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Separating ‘truth from fiction’ in the Grewal gambling case

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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.

It is possible to make a reasoned political argument that the Trudeau and former Wynne governments bear some responsibility for GM’s decision to close its Oshawa operations. Too bad that’s not what Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is doing with his forced and ridiculous claim that carbon taxes are to blame, writes Stephen Maher:

It is so difficult nowadays to capture the attention of click-addled voters that politicians are forced to deliver one simple message over and over again. That means that until the election, the Conservatives are going to blame everything on Trudeau’s job-killing carbon tax. (Maclean’s)

Government-mandated production cuts are coming to Alberta’s oil patch. NDP Premier Rachel Notley announced the move Sunday evening, saying the province would curtail oil production by 8.7 per cent next year, starting Jan. 1. The move, along with the province’s purchase of rail cars to haul crude, is meant to reduce the glut of oil in the province that’s driven down prices for Canadian petroleum. (Calgary Herald)

Questions, questions: After former Liberal MP Raj Grewal backtracked on his resignation late Friday in a Facebook video (see a transcript here), much confusion remains about his gambling addiction, the millions in debt he rang up, and exactly who knew what about the file, and when. As NDP MP Nathan Cullen notes: “For all of the allegations that are now swirling around this MP, I mean, it is difficult to understand the truth from fiction and how this got this far, and nobody seems to have known anything about it in the Prime Minister’s Office. The story hasn’t been consistent since the start.” (CTV News)

The Parliamentary Secretary for Organized Crime is also in the dark on the case. “I pretty much know as much on this as most Canadians. I’m hearing about this in the news, I’m learning about what he’s being accused of like many of my colleagues are,” Peter Schiefke said over the weekend. “It wouldn’t be my place to comment on an ongoing investigation.” (Global News)

While in Buenos Aires, Trudeau said he only learned about Grewal’s gambling a little over a week ago. He also said PMO knew the RCMP was looking into Grewal’s involvement with Trudeau’s trip to India last year—Grewal had invited a construction executive, who’d paid him money, to attend events with Trudeau during the trip—but that his office knew nothing about the RCMP’s interest in Grewal’s gambling debts.  (Canadian Press)

Later today a special security review of Justin Trudeau’s nine-day state visit to India will be tabled in Parliament. Watch for fireworks.

Before the new NAFTA deal even gets ratified by U.S. legislators, Donald Trump plans to kill the old NAFTA deal in a risky gamble. If the new deal doesn’t pass Congress with the six-month termination window, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will be left without a trade agreement. (CBC News)

To protect the integrity of the next federal election the Trudeau government is planning a “whole government effort” involving multiple departments. The Toronto Star reports the details of the program will be released in the coming weeks, but that officials are already struggling with the process for informing Canadians should there be an attempt by foreign interests to meddle during the campaign. As the Star puts it:  How do you tell Canadians in the heat of the campaign that a foreign actor is trying to influence the results without appearing to influence the results yourself?

And if you’re reading this right at 6:30 a.m. ET, send warm thoughts to Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques who was scheduled to take off for the International Space Station from the steppes of Kazakhstan at 6:31 a.m. this morning. Here’s Saint-Jacques in conversation with Paul Wells about what it takes to become an astronaut.

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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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