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Tribalism is tearing Canada apart

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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.

This month Maclean’s explores the growing anger and closed-minded partisanship that is driving the country apart. The print edition features a tumble cover, asking the question “What’s wrong with the left?” on one side, and “What’s wrong with the right?” on the other. Our editorial explains why we’re doing this now. (Maclean’s)

One in four Canadians actually hate their political opponents. That’s the dark finding of an exclusive poll Abacus Data conducted for Maclean’s. (Maclean’s)

And one thing becomes apparent from the Abacus poll results: polarized voters really, really hate Trudeau. (Maclean’s)

So what’s wrong with the right? Shannon Proudfoot examines the “with us or against us” attitude that has come to define Conservative politics in Canada:

The metrics by which Canadian Conservatives judge who is with them or against them have fundamentally shifted. University of Saskatchewan political studies professor David McGrane, drawing on findings of a paper he co-authored called “Moving beyond the urban/rural cleavage,” says the action on the right is on identity issues like immigration, gay rights and environmentalism rather than traditional small-government, low-tax policies. “For Conservative voters, suburbanites and people who live in more rural areas, this idea of being socially progressive and economically conservative doesn’t hold up,” he says. “You’re probably more economically progressive and socially conservative.” (Maclean’s)

Then what’s wrong with the left? John Geddes looks at how the Liberals are losing their hold on the centre, and are increasingly willing to alienate and inflame to maintain support:

Or consider another telling episode: the Liberals’ controversial move last year to require groups applying for federal Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) funding to attest that they “respect” certain rights, including “reproductive rights. Anti-abortion faith groups, including the major Catholic and evangelical lobbies, howled over being asked by the government about what they do or don’t respect, just to qualify for money to pay students to, say, work at summer camps. … After months of acrimony, the Liberals staged a strategic retreat, adjusting the application for next summer’s CSJ grants to no longer ask about any group’s core convictions, while still making hiring youth for anti-abortion campaigns ineligible. But the summer jobs uproar confirmed the suspicions of some religious groups that the Liberals just don’t respect them at a deep level.

The CSJ issue had real policy implications. But sometimes Canada’s left-right schism—playing out mostly between Liberals and Conservatives just now, with the NDP struggling to elbow its way into the argument—reveals itself with Liberal messages that simply annoy Canadians who don’t self-identify as “progressive.” (Maclean’s)

For more from this special report—including Paul Wells on the history of divisive politics in Canada, Jen Gerson on how to harness the volatility of the populist Right and Andray Domise on the problem with a political left that’s always trying to out-woke itselfgo here.

In other Canadian political news…

Scott Brison is leaving federal politics, and that’s set the stage for a cabinet shuffle on Monday. The Nova Scotia MP, who serves as president of the Treasury Board of Canada, said he made the decision to “put my family first.” It’s not a stretch to wonder if the daily barrage of questions he’s faced over his role in the case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who’s accused of leaking cabinet secrets, also fed into his departure. But such conjecture would be “inappropriate,” said Trudeau, while dodging questions about the Brison-Norman connection. (CBC News, Twitter)

Sen. Mike Duffy isn’t giving up his bid to extract $7.8 million in damages from the Senate, the RCMP and the Federal Government over his suspension from the Red Chamber in 2013. Duffy filed an appeal Thursday over an Ontario Court ruling last month that determined the Senate is protected from his lawsuit by parliamentary privilege. Duffy sued the Senate after he was acquitted in 2016 on 31 charges related to his expense claims. (Canadian Press)

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

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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

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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

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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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