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Liberal party president hitches a ride on government jet, but pays for it

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and party president Anna Gainey, at a party convention in 2014.



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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> Justin Trudeau has ceremonially signed the Canada-EU trade deal, which still must be ratified in Europe. The process is expected to take a few months.

> Less than 1 per cent of Liberal donors gave the maximum amount of $1,500 last year, equivalent to the ticket price of the party's "cash-for-access" fundraisers.

> The Prime Minister is about to name six new senators from Ontario, including Gwen Boniface, the first female commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.

> The Canadian Human Rights Commission is asking the Federal Court to enforce a settlement that led to equity hiring targets for the Canada Research Chair program.

> Senator Murray Sinclair –  former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission –  is urging MPs to support an NDP motion on First Nations child welfare.

> And a new report warns Canada hasn't fully taken climate change into account as it makes major infrastructure investments.

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By Laura Stone (@l_stone)

The president of the Liberal Party hitched a ride aboard a government Challenger jet when she joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family on vacation on Vancouver Island this summer, documents show.

Anna Gainey, party president and close friend of the Trudeaus, was one of nine passengers on the C-144 Challenger aircraft that travelled from Vancouver to Tofino, B.C. in July, according to passenger logs obtained by The Globe and Mail through an access-to-information request. Her name was misspelled in the log as Gainely but the Globe confirmed it is Ms. Gainey.

The other passengers were Mr. Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, their three children, Mrs. Gregoire Trudeau's parents, Estelle Blais and Jean Gregoire, and Alexandra Overing, the children's caregiver.

For security reasons, prime ministers must travel on government aircraft whether on official or personal business.

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"Mrs. Gainey was in Vancouver to attend the Vancouver Pride Parade in her role as Liberal Party President and travelled to Tofino as a guest of the Prime Minister's family," Kate Purchase, director of communications in the Prime Minister's Office, said in an e-mail. "In this case, Mrs. Gainey, as well as the Trudeau family, reimbursed the cost of an equivalent commercial flight."

The commercial equivalent of Ms. Gainey's portion of the flight totaled $175, Liberal Party spokesman Braeden Caley said in an e-mail. The figure is comparable to the one-way cost quoted by Orca Airways, one of the island's carriers, for a July flight booked a week in advance.

Mr. Caley said the Trudeaus directly reimbursed the government for the total cost, and Ms. Gainey e-transferred her portion to the family. He did not answer questions about when Ms. Gainey repaid.

Mr. Caley said Ms. Gainey and her family flew commercial when they left the island. Ms. Gainey is married to Tom Pitfield, president of Canada 2020, a think tank with close ties to the Liberals.

The 36-minute Challenger flight cost approximately $3,333, according to the Department of National Defence.

Ms. Purchase said as with previous prime ministers who travel for personal reasons, Mr. Trudeau, his family, and any guests travelling with him reimburse the equivalent economy airfare. She added that shortly after taking office, the Liberals asked the clerk of the Privy Council to develop formal guidelines to determine in which situations the prime minister should reimburse the Government of Canada for both official and personal business.

It's not the first time a prime minister has travelled with party members aboard government aircraft. Stephen Harper also flew aboard the Challenger with family and friends, Ms. Purchase said.

When faced with questions about his use of the Challenger jet in April 2014, Mr. Harper told the House of Commons that when not on government business, he and guests always reimburse the government for the commercial rates.


> Loss of momentum: The Globe and Mail's John Ibbitson says the FBI's October surprise that it's investigating e-mails possibly related to Hillary Clinton found in an aide's computer may have more of a down-ballot effect. "More likely, the e-mail imbroglio will ensure a toxic Congress, in which the Senate and House exist only to obstruct, proving the dark thesis that America truly has become ungovernable."

> Investigation inches forward: The New York Times says federal officials have obtained a search warrant that enables them to begin examining the more that 650,000 e-mail found in the laptop belonging to former Congressman Anthony Weiner. However, there's no indication whether the probe will be completed before the election on Nov. 8.

> Clinton may thank Comey: In The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza goes back in time with a deep look at all of the actors in the e-mail drama and the likely reason why FBI director James Comey released the information so close to Nov. 8. "It's far better for the public to have this information now than after the election. Perhaps it's possible that this revelation will swing the election to Trump. But it seems highly unlikely. Clinton is still favoured to win, and, if she does, Comey will have done her a favour."

> Clinton the deal maker: In Saturday's Globe and Mail, Doug Saunders said Hillary Clinton is probably "the most transparent and well-documented president in their history, though not by her choice." He says the WikiLeaks release of e-mails reveal the type of administration she's likely to run. "If her strength is an ability to make compromises, her weakness is an ability to be compromised. That weakness will be her millstone, however strong her accomplishments."

> The Clinton money grab: Also in today's Globe, Konrad Yakabuski notes that Hillary Clinton's campaign has relied about half as much as President Obama on small donors.  "Assuming she realizes her divine right, no U.S. president will have been lifted to office on the wings of so much money from so few people. "

> The dangers of The Donald: Last week, Ross Douthat looked at the perils of a potential Hillary Clinton administration. This week, he turns his pen toward Donald Trump, and he doesn't like what he sees. "From the Pacific Rim to the Middle East, revisionist powers will set out to test Trump's capacity to handle surprise. … He need only be himself in order to bring an extended period of risk upon the world."

> The phantom philanthropist: David Fahrenthold has spent months tracking Donald Trump's claims of philanthropy, and published his results over the weekend. "He spent years constructing an image as a philanthropist by appearing at charity events and by making very public –  even nationally televised –  promises to give his own money away. It was, in large part, a facade."


Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "Big Canada. It's a bold idea, especially the king-sized version called the Century Initiative – it would expand immigration so the population reaches 100 million by the year 2100. This week, we should get a better sense of whether Justin Trudeau's Liberals will embrace it."

Barrie McKenna (Globe and Mail): "Privatization seems like a perfect match of buyer and seller. It could all be a mirage. It is not at all clear how selling airports would address the fundamental problem – namely, high fees that are driving away Canadian travellers." (for subscribers)

Justine Hunter (Globe and Mail): "But the show of love and attention [to Vancouver Island] is also part of a larger epiphany by the governing B.C. Liberals, that the economy outside southwestern British Columbia is not as healthy as it could be. The pre-election season has a way of sharpening the senses. There are two economies of British Columbia – the rural and the urban. The B.C. Liberals have long claimed to represent those living and working out there in what they once referred to as 'the heartlands' where the wealth of the province was created – in forestry, mining, energy. But the strength of the economy has shifted. It's dominated now by high tech, tourism and housing." (for subscribers)

Penny Collenette (Toronto Star): "The real question is not access, but whether something invisible is occurring. Are people who can afford the $1,525 annual fundraising limit, gaining privileged access which is denied to others? Are legitimate fundraisers used as a smokescreen, to circumvent rules prescribed for a transparent lobbying regime? And even if the answers are no, is there a perception that this 'unsavory' practice (as the ethics commissioner describes it) is taking place without third party oversight? Given the events of the past week, the correct answer is yes."

Celine Cooper (Montreal Gazette): "Highly educated and deeply in debt, millennials in Canada are now hitting a job market stripped of the jobs for which they have trained. They are experiencing first hand the growing gap between those with stable and well-paid jobs and those who must cobble together what they can –  guarantee of paid sick leave, vacation days, medical or dental benefits, parental leave or pension plans. Predictable work schedules and social office environments are not always a given. Especially in cities where housing markets have gone wild, many are still living at home with their parents.  As their generation finds its voice and common ground, political parties in Canada would be wise to reassess their middle class electoral strategies."

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