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Ottawa weighing whether to invest in ballistic missile defence

Politics Insider for May 11: Ottawa to appeal an Alberta ruling; Ontario PC MPPs in hot water over questionable allowances

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Anita Anand said Tuesday Canada is weighing whether to reverse course and finally join the U.S. in defending against long-range ballistic missiles, CP reports: “We are certainly taking a full and comprehensive look at that question, as well as what it takes to defend the continent across the board. We are leaving no stone unturned in this major review of continental defence.”

Canada famously opted out of the U.S. ballistic missile defence program following a heated national debate in 2005, deciding not to invest in the network of land- and sea-based radars and interceptor missiles designed to stop an attack on North America. Then-prime minister Paul Martin’s decision was seen by many as an attempt to bolster his minority Liberal government. The NDP, and many Canadians, opposed missile defence, in part because of its links to U.S. president George W. Bush’s administration.

Appealing: Justin Trudeau said in the House on Tuesday that Ottawa will appeal an Alberta Court of Appeal decision that ruled the federal government’s environmental impact law is unconstitutional, CP reports.

The Alberta court said the Impact Assessment Act is an “existential threat” to the division of powers guaranteed by the Constitution. Trudeau said that the law delivered on a promise to reform a “broken system and restore public trust in how decisions about major projects are made.”

Extra cash: Eight Ontario PC MPPs received allowances from their riding associations over the past four years for a variety of expenses including child care, entertainment and vehicle costs, Global reports. After the issue was first raised by the NDP, Global combed through Elections Ontario filings and discovered tens of thousands of questionable payments.

Ford defends: Doug Ford was forced on the defensive Tuesday in the first leaders’ debate as his rivals attacked his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Star reports. Ford insisted the province performed relatively well compared with other jurisdictions.

A better debate: In the Star, Susan Delacourt points out that the Ontario leaders’ debate was vastly superior to the one last week between federal CPC candidates.

Here’s one big difference: the Ontario leaders spared some words for lives lost and lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last Thursday night, anyone listening to the Conservative leadership debate would have thought the only damage wreaked by the pandemic was on the poor convoy protesters and all of those Canadians forced to get vaccinated.

Democracy in action: In the Hub, Howard Anglin presents a different view of the CPC debate, arguing that it’s good that real objections to the status quo are being raised within the system.

If a real protest movement does develop in Canada, we should hope that it is channelled within the political system, rather than against it. The CPC leadership debate may have been a disturbing sight to Canadians accustomed to the sedative tones of CBC political panels, but it was a disturbing democratic sight. This is a good thing. The sparks we saw on stage are preferable to real fires in the streets.

No reset: In the Globe, Campbell Clark has a sharp column on the way Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre are seeking the support of conspiracists who believe the World Economic Forum is secretly running Canada.

Electrifying: In Maclean’s, environmentalist Rick Smith argues that electrification is helping in the fight against climate change, noting that everything from delivery trucks to home heating systems are about to shift to greener energy.

To power all of this, electricity grids will have to produce as much as double what we generate today. We’ll have to replace coal and natural gas with non-polluting sources, like wind, solar and hydro. (By 2050, wind and solar are expected to account for as much as 75 per cent of the energy mix; right now, they sit at six.) We’ll also need thousands of new high-skilled workers to build the infrastructure. More cobalt, copper and nickel are going to be mined to build batteries—why not do it in Canada?

To regulate? A new Nanos poll for the Globe shows that 55 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support greater government regulation of the internet, while 37 per cent oppose or somewhat oppose such regulation.

Cut off: Speaking of online disinformation, Vice has a disturbing story about the self-proclaimed QAnon Queen of Canada, who has told her followers to stop paying their electricity and water bills, which is getting them cut off from services.

Cars burnt: Montreal police are investigating after anarchists appear to have destroyed two luxury vehicles belonging to former federal minister Michael Fortier, CTV reports.

Mayor harassed: Police have laid charges after an anti-vax protester left a latex horse-head mask  at the home of Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, the Calgary Herald reports.

Prayer debate: The Bloc Quebecois brought forward a motion Tuesday to get rid of the non-denominational prayer that is recited in the Commons every day, the Post reports.

Pressure on RCMP: Marco Mendicino has directed the RCMP to work closely with Indigenous communities to address the traumatic legacy of residential schools, CP reports. In a new mandate letter issued to Brenda Lucki, Mendicino instructs the force to proactively disclose documents, help uncover truths and allow for alternative forms of investigation as communities “seek justice at their own pace.”

Failure to act: The Globe has a tragic story from Afghanistan, where former Canadian interpreters are being sought and tortured by the Taliban while they wait for travel documents from Canada.

— Stephen Maher

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