Roundup: Scheer unveils more reheated policy

While at the Manning Centre Networking Conference in Ottawa yesterday, Andrew Scheer unveiled another policy plank – that he was going to support a free trade deal with the United Kingdom, post-Brexit. And a short while later, put out a press release and “backgrounder” (which was a bit content-free) to say that he was going to travel to the UK next month to start talking about just this.

Scheer is behind the times on this, because Justin Trudeau announced that he and Theresa May were already having this discussion back when she visited in September, and Scheer knows this. So he’s reiterating this for a couple of reasons, beyond the fact that he’s trying to paint the picture of Trudeau being unable to adequately handle trade negotiations (never mind that his government concluded CETA that was in danger of going off the rails, and similarly extracted concessions from TPP talks, and they haven’t rolled over on NAFTA talks).

  1. Scheer is a Brexit supporter, and his trip to the UK is at a time where the UK Parliament is dealing with their Brexit legislation and not doing very well with it. One suspects that this trip is more about offering Canadian support for Brexit from his position as Leader of the Opposition, never mind that I suspect that the vast majority of Canadians would oppose Brexit (and hell, the number of Britons who regret voting for it seems to be growing daily). But Scheer does seem to want to offer that encouragement from his position.
  2. This announcement was to a crowd of small-c conservatives who feel a great deal of affection for the Anglosphere, and suspicion for other trade deals, particularly with China. It doesn’t seem to be out of the realm of possibility that this is a bit of red meat for that base.

Suffice to say, if this is a new bit of policy, this awfully thin gruel.

Good reads:

  • From Los Angeles, the PM evoked Ronald Regan’s legacy to help convince the Trump administration to keep NAFTA.
  • The PM announced that while Karina Gould is on mat leave, Scott Brison will assume her responsibilities.
  • The country shed some 88,000 jobs in December – the largest one-month drop since 2009. It’s too soon to pin the blame on Ontario’s minimum wage hike.
  • Transparency groups are calling out the new Ethics Commissioner’s suggestion that he issue publication bans on ongoing investigations.
  • The Supreme Court of Canada ruled 9-0 that news sites don’t have to scrub their sites of stories after a publication ban is granted in a case.
  • The Supreme Court also ruled from the bench in a sexual abuse case, tossing the appeal because the defence relied on rape myths.
  • Despite promising to include more police in peacekeeping missions, the government has not moved on the issue. Try to look surprised!
  • The Phoenix Pay System couldn’t get adjusted information provided before the tax season cut-off. A new report is also being drafted to scope the true costs of fixing it.
  • The Philippine president cancelled the controversial helicopter purchase.
  • The government made plans for front-of-package health warnings for foods high in things like sodium and sugar.
  • Former NDP MP Peter Stoffer “apologised” for behaviour characterized as sexual harassment. The complainant says the bigger issue is how the party shrugged it off.
  • Rachel Notley has put together a high-profile task force to plan next steps in the dispute with BC over the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
  • Patrick Brown is fighting back against the allegations against him, poking holes in the facts that were presented to the media.
  • Chantal Hébert wonders if Justin Trudeau and his environmental plans would be in jeopardy if the Progressive Conservatives win in Ontario.
  • Paul Wells looks at the rhetoric on the new environmental legislation, and the very nature of the country making it difficult to get big projects built regardless.
  • Susan Delacourt hopes that recent gaffes by the PM when attempting to make jokes (like “peoplekind”) don’t turn everyone off of sorely needed political humour.
  • My weekend column looks at the loophole in our parliamentary rules that allow tax credit bills to go through, and why it needs to be plugged.