Evening Brief: Tributes, debates and denials


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The Lead:

We begin on the Hill today, where things were back in full swing as MPs returned from the Easter break. It won’t be a short first day back, as they’re going to spend tonight locked in an emergency debate on Kinder Morgan.

The Commons passed a motion from Conservative natural resources critic Shannon Stubbs to urgently debate the future of the fumbling pipeline project.

“Representatives of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, CEOs of major Canadian banks and investment management portfolios warn this situation is a ‘crisis’, and the impacts extend well beyond the pipeline itself, to confidence in Canada overall,” Stubbs said.

It came on the heels of a tense Question Period, where Conservative, NDP and Bloc Québécois MPs all hammered the government with roughly half an hour of questions on the Kinder Morgan pipeline project. Rachel Gilmore reports.

In Canada:

Still on the Hill, earlier today Justin Trudeau’s national security advisor denied telling journalists that rogue elements in the government of India tried to embarrass the prime minister during a controversial visit by the prime minister in February. Daniel Jean told a Commons committee he briefed reporters over the appearance of a Canadian Sikh once involved in an assassination attempt against an Indian minister visiting Canada in the 1980s. But he said any suggestion the appearance of Jaspal Atwal in India during the visit was orchestrated by Indian government officials did not come from him. ‘’We were trying to clarify false allegations,’’ Jean said. Tim Naumetz reports.

Katie Simpson: Twitter

In the House, MPs donned hockey sweaters, bowed their heads in a moment of silence and spoke of their collective grief today as they gathered for the first time since the deadly bus crash 10 days ago that decimated the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. As the Canadian Press reports, outside the Commons, a lone hockey stick leaned against the entrance. Inside, one after the next, politicians clad in hockey sweaters representing myriad teams and leagues delivered teary-eyed tributes ahead of the daily question period — the first since the April 6 crash that claimed 16 lives aboard the team bus. Ralph Goodale rose to deliver this extended tribute.

Across the pond, Trudeau defended Canada’s decision to take part in the UN peacekeeping effort in Mali today. He made the remarks alongside Emmanuel Macron following a meeting in Paris with the French president, who has made the African country a priority for his government. Trudeau says Canada’s new approach to peacekeeping — focusing on promoting roles for women, dealing with child soldiers, focusing on training and more targeted deployment of resources — suits the modern era, which is marked less by well-defined, international conflicts and more by unpredictable perils posed by terrorism and outside actors. The Canadian Press reports.

Here at home, Canada is designating Cuba an “unaccompanied post” — meaning diplomats’ families will not be allowed to live with them in the country during a posting — following new information about mysterious injuries suffered by Canadian and U.S. diplomats and their families. Canadian staff in Havana were informed of the decision Monday morning. Ten Canadians experienced symptoms — including headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty concentrating — according to government officials who briefed reporters in Ottawa today. CBC News is reporting that a new report by a Canadian medical specialist raises concerns that some of the Canadians have experienced a “new type of possible acquired brain injury.” A senior government official said that this injury is new to science.

In Quebec, nothing big happening on the legal front, just the provincial law society calling on the Quebec Superior Court to declare all of the province’s laws, regulations and decrees unconstitutional. The Quebec Bar Association, joined by the Montreal bar, is arguing in a 21-page brief that the Quebec National Assembly does not respect the requirement in the Canadian Constitution that all Quebec laws must be adopted in French and English. The bar filed its demand for a declaratory judgment in court last Friday, naming assembly Speaker Jacques Chagnon and Attorney General Stéphanie Vallée as defendants. On Monday, Vallée said the government would contest the bar’s position. Kevin Dougherty has that story.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced new changes aimed at welcoming immigrants with disabilities to Canada on Monday but provided little details on how the federal government planned on funding the initiative. The changes include increasing the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility to three times the previous level — Hussen confirmed that new number would land around $19,000 — and amending the definition of social services by removing references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services and personal support services. Janice Dickson reports.

In Ontario, Progressive Conservatives say they would eliminate provincial income tax for anyone earning the minimum wage if elected this June. Tory Leader Doug Ford, who is unveiling key planks of his platform one by one, says he would bring in a tax credit by next January. He says the program would cost the province roughly $500 million a year. As premier, he would only have jurisdiction over the provincial income tax.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Meanwhile, the province’s NDP want to hike taxes on the rich and large corporations in order to spend big on hospitals, child care and tuition. In a dramatic change from the 2014 election campaign where the party campaigned to the centre of the political spectrum with poor results — the NDP will campaign in the same territory as the Liberals. More from Marieke Walsh.

Still with the provincial election: The Tories are calling on Elections Ontario to investigate the Liberal government’s pre-election announcements on the taxpayer’s dime. In a letter sent today to the province’s elections watchdog the PCs say the Liberals are skirting the laws by using government funds for partisan purposes. Former MPP and PC campaign advisor Frank Klees told reporters the recent announcements are “taxpayer funded pulpits to advance their partisan agenda.”

Costa Rica’s new president shares something in common with Trudeau: a mutual love of the Canadian rock band Rush. Part of a congratulatory call between the prime minister and Costa Rica’s President-Elect Carlos Alvarado Quesada from last week was, in a diplomatic rarity, recorded and made accessible online – offering a brief glimpse into a part of diplomacy usually hidden behind curtains. Kyle Duggan has the deets.

Representatives from Canada’s trucking industry warned Canadian senators today that any increase in border congestion from pot legalization could slow down cross-border trade and hit the economy – even if that’s just from slower passenger lanes at customs. Duggan reports on that story too.

Under a wave of mounting public pressure for more transparency, the National Gallery of Canada has revealed, after gaining permission, the name of the mystery painting it is seeking to purchase with money raised by the sale of La Tour Eiffel by Marc Chagall. As had been widely speculated, the work in question is Saint Jerome Hears the Trumpet of the Last Judgment painted in 1779 by Jacques-Louis David. It had been on view in the National Gallery from 1995 to 2013, until the Musée de la civilisation in Québec City requested its return, the Gallery’s director Marc Mayer said in an unusual media release on Monday. Peter Robb reports.

The Canadian Surrogacy Community wants Ottawa to decriminalize the act of paying surrogates to carry other people’s babies – and they recently hired a lobbyist to help them achieve that goal. That and more in the latest lobby wrap.

In The Sprout: China, Japan agree that a trade war would be bad

In The Drilldown: Feds to take financial, legislative steps on Trans Mountain

In Other Headlines:

Documents show feds saw few hurdles to overhaul under-used victims fund (CP)

Internationally:

Little surprise in the wake of James Comey’s explosive interview with ABC News that aired last night and declared President Donald Trump morally unfit to be president that today the White House came at him, guns blazing. Trump took to Twitter to accuse the former FBI director of being “disgruntled” and of having “committed many crimes.”

It rained down on Comey from both sides today, with Hillary Clinton’s longtime spokesman sending out a series of tweets slamming him for “profiting” off his tangled relationship with investigations into Clinton and President Donald Trump.

Elsewhere, how’s this for a tangled web weaved? It turns out an unnamed client of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, is none other than Fox News host Sean Hannity. That was revealed this afternoon after U.S. District Court judge Kimba Wood ordered Cohen’s lawyer to disclose the name in a court hearing. A lawyer for Cohen said that Cohen performed secret legal work for Hannity.

The order came as Wood weighs an emergency action by Cohen’s attorneys to stop prosecutors from reviewing more than a dozen electronic devices and documents seized during a FBI raid of Cohen’s office, home and hotel room last week. As it turns out, Trump wants to review some materials seized from Cohen in FBI raid.

“We have been friends a long time. I have sought legal advice from Michael,” Hannity told a Wall Street Journal reporter. You think it might have occurred to him to mention that, given how long he’s been talking about Cohen on air? More from CNBC.

Nikki Haley’s probably not terrible pleased after the Trump administration walked back on her announcement that the U.S. Treasury plans to issue additional sanctions on Russia following the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria last week. On Sunday the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said sanctions against Moscow would be coming down today. But by today, it appeared a flip flop was underway.

Russia has denied interfering with evidence at the site of the suspected Syrian chemical attack, which led to Western air strikes on Saturday. In an interview for BBC’s Hardtalk, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site.” The US raised concern at the international chemical weapons agency. International inspectors will be allowed to visit the site on Wednesday, the Russian military has announced. More from the BBC.

Still with Russia, a journalist who had reported recently on clandestine Russian paramilitary groups in Syria died yesterday after falling from the balcony of his fifth-floor apartment in Yekaterinburg. The journalist, Maksim Borodin, 32, was hospitalized in a coma after he was found sprawled out below his balcony in the city’s Kirov district on Thursday, according to New Day, the local news agency where he had worked. On Sunday morning, he died. The New York Times reports.

In Featured Opinion:

: Riding the tide of political will to maximize biodiversity research investment.

By : Why China should have chosen honesty in its U.S. trade war

The Kicker:

Finally today, this is bound to be a hot ticket. On the heels of his first interview since being fired as FBI director, there was word last night that James Comey is coming to Canada to speak at the Canada 2020 conference in June.

Have a good night.

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