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Thoughts on Liberal-NDP deal, Trudeau in Brussels: In The News for March 23

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 23 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 23 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Liberal and New Democrat MPs will get the chance this morning to further discuss where their parties are headed now that their new deal is out in the open.

The parties are sitting down for their own regularly-scheduled caucus meetings for the first time since news of the confidence and supply agreement broke late Monday. 

One political scientist said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh should expect questions about why the deal was necessary at all. 

"They don't have any more power by this at all," said Lori Turnbull, a professor of political science at Dalhousie University. 

The deal says NDP MPs will side with the Liberals on key votes until 2025 — meaning they won’t bring down the government over the coming budget, for example, which is expected to be released in the next few weeks. 

In return, the Liberals have promised movement on some key NDP issues. But the document released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday is short on details about how that will happen. 

Turnbull said while deals like this tend to be uncommon, it's fully within normal parliamentary practice for parties to work together, especially in a minority situation. Where it could become problematic, is if the Liberals use it to truncate debate on important bills. It's too early to know whether that's where things are headed.

"There's an obvious incentive here to take everything and jam it into an omnibus budget bill so that everything has to go through," she said. 

"There is a loss for accountability if that's where this ends up."


Also this ...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicks off a whirlwind trip with an address to the European Parliament in Brussels later today on his second visit to the continent this month.

Trudeau will stress the importance of countries on both sides of the Atlantic working together to defend democracy in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

It will be Trudeau's second speech to European parliamentarians, following a 2017 address that was meant as a shot in the arm for a continent reeling from Britain's vote a year earlier to leave the European Union amid the election of Donald Trump in the United States.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Europe can expect to hear a similar message in a new context: Canada's solidarity with the people of Ukraine as Europe confronts its biggest security threat since the Second World War.

Two weeks ago, Trudeau developed a similar theme in a speech to an international audience at the Munich Security Conference where he called for a recommitment to democracy in the face of rising authoritarianism.

The speech was a sequel of sorts to the 2017 address the prime minister gave in Hamburg, Germany, that outlined his foreign-policy vision and his often professed faith in the rules-based international order.

Trudeau will join other NATO leaders on Thursday to co-ordinate the military alliance's response to Russia's attack on Ukraine and will meet with fellow G7 leaders before returning to Canada on Friday.

Trudeau toured Europe two weeks ago, where he held meetings in London, Berlin, Warsaw and Poland, and visited Canadian troops leading a NATO multinational battlegroup in Latvia.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

ARABI, La. _ A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, flipping cars, ripping roofs off homes and killing at least one person in a region that was pummeled by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.

Parts of St. Bernard Parish, which borders New Orleans to the southeast, appeared to take the brunt of the weather's fury, and that is where the fatality occurred. St. Bernard Parish officials gave no details on how the person died; they said multiple other people were injured.

Rescue workers were searching through the suburban parish for more people in need of assistance, according to Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann. St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis said the tornado caused widespread damage throughout the parish.

Other tornadoes spawned by the same storm system had hit parts of Texas and Oklahoma, killing one person Monday and causing multiple injuries and widespread damage.

The tornado appeared to start in a suburb and then move east across the Mississippi River into the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans and parts of St. Bernard Parish _ both of which were badly damaged by Katrina _ before moving northeast.

In Arabi, there was a strong smell of natural gas in the air as residents and rescue personnel stood in the street and surveyed the damage. Some houses were destroyed while pieces of debris hung from electrical wires and trees. An aluminum fishing boat in front of one house was bent into the shape of a C with the motor across the street. Power poles were down and leaning over, forcing emergency workers to walk slowly through darkened neighbourhoods checking for damage.

While people in the metropolitan region are used to dealing with severe weather such as hurricanes or heavy rains, it's rare that a tornado moves through the city. A 2017 tornado caused widespread damage when it touched down in the eastern part of the city.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KYIV, Ukraine _ Ukrainian leaders accused Russia of seizing15 rescue workers and drivers from a humanitarian convoy trying to get desperately needed food and other supplies into the bloodied port city of Mariupol, which also came under naval attack after weeks of air and land strikes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy estimated that 100,000 civilians remained in Mariupol, scene of some of the war's worst devastation, as Russia presses a nearly month-old offensive by bombarding cities and towns. Those made it out described a shattered city.

"They bombed us for the past 20 days,'' said 39-year-old Viktoria Totsen, who fled into Poland. "During the last five days, the planes were flying over us every five seconds and dropped bombs everywhere _ on residential buildings, kindergartens, art schools, everywhere.''

Zelenskyy, speaking late Tuesday in his nightly video address to his nation, accused Russian forces of blocking the aid convoy despite agreeing to the route ahead of time.

"We are trying to organize stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents, but almost all of our attempts, unfortunately, are foiled by the Russian occupiers, by shelling or deliberate terror,'' Zelenskyy said.

The Red Cross confirmed a humanitarian aid convoy trying to reach the city had not been able to enter.


On this day in 1944 ...

Montreal Canadiens forward Maurice Richard scored all five goals in a 5-1 Stanley Cup playoff win over Toronto.


Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ Federal procurement officials won't say when Canada will take the next step in the years-long process of selecting a new fighter jet.

The federal government announced in December that it had narrowed its search for a replacement of the military's aging CF-18s to Lockheed Martin's F-35 and the Swedish Saab Gripen.

The government said at that time a decision would be made in short order on whether the government would engage in another round of negotiations with the two companies, or select a winner outright.

Yet nearly four months later, no announcement has been forthcoming, leading to concerns about even further delays in replacing Canada's CF-18s at a time when Russia's invasion of Ukraine has underscored the importance of modern military capabilities.

Public Services and Procurement Canada assistant deputy minister Simon Page said Tuesday the process is "very active, very live'' as he was grilled by a parliamentary committee over the lack of a decision.

It also wasn't immediately clear who will ultimately decide whether to move ahead with another round of negotiations with Lockheed Martin and Saab, or the selection of a final winner.

The federal government is planning to buy 88 new fighter jets at an estimated cost of up to $19 billion, with delivery of the first plane expected no earlier than 2025. The final aircraft was supposed to be delivered in 2032, but that has since moved to 2033.

The Boeing Super Hornet was also in the running, but was kicked out of the competition in December.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2022.

The Canadian Press