Welcome to The Feed. Your bi-weekly resource to Canadian politics and policies broken down into itty bitty (super witty) bite-sized knowledge by Apathy is Boring. Pun intended.
WHAT'S THE SCOOP?
And they’re baacck! MPs are in Parliament today after a six-week break, and the main event everyone’s watching is the Throne Speech. Delivered by the Governor General, expect the speech to lay out the Liberal gov’s priorities. Think plans for an immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis and for future economic recovery. Lots has been happening in advance of the big day, including PM Trudeau consulting with opposition leaders, and four premiers calling for more funding from the feds to cover health care costs. Also of note: two party leaders — Conservative Erin O’Toole and Bloc Québécois Yves-François Blanchet — won’t be in Ottawa, after both tested positive for COVID-19. Check out this detailed explainer to learn more about Parliament’s return, why we’re talking about elections and what’s changed since Parliament was prorogued, or turn on this Oppo podcast for a fall political preview.
Now, for a major development in a story we’ve been watching all summer... the WE Charity is shuttering its Canadian operations. What?! In an open letter explaining the move, brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger — who are both stepping down — blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and the political fallout after WE was chosen to run the Canada Student Service Grant program. Still trying to wrap your head around how a new volunteer program led to WE’s demise? We have you covered, with this detailed Maclean's story on the rise and fall of WE, or listen to two of the reporters behind that story explain what went down on this Front Burner episode. And don’t expect this to be the last we hear of WE. Political fallout continues, with an NDP MP saying the closure only underscores the gov’s lack of due diligence.
Moving on to the latest on COVID-19 and some potentially positive news: all this pandemic uncertainty might actually be good for our brains! That's according to a neuroscientist. Annnd that’s it. Now to the not so good news, which includes a surge of cases, long lines at testing centres across the country and rapid COVID testing devices not yet ready to be deployed in Canada. In Ontario, there are new gathering restrictions and strict fines (we’re talking a minimum of $10,000 for party hosts), while a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge has ruled the province’s disputed travel ban for non-residents will remain. Plus, with fall officially here, colder weather is creating new challenges for coping with a pandemic. Start preparing now, with this story on how the Norwegian idea of “friluftsliv” could help Canadians.
Results In: New Brunswick was the first province to hold an election during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Progressive Conservatives won re-election. Premier Blaine Higgs has a majority government and Liberal leader Kevin Vickers is stepping down. The election set a few new records for the province: A record-breaking number of people voted in advance polls and a record number of women were elected.
Tensions Rising: In Nova Scotia, tensions are growing between Mi'kmaw and non-Indigenous fishermen. Commercial fishermen are against a new self-regulated lobster fishery launched by Sipekne’katik First Nation, and they’ve removed lobster traps in protest. Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan has met with Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack to discuss a path forward.
Rules Broken: Ethics commissioner Mario Dion says Canada’s former ambassador to the U.S. broke conflict-of-interest rules. Uh oh. The situation involves improper lobbying after David MacNaughton left and was named president of Palantir Technologies Canada. Now nine senior officials, including two Liberal cabinet ministers and the chief of the defence staff, can’t contact MacNaughton for a year.
History Made: At the Emmy Awards (held virtually), quirky Canadian-made show Schitt’s Creek became the first series ever to sweep the comedy category. By the end of the night, it picked up nine trophies, including best comedy (another Canadian first) and all four stars won best acting awards (also a first for any comedy or drama). Woot woot. By the way, shoutout to Daniel Levy for encouraging viewers to vote during his acceptance speech.
What Else We’re Nibbling On
This week, we’re reading about three lives lost. Aline Chrétien, the wife and most trusted advisor of former PM Jean Chrétien, died at age 84. John Turner, Canada’s 17th prime minister, died at age 91. Read more about his lengthy political career and brief stint as PM back in the 80s. And U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at age 87. Known as “Notorious RBG”, Ginsburg was a champion for women’s rights and an unlikely cultural icon. Listen to why the vacancy she leaves on the Supreme Court is a game changer for the U.S. election.
OH! And folks in BC: get ready to vote.