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Politics Briefing: What do Canadians think of Jagmeet Singh?

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh arrives at his first caucus meeting since being elected to the leadership of the New Democrats, in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Good morning,

Jagmeet Singh shattered a glass ceiling when he became leader of the federal NDP and just over seven-in-10 Canadians think that having a person of colour leading a major party is good for the country. That's according to a new Angus Reid Institute poll of 1,477 Canadians conducted online from Oct. 2 to 4. The numbers give an early snapshot into what the public thinks of him and the NDP right now. Nearly one-third of those polled say they couldn't vote for a party led by a turbaned Sikh man who carries a kirpan. Previous polling done found that 37 per cent of respondents couldn't vote for a party led by a Sikh and 44 per cent couldn't vote for a party led by a man who wears a religious head covering, suggesting that Mr. Singh's ascension has increased public acceptance of visibly religious Sikh men.

Regionally, the only major outlier is Quebec, where just around half of those polled say they couldn't vote for a turban-wearing Sikh man, regardless of what his policies are. This could become a significant problem for the NDP given that 16 of their 44 House seats and 59 of their 103 seats won during the 2011 election were in the province. But a Singh-led NDP may eat into Liberal support elsewhere, with more than half of those who voted for the governing party in 2015 saying that they'd either certainly consider the NDP or "maybe" consider the party.

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Of those who are familiar with Mr. Singh, 60 per cent say they have either a moderately favourable or very favourable view of him. The problem is that more than two-thirds of those polled say they've never heard of him or they've heard his name but don't know anything about him. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer faced a similar problem, with three-quarters of respondents saying they had either never heard of him or had heard of him but didn't know anything about him in the days following his victory earlier this year. It remains to be seen whether Mr. Singh's plan to forgo a seat in the House of Commons in favour of travelling the country to meet with Canadians will help his visibility.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Mayaz Alam in Toronto, 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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CANADIAN HEADLINES

The federal government has agreed to settle multiple lawsuits brought forward by Sixties Scoop survivors, a deal that Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett will formally announce later today. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Indigenous children were removed from their homes and forced into adoption into non-Indigenous families. The settlement is expected to be in the hundreds of millions and an initial $50,000 cap has been set on how much each victim will receive.

The Liberal government's fall fiscal update is expected to receive a boost from improved economic numbers.

The Energy East pipeline is no longer. TransCanada scrapped the controversial project that would have transported over a million barrels of Canadian crude a day from Western Canada to Quebec and  New Brunswick. The project had support in Alberta and the Maritimes but politicians in Quebec, Indigenous groups and environmentalists opposed its construction. The company made its decision based on what it said were "changed circumstances."

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The federal government and Canada's Armed Forces have announced a joint initiative to prevent suicides among soldiers and veterans. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered an overhaul how mental health risks are handled after a Globe and Mail investigation into the mounting suicide toll among veterans of the Afghanistan war. During the mission 158 Canadian soldiers died. Since returning home more than 70 military members and veterans who served in Afghanistan have died by suicide.

Ontario Liberals are resisting an invitation by the Progressive Conservatives to unanimously pass a bill that would establish safe zones around abortion providers. Though the Liberals proposed the bill, they say they want to give it proper study before passing it. The PCs say the government just wants to drag out a debate about social issues.

Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly says Quebec is free to impose provincial sales tax on Netflix, even as the federal government exempts the streaming service from collecting GST. The issue of taxes has been central to the debate about what to do about Netflix, with Canadian streaming companies complaining that not forcing Netflix to charge sales tax, like they do, puts them on an unequal playing field. In response, the Quebec government says it will force Netflix and other foreign online providers to collect provincial sales tax.  Ms. Joly says that's Quebec's decision to make, and she says the federal government respects the province's jurisdiction.

B.C.'s Crown-owned electricity company says it will miss a key deadline in the controversial Site C hydroelectric damadding $610-million to the project's cost as its future remains in doubt. The NDP government has sent the Site C dam, which was approved by the previous BC Liberal government, to a new review that could ultimately lead to its cancellation. But work continues in the meantime. BC Hydro says it won't be able to divert the Peace River by 2019, delaying the project by a year and causing its cost to increase. But the corporation says it's not because of the political uncertainty. Rather, it blames "geo-technical and construction challenges."

And an Edmonton Journal reporter is asking whether one candidate for mayor even exists.

Ken Hughes (The Globe and Mail) on resource development in Canada: "If we don't want pipelines or resource development in Canada, then we have to be honest about it and acknowledge that business will go elsewhere, with major consequences. We are really good at what we do as a country, which is why people want to move here. We are among the luckiest people in the world. But good is not enough. The quality of our health care and other essential services will suffer if we don't realize that public money doesn't come easily or freely. The world really does need more Canada. Canada just needs to focus and get its act together."

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Benjamin Dachis (The Globe and Mail) on the end of Energy East: "The pipelines that Energy East was to convert for oil shipping have been transporting natural gas east from Western Canada since the 1950s, and the NEB has been regulating the price of those shipments. Declining natural gas prices as a result of new, cheaper methods of production outside Western Canada meant that shipping the fuel across the continent at the rates set by the NEB wasn't economical."

Rosalie Wyonch and Anindya Sen (The Globe and Mail) on marijuana and politics: "Instead of fighting over tax revenues on a product that has minimal fiscal room for taxation, provincial governments should focus on developing retail and distribution systems that will effectively compete with the black market. This should be the primary objective at the outset of legalization and will serve to minimize provincial costs while maximizing the knock-on economic benefits related to the industry as a whole. Provincial leaders should seriously consider the Prime Minister's proposal and not lose sight of the long-term objectives in a short-sighted attempt to boost budgetary bottom lines."

Don Martin (CTV) on responsibility: "Governments get two years to repair the damage from regime change before the public tires of their chronically shirked responsibility. The Blame Harper game is over. From now on if the government fails to act, Justin Trudeau should look in the mirror."

Arshy Mann (Maclean's) on NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh: "Much has been made of the fact that Singh is Canada's first non-white federal leader. But to reduce his exceptionalism to race misses one of the most important aspects of his ascendence: his religion. Singh is the first Sikh to lead a federal party. And his unique brand of political Sikhism is central to his rise."

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES

The trade dispute between Boeing and Bombardier is scheduled to take its next step today, with the U.S. Department of Commerce ruling to impose an anti-dumping duty on the Canadian company's C Series planes. This comes after a 220 per cent countervailing duty slapped on Bombardier.

A Burundi human rights activist who survived an assassination attempt in 2015 – though, unfortunately, his son and son-in-law were later killed – is in Ottawa this week to urge the Canadian government to help his country.

Spain's Constitutional Court has ordered a suspension of Monday's session of Catalonia's parliament. Monday is the same day that the region was looking to declare independence from Spain.

In a surprising move, America's powerful gun lobby has signalled that it is open to more regulations on "bump stocks," the type of device used by the shooter in the deadly massacre in Las Vegas. Bump stocks allow semiautomatic rifles to fire like a fully automatic weapon.

And British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing rebellion within her own ranks. A former Conservative Party chairman says he has support from dozens of Parliamentarians in a bid to overthrow her. Her allies were quick to rush to her defence but the internal conflict between the Tories puts a shroud over the future of Brexit negotiations.

Jonathan Freedland (The Guardian) on Theresa May: "Now, however, the Tory tribe finds its onetime laser-guided focus on power wobbling, because it has seen something it values more. There were many explanations for Theresa May's anxiety dream made flesh on Wednesday, from lethargic security to a ropey set to a bad cold and dodgy throat, the latter clearly aggravated by anxiety following that P45 prank. But the infection that is truly debilitating her and this government is Brexit."

Theresa May says she is providing 'calm leadership' (Reuters)
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About the Author
Assistant editor, Ottawa

Chris Hannay is assistant editor in The Globe's Ottawa bureau and author of the daily Politics newsletter. Previously, he was The Globe and Mail's digital politics editor, community editor for news and sports (working with social media and digital engagement) and a homepage editor. More

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