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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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Ottawa unveils funding for poultry and egg farmers hurt by free-trade deals

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Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share due to two recent free-trade agreements will soon have access to $691 million in federal cash, Canada’s agriculture minister announced Saturday.

Marie-Claude Bibeau shared details of the long-awaited funds in a virtual news conference.

“Today we position our young farmers for growth and success tomorrow,” she said.

The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free-trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, one that came into effect in 2017 and the other in 2018.

The dairy sector funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.

But on Saturday, Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money flow over three years — beginning with $468 million in 2020-21, $469 million in 2021-22 and $468 million in 2022-23.

Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year.

Payments based on formulas

David Wiens, vice-president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the money will help farms make investments for the future.

“I think particularly for the younger farmers who have really struggled since these agreements have been ratified, they can actually now see opportunities, how they can continue to make those investments on the farm so that they can continue on,” he said.

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Employee of Ottawa Metro store tests positive for COVID-19

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Metro says an employee of its grocery store on Beechwood Avenue in Ottawa has tested positive for COVID-19.

The company says the employee’s positive test result was reported on Nov. 25. The employee had last been at work at the Metro at 50 Beechwood Ave. on Nov. 19.

Earlier this month, Metro reported several cases of COVID-19 at its warehouse on Old Innes Road.

Positive test results were reported on Nov. 2, Nov. 6, Nov. 11, and Nov. 19. The first two employees worked at the produce warehouse at 1184 Old Innes Rd. The other two worked at the distribution centre at the same address.

Metro lists cases of COVID-19 in employees of its stores and warehouses on its website

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Tinseltown: Where 50-year-old ‘tough guys’ become youngsters again

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Audy Czigler wears glitter like a Pennsylvania miner wears coal dust. It’s on his face and hands, in his hair and on his clothing. It’s an occupational hazard that he says he just can’t get rid of.

And when he’s sifting through job applications from people wanting to work at his Tinseltown Christmas Emporium on Somerset Street W. in Hintonburg, the glitter is a consideration. For he’s not looking for people who can simply endure it; no, he’s screening for people who revel and carouse in glitter, for those for whom the 10,000th playing of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is as refreshing as the first, for those who believe that the 12 days of Christmas last 365 days a year. The believers.

Sure, he has heard the voices of skeptical passersby on the sidewalk outside his shop, especially in the summer months when visions of sugarplums have receded from many people’s minds.

“I hear them out there a few times a day,” he says, “wondering how a Christmas store can possibly survive year-round.

“I want to go out and tell them,” he adds, but his voice trails off as a customer approaches and asks about an ornament she saw there recently, of a red cardinal in a white heart. Where is it?

There’s scant room for sidewalk skeptics now, crowded out by the dozens of shoppers who, since October, have regularly lined up outside the store, patiently biding their time (and flocks) as pandemic-induced regulations limit the shop to 18 customers at a time.

Once inside, visitors will be forgiven for not first noticing the glitter, or even the rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside playing on the speakers. For there’s no specific “first thing” you notice. The first thing you notice is EVERYTHING — a floor-to-ceiling cornucopia of festivity, reminiscent perhaps of how the blind man in the Gospel of John may have felt when Jesus rubbed spit and mud in his eyes and gave him sight for the first time.

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/tinseltown-where-50-year-old-tough-guys-become-youngsters-again

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