Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
Smith under renewed fire for conversations with prosecutors
Premier Danielle Smith is under renewed scrutiny for conversations held with Crown prosecutors. This comes after the leak of a video recorded phone call with former Alberta Independence Party leader Artur Pawlowski. The video shows Smith speaking directly to Pawlowski and promising him she would ask prosecutors about the likelihood of conviction on his COVID-19 violation charges and similar public health-related charges. She is quoted saying she asked prosecutors “almost weekly” about the potential outcomes of these cases and that she communicated directly with the Deputy Attorney General to express her dissatisfaction with how the prosecutions were being handled.
The video has been highlighted widely by the NDP, who have reignited calls for an independent investigation into the matter. It was also posted on Pawlowski’s personal YouTube channel. Prior to the release of the video and in anticipation of it, Premier Smith tweeted a lengthy statement maintaining her innocence and calling the video and accompanying article “defamatory.”
Newfoundland and Labrador announced it has received bids from 19 companies for Crown land for wind-hydrogen development. Bids will now be subject to a phase one review to determine proponents’ experience, and financial ability to proceed to phase two in May.
Newfoundland and Labrador tabled Budget 2023: Your Health. Our Priority, which forecasts a balanced budget by 2024-2025, two years ahead of schedule. Of note, the budget included a $3.9 billion investment in healthcare, a $1.4 billion investment in provincial highways over the next five years, no new taxes or fee increases, and targeted measures to address the high cost of living.
Horgan Joins Board of Coal Company
Former British Columbia Premier John Horgan is taking a job in the coal industry, joining the board of Elk Valley Resources, an enterprise that is in the process of being spun off from Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. Elk Valley produces coal used to make steel.
Horgan said he expects a “knee jerk reaction” from environmentalists and NDP members but isn’t worried about the response. “I’ve got other things that I am going to be working on that may be more to the taste of those who would kick up some dust… I don’t have a lot of time any more, none in fact, for public comment on my world view, or what I am doing with my time.”
As anticipated, the new role generated a lot of negative reaction on social mediaover the weekend from environmental activists. But for those who know Horgan well, the new role shouldn’t come as a great surprise because he has always been interested in natural resources, going back to his role in government in the 1990s and his role as the long-time Energy Critic for the BC NDP.
Horgan said that he will be focused on making sure Elk Valley Resources is meeting its obligations to workers, to First Nations, to the environment and to its shareholders.Ontario
The Ontario government will increase the minimum wage for labourers by 6.8 per cent October 1, 2023. The new minimum wage will be set at $16.55 an hour – representing a $2,200 pay increase for those working 40 hours per week.
The province is investing $25 million over three years to double the number of skilled immigrants in Ontario. The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program allows the province to nominate individuals for permanent residence who have the skills and experience to contribute to Ontario’s economy in industries like the skilled trades and health care.
Ottawa stalls on measures to combat foreign interference
The Canadian government has only acted on one of four measures presented to cabinet last summer aimed at safeguarding Canadian democracy from foreign interference instigated by hostile states, including China. Sources say these include changing the Criminal Code to make foreign interference an offence, modernizing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to allow the spy agency to share more information on foreign-interference activities, and revising the Security of Information Act. Although the government announced last month that it will hold public consultations to set up a foreign-agent registry, it has faced criticism over its handling of Chinese interference. The government sources were unable to provide details of what exactly is being proposed to the Security of Information Act. Critics point out that a foreign-agent registry and criminalizing foreign interference would be effective tools in curbing clandestine efforts by China and other hostile states to interference in elections through social disinformation campaigns or illegal funding and support of favoured candidates.
Toronto City Council officially declared the Mayor’s seat vacant and passed the bylaw formally launching the process for the mayoral by-election. As previously announced, Toronto’s City Clerk John D. Elvidge has set the byelection for Monday, June 26. Qualified candidates can file nomination for the mayoral byelection from April 3 until 2 p.m. on May 12. Those who plan to spend money to promote, support or oppose a candidate in the byelection must register as third-party advertisers between April 3 and June 23.