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Someone get Jagmeet Singh a newspaper subscription

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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.

Canada’s economy may be growing, but more than 56 per cent of Canadians feel like the country is in a recession—up 21 points from a year earlier. That’s the finding of a new survey by Pollara Strategic Insights, and the rising sense of economic anxiety could be a big factor in the federal election this fall if it persists:

Pollara’s finding that Canadians are feeling uneasy about the country’s prospects for prosperity comes just after Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz decided to hold interest rates steady, rather than continuing to gradually raise them. The central bank’s main reason for keeping its benchmark rate at 1.75 per cent earlier this week is that the recent drop in oil prices has taken a toll on the economy.

But Poloz suggested that by this coming spring the economy might be strong enough again to absorb higher rates. “As the snow melts, we’ll have a clearer view that the economy is back on track and then likely to grow above or around two per cent after that,” he told reporters.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have to be hoping Poloz is right that the economy might feel like it has more traction by spring or summer—with a federal election campaign set for the fall. “This will undoubtedly influence what the various leaders talk about in the campaign,” Pollara’s Worden said. (Maclean’s)

We’ll find out this morning who’ll be part of Trudeau’s cabinet in the lead-up to the 2019 campaign (barring another shuffle—the last one was only six months ago).  Today’s cabinet shakeup follows the departure of Scott Brison, who resigned as Treasury Board president last week.

It’s likely that Trudeau will keep the changes to a minimum, though given the Treasury Board slot requires a senior minister for the role, that means another senior opening will need to be filled, and so on. Top among the names circulating to fill Brison’s shoes: Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, though Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough also got namechecked. (CBC NewsCanadian Press)

On the other hand, rather than just tweak his cabinet, Trudeau may decide to embark on a major renovation to address key vulnerabilities the government faces  ahead of the election. If that’s the case, CBC poll analyst Eric Grenier looks at some of the Trudeau government’s weakest links, starting with deficit-challenged Finance Minister Bill Morneau: “If one measure of a subordinate’s performance is whether he or she makes the boss look good, Morneau does not shine.” (CBC News)

ICYMI, a roundup from the weekend political shows…

  • CTV Question Period’s Evan Solomon had what seemed like a straightforward question for NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, related to Canada’s ongoing dispute with China: what did Singh make of the the headline-grabbing editorial by China’s ambassador to Canada which claimed “white supremacy” was behind the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Singh appeared to have no idea what Solomon was referring to: “Who accused who of white supremacy?” (Twitter)
  • In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the United Kingdom has already begun informal trade talks with Canada that could lead to a trade deal between the two countries within a year. Speaking to CBC’s Chris Hall on The House, the U.K.’s High Commissioner to Canada, Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, sought to ease panicked Canadian businesses that do much of their business with the U.K.:  “I think we’re both acutely aware of the potential negative impact of a cliff edge and nothing being in place to allow that [relationship] to continue.” (CBC News)
  • The head of the Business Council of Canada, Goldy Hyder, said the odds of the Trans Mountain pipeline going ahead in the near future are low, given the tensions in the past week between Indigenous people and police over a gas pipeline in northern B.C.: “If I was a betting man, I’d say not anytime soon and it’s not for the lack of effort,” he told the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson on Global, “I recognize that a government purchased the pipeline, I recognize that the court decision put a bit of a delay in that process. But the question is what happens if what we’re seeing now happened all over again at the TMX site?”

Lastly, continuing a Canadian prime ministerial tradition, Trudeau will make a cartoon cameo appearance on an upcoming episode of Corner Gas – Animated, creator Brent Butt tweeted. Both Paul Martin and Stephen Harper made brief appearances on the original series. (Twitter).

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Future of Ottawa: Chefs with Kathryn Ferries

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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

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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

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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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