We are into the second day of the official campaign. On the topic of yesterday’s court ruling in Quebec that said the assisted-dying law was too restrictive, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said this morning he agreed that more people should be able to qualify for a medically assisted death. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said they are still reviewing the ruling and will not make any commitments yet.
But the SNC-Lavalin affair – a story first broken by The Globe and Mail in February, with revelations that continue into this week – continues to dog Mr. Trudeau. The RCMP have been looking into it for possible political interference in the prosecution of the Quebec construction company, but have run into roadblocks because some witnesses are covered by cabinet confidence and the government will not waive the confidentiality. Former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould told The Globe she was interviewed by the RCMP as recently as Tuesday. “As a matter of principle, the RCMP should be able to conduct thorough and necessary investigations,” she said.
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.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
ICYMI: Day 1 of the campaign saw Mr. Trudeau bat away questions about the SNC-Lavalin affair and launch his campaign in Vancouver; Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said cutting taxes was his main priority; NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said national pharmacare was about Canadians helping one another; and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May stressed that climate change is an emergency, while being unclear what she would do about separatists in her party.
Quebec will likely feature some of the closest results on election night, so we took a close look at what voters in battleground ridings are saying. In Trois-Rivières – where Mr. Scheer launched his campaign, and where the Liberals will likely spend some time – Mr. Trudeau’s personal popularity is helping his party, though some voters expressed concerns about last year’s trip to India. Many New Democrat seats are in play with the party’s popularity sinking, so the Liberals hope to keep their parliamentary majority by picking up seats in the province – that is, if the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois will let them.
The Liberal Party leader tour had to get a new plane after their campaign bus ran into their first plane late last night.
And Globe and Mail music writer Brad Wheeler has reviewed the Conservatives’ new campaign theme. His verdict: “As an upbeat, populist call to arms, Get Ahead serves its purpose. It is simple, ruggedly built and impervious to misinterpretation. The producers, musicians and singers who recorded the song – in the key of E, the people’s key – are unknown.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on cabinet confidence and the SNC-Lavalin affair: “Mr. Trudeau and his advisers are hiding behind the convention of protecting cabinet confidences. They must not hide any longer. The national interest dictates that Canadians cast their ballots in this election with full knowledge of what happened behind those very closed doors. It is time for everyone to speak their truth.”
Brian Giesbrecht (The Globe and Mail) on the Mounties: “The RCMP says it will pause its examination during election season, but it should reconsider.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Trudeau’s record: “Every once in a while, there’s a suggestion around Ottawa that Mr. Trudeau might do, if not a mea culpa, then a bit of a nod to the feeling that he hasn’t lived up to all the expectations. You know: A we’re-not-perfect acknowledgment that some things could have been done better, so that the Liberal Leader, and potential Liberal voters, can move on to the things still to be done. But Mr. Trudeau didn’t do that Wednesday. Not on the SNC-Lavalin affair, not when asked about young people who might feel he fell short on his promise to do politics differently, and not in general. He launched his bid for a second term without addressing the shortfalls of the first.”
Christie Blatchford (National Post) on the first day of the campaign and Quebec’s Bill 21: “Why is the PM — and the other party leaders — not forcefully denouncing this dreadful law? It may be that because the Quebec premier has invoked the notwithstanding clause, there is little chance of the federal government successfully challenging the bill in court, but that is little reason not to shout from the rooftops at its inherent racism and unfairness.”
Robyn Urback (CBC) on the NDP: “[The Liberals have] vacated a space that could allow the NDP to return to its roots as a true workers’ party: one that actually reflects the working and middle classes, as opposed to the Liberal flock of Armani shoppers who wear Moores suits on the campaign trail. Singh could, theoretically, harness the desire for change that the Liberals left unfulfilled because they used the same sort of Harper-style governing tactics during their tenure. If only the NDP could figure out what it’s doing.”
Adam Pankratz (The Globe and Mail) on the Green Party of Canada: “The inevitable problem with being taken seriously, however, is that it is accompanied by an expectation of a certain level of seriousness. The Greens are currently in danger of squandering their opportunity by failing to recognize they can no longer behave like a plucky outsider. In other words, they need to start behaving like a serious, national political party, not a West Coast environmental movement.”
Paul Wells (Maclean’s) on the big ideas (or lack thereof) in the campaign: “If the American era is ending, if a singularly shaky great-power rivalry is replacing it, if the rules-based international order is cracking at the foundations, it feels like small ball to boil it all down to which party can get you a break on your household bill payments.”