2022-06-16 02:46:38 By : Mr. Tony Chou

A daily look inside Canadian politics and power.

Get the Ottawa Playbook newsletter

By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or updates from POLITICO and you agree to our privacy policy and terms of service. You can unsubscribe at any time and you can contact us here. This sign-up form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Send tips | Subscribe here | Email Nick l Email Nick

Welcome to the Ottawa Playbook. I'm your host, Nick Taylor-Vaisey, with Andy Blatchford and Zi-Ann Lum. Today, we dive into ERIN O'TOOLE's claim on NATE ERSKINE-SMITH's podcast that Chinese foreign influence played a serious role in up to nine ridings in the last election. Plus, PMJT hits up an American podcast and LISA RAITT makes headlines on another pod.

— Bragging rights: Playbook's first-ever in-person trivia night goes down at the Met this evening. We are unreasonably excited. Watch for results and spotted hangovers to come in Friday morning's newsletter.

Did someone forward Ottawa Playbook your way? Click here to sign up for your own edition. It’s free!

FOREIGN INTERFERENCE — ERIN O'TOOLE says Chinese interference is to blame for the defeat of as many as nine Conservative candidates in the 2021 federal election.

The former Conservative leader’s remark, made during a podcast this week, advances an unusually specific allegation at a time of widespread warnings about state actors trying to undermine Canada’s democratic process.

“We lost eight or nine seats to foreign interference from China,” O’Toole, who did not provide any evidence to back his accusation, told Liberal MP NATHANIEL ERSKINE-SMITHon an episode of “Uncommons” recorded June 6.

— Tory backup: Conservative MP MICHAEL CHONG tells POLITICO that he shares O’Toole’s views.

Chong, who serves as their party’s foreign affairs critic, said Wednesday that after the election he was initially cautious about blaming Beijing for interfering in the vote.

The evidence at the time, he said, wasn’t conclusive — which he claims has since changed. Chong says research from McGill University now provides proof of interference.

“The communist leadership in Beijing did interfere in the last federal election by spreading disinformation through proxies on Chinese-language social media platforms that contributed to the defeat of a number of Conservative MPs,” Chong said.

Our ANDY BLATCHFORD and ZI-ANN LUMhave the story here.

PM ON THE POD — On his swing through La La Land for the Summit of the Americas, Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU made time to talk to some Americans: Obama-era White House staffers BEN RHODES and TOMMY VIETOR, who now co-host Pod Save the World.

The prime minister might never find a more comfortable studio than that one to uncork a half-hour's worth of Liberal talking points. At times, the pair of American progressives fawned over Trudeau's mere presence.

Playbook listened so you don't have to. Here are two chunks of their convo that stood out:

— On going negative: "Attack politics, divisive politics, negative stirring up of hate and fear and differences — the dirty secret is they work, even back in 2015, they work to get you elected. You can do that. It's just what we're seeing is that once you've used those methods to get elected, it becomes incredibly hard to govern responsibly for all citizens in bringing people together and getting big things done.

"Because once you start churning up anger, it just feeds on itself. And if you're not continually throwing fresh raw meat at it, it will get away from you entirely. And that's where we're seeing in Canada, a certain number of people who stirred up that, are starting to have it sort of turned back against them a little bit."

Trudeau's unnamed target was almost certainly PIERRE POILIEVRE, the freedom evangelist and frontrunner for the Conservative leadership who could face off against the PM should he seek a fourth term.

But we can hear the Tories reading this cackling at a Liberal who claims to stay above it all.

Remember last year, when the Liberals turned abortion-rights supporter ERIN O'TOOLE into an anti-abortion bogeyman to court swing votes? Or when Twitter slapped a warning on a CHRYSTIA FREELAND tweet that claimed the Tories would privatize healthcare?)

— On gas prices, and er, other stuff: "Right now, inflation is the biggest challenge. Intellectually, people will say, yes, we need more gender equality, we need a better fight against climate change. But as we're seeing with gas prices right now, as soon as inflation and gas prices go high, people are like, 'Oh, no, no, we need more oil and gas.' Oh, I thought you were an environmentalist? 'Yeah. But I can't afford to fill my tank anymore.' Yes, but we've gotta get beyond that. So you have to bring people along where they are. That's why our answer to inflation, for example, is what we fought on in the last election, which was $10-a-day childcare right across the country."

ENDORSEMENT WATCH — There was a bit of a commotion in Tory circles Tuesday when a pair of MPs who backed PATRICK BROWN — KYLE SEEBACK and DAN MUYS — jumped ship for Poilervre’s campaign.

That left only two caucus members in Brown's camp, campaign co-chair MICHELLE REMPEL GARNER and DOUG SHIPLEY. Meanwhile, more than half of the caucus has lined up behind Poilievre.

(As for the other candidates: 16 have picked JEAN CHAREST, nine are backing LESLYN LEWIS, and one is in SCOTT AITCHISON's corner. Not a one supports ROMAN BABER.)

By Playbook's count, the number of Tory MPs who haven't committed to a leadership candidate has dwindled to 21. (Interim leader CANDICE BERGEN and the other neutral members of her inner circle are excluded from that total.)


That's eight Albertans, five Ontarians, three Saskatchewanians, one Manitobans, a Quebecer and a British Columbian, just FYI.

THE INSIDER'S VIEW ON ENDORSEMENTS— Playbook got on the horn with former MP JAMES CUMMING, the author of a lengthy election post-mortem who lost his own Edmonton riding to Liberal MP RANDY BOISSONNAULT last year.

Cumming will remain neutral in this race — "I'm not sure the optics, after I did such an intensive review, warrant me getting behind anybody" — but he did dish a bit on why endorsements matter. And why they don't.

— Elbow grease: A simple pamphlet that lists caucus support isn't all that helpful, says Cumming, because the points system that elects the Tory leader rewards campaigns that maximize the vote in as many ridings as possible.

"I think the more important thing is, what's your ground game look like? That's where these races are won or lost. What kind of infrastructure do you have to sell memberships? And what kind of infrastructure do you have to get out the vote? The more people you can recruit to help you with that, I think the better chance you'll have for success."

A supportive tweet from an MP? Meh. But it's a different story if that endorser works the phones in their riding. "If they can swing their constituency association volunteers to assist, that's what's important, because you want to win that constituency."

Cumming endorsed PETER MACKAY in 2020 after mulling over his options. He says it was "important to take a stand" during the race. "For my constituency to know where their MP stood, to know where my thoughts were, was helpful to them," he said. "I tried to gauge what the feeling was in my constituency, and what were they looking for in leadership."

— What's next: Persuasion is the word on everyone's lips. "Not all members have made up their minds," says Cumming. "That's where if you have caucus members, or people that are known in the community, making calls and trying to convince people that you have the right candidate … I would suspect that helps."

DON'T MISS THE 2022 GREAT LAKES ECONOMIC FORUM: POLITICO is excited to be the exclusive media partner again at the Council of the Great Lakes Region's bi-national Great Lakes Economic Forum with co-hosts Gov. JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. This premier, intimate networking event, taking place June 26-28 in Chicago, brings together international, national and regional leaders from business, government, academia and the nonprofit sector each year. "Powering Forward" is this year's theme, setting the stage to connect key decision-makers with thought leaders and agents of change to identify and advance solutions that will strengthen the region's competitiveness and sustainability in today's competitive climate of trade, innovation, investment, labor mobility and environmental performance. Register today.

BALLOT TROUBLES — The Curse of Politics pod had the chattering classes atwitter when guest panelist and former Conservative deputy leader LISA RAITT dropped some truth bombs.

The Tories, she says, are waaaay behind schedule — six to eight weeks — on verifying new memberships, she said. Raitt's been around the block on this stuff. She ran for the leadership in 2017 and co-chaired the Leadership Election Organizing Committee — LEOC, for short — in 2020. A record number of Tories cast ballots two years ago, and this campaign appears primed to leave the last race in the dust.

In short: lots of voters will want ballots. And the party only has so many people to do the work of getting them in the mail.

Raitt flagged some concerns. "I don't know where this is going," she said. "This is going to be a complete shitshow."

Host DAVID HERLE wondered where this is all headed. Raitt painted a dreary picture. "Somebody doesn't get their ballot. And that is more than one somebody. That is, I dunno, 50,000 somebodys don't get their ballot in time. They don't get to vote.

"You may have noticed there are come conspiracy theorists that may be involved in this federal Conservative [race]. It becomes one big conspiracy theory. Once again, we're drawn into it and the party can't get itself clean of that issue. Whoever's the leader, it's going to be around their neck."

In a word: oof. Listen to the rest of the Curse pod here.

— LEOC responds:IAN BRODIE, the committee's chair, tweeted about Raitt's comments. "I do not see a scenario in which the race could be delayed. Candidates have signed up many, many new members and party staff are doing extraordinary work to produce a voters' list," he said. "I expect we will meet all the deadlines set out in the #cpcldr rules."

DID YOU NOT GET YOUR BALLOT YET? WHAT ARE YOU HEARING that Playbook needs to know? Drop us a line: [email protected]

AIRPORT DELAYS — As lineups all over Toronto's Pearson Airport leave travelers endlessly frustrated, Transport Minister OMAR ALGHABRA is hearing about it every time he encounters a reporter on the Hill. He's asked about long lines at Customs, long lines at security checkpoints, and even passengers stuck on their airplanes after arrival. Critics are calling for an end to Covid vaccine mandates to alleviate the congestion.

Here's a short scene from Wednesday as Alghabra walked out of the weekly Liberal caucus meeting in West Block.

A reporter asks: "Anything to announce in the airport delays?"

Alghabra replies: "Well, I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying. It’s urgent, it’s important. We’re acting, we’ve added resources, we’re continually looking at other bottlenecks and other processes that we need to implement and we’re going to continue that."

The reporter presses for more: Can we expect an announcement today about that, on new measures or …?

Alghabra got a bit huffy: "Expect an announcement when we’re ready to make announcements."

— Take 2: After question period, Alghabra had more to say to reporters who lay in wait for said announcement. He emphasized the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority had hired more than 850 new agents whose training and certification was expedited.

The minister also reminded journalists that long lineups aren't a 24/7 issue at Pearson.

"There are extreme peaks of arriving time and departure time that is causing this imbalance," he said. "So we need to smoothen out the curve when it comes to ensuring that we have the right resources at the right time, and we're working with airlines on making sure scheduling issues are sorted out."

The rush hour excuse isn’t going to fly for long. 

9 a.m. The PBO will post a new report: Canada’s Military Expenditure and the NATO 2% Spending Target.” Read it here.

9:50 a.m. (PT) The PM will meet with Governor of California GAVIN NEWSOM.

10:20 a.m. (PT) The PM and Newsom will make an announcement and hold a media availability. Environment Minister STEVEN GUILBEAULT will join them.

10:30 a.m. Tory MPs PHILIP LAWRENCE and GARNETT GENUIS will hold a media avail about a private member's bill on human rights.

11 a.m. Bloc Québécois MPs YVES PERRON, SIMON-PIERRE SAVARD-TREMBLAY and LUC THÉRIAULT will hold a presser on a supply management bill.

11:30 a.m. Procurement Minister FILOMENA TASSI and parlsec GREG FERGUS will announce the start of construction on the new Modernized Gatineau Energy Centre.

11:30 a.m. (PT) The PM will hold a bilat with U.S. President JOE BIDEN.

12 p.m. United Nations Ambassador BOB RAE delivers a keynote speech at the Empire Club of Canada, “The World We’re In: The Impact of Conflict, Energy and Climate Change on Canada.”

2 p.m. (PT) The PM will attend the Leaders’ Opening Plenary Session of the Summit of the Americas.

3:45 p.m. (PT) The PM will hold a bilat with the President of Argentina, ALBERTO FERNÁNDEZ.

5 p.m. (PT) The PM will meet with the CEO of Alphabet and Google, SUNDAR PICHAI.

7:30 p.m. (PT) The PM and SOPHIE GRÉGOIRE TRUDEAU will attend a Leaders’ Dinner hosted by Biden and First Lady Dr. JILL BIDEN.

STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: What's really happening in West Wing offices? Find out who's up, who's down, and who really has the president’s ear in our West Wing Playbook newsletter, the insider's guide to the Biden White House and Cabinet. For buzzy nuggets and details that you won't find anywhere else, subscribe today.

— “It’s time for Canada and the U.S. to consider a bigger, bolder partnership,” former U.S. ambassador BRUCE HEYMANwrites in Chicago’s Tribune.

— POLITICO’s STEVEN OVERLY has the skinny on “Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity,” which was just announced at the Summit for Americas.

— In case you missed it, BILL BROWDER joined PAMELA WALLIN on the latest episode of the No Nonsense pod.

For subscribers, here’s our Pro Canada PM memo by MAURA FORREST: ​​Launching a carbon market.

In other headlines for Pro readers:

— House Science Committee probes tools to track methane emissions in oil and gas sector. — Biden's ‘ambitious’ economic plan for Latin America offers a ‘social contract,’ not trade agreements. — Yellen: Administration still mulling how to get key part of global tax deal through Congress. — ‘Pariah’ no more? Democrats grit their teeth over Biden’s Saudi trip. — Russia complains of ‘oppression’ during climate conference. — Key climate proposals fail to pass European Parliament.

Birthdays: HBD to Green MP ELIZABETH MAY, Ontario Green Party Leader MIKE SCHREINER and Environment Minister STEVEN GUILBEAULT. Also celebrating today: TVO anchor STEVE PAIKIN and former Alberta politician RICK ORMAN. 

Ottawa MP YASIR NAQVI took time in the House Wednesday to wish RITA MARGARET MACKENZIE MARKEY an early happy 100th birthday. “She worked hard and was employed in this very House as a transcriber of Hansard,” he said. Markey celebrates on June 25.

Movers and shakers: Trudeau nominated PHILIPPE DUFRESNE as the next federal privacy commissioner. His most recent gig: House law clerk and parliamentary counsel.

MICHAEL BALAGUSis on his way out as chief of staff to outgoing Ontario NDP leader ANDREA HORWATH. Four years ago, the party hailed him as the "architect" of Horwath's electoral breakthrough. A former chief of staff to Manitoba premiers GARY DOER and GREG SELINGER, Balagus is one of the NDP's famed prairie pragmatists.

Ontario Liberal MPP STEPHEN BLAISisn't ruling out a run for his party's leadership — either interim or permanent, reports QP Briefing's CHARLIE PINKERTON. Said the former Ottawa city councilor: "I didn't leave a fairly senior position at city hall to just sit in the background for two years, or six years."

DANIELLE MCGEE, a longtime JIM WATSON aide (15 years!) who also once worked on the Hill for MICHAEL IGNATIEFF, left the mayor's office to head up public and stakeholder relations at the Ottawa Community Housing Corporation.

CHRIS SHARROCK is Microsoft’s new vice president for UN affairs and international organizations. SUZANNE GRANVILLE has been named executive director for North America of Bono’s ONE Campaign.

Spotted: ​​RYAN JESPERSEN, celebrating the arrival of NOAH ORVILLE, born June 2.

Media mentions: POLITICO’s CHRISTOPHER MILLER will publish “The War Came to Us: Life and Death in Ukraine” in June 2023 from Bloomsbury Continuum.

Keep up on House committee schedules here.

Find Senate meeting schedules here. 

9 a.m. Bill S-5 will be under clause-by-clause consideration at the Senate energy, environment and natural resources committee.

9 a.m. The U.S. House Select Climate Crisis Committee will meet to discuss ocean-based solutions to climate change. NOAA Administrator RICHARD SPINRAD and MONICA MEDINA, assistant secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, will testify.

10 a.m. The Bank of Canada releases its latest Financial System Review, which highlights the main vulnerabilities and risks to the stability of the Canadian financial system.

11 a.m. Public Safety Minister MARCO MENDICINO will be at the House public safety and national security committee, which is studying Canada’s security in relation to Russia. The committee is scheduled to go in camera at noon to discuss its report on the rise of ideologically motivated violent extremism in Canada.

11 a.m. The National Capital Commission’s TOBI NUSSBAUM will be at the House procedure committee to discuss the parliamentary precinct with City of Ottawa officials. At noon, the committee will move behind closed doors for clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-14.

11 a.m.The House citizenship and immigration committee will undertake clause-by-clause on Bill C-242.

11 a.m. The House committee on fisheries and oceans is studying science in the federal department. Witnesses include Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association, Maritime Fishermen's Union and the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia.

11:30 a.m.The Senate foreign affairs and international trade committee will hear from department officials as it studies “the Canadian foreign service and elements of the foreign policy machinery within Global Affairs Canada.”

11:30 a.m.The Senate committee on internal economy is scheduled to meet.

3:30 p.m. JOHN GRAHAM, president and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board will join the House finance committee during its first hour. FINA plans to move in camera during its second hour to discuss its report on the Emergencies Act.

3:30 p.m. SHARON POLSKY, president of Privacy and Access Council of Canada, will be at the House ethics committee to discuss facial recognition technology.

3:30 p.m.MYKOLA SOLSKYI, minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, will appear at the House agriculture committee as it studies global food insecurity.

6:30 p.m.The House science and research committee will hear from a long list of witnesses on small modular nuclear reactors. CHRISTOPHER KEEFER, president of Canadians for Nuclear Energy, will be up first.

6:30 p.m. Parks Canada Agency officials will appear on supplementary estimates at the House committee on environment and sustainable development.

11 a.m. The House public accounts committee will discuss its draft report on temporary foreign workers.

3:30 p.m.The House transport committee has two reports on its agenda — one on supply chains, the other on infrastructure investment.

Wednesday’s answer:BILL CLINTON was talking about golf with JEAN CHRÉTIEN.


Here’s ED GREENSPON,then at the Globe, on one round Clinton and Chrétien played in December 2000: “Mr. Clinton must have hit a few good balls because, after the match, he invited the Canadians back to the White House for a drink. Somewhere along the way, Mr. Chrétien bent his friend's ear on the softwood lumber issue and Canada's desire for Mr. Clinton to sign on to the International Criminal Court by Dec. 31.”

Thursday’s question: Who designed the indoor pool at 24 Sussex?

Send your answers to [email protected]

Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness amongst this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Alejandra Waase to find out how: [email protected] .

Playbook wouldn’t happen without Luiza Ch. Savage and editor Sue Allan.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this newsletter misstated the endorsement status of two MPs. Robert Kitchen has endorsed Pierre Poilievre and Ted Falk has endorsed Leslyn Lewis.