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Trump’s big gift to Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s Liberals have a lot going for them in the 2019 election, writes Paul Wells. They also have one fundamental problem:

How could they lose? Oh, lots of ways. In 2015, Trudeau offered hope; now he carries baggage. The Liberal leader has made his share of unforced errors, from the bizarre vacation with the Aga Khan to the bizarre working trip in India. He’s abandoned campaign promises, as on electoral reform, and kept others at a cost that must leave him wishing he hadn’t bothered, as on Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s changes to the tax treatment of small businesses. And the grand bargain he offered on his way to 24 Sussex Drive—real action on climate change as the price of real progress on oil exports—seems broken at both ends.

Sorry, did I say 24 Sussex? Of course, Trudeau has never lived in that decrepit palace as an adult and is unable to make the most basic decisions about how or whether to fix it. “Better is always possible” has become “Can I get back to you after you re-elect me?” (Maclean’s)

Beijing couldn’t care less what the people of Canada think about the arbitrary and retaliatory arrests of Canadians living there, after police in Vancouver arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. The state is putting on a theatrical performance for its own people, and China’s aggressive nationalism demands that Beijing extract diplomatic blood:

The people that China needs to keep happy can understand the concept of rule of law on an intellectual level, but emotionally, it is likely a more alien concept. For thousands of years, China’s judges and prosecutors were the same person: the county magistrate, an arm of the government. Sometimes the emperor even directly participated in the process by approving or denying executions. “The rule of man, rather than the rule of law, is very deeply rooted in the Chinese legal culture,” according to the Global Media in China journal.

It would not be too much of a stretch to conclude the average Chinese person will assume the arrest of Huawei’s Meng was at least in part politically motivated and could thus be resolved though political means. (Maclean’s)

Donald Trump only drove home that point to the Chinese with his forehead-slapping offer to intervene in Meng’s case if Beijing would do a trade deal with him. Trump is facing pushback. The U.S. assistant attorney general for security told a U.S. Senate committee the Justice department “is not a tool of trade.” Meanwhile, legal experts say Trump may have done Meng a huge favour: “Meng’s lawyers could use Trump’s remarks as evidence to argue that the prosecution against her is politicized, and they could ask for a stay of proceedings on the basis of abuse of process (via the extradition judge) or ask the Minister not to surrender her.” (Global News, Bloomberg)

Renovation realities: The House of Commons adjourned for the last time in 2018. When MPs return next year they’ll take their seats in Parliament’s temporary digs in the West Block. Given the massive renovation project about to be undertaken on the Centre Block one might think the Federal Public Service would have a plan for how long the project will take and how much it will cost. One would be wrong: “(The figure of) 10 years has been used in the media, but there’s never really been a baseline schedule or budget established for the Centre Block project,” a Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) official said Thursday. As for whether cost estimates had been done, the official replied: “At this point, no.” (iPolitics)

If we were you, we’d want to be us too: Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy got together to flaunt their continued Senatorships in a tweet Wednesday night. With the three Senators posing together, Brazeau tweeted “Like it or not, we survived the unjustified bs!” (National Post)

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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