Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly Canada-wide newsletter:
Alberta NDP Leadership Contest
Three prominent names in the Alberta NDP have officially entered the leadership race: Kathleen Ganley, Rakhi Pancholi, and Sarah Hoffman.Ganley, elected in 2015, brings experience from her time as Justice Minister and as opposition critic for education and municipal affairs. Pancholi was first elected in 2019, serving as opposition critic for children’s services and education. She has made headlines in the first couple days of her campaign by announcing that she would oppose a consumer carbon tax. Hoffman, first elected in 2015, having served as Deputy Premier and Health Minister in the Notley government since 2019, has served as opposition critic for education and municipal affairs for Edmonton and Calgary. She entered the race on Sunday, also announcing her opposition to the carbon tax on consumers. MLA David Shepherd, who was potentially going to enter the race, has announced he won’t be running due to health reasons. Former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is reportedly still considering a run for the leadership.
PCs and Liberals announce new commitments during their annual general meetings in Halifax
Both the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party and the Nova Scotia Liberal Party held their annual general meetings in Halifax this weekend. At the governing PC Party’s AGM, Premier Tim Houston announced that prospective teachers will soon be able to apply to education programs at universities in Nova Scotia after only two years of undergraduate study, rather than being required to have completed their undergraduate degree. The policy change is meant to help address the shortage of teachers in the province. A health summit held during Saturday’s luncheon also highlighted the numerous measures being taken improve health care and long-term care across the province, including to address emergency room closures. At the NS Liberal AGM, Leader Zach Churchill promised to cut the province’s sales taxfrom 15 to 13 per cent if elected to provide financial relief to working and middle-class Nova Scotians. While the next election is not slated until July 2025, the Liberals are betting pocketbook issues, not the state of health care, will be top of mind for voters.
B.C. wineries working to remove ‘stupid’ ban on direct-to-consumer sales in Alberta
Tony Stewart of Quails’ Gate Winery criticized Alberta’s decision to ban direct-to-consumer sales of B.C. wines as “stupid,” responding to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis commission’s claim that the industry avoids taxes and has concerns about sal. Alberta’s action has been deemed a tax grab, frustrating B.C. wine producers who have previously encountered similar trade barriers, notably during disputes over the Trans Mountain pipeline. John Skinner of Painted Rock Winery expressed a desire for a quick, amicable solution, highlighting the significance of Alberta customers to B.C. wineries and suggesting a willingness to remit taxes on direct sales. The ban is criticized for harming small producers reliant on interprovincial exports, at a time when the B.C. wine industry faces additional challenges from climatic events, with government officials working towards resolving the issue.
Ontario Secures $3.1 Billion Federal Funding for Healthcare Upgrades
Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed an agreement allocating $3.1 billion in federal funding to enhance the province’s healthcare system. The deal includes the creation of new primary health-care teams, an increase in medical education program spots, and upgrades to digital infrastructure for improved health data tracking.
Jagmeet Singh threatens consequences if Liberals miss March 1 pharmacare deadline
During a closed-door meeting, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singhwarned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “repercussions” if the government fails to meet the March 1 deadline for tabling pharmacare legislation. Singh, emphasizing the importance of fulfilling the agreement between the NDP and Liberals, expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s delay in meeting the initial deadline set for passing pharmacare legislation before 2024. Singh also criticized the government’s approach, accusing them of prioritizing pharmaceutical and insurance industry interests over the needs of Canadians.
Toronto city council approves new tax on foreign homebuyers
Toronto City Council convened for a two-day session where they made several key decisions. Notably, they voted 24-1 to implement a 10% tax on Toronto home purchases by non-Canadianindividuals and corporations, starting January 1, 2025. This move aims to safeguard the city’s housing supply and discourage foreign investment. In addition to the new tax, the council unanimously approved changes to how red-light and speed camera tickets are handled, transitioning to an administrative penalty system, and voted to phase out the use of a Scarborough hotel as a homeless shelter by the end of next year.