NEWSLETTER

Anita Anand: Minister of Good News

Politics Insider for Oct. 7: The procurement minister announces approval of a rapid test, a list of everything Trump has done in office, and is bilingualism an anti-Anglo policy?

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

Slowly but surely, Anita Anand‘s press conferences have proven to be the government’s good-news briefings. After recent announcements about tentative deals for COVID-19 vaccine doses, yesterday the procurement minister announced federal approval of the first rapid antigen test. Conservative leader Erin O’Toole and his health critic, Michelle Rempel Garner, are saying the approvals lag well behind leading European nations. But whatever bureaucratic bungles are happening behind the scenes, Anand gets to announce the goodies.

Anand, who was joined by Health Minister Patty Hajdu, said the feds have signed a deal with Abbott Rapid Diagnostics to buy “up to 20.5 million Panbio COVID-19 Antigen rapid tests.” The manufacturer says the test—this is what it looks like—”requires no instrumentation and provides results in 15 minutes,” which means it’s a “valuable tool for mass testing in decentralized settings.”

Tories aren’t giving up on the WE scandal, but they’ve lost NDP support as they pressure the Liberals to atone for a prorogation that Conservatives say is clearly linked to the summertime foofaraw. The Liberals must provide the Commons procedure and House affairs committee with a report that explains the prorogation, but the Canadian Press reports that New Democrats “had issues” with the Tory motion to demand more: namely, witnesses and documents. The government has 20 sitting days to table its report, thanks to a Liberal-championed change in 2017 to the standing orders—see SO 32(7)–that govern the Commons.

When the woman who spoke for your election campaign starts tweeting about bad comms advice, maybe it’s time to do better. Melissa Lantsman, the war room director and chief spokesperson for the Progressive Conservative campaign that made Doug Ford a premier, ribbed the province’s wide-ranging and confusing Thanksgiving gathering guidelines from various public health officials.

A shocking list of things Trump has done: The sheer volume of stuff caught up in the whirlwind four-year presidency of Donald Trump is staggering. Shannon Gormley, writing in Maclean’s, chronicled every notable event, announcement, decision and controversy she could find. Five-thousand words later, everything that happened is in one place. Right here.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation—did you know it’s a federal crown corp?—has a new executive director. Mohammed Hashim, a labour organizer and human rights advocate whom the CBC once called an “unofficial crisis manager” for Muslim Canadians dealing with Islamophobia, snared the five-year gig.

The Parliamentary Budget Office found the government has far underspent its annual budget for an ambitious “innovation superclusters” program that Industry Minister Navdeep Bains marketed as regional incubators for homegrown Silicon Valleys. Alex Usher, president of Higher Education Strategy Associates, saw the lack of jobs and growth coming in 2018. Writing in Maclean’s at the time, a skeptical Usher called the program an “economic fantasy” and found “almost no good examples anywhere of clusters being purposefully built through government programs.”

Green subsidies are still subsidies: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation unearthed data that reveals millions in electric-vehicle subsidies distributed to car manufacturers in Canada. Tesla, which produces the swanky Model 3, tops the list of recipients at more than $60 million. The taxpayer watchdog group says Elon Musk’s operation pegged the sticker price of a made-for-Canada model to just one dollar beneath the upper threshold of eligibility for the rebate program.

A week ago, Vancouver-based columnist J.J. McCullough wrote for the Washington Post that Canada’s federal government suffers from all kinds of systemic underrepresentation thanks to bilingualism requirements. That set off a weekend’s worth of arguments: Does the policy freeze out unilingual Anglophones? Yesterday, Matthew Mendelsohn chimed in. He was an insider in Justin Trudeau’s first term who led a “results and delivery” unit in the Privy Council Office. Mendelsohn said that however it might look from the outside, English dominates the highest levels of government.

Porthole politics: Canada’s shipbuilders are annoyed with Ottawa after the feds made it known they’d like to rent an icebreaker for the Great Lakes. The folks in charge of domestic shipyards told CBC News they should build any new ships. The University of Calgary’s Tim Choi said there might be a real scarcity of rentable ships on the market. Meanwhile, another Coast Guard procurement notice popped up online. This one’s just a request for information that signals CCGS Terry Fox needs a refit. But it asks this question to prospective contractors: “Do you see any problems with the procurement strategy?”

All in the family: Doug Fisher was a parliamentary giant. He fought in Europe during the Second World War and later moved to what’s now Thunder Bay to be a schoolteacher. In 1957, Fisher toppled C.D. Howe, then known as the Minister of Everything. He held the seat for the CCF and then the NDP until 1965, when he retired to take on a long career as a Hill journalist. One of Fisher’s five children, Matthew, went on to become a war correspondent who claims to have covered 20 conflicts and travelled to 170 countries. Now, the younger Fisher wants to run for office. He hopes to suit up for the Tories against Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon in suburban Ottawa. (He scored the endorsement of retired admiral Mark Norman, no fan of this Liberal government.)