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Rachel Notley to oil sands foes: Be progressive, support pipelines





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.

Rachel Notley sat down with Maclean’s senior writer Paul Wells Tuesday night for the latest in the Maclean’s Live interview series. She explained why supporting pipelines really is the progressive thing to do and had choice words for the condo-flipping, Facebook-updating coffeeshop-lounging crowd. Here’s a bit of what she said:

A small minority of folks have decided they want to handcuff our energy economy, but a lot of folks don’t really understand the degree to which the Canadian economy is inextricably linked to the energy economy, and so this idea that, Oh, we’re just going to keep the oil in the ground and we’re going to carry on in our happy little world, as I said earlier today, you know, flipping condos and writing Facebook movie reviews in our favourite coffee shop—that’s not a thing. The reality is the Canadian economy relies significantly on the investment that’s attracted to this country through our energy industry.

You can watch a full replay of the Notley interview here.

Their conversation took place on a day when the NDP Premier announced plans to buy trains to ship oil. Meanwhile, her conservative rival wants mandated cuts to oil production. It’s an unnerving time to be Albertan, writes Jason Markusoff:

It was one of those “what a time to be alive” days in politics out West.

Five years after the Lac-Megantic disaster, a New Democrat Alberta premier vowed to purchase massive trains designed to ship oil—and while bitumen isn’t that much of an explosion risk, it has around triple the carbon footprint of piping oil the normal way. And one of Stephen Harper’s most ideologically hardline cabinet ministers has opined that Alberta should order all companies to move in lockstep to cut back oil extraction.

Earlier in the day Notley said her government may follow through on a request from some oil companies to impose mandatory cuts to oil production to address the crude glut. If she does, she won’t have to worry about attacks from free-market proponents like United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney. He declared himself in favour of a government-imposed 10 per cent cut in production, equal to about 400,000 barrels a day. (CTV News)

Conservatives are pushing for disgraced former Liberal MP Raj Grewal to officially resign, something the Brampton rookie politician has yet to do. Grewal is reportedly under investigation by the RCMP related to his seven-digital gambling debt. Meanwhile attention has focussed on his use of his position on a finance committee to suggest FINTRAC—the agency which tracks banking and casino transactions over $10,000 in an effort to stop money laundering—should raise its reporting threshold higher. Grewal repeatedly caught FINTRAC’s attention at casinos. (CTV News)

If there seemed to be a truce between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford over the GM plant closure in Oshawa, the cease fire has ended. Ford picked up on federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer‘s talking point and blamed the closure on the Trudeau government’s upcoming carbon tax, which he called the “single biggest issue killing jobs” in Ontario. Never mind that GM is also shutting four plants in the U.S. (CBC News)

Ottawa could learn a thing or two from General Motors as the automaker closes several plants across North America, writes Peter Shawn Taylor. When times are good, that’s when you need to make difficult and unpopular decisions to prepare for an uncertain future. GM knows that. Ottawa clearly does not:

With the economy in the midst of a nearly decade-long expansion, there’s every reason to assume things will get worse rather than better on the fiscal front, especially factoring in Trump, trade and tariffs. Nonetheless, the Liberals appear unable to rein in their spending habit. Besides, who wants to get austere this close to a federal election? (Maclean’s)

Independent senators now make up the majority in a newly relevant upper chamber—and, yes, they have the power to kill bills, writes David Moscrop:

So far, the Senate remains committed to passing government legislation, ultimately deferring to the will of the elected, confidence chamber. But the staredowns reflect a changing—and perhaps soul-searching—Senate, as a new parliamentary dynamic emerges. Senators and MPs are working out, day-by-day, bill-by-bill, the limits of what the Red Chamber can, will and must do—and just as importantly, what they can’t, won’t and mustn’t. Harder argues what we’re seeing is something he calls robust bicameralism. “Parliament has always been bicameral,” he says. “But it hasn’t been bicameral in the sense of having the Senate as part of the day-to-day system of governance.” (Maclean’s)

Tomorrow at the G20 Summit in Argentina, the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico may or may not sign the USMCA trade deal which may or may not contain language that was inserted without the agreement of all three countries. (CBC News)


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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches





Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year





Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend





OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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