Erin O’Toole frames coming election as a choice between Conservatives and ‘four parties on the left’

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole ended his first session of Parliament as Opposition leader Wednesday where he began: railing against what he calls “cancel culture” and the erasure of Canadian history. As he spoke out against cancelling Canada Day celebrations in the aftermath of the discovery of the graves of 215 Indigenous children, O’Toole also sought to frame the coming federal election as a stark choice for Canadians: his party as the defender of Canada, or a coalition of the other parties leading the nation down a dangerous path. “There are not five choices for Canadians,” O’Toole told the final meeting with his MPs and senators before the summer break.“There are two: Canada’s Conservatives on one side, and the Liberal-NDP-Green-Bloc Quebecois coalition on the other.”O’Toole began his tenure as leader of the Conservatives with a similar speech just nine months ago, when Parliament formally resumed after being thrust into disarray by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sitting began after a summer of protests over systemic racism and the reigniting of a debate over statues and honours given to former Canadian prime ministers and others who presided over the residential school system that’s created such long-standing damage in Indigenous communities.The debate erupted anew with the recent discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children who attended residential school in Kamloops, B.C. More statues have been taken down as schools and other institutions have changed names amid intense demands for a faster pace on the reconciliation efforts by the federal government.The road to Indigenous reconciliation, said O’Toole, does not involve tearing Canada down. Injustices in Canada’s past or present are too often seized upon by “a small group of activist voices” who attack the very idea of Canada itself, he said.“Let’s acknowledge where we fall short. Let’s ensure we do not forget or cover it up,” he said.“But let’s also channel the pain of a Canada falling short to build up the country and not tear it down.”How Canada will build itself back up after the COVID-19 pandemic will be a central ballot box question come the next election, which is widely expected to be called within months.The way things stand presently, O’Toole warned, Canada is barely being given a choice. “We are a diverse nation. We disagree. We can have different visions of the future. That’s what a democracy should be,” he said.“But that debate isn’t there. It’s been stitched up. Four parties on the left — the Liberals, the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc Québécois — give the illusion of choice and debate but there is no such thing.”To pass legislation in a minority Parliament, the Liberals have had to find allies among the other parties, and in recent days they’ve been ticking items of their priority agenda. Late Tuesday night, a bill that would legislate targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions passed the Commons with the support of the NDP and Bloc Québécois. Earlier this week, a more controversial bill that updates Canada’s broadcasting rules for the digital era also headed off to the Senate, again with the support of those two parties. The Liberals have framed the Conservatives’ opposition to those and other pieces of government business as the actions of a party standing in the way of a progress, a theme Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers are expected to continue to push over the summer months. That obstruction isn’t just ideological, Trudeau and his ministers have also alleged, but practical, leading to a Parliament that’s bogged down and taking too long to get anything done. “We have seen a level of obstructionism and toxicity in the House that is of real concern,” Trudeau said Tuesday outside his Rideau Cottage residence. The New Democrats have a slightly different point of view. In social media videos posted in recent days, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has sought to make the case that it’s his party that’s making anything work at all, pointing to positive changes it has promoted for numerous pandemic support programs. “When you send New Democrats to Ottawa, we fight for you,” Singh said.Stephanie Levitz is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @StephanieLevitz

Erin O’Toole frames coming election as a choice between Conservatives and ‘four parties on the left’

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole ended his first session of Parliament as Opposition leader Wednesday where he began: railing against what he calls “cancel culture” and the erasure of Canadian history.

As he spoke out against cancelling Canada Day celebrations in the aftermath of the discovery of the graves of 215 Indigenous children, O’Toole also sought to frame the coming federal election as a stark choice for Canadians: his party as the defender of Canada, or a coalition of the other parties leading the nation down a dangerous path.

“There are not five choices for Canadians,” O’Toole told the final meeting with his MPs and senators before the summer break.

“There are two: Canada’s Conservatives on one side, and the Liberal-NDP-Green-Bloc Quebecois coalition on the other.”

O’Toole began his tenure as leader of the Conservatives with a similar speech just nine months ago, when Parliament formally resumed after being thrust into disarray by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sitting began after a summer of protests over systemic racism and the reigniting of a debate over statues and honours given to former Canadian prime ministers and others who presided over the residential school system that’s created such long-standing damage in Indigenous communities.

The debate erupted anew with the recent discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children who attended residential school in Kamloops, B.C. More statues have been taken down as schools and other institutions have changed names amid intense demands for a faster pace on the reconciliation efforts by the federal government.

The road to Indigenous reconciliation, said O’Toole, does not involve tearing Canada down.

Injustices in Canada’s past or present are too often seized upon by “a small group of activist voices” who attack the very idea of Canada itself, he said.

“Let’s acknowledge where we fall short. Let’s ensure we do not forget or cover it up,” he said.

“But let’s also channel the pain of a Canada falling short to build up the country and not tear it down.”

How Canada will build itself back up after the COVID-19 pandemic will be a central ballot box question come the next election, which is widely expected to be called within months.

The way things stand presently, O’Toole warned, Canada is barely being given a choice.

“We are a diverse nation. We disagree. We can have different visions of the future. That’s what a democracy should be,” he said.

“But that debate isn’t there. It’s been stitched up. Four parties on the left — the Liberals, the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc Québécois — give the illusion of choice and debate but there is no such thing.”

To pass legislation in a minority Parliament, the Liberals have had to find allies among the other parties, and in recent days they’ve been ticking items of their priority agenda.

Late Tuesday night, a bill that would legislate targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions passed the Commons with the support of the NDP and Bloc Québécois.

Earlier this week, a more controversial bill that updates Canada’s broadcasting rules for the digital era also headed off to the Senate, again with the support of those two parties.

The Liberals have framed the Conservatives’ opposition to those and other pieces of government business as the actions of a party standing in the way of a progress, a theme Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers are expected to continue to push over the summer months.

That obstruction isn’t just ideological, Trudeau and his ministers have also alleged, but practical, leading to a Parliament that’s bogged down and taking too long to get anything done.

“We have seen a level of obstructionism and toxicity in the House that is of real concern,” Trudeau said Tuesday outside his Rideau Cottage residence.

The New Democrats have a slightly different point of view.

In social media videos posted in recent days, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has sought to make the case that it’s his party that’s making anything work at all, pointing to positive changes it has promoted for numerous pandemic support programs.

“When you send New Democrats to Ottawa, we fight for you,” Singh said.

Stephanie Levitz is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @StephanieLevitz

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Canada racing toward key milestone for U.S. border reopening

Canada’s accelerating vaccination effort has put the country on track to reach key benchmarks for reopening the U.S. border as early as next month.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has begun citing a 75 per cent two-dose vaccination rate as the threshold to lift border restrictions. That number is about 20 per cent now.As wide as that gap is, the latest vaccine delivery schedule suggests it could close considerably within the next month, raising the prospect that Canada could move ahead with a comprehensive reopening before the end of the critical summer tourism season.Procurement Minister Anita Anand, in a June 15 interview on The Bridge podcast, hoisted by former CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge, said the share of Canadians fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could hit 80 per cent by the end of July.Trevor Tombe, a University of Calgary economics professor who monitors the data, said there’s a better than 50 per cent chance that Canada will reach that threshold in that time frame.“I would bet some money on it,” Tombe said in a phone interview. However, to achieve the government’s goal, Canada will have to significantly increase its current rate of under 500,000 jabs a day.Up to now, the Trudeau government’s cautious approach to the U.S. border has drawn condemnation from business groups and expatriates for being overly strict at a time when cases are plunging. The border has been closed to most travel since March 2020, and last week the governments extended the restrictions until at least July 21.The rules have kept families apart, shut out tourists and students, and crimped the U.S.-Canada trading relationship, among the world’s largest. Although trucks and trains continued to move goods, Canada’s travel-related businesses lost an estimated $20 billion in revenue last year, according to one estimate.Tombe said his latest projections have the country meeting the 75 per cent threshold on Aug. 5, but new information on vaccine supply suggests that forecast could be “very conservative,” he said. That includes 11 million additional Moderna Inc. shots Trudeau and Anand announced Friday.Canada’s decision to mix and match vaccines, including the shot from AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University, is also helping it ramp up.At a news conference on Tuesday, the prime minister said vaccination rates weren’t the only factor the government was considering. Officials, he said, are also factoring in the prevalence of variants and overall COVID-19 case counts in Canada and abroad. He said the situation was quickly improving.“We’re doing things gradually, but we’re talking about weeks and not months anymore,” Trudeau said, referring to the gradual reopening of the border.Another wild card could be vaccine hesitancy, which appears to be less of a factor in Canada than it is elsewhere.More than 25 million Canadians, or two-thirds of the population, had received one dose as of Tuesday, according to the COVID-19 Tracker Canada website, which combines federal and provincial data. That includes 7.8 million who have received two doses, for a total of about 33 million doses administered so far.To reach the 75 per cent threshold for full vaccination — equal to 28.5 million people — the country would need to administer another 24 million doses.That would require picking up the pace considerably. At the current rate of about 432,000 doses a day, Canada would be about 8 million jabs short of 75 per cent full vaccination by July 31.Growing vaccine supply will help close the gap, as long as there isn’t too much vaccine hesitancy.“If we encounter the U.S. problem whereby willing arms are trailing off then it could conceivably be later,” Derek Holt, an economist at the Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto, said by email.According to Holt, Canada could reach the 75 per cent threshold as early as the middle of July or as late as mid-August, depending on whether demand trails off.Trudeau, at his news conference, acknowledged the urgency of opening the border. “Everyone wants to get back to a more normal summer,” he said.Bloomberg

Canada racing toward key milestone for U.S. border reopening

Canada’s accelerating vaccination effort has put the country on track to reach key benchmarks for reopening the U.S. border as early as next month.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has begun citing a 75 per cent two-dose vaccination rate as the threshold to lift border restrictions. That number is about 20 per cent now.

As wide as that gap is, the latest vaccine delivery schedule suggests it could close considerably within the next month, raising the prospect that Canada could move ahead with a comprehensive reopening before the end of the critical summer tourism season.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand, in a June 15 interview on The Bridge podcast, hoisted by former CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge, said the share of Canadians fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could hit 80 per cent by the end of July.

Trevor Tombe, a University of Calgary economics professor who monitors the data, said there’s a better than 50 per cent chance that Canada will reach that threshold in that time frame.

“I would bet some money on it,” Tombe said in a phone interview. However, to achieve the government’s goal, Canada will have to significantly increase its current rate of under 500,000 jabs a day.

Up to now, the Trudeau government’s cautious approach to the U.S. border has drawn condemnation from business groups and expatriates for being overly strict at a time when cases are plunging. The border has been closed to most travel since March 2020, and last week the governments extended the restrictions until at least July 21.

The rules have kept families apart, shut out tourists and students, and crimped the U.S.-Canada trading relationship, among the world’s largest. Although trucks and trains continued to move goods, Canada’s travel-related businesses lost an estimated $20 billion in revenue last year, according to one estimate.

Tombe said his latest projections have the country meeting the 75 per cent threshold on Aug. 5, but new information on vaccine supply suggests that forecast could be “very conservative,” he said. That includes 11 million additional Moderna Inc. shots Trudeau and Anand announced Friday.

Canada’s decision to mix and match vaccines, including the shot from AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University, is also helping it ramp up.

At a news conference on Tuesday, the prime minister said vaccination rates weren’t the only factor the government was considering. Officials, he said, are also factoring in the prevalence of variants and overall COVID-19 case counts in Canada and abroad. He said the situation was quickly improving.

“We’re doing things gradually, but we’re talking about weeks and not months anymore,” Trudeau said, referring to the gradual reopening of the border.

Another wild card could be vaccine hesitancy, which appears to be less of a factor in Canada than it is elsewhere.

More than 25 million Canadians, or two-thirds of the population, had received one dose as of Tuesday, according to the COVID-19 Tracker Canada website, which combines federal and provincial data. That includes 7.8 million who have received two doses, for a total of about 33 million doses administered so far.

To reach the 75 per cent threshold for full vaccination — equal to 28.5 million people — the country would need to administer another 24 million doses.

That would require picking up the pace considerably. At the current rate of about 432,000 doses a day, Canada would be about 8 million jabs short of 75 per cent full vaccination by July 31.

Growing vaccine supply will help close the gap, as long as there isn’t too much vaccine hesitancy.

“If we encounter the U.S. problem whereby willing arms are trailing off then it could conceivably be later,” Derek Holt, an economist at the Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto, said by email.

According to Holt, Canada could reach the 75 per cent threshold as early as the middle of July or as late as mid-August, depending on whether demand trails off.

Trudeau, at his news conference, acknowledged the urgency of opening the border. “Everyone wants to get back to a more normal summer,” he said.

Bloomberg

Source : Toronto Star More   

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