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Jagmeet Singh’s off again, off again Burnaby byelection





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.

After the holiday break, the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter returns today. Happy New Year!

2019 is off to a hectic start. Canada’s frayed relations with China show few signs of improving, though there is movement on several levels.

A delegation of Canadian parliamentarians is in China for a trade mission that was planned before police in Vancouver arrested the CFO of Huawei on a U.S. warrant last month, and China retaliated by detaining two Canadians. But while the group of senators and MPs have indicated they have no intention of bringing up their cases, the employer of one of the two men, Michael Kovrig, is urging lawmakers to reconsider. Says Robert Malley, president and chief executive officer of the International Crisis Group: “I think it’s important that lawmakers at the highest level raise this case whenever they can with the Chinese authorities.” (Globe and Mail)

Ottawa has confirmed that at least 13 Canadians have been detained since Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou’s arrest, though most have been freed. Exactly what the remaining two, Kovrig and Michael Spavor are accused of, however, remains murky, despite the assertion by Chinese prosecutors that “there is no doubt” about their guilt.

“The Kovrig-Spavor detentions are pretty much the textbook definition of arbitrary. It is still not clear what they are being charged with. There is no specific evidence or description of any evidence of whatever they allegedly did,” Julian Ku, a professor at Hofstra University School of Law who studies China’s legal system, told CBC News. “Those of us observing from the outside should not give the Chinese government’s statements on this issue any credibility whatsoever; indeed, doing so would undermine our own notions of how fairness and rule of law should work.” (CBC News)

The idea that Canada should have avoided this mess in the first place by willfully ignoring the U.S. arrest warrant—as several former top Canadian officials have ingloriously suggested—says a lot about how Ottawa used to operate, writes Paul Wells.

What’s especially striking about [former trade negotiator Gordon] Ritchie’s advice—just snitch, it simplifies everything—is that I’m hearing it a lot around town lately. [John] Manley, Jean Chrétien’s former foreign minister, offered the same advice, as Ritchie points out. So, in informal conversations, have two very senior former staffers in Chrétien’s government. Both took Ritchie’s tone, which isn’t “Hear me out, I know this is a bit unorthodox,” but rather “What kind of a fool would honour an extradition treaty with our closest ally?

I’m left wondering what sort of town Ottawa used to be, if so many of its old hands are sure that carrying out Canada’s treaty obligations constitutes “breathtaking ineptitude.” I’m tempted to say it was a town that was basically run by people friendly to Power Corporation for the purposes of safeguarding its business investments in China. And that leads me to offer a hypothesis to explain the foreign-policy differences between the Harper and Trudeau governments—yes, the two of them together—and their predecessors. (Maclean’s)

It’s said the enemy of your enemy is your friend, but there are now two Western-alienation-fuelled convoys planning to descend on Ottawa to send a message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and organizers of the original pro-pipeline convoy aren’t happy. (Calgary Herald)

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh gathered his supporters on Sunday to mark the start of his byelection campaign in Burnaby South. Only one thing was missing: the byelection. Trudeau once again declined to set a date for the vote, leaving Singh fuming: “This is a decision that impacts the bedrock of our democracy … I want to send a message today, one clear message to Mr. Trudeau: Stop the delays. Call this byelection here in Burnaby South and the other byelections across this country now.” (StarMetro Vancouver)

When that byelection eventually does happen, Singh will face off against Liberal nominee Karen Wang, a daycare operator from Burnaby. Wang doesn’t have Singh’s  name recognition, but don’t count her out, say observers. (Maclean’s)

South of the border the President is facing a new reality. The Democratic women of the 116th Congress are already a force to be reckoned with, writes Allen Abel. But are they a force to banish Trump? (Maclean’s)

As Elizabeth Warren launches her exploratory run for U.S. president, she’s already facing the same gender bias seen in the 2016 U.S. election campaign, writes Anne Kingston. (Maclean’s)


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Future of Ottawa: Chefs with Kathryn Ferries





This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Kat Ferries on the future of chefs, or read posts from Quinn Taylor on bars or Justin Champagne on fine dining.

Kat Ferries is Sous-Chef at Stofa Restaurant and a 2020 San Pellegrino North American Young Chef Social Responsibility Award Winner.

Apt613: What is the current landscape for chefs in Ottawa?

Kat Ferries: There is such great talent in Ottawa with so many chefs either being from here originally or have returned after traveling and have since opened some incredible restaurants. Many chefs have focused menus that really highlight their strengths, their heritage, and their passion for food. Dominique Dufour of Gray Jay, Marc Doiron of Town/Citizen, Steve Wall of Supply & Demand, Daniela Manrique Lucca of The Soca Kitchen, and so many more are all cooking up beautiful and delicious food in this city.

If you care to make a prediction… Where is the food industry in Ottawa going for chefs in 2021?

The industry right now is, unfortunately, in a really tough spot. The pandemic has been so devastating on mental, physical and emotional levels for so many and I know that many of my friends in this industry are burning out. There are many discussions happening on work/life balance and what is healthy for everyone. Some may never return to the long, hard hours we are expected to put in day after day and instead opt for a more flexible schedule or hire more staff to lighten the load on everyone, with some even leaving the industry indefinitely. Some may throw themselves back into this industry 10x as hard and create some of the best restaurants and concepts we’ve yet to see. I think all that will happen after the pandemic though.

For this year, it’s mostly about survival and finding happiness in creating what we can in the spaces we have while following all the laws and guidelines from public health officials. I think we will see more chefs creating experiences for guests that we otherwise wouldn’t have: think pop-ups, virtual dinner clubs, cocktail seminars, collabs, etc.

Where in your wildest dreams could the Ottawa culinary community grow in your lifetime?

I would love to see the Ottawa community support more small, local restaurants so our streets are bustling late into the nights like they are in Montreal, New York, or Europe. Having a local restaurant to frequent should be so much more commonplace, where you can enjoy a night out more often than just Friday or Saturday night. I would also love to see many more of our local chefs highlighted for the amazing food they create!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

Turning all our restaurants into mini-markets for customers to enjoy the food and wine of their favourite places at home. We have bottle shops for all your wine, beer and cocktail needs as well as menus that reflect what each restaurant does best. Some have even pivoted to a point where they are 100% a store and have paused any type of “service-style” dining.

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Future of Ottawa: Fine Dining with Justin Champagne





This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Justin Champagne on the future of fine dining, or read posts from Kathryn Ferries on chefs or Quinn Taylor on bars.

Justin Champagne went to culinary school at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. He got his start in fine dining restaurants at C Restaurant under Chef Robert Clark, then at Hawksworth Restaurant under Chef Eligh. He staged at three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn under Chef Dominque Crenn before moving to Ottawa and spending five years at Atelier, working his way up to Sous-Chef. He’s now the Head Chef of Bar Lupulus.

Apt613: What is the current landscape of fine dining restaurants in Ottawa?

Justin Champagne: Ottawa punches well above its weight class when it comes to quality restaurants in general. Fine dining is no exception to that—we have some amazing chefs here that are doing really great things. We also have some phenomenal sommeliers in town that are a huge factor when it comes to a guest’s experience in a fine dining restaurant. While there are some fantastic fine dining restaurants in town I do believe there’s room for more, and definitely room for more creativity and unique styles of cooking! I think we’ll see more small fine dining restaurants opening up, “micro-restaurants” where there’s maybe 20 seats. This will be over the next few weeks as the industry did take a big hit financially with COVID-19, but we still have a lot of great young chefs who have the fire inside of them to open their own location!

If you care to make a prediction… Where is fine dining going in Ottawa in 2021?

I’m not sure it’ll be 2021 or 2022 with the way the vaccine rollout and stay-at-home order is going, but I do expect there to be a wave of people looking to go out to fine dining restaurants. We’ve been cooped up cooking for ourselves or ordering takeout for over a year now. People are getting antsy and ready to go out and have fantastic meals again with exceptional wine and not have to worry about doing all the dishes afterwards!

Where in your wildest dreams could fine dining go in Ottawa in your lifetime?

That’s the fun part about “fine dining,” it can go anywhere and it can mean many things. Fine dining is about amazing service and well thought out, unique food that the kitchen spent hours fussing over, being meticulous in execution. Outside of that, you can have a lot of fun and be creative in different ways. My wildest dream I guess is that fine dinning restaurants begin to thrive and are able to charge without backlash the kind of prices that they need to charge in order to keep the lights on and pay their staff a proper living wage!!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

I’m not sure if I would really say there’s been a best “innovation” in my industry during the pandemic, but I will say that seeing the “adaptability” by all the restaurants in Ottawa has been incredibly inspiring. Ottawa’s food scene has always been a tight-knit community, “everyone helping everyone” kind of mentality. And this pandemic has really helped show that—restaurants helping restaurants through all of this!

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Ottawa’s Giant Tiger chain celebrating 60 years in business





OTTAWA — An Ottawa staple, along with what might be the most famous cat in Canada, are celebrating a milestone Monday.

Giant Tiger is 60 years old.

“It all started with a very simple idea,” says Alison Scarlett, associate VP of communications at Giant Tiger. “Help Canadians save money every single day. Bring them products that they want and need. When you focus on those core principals, it really is quite simple to succeed.”

In 1961, Gordon Reid opened the first Giant Tiger in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. The company now has more than 260 locations across Canada and employs roughly 10,000 people.

“If you were at our store on opening day 60 years ago, the in store experience would be a little bit different from your local Giant Tiger store today. So that’s changed. A lot of our products and offerings have changed or expanded as Canadian consumers wants and needs have changed or expanded,” says Scarlett.

The homegrown department store continues to be a favourite for many shoppers looking to for the best deals on everyday products.

Helen Binda has been shopping here for decades.

“Many years. I can’t remember when. I’ve always loved Giant Tiger. It’s always been a good store for me.”

“I think its amazing and I think that we need more department stores,” says shopper Fay Ball. “And if it’s Canadian, all the better.”

The Canadian-owned family discount store carries everything from clothing to groceries, as well as everyday household needs. They’ve also expanded their online store and like most retailers provide curbside pickup during the pandemic.

“Doing what is right for our customers, associates, and communities. That has enabled us to be so successful for all of these years,” says Scarlett.

To celebrate, Giant Tiger is hosting a virtual birthday party at 7 p.m. Monday with live musical performances from some iconic Canadian artists.

You can visit their Facebook page to tune in. 

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