants. Why not? Because of geography. For most of the planet, Canada is just about the hardest place on earth to get to. But for someone already in the U.S., Canada is an absurdly easy destination."

Irene Bloemraad and Ratna Omidvar (Globe and Mail): "This is the moment for Canada to extend the Canadian dream southward to young adults entangled in U.S. immigration and border control. A planned policy to welcome undocumented young people would easily fit Canadian immigration-policy goals."

Kevin Carmichael (Maclean's): "Innovative companies want to be located near universities and other innovative companies, and modern workers are willing to forgo some salary in exchange for a higher quality of life. Canada's relative openness to immigrants is also an advantage: lower taxes in Texas or California are of little use to an Asian engineer if he or she can't obtain a work visa."

Scott Reid (CBC): "A fat bank account does not, as Trump and O'Leary would have you believe, bestow instant wisdom or skills at governing. There is no rule that professional ability in one field guarantees success in another. You don't see many accountants advertising their services as open heart surgeons. So why assume that a business person will automatically make a good politician?"

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Written by Chris Hannay.

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