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Politics Briefing: Some movement in NAFTA talks heading into final day

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Good morning,

Today is the final day of the Ottawa round of negotiations for the North American free-trade agreement. The trade talks move to the ministerial level today, with representatives of the three countries – including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland – giving a joint statement this afternoon. Yesterday, American negotiators finally tabled some proposals for new labour standards.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa and Mayaz Alam in Toronto. 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

A U.S. trade court ruled against Canadian aerospace manufacturer Bombardier in its ongoing trade dispute with Boeing and imposed duties of nearly 220 per cent on imports of C Series planes into the U.S. The decision issued by the Department of Commerce is a preliminary one. In the coming weeks a final ruling will be made, at which point the duties would go into effect.

Canada and the U.S. are working together, though, on how to pressure Myanmar's military leadership, Ms. Freeland said.

Liberal and Opposition MPs agree that a section of the government's tax-change proposals needs to be tweaked so the reform doesn't make it more costly to hand a family business, such as a farm, down generation to generation. As always, if you have any questions about the small-business tax reform, you can refer to our explainer.

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly is set to introduce reforms to Canada's cultural policies tomorrow, which could affect everything from cultural funding to the mandate of the CBC. Pierre Karl Péladeau, president of Quebecor and former provincial politician, says the federal government should target American tech giants like Amazon and Google with new taxes.

The Liberal government's access-to-information reforms get a failing grade from an association of journalists.

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The Liberals have named a new chief science advisor. Dr. Mona Nemer's appointment fulfills a campaign promise for the government nearly a decade after the previous version of the role was cut by former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Liberal MPs on the Status of Women committee walked out in protest after Conservative MP Rachel Harder was nominated as the chair, because Ms. Harder is against abortion. NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson said Ms. Harder could have been voted out of the position if the Liberals had stayed in the room.

Nova Scotia has reintroduced its 2017-2018 budget to include an increase in health spending, after a spring election that was focused on the province's lack of doctors and long wait times. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz is in Newfoundland today to speak to the St. John's Board of Trade. His speech will be one of the most closely-watched of his career as he attempts to explain why the central bank raised rates without advance warning three weeks ago. He'll likely also give an assessment of Canada's economy.

And minimum wage hikes in Ontario and Alberta could cost 110,000 jobs, according to reports released by TD and the C.D. Howe Institute.

Gary Walbourne, National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman, in The Globe and Mail on Canada's veterans: "Nothing should stand in the way of putting current and former members of the Forces first in the decision-making process; especially not the bureaucracy that created it. Standing up for your constituency and challenging the unfairness when appropriate is the role of an ombudsman. Whether to make those changes is the role of Parliament. The only people waiting for decisions are current and former members of the Canadian Forces."

Barrie McKenna (The Globe and Mail) on Bombardier and NAFTA: "Tuesday's preliminary duties ruling by the U.S. Commerce Department is a vivid reminder that NAFTA's Chapter 19 is worth fighting for. That's the section of the North American free-trade agreement that allows Canada, the United States and Mexico to challenge subsidy or dumping decisions before a binding panel if they aren't convinced another country has fairly applied their own trade laws. And on its current course, a Chapter 19 challenge might be Bombardier's only hope of coming out on top in the dispute."

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Michael Geist (The Globe and Mail) on Canada's cultural policies: "Ms. Joly has an opportunity to craft a new vision for Cancon that eschews more regulation and instead emphasizes competing on the global stage with policies that better equip Canadian creators for digital challenges."

Toronto Star editorial board on access-to-information reforms: "Of course, some limits to access to information are necessary both for security reasons and to ensure the open and frank exchange among ministers. But cabinet confidence has become an overbroad shield against disclosure. Canadians should have access at least to the facts and background that informed their government's decisions."

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES

"We are totally prepared for the second option, not a preferred option," U.S. President Donald Trump said at a White House news conference, referring to military force. "But if we take that option, it will be devastating, I can tell you that, devastating for North Korea. That's called the military option. If we have to take it, we will." Both Mr. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have traded barbs for several days, increasing fears of  conflict that could have catastrophic consequences. North Korean officials have been trying to meet with analysts who have ties to the Republican Party in order to get a better read on Mr. Trump's messaging.

The latest attempt by Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare has stalled, with Senate leaders officially pulling the bill. While Democrats and independents stood firm in their opposition, Republicans of all stripes wavered at times during the legislative process to fulfill a promise that they had campaigned on for years. The Washington Post tracked how specific senators changed their thinking through the various iterations of the bill.

The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration will resign this week, over concerns about the Trump administration's views on the rule of law.

Women in Saudi Arabia will no longer be disallowed from driving. The ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom is the only country in the world where women were barred from driving. The move is being hailed by some as a long time coming, but despite the proposed change in this area, women in Saudi Arabia continue to face wide-ranging restrictions on everything from travel to education.

And Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani declared victory for the "yes" side in the independence referendum. The Kurdish people, who have an autonomous region in Iraq but are spread over several countries, have been key allies in the fight against the Islamic State.

Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on the nuclear threat: "There is much talk about the Trump-Kim diss fest, for example, but little coverage of the United States contemplating a potentially hugely destabilizing deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, casually called 'mini-nukes.' There is even less coverage of the non-nuclear states' painstaking negotiation of a nuclear-ban treaty, which was finalized in July and is currently being ratified at the United Nations (more than 50 countries have signed so far). Perhaps it's time for a bit more nuclear anxiety; it's certainly preferable to nuclear hilarity." (for subscribers)

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on the U.S. President: "It's like Donald Trump is still in the segregated pre-civil rights era, as though his mindset on race never progressed beyond the teen years. Despairingly for the United States, its President is a creature of those bigoted times."

Tony Keller (The Globe and Mail) on Trump and the NFL: "Of course Donald Trump provoked Sunday's NFL anthem protests. He thinks he's dug into a political gold mine, and he might not be wrong."

Robyn Urback (CBC) on Sidney Crosby going to the White House: "It's very easy to get sucked into a black hole of over-analysis when it comes to anything Trump-related, but let's take a step back here and remember what we're talking about: an athlete has accepted an invitation to the White House. He's not a monster who has decided to join the dark forces or a Republican trying to take health care away from millions of vulnerable Americans: he's a hockey player who probably, naively, thought he was doing the right thing."

McKenna expects environment chapter in reworked NAFTA (The Canadian Press)
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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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