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Politics Briefing newsletter: In Calgary, sports and politics collide

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaks to reporters after meeting with the the Liberal cabinet at a retreat in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. Nenshi says the city remains at the negotiating table for a new NHL arena even though the Flames have declared they've pulled out of talks.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The Canadian Press

Good morning,

Now for something a little bit different.

In Calgary, we're seeing what can happen when politics and sports mix with a lot of money. Mayor Naheed Nenshi and city council have found themselves in a high-profile fight with the Calgary Flames and the NHL after the team's owner walked away from negotiations for a new arena. The Flames have advocated for years  for public help to replace the Saddledome, which would be key if the city bids for the 2026 Olympics. But the team says the city has been unreasonable, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has even suggested Calgarians think about who they want to lead the city, six weeks before a municipal election. The Globe and Mail has learned that the Flames are demanding the city pay for a significant chunk of the project and then exempt the team from property taxes and rent. The team also wants the city to cover more than a third of the $500-million cost of the arena.

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This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa and 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. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

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Calgary’s mayor says he was “surprised” by the Flames saying they would pull out of talks with the city on a new NHL arena. Naheed Nenshi says the city made a “very fair offer” toward building a new home for the team. The Canadian Press


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he welcomes dissent in his caucus over his government's proposed tax changes for private corporations. And Liberal MPs are obliging. "I absolutely believe that these changes will have a negative impact on entrepreneurship, on the spirit of entrepreneurship and on the development of small businesses in Canada, which are the backbone of our economy," New Brunswick MP Wayne Long told The Globe.

Mr. Trudeau also said he spoke with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to urge her to do what she can to stem the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in her country.

The Canadian government is pushing to change a dispute-resolution mechanism in the North American free-trade agreement so that it more close matches the one in Canada's deal with the European Union. Sources told The Globe that the United States has been open to it so far.

There's still a chance the U.S. will remain in the Paris climate accord, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says.

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The federal NDP have accidentally mailed out multiple ballots to nearly 600 party members for their leadership vote.

B.C.'s New Democrats say they will table highly anticipated legislation to reform political fundraising next week. The government has promised to ban corporate and union donations, set limits on personal donations and prohibit donations from outside B.C. The New Democrats repeatedly called for such restrictions while in Opposition, but have faced complaints of hypocrisy over several pricey cash-for-access fundraisers that have featured Premier John Horgan after he took office. The former Liberal government faced criticism for years for refusing to curtail the role of money in politics, but refused to act until it was clear they were about to lose in a confidence vote. Now, all three parties in the legislature say they are in favour of such restrictions, making its passage certain.

What's less certain are the NDP's proposals for $10-per-day childcare and a $400 yearly subsidy for renters. The BC Green Party, which the government is relying on to remain in power in the minority legislature, says neither of those promises will happen. But Green MLA Sonia Furstenau says her party isn't prepared to trigger an election over either issue. She concedes that if those measures appear in a budget – a confidence measure – the Greens would be in favour. Ms. Furstenau says the party isn't looking for brinksmanship.

As Canada works to find safety for gay men it helped spirit out of Chechnya, there are reports that the men are facing threats from the diaspora here in Canada.

Senator Lynn Beyak, who was removed from that chamber's aboriginal peoples committee earlier this year, has more to say about Indigenous people in Canada. "Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa," she said in an open letter, months after saying there were good things done at the residential schools. "I am deeply disappointed that Senator Lynn Beyak continues to provide these uninformed and simply offensive comments for issues which she clearly doesn't understand," Liberal minister Carolyn Bennett said.

And your long-read for lunchtime: Maclean's delves deeply into why the national inquiry into missing and murdered women has been rife with problems from the beginning and how it could still be fixed.

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Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on the Liberal tax changes: "Still, as hard as it is to sympathize with the doctors, it's even harder to buy Mr. Morneau's fairness spiel. The Liberals promised 'evidence-based' policy, yet they have consistently put crass politics ahead of sound economics in claiming to fight for the middle class."

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on NDP leadership candidate Charlie Angus: "Many in the NDP caucus had chafed under the autocratic style of outgoing leader Tom Mulcair – and some feel Mr. Angus shared some of his faults. Mr. Angus ran caucus his way, some NDP MPs say; weekly caucus meetings were mostly taken up with the 'head table' – the caucus leadership – doing the talking, giving MPs marching orders rather than giving MPs their say. Some feel Mr. Angus blocked backbenchers trying to suggest different ways of doing things. One MP said he worries that, like Mr. Mulcair, Mr. Angus is a smart guy with an ego who won't necessarily listen."

Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star) on the NDP in Quebec: "Justin Trudeau's Liberals assume that they would benefit from a fading NDP presence in Quebec. That assumption is almost certainly right when it comes to ridings like Mulcair's Outremont that happen to be home to a diverse and solid federalist constituency. But in other areas of the province, it could give a breath of life to a moribund Bloc Québécois."

Andrew Coyne (National Post) on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer: "I know, I know: it is the duty of the opposition to oppose. No one is suggesting they shouldn't. Perhaps they are under no obligation even to propose their own solutions, as cynics insist, but discharge their duty merely by slamming the government's. Fine — but if you do, you cannot also ask to be congratulated for your 'positive message.' "

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