Britain’s Parliament officially reopened this morning, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government has delivered the “most radical Queen’s Speech in a generation.”
Job No. 1 for Mr. Johnson, of course, is Brexit. He had called the snap election in a bid for a large-enough Conservative majority to push through a bill that would see Britain leave the European Union on Jan. 31. (He got it.)
The bill allows for Britain and the EU to negotiate a trade agreement by the end of 2020, which trade experts say is only enough time to draw up a “a very thin trade deal.”
It also means that Scotland may try to hold another referendum to leave the United Kingdom, given Scottish voters were not supportive of Brexit or Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Johnson’s “radical” agenda also includes a rise in the minimum wage and tougher jail sentences for serious crimes.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
Editor’s note: the Politics Briefing newsletter will soon go on hiatus for the holidays. Our last edition of 2019 will be on Friday, Dec. 20. We will be back in your inboxes on Monday, Jan. 6.
Donald Trump is officially the third U.S. president in history to be impeached. The House of Representatives voted along party lines – Democrats for, Republicans against – to impeach Mr. Trump based on his attempts to put pressure on Ukraine to investigate a political rival, and his attempts to obstruct a congressional investigation. The matter now moves to the Senate, which would have to vote overwhelmingly to remove him from office. Given the chamber is controlled by the Republicans, that outcome seems unlikely.
The Liberal government insists it had no role in the plea deal announced yesterday between SNC-Lavalin and federal prosecutors. But regrets, Justin Trudeau said, I’ve had a few. “Obviously, as we look back over the past year and this issue, there are things we could have, should have, would have done differently had we known, had we known all sorts of different aspects of it,” the Prime Minister said in a year-end interview with the Canadian Press.
The government is banning promotions of vaping products in places where young people can see them, such as social media.
Alberta residents will be able to claim a carbon-price rebate on their taxes for the first time in the new year, because the federal carbon tax is being imposed on the province come Jan. 1. Albertans will receive more than residents in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, in large part because their costs will be higher.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer says MPs should question exactly where the Liberal government’s promised $1.5-billion-a-year in savings will come from.
The number of tourists coming to Canada from Mexico has jumped significantly since the Canadian government removed a visa requirement in 2016 – but so has the number of Mexicans trying to claim refugee status in Canada.
New research sheds light on how many United Nations peacekeepers have impregnated and abandoned women in war-torn areas.
And the Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that the two Toronto-born children whose parents were Russian spies do, in fact, have Canadian citizenship.
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on what the SNC-Lavalin plea means for Justin Trudeau: “It’s over. It’s not entirely clear if the deal will really allow SNC-Lavalin to confine the repercussions to a subsidiary that pleaded guilty while the parent company carries on. But for Mr. Trudeau, it will help turn the page on the story that dogged him and his government in 2019. Wednesday was New Year’s Day.”
Andrew Willis (The Globe and Mail) on what the SNC-Lavalin plea means for the company: “For the parent company, a conviction or guilty plea on corruption charges was expected to translate into a crippling 10-year ban on federal government contracts, and would haunt attempts to win other business. Instead, SNC-Lavalin expects to keep bidding for business from domestic and foreign customers, including an infrastructure-hungry client in Ottawa.”
Matt Gurney (Financial Post) on why the scandal didn’t need to happen: “What the hell was all of it for? Absolutely none of the worst-case scenarios that the Liberals wanted us all to think they were striving to avoid has come to pass. The DPA went unissued, but wouldn’t you know it, the company is not relocating its headquarters. Thousands of highly skilled Canadian workers are not being thrown out of work as the hammer of righteous justice smashes their employing conglomerate to bits. Instead, SNC will cut a cheque and suffer some observers. It is a remarkably banal ending to this affair, but it’s damn hard to imagine that this wouldn’t have been about the outcome we’d have come to anyway if JWR had told Trudeau her decision to not issue a DPA and he’d said, ‘OK, your call. Thanks.’”
Don Braid (Calgary Herald) on Ottawa-Alberta relations: “Today, the crazy irony is that the Liberals are making friendly noises only because they were shut out in Alberta and Saskatchewan. I firmly believe that if they had elected a few MPs and appointed a couple of Alberta ministers, nothing at all would have changed. It didn’t help last time.”
David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on labour mobility: “People simply don’t shuffle around the country as quickly and efficiently as goods and capital. It’s an issue both for provinces such as Alberta that find themselves struggling with a surge in unemployment, and other parts of the country that are being held back by acute skills shortages.”