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By MAURA FORREST
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WELCOME TO OTTAWA PLAYBOOK. We’re your hosts, Maura Forrest and Nick Taylor-Vaisey, with Zi-Ann Lum. Today, more thoughts on who JUSTIN TRUDEAU should look to for economic advice, and we take on PIERRE POILIEVRE’s housing proposals. Also, smallpox!
TRIVIA NIGHT, IN REAL LIFE — Playbook Trivia is going non-virtual: Thursday, June 9 at the METROPOLITAIN in Ottawa! Festivities will get underway at 7 p.m. There will be special guests. There will be fierce competition. There will be drama. There will be bragging rights. Gather your team, then send us an RSVP, because space will be limited.
— But wait, there’s more: Ottawa Playbook’s fourth virtual trivia night is set for May 4 at 8 p.m. Think you have what it takes to vanquish two-time champ BROCK STEPHENSON or the Round Three winners from MCMILLAN VANTAGE? Gather up your nerdiest friends and fire us an RSVP.
HOW TO BUILD AN ADVISORY COUNCIL — Playbook launched a conversation about the federal government’s soon-to-be-established Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), promised on the campaign trail last year and announced in Budget 2022.
The budget offered few details on how a CEA would work, or who even would be asked to join. As backroom Liberals mull its structure and membership, we reached out to economists and bankers with a question: Who makes their dream list of appointees?
One big piece of feedback came our way: Don’t only appoint economists.
JON SHELL, managing director at Social Capital Partners, learned during the pandemic how Ottawa ticks. Shell helped lobby the feds to introduce an emergency rent relief program for small businesses, and he also first got Liberals thinking about the concept of employee ownership trusts that popped up in Freeland’s 2022 budget.
Shell thinks a council of economic advisors should draw from all over. “I don’t think a regionally, politically and demographically diverse set of economists is enough. The professional background should be diverse, too,” he told Playbook.
“Economists and bankers are helpful, for sure, but without moderation from people who understand and experience the economy directly, you get things like the Bank of Canada’s policies that miss critical things that are happening on the ground.”
Shell wasn’t alone. Another correspondent who works for a financial institution offered up CHRIS RAGAN, the founding director of McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy — an economist by training who thinks a lot about climate. But they also said the council should include experts on the energy transition.
— Indigenous voices: The founder and CEO of Iskwew Air, TEARA FRASER, advised the Liberals to appoint “as many Indigenous women as possible” to the CEA. “The council should be centering economic reconciliation and equity — social and economic equity from a relational systems lens,” she told Playbook.
— Main, not Bay: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives senior economist DAVID MACDONALD urged the government to find space for the working class on the CEA.
“It can’t just be packed with bank and business execs,” he told Playbook. “Workers need to be represented, care providers need to be represented. Economic growth is more than just maximizing profits for businesses.”
— What’s the point of a CEA? When it comes to advising governments, UBC econ prof KEVIN MILLIGAN knows of what he speaks. He was a special adviser on economic recovery at the Privy Council Office for a year during the pandemic.
Milligan responded to Monday’s Playbook with a Twitter thread that dove into existential questions about the council-to-be. The panel, he said, need not be a rehash of the defunct Economic Council of Canada, which produced reports for government to ponder.
The new CEA could be “a conduit of outside economic advice into the executive (i.e. Cabinet). This would allow frank conversations rather than public posturing.”
Like, for example, the Council of Economic Advisers south of the border.
— Required reading for appointees:When the President Calls: Conversations with Economic Policymakers, by SIMON W. BOWMAKER. “Gives great examples of how to advise politicians on economics,” says Milligan.
— Potential red flag: University of Victoria economist ROB GILLEZEAU, who in a former life worked for TOM MULCAIR on Parliament Hill, warned of potential unintended consequences of establishing a CEA in Canada:
“The council is primarily important if it manages to exist as a non-partisan body that can provide genuine, expert technical advice. However, it is extremely likely that a relatively tight political screen will be applied given modern political risk management. If a partisan screen is applied it might also have the inadvertent consequence of politicizing economics within the academy, which would be unfortunate.”
THE PEAT GOES ON — Details of the largest private land conservation project in Canadian history will be revealed at 11 a.m.
The Earth Day announcement is on Environment Minister STEVEN GUILBEAULT and Ontario Environment Minister DAVID PICCINI’s schedules this morning. They’ll be joined for the big news by Nature Conservancy of Canada’s CATHERINE GRENIER and Domtar Inc. exec ROB MELTON.
How big? The proposed project area is more than double the size of Toronto and three times the size of Montreal. Conservation work on that scale takes serious cash. The NCC promises more details later this morning.
REALITY CHECK — Tory leadership contender PIERRE POILIEVRE unveiled details of his housing plan Thursday, speaking in front of yet another small house with a whopping big price tag — C$2.2 million, in this case. The gist? Ottawa should punish big cities that don’t get busy building homes, and reward those that do.
Playbook put Poilievre’s proposals to ANNEKE SMIT, director of Windsor Law’s Centre for Cities. Here’s some of what she had to say (edited for length):
— The proposal: Require municipal governments of “severely unaffordable” big cities to increase homebuilding by 15 percent annually or have a portion of their federal funding withheld.
Smit: Some kind of conditionality for municipalities is a very good idea. We know that approvals are not moving as quickly as they should. I think those approvals have to be conditional, not just on the speed of approval, but on the kinds of housing that’s approved.
— The proposal: Grant municipalities C$10,000 per home on all growth in their home building, paid out only after the units are built and occupied.
Smit: Having the funding flowing to municipalities with some conditions is a good thing. But that’s not just speed, that’s also making sure the housing that’s being built is ticking some of those other boxes, including affordable housing, including a climate lens. There is a danger in just saying, “Here’s the money if you do it fast.”
— The proposal: Require municipalities seeking federal funds for major transit projects to pre-approve building permits for high-density housing and employment on all available land around stations.
Smit: That kind of pre-approval is really where we need to go. So that folks who want to build are incentivized to do it, because they know they’re not going to be tied up for years in an expensive and time-consuming planning approvals process.
— The proposal: Sell 15 percent of the federal government’s 37,000 buildings with covenants requiring they become affordable housing.
Smit: It’s a question of articulating what we mean by the terms. So if by affordable housing we’re meaning folks who are really at the bottom end and at risk of homelessness, then that’s great.
Parting thoughts: It’s encouraging to see a focus on supply, because that often gets left aside. [But] I don’t see a focus on building smaller buildings, inward and upward.
This doesn’t feel like a traditionally Conservative place to go. The fact that all parties are doing this means that all parties have to do it.
Related: Poilievre faced questions about rental properties belonging to him and his wife on the campaign trail Thursday, CTV’s Glen McGregor reports.
SPEAKING OF POLICY — Leadership hopeful Jean Charest pitched his vision for reforming health care on Thursday, including a plan to allow for more private delivery — a “sea change” for Canadian health care, he told the CBC’s Catherine Cullen.
MORE DEBATE DEETS — The first official leadership debate planned for May will be held in English at the Edmonton Convention Centre at 6 p.m. MT on May 11, followed by a debate in French at the Château Royal in Laval, Que. at 8 p.m. ET on May 25. All verified candidates are required to participate.
— Unofficial debate: The Canada Strong and Free Network will host the first clash of ideas between every major candidate for the Tory leadership.
The group, which used to be called the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, will convene its debate at the same time as its networking conference at the Shaw Centre in downtown Ottawa.
— The candidates: PIERRE POILIEVRE, JEAN CHAREST, LESLYN LEWIS, SCOTT AITCHISON, ROMAN BABER and MARC DALTON.
Note the absence of PATRICK BROWN, the busy-bee campaigner behind the scenes who has only a week to obtain “verified candidate” status.
— The fine print: Crestview Strategy’s ALEX CHRESTON, the debates media coordinator, told Playbook that not just anyone is allowed to join the fun.
“Only those candidates who have met the Leadership Election Organizing Committee’s verified criteria as required by April 29th will participate on stage.”
— The moderators: True North editor CANDICE MALCOLM and Citizen Empowerment Project co-founder JAMIL JIVANI.
From the tenders: Public Services and Procurement Canada is shopping for a smallpox vaccine. An advance contract award notice identified Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic as a supplier for 500,000 single dose vials (with an optional additional 250,000 single dose vials) of their Imvamune vaccine by the end of 2024.
Some words of reassurance from Public Health Agency of Canada: “Although smallpox disease is currently considered to be eradicated, PHAC is procuring a stockpile of the vaccine to immunize Canadians against smallpox disease should a risk ever arise where smallpox is intentionally or unintentionally released,” the notice reads.
9 a.m. Deputy Prime Minister CHRYSTIA FREELAND will hold a press conference with Ukrainian Finance Minister SERHIY MARCHENKO to mark the close of the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, D.C.
9 a.m. Canada’s budget watchdog will publish a new report called “Budget 2022: Issues for parliamentarians.” Find it here.
10:30 a.m. Governor General MARY SIMON will speak at the Canadian launch of the U.N. Decade of Indigenous Languages at the Royal Canadian Geographic Society in Ottawa.
11 a.m. Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU will make an announcement with Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief JERRY DANIELS and Manitoba Premier HEATHER STEFANSON.
11 a.m. Environment Minister STEVEN GUILBEAULT will announce details of the largest private land conservation project in Canadian history.
11:30 a.m. Government officials will provide a Covid-19 update.
12 p.m. Transport Minister OMAR ALGHABRA will be at the General Motors Technical Centre in Markham, Ont. to make an announcement about the federal zero-emission vehicles incentives program.
1 p.m. Been wondering about those 2 billion trees the Liberals promised to plant? Natural Resources Minister JONATHAN WILKINSON will plant trees in New Westminster, B.C. to kick off the season.
— Try to reach net zero by 2050 with this new Climate Game from the Financial Times.
— From the CBC’s LIZ THOMPSON this morning: Crowdfunding platform GoFundMe lobbied MPs before testifying on truck convoy protest.
— The Globe and Mail’s MARIEKE WALSH digs into a decision on drug price reforms the government quietly published just before the Easter long weekend, and finds they’re “dramatically” scaled back.
— For the Star, TOM SPEARS reports that the federal government has drawn up plans for a new home for prime ministers “that presents better branding of Canada as a G7 member and world player.”
— In the Walrus, EVA HOLLAND looks at the toxic legacy of Yellowknife’s Giant Mine and her own family’s role in the mess, as Ottawa considers an apology and compensation.
— “We are not on autopilot. We will be watching how higher interest rates affect Canadians,” TIFF MACKLEM said Thursday in a roundtable with reporters. The WSJ’s PAUL VIEIRA has the story. Here’s the Globe’s take on the conversation.
— The surge in inflation is driven mostly by high demand, not supply-chain problems, argues JASON FURMAN for Project Syndicate.
— Here’s JASON MARKUSOFF’s final #longread for Maclean’s: How B.C.’s Scott Steer fished illegally for almost everything in the sea, with the “fish police” almost constantly on his tail.
— An Inuit-Crown partnership committee meeting in Ottawa on Thursday has produced a ‘transformative’ pact with Inuit to recognize territory, shape policy, The Canadian Press reports.
For POLITICO Pro subscribers, our policy newsletter by ZI-ANN LUM: Crypto policy creep.
In other headlines for Pros:
— How the Air Force fast-tracked a new weapon just for Ukraine.
— Apple’s lobbying spending hits record high amid antitrust scrutiny.
— House Democrats push for EPA to crack down on crypto mining.
— United CEO says it’s ‘very unlikely’ travel mask mandate will return.
— White House gathering business leaders to strategize Covid aid for developing countries.
Birthdays: Happy belated 96th birthday to QUEEN ELIZABETH II, and our apologies for missing the big day. Oops. To celebrate, the Angus Reid Institute published survey results showing half of respondents don’t think Canada should remain a monarchy, and only a third would support a monarchy under King Charles. Awkward.
— HBD today to CBC News Network anchor SUHANA MEHARCHAND (6-0!), LOUISE HAREL, MARY FRAGEDAKIS, GHISLAIN MALTAIS, VAL MEREDITH and CÉLINE HERVIEUX-PAYETTE.
— Saturday birthdays: MP BERNARD GÉNÉREUX (6-0!), DOUGALD LAMONT and ELI EL-CHANTIRY.
— Sunday birthdays: SOPHIE GRÉGOIRE TRUDEAU, CHANTAL HÉBERT, MP ALI EHSASSI, WAJID KHAN, JOACHIM STROINK (5-0!), HELEN JOHNS and KAREN CASEY.
Media mentions: Huge congrats to the finalists up for the 2021 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism: CBC News, CBC Saskatchewan, CBC Saskatoon, Global News, Kamloops this Week and The Globe and Mail.
The Canadian Press’s parliamentary bureau is hiring a new economics reporter. Today is veteran reporter JORDAN PRESS’s last day at the wire service.
And MARIE-DANIELLE SMITH will start a new gig at CP June 13, covering justice policy and constitutional affairs.
Spotted: Public Safety Minister MARCO MENDICINO trying out for a new job as a border officer… CTV’s MIKE LE COUTEUR receiving a windfall.
JAGMEET SINGH telling a Toronto audience that his party refers to the Liberal-NDP pact as the “Anhad Accord” after his baby daughter.
Russia’s latest list of 61 Canadians banned from entering the country includes PMO heavyweights KATIE TELFORD, BRIAN CLOW, JEREMY BROADHURST and CAMERON AHMAD, DPM chief of staff LESLIE CHURCH, Finance DM MICHAEL SABIA, Privy Council Clerk JANICE CHARETTE, U.N. ambassador BOB RAE, retired Lt. Gen. ROMÉO DALLAIRE, former foreign affairs minister LLOYD AXWORTHY, CSE and CSIS heads SHELLY BRUCE and DAVID VIGNEAULT, premiers DOUG FORD, JASON KENNEY, JOHN HORGAN, SCOTT MOE and HEATHER STEFANSON, mayors JOHN TORY and JIM WATSON, Bank of Canada Governor TIFF MACKLEM, journalists JOHN IVISON, MARK MACKINNON, TERRY GLAVIN, DAVID WALMSLEY and MICHAEL HARRIS, and Burundian poet KETTY NIVYABANDI. A proud achievement for some and a sad day for others.
Movers and shakers: New West Public Affairs has announced Alberta Relaunch, a one-day conference slated for June 28 in Calgary that will feature discussions of energy and climate policy, technology and politics. The list of speakers and moderators includes former Bank of Canada governor MARK CARNEY, former Conservative Cabinet minister LISA RAITT, former Trudeau principal secretary GERALD BUTTS, former Harper chief of staff IAN BRODIE, CBC Power & Politics host VASSY KAPELOS and Globe and Mail reporter KELLY CRYDERMAN.
Governor General MARY SIMON presented the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers to 23 recipients Thursday, including couple GÉRARD OUDAR and SIMONE PIETRI, who volunteered several days a week for 30 years with people with intellectual disabilities living in the L’Arche l’Étoile de Québec.
ANDREA DURKIN is now assistant U.S. Trade Representative for WTO and multilateral affairs. She most recently was principal and founder of Sparkplug LLC.
Lt.-Gen. JOCELYN PAUL will become the first Indigenous commander of the Canadian Army in a shakeup of Canadian Armed Forces leadership announced Thursday. Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice-Adm. CRAIG BAINES and commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force Lt.-Gen. AL MEINZINGER are retiring from the Armed Forces, to be replaced by Rear Admiral ANGUS TOPSHEE and Maj.-Gen. ERIC KENNY.
Thursday’s answer: The fancifully named AMOR DE COSMOS (birth name: BILL SMITH) was MP for Victoria while he was premier of British Columbia. He later shared the federal riding with JOHN A. MACDONALD, who was prime minister at the time.
— Fun fact: When De Cosmos lived south of the border, the California Senate passed a bill that formally changed his name. The Canadian Encyclopedia quotes him saying the new moniker “tells what I love most […] order, beauty, the world, the universe.”
Props to GUY SKIPWORTH.
Friday’s question: Name Canada’s first minister of the environment. For bonus marks, tell us one more thing about this person.
Send your answers to [email protected]
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