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Finance Minister Bill Morneau has authority to spend nearly unlimited sums of money without parliamentary approval until at least late April, as the government seeks to contain the damage caused by the spreading novel coronavirus. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Senate leaders ready to take another crack at COVID-19 committee 

The expected recall of Parliament will give Senators another chance to strike a committee to monitor the government’s crisis response.

House officers in ‘preliminary discussions’ on Parliament’s return, contingency plans, says NDP whip

News|By Beatrice Paez
Opposition parties need enough lead time to pore over the legislation, to avoid a repeat of the late-night sitting that occurred when they were 'surprised' to learn that the government was seeking unlimited spending powers until December 2021, says Rachel Blaney.

‘Essential’ Hill workers told to bring ID, permission slip in wake of Quebec border crackdown

Quebec authorities have assured the feds that public servants will be able to ‘move freely,’ so they can perform critical federal services, but one law professor says the move could be unconstitutional.

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Trump administration’s demand for 3M to halt shipment of masks will ‘hurt’ Canada, U.S., Trudeau says

News|By Palak Mangat
The government is also spending $100-million to help food banks, which have been hit hard during the pandemic with fewer donations and limited volunteers.

Canada’s top doctor ‘voice of reason’ in face of uncertainty over COVID-19 fallout, say politicos, experts

News|By Beatrice Paez
In a time of great uncertainty and anxiety, Dr. Theresa Tam has emerged as a 'compelling' figure who has an ability to deliver information without dramatizing the stakes. 'She gives us straightforward, evidence-based

Dole out funding for COVID-19 ads soon, say experts, as ethnic media outlets face cash crunch

News|By Palak Mangat
'If they want the ads to be amplified, having community partners of each of those language groups would be useful,' says former MP Olivia Chow.

Ottawa should declare northern flights essential as ‘decimated’ service puts Inuit at risk of losing ‘only link’ to key services, says ITK

The government said it is committed to ‘maintaining a focused, safe and reliable air transport network for these communities.’

Wage subsidies ‘critical,’ a ‘lifeline’ for businesses to survive pandemic, says Chamber of Commerce president

News|By Mike Lapointe
'This subsidy will make a real difference in your lives and help everyone affected bridge to better times,' said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, March 27.

Mental health a ‘missing piece’ in feds’ COVID-19 response, say critics, advocates

NDP MP Don Davies says the situation calls for an ‘extraordinary response’ and supports for mental health, which one advocate says should come ‘imminently.’

Food supply, emergency vehicle repair: keeping Canada-U.S. trade open key to fight against COVID-19, say stakeholders

The 'biggest point of concern right now' is 'making sure that we keep those shipments of fresh vegetables and other commodities rolling in by truck across the border, truck or train,' says John Manley.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has authority to spend nearly unlimited sums of money without parliamentary approval until at least late April, as the government seeks to contain the damage caused by the spreading novel coronavirus. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Senate leaders ready to take another crack at COVID-19 committee 

The expected recall of Parliament will give Senators another chance to strike a committee to monitor the government’s crisis response.

Introduction of electronic, remote voting not called for yet, but should be re-examined by House committee, say some MPs

Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie says she doesn’t think such a reconsideration is warranted yet, but could be if COVID-19 keeps Parliament away into the fall.

Pausing CPC race was the right move, and campaigns should seize the chance to retool

Opinion|By Tim Powers
Hopefully, the pause in the campaign will allow the candidates to come back with a focused pitch, not to just to Conservatives, but to Canadians in the tough new world we find ourselves in.

Trump seems to think prayer rather than personal protective equipment is the answer to COVID-19

Opinion|By Michael Harris
It would be hard to come up with a more surreal or feckless strategy against COVID-19, unless you left everything up to the Christian Right in America.

COVID-19 bailout bill passes after late-night negotiations on new government powers

What was supposed to be a quick, co-operative sitting of the House turned into a negotiating stalemate for hours on Nov. 24 and Nov. 25.

Senate, Governor General approve COVID-19 bailout bill

Senators took about two hours to consider the bill, half of which was spent questioning Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Auditor general says ‘too early’ to tell if request for audit on COVID-19 special warrants demands funding boost

News|By Beatrice Paez
'Given the scope and scale of this crisis, it’s incumbent on the government to provide them with supplementary budgeting to adequately provide the support they’re looking for,' says NDP MP Matthew Green.

COVID-19 illuminating challenges of democratic governance

Opinion|By Pascal Desbiens
Crises create governance distortions that affect the allocation of resources, the setting of priorities, and the interpretation of laws that restrict or guide the behaviour of citizens.

Does the coronavirus contain a silver lining?

Opinion|By Joseph Ingram
If this crisis is to produce a positive turning point and not an apocalypse, governments must quickly reverse course.

Nine things that have changed because of the plague

Opinion|By Gwynne Dyer
Or at least they should. COVID-19 is certainly not going to change the world forever, but it is going to change quite a few things, in some cases for a long time.

Federal lobbyists registry sees crop of new COVID-19 filings, as groups grapple with pandemic

At least 35 organizations are either lobbying federal officials about their needs or looking to assist the government in its response to the escalating coronavirus crisis.

COVID-19 is forcing lobbyists to significantly shift their strategies

'You can work with a client to figure out if there is a way in which the client can be helpful, genuinely helpful, and not superficially helpful,' says Joe Jordan of Bluesky Strategy Group.

Lobby with health, economic proposals in mind amid COVID-19 outbreak, say consultants

Governments of all levels will be finding ways to mitigate the economic shock resulting from the pandemic, and will be looking for proposals for 'shovels in the ground' spending related to job creation.

Ralph Goodale tapped as special adviser on Flight 752 downing

Feature|By Neil Moss
Plus, the Jaimie Anderson Parliamentary Internship Program has been put on pause due to COVID-19, and some Conservative MPs are vowing to donate their annual pay hike.

Diving into the 76-member Conservative OLO team: Part One

Feature|By Laura Ryckewaert
Hill Climbers has tallied a total of 19 staff departures from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s team since the 2019 election, and 14 recent hires.

Who’s who in Economic Development Minister Joly’s 20-member office

Feature|By Laura Ryckewaert
New additions to the minister’s team include senior policy advisers Kelsey MacDonald and Richard Léger.

Catherine McKenna offers virtual civics lesson for furloughed students

Feature|By Neil Moss
Plus, Kirsten Hillman is appointed Canada's next ambassador to the U.S., and one of the last remaining cats from the former Hill feline sanctuary dies.

‘Bold decisions’ are needed if the CBC is to survive

Opinion|By Alex Marland
Reading a book is a good way to pass the time during the conronavirus pandemic. It’s excellent escapism from the anxieties of life as we know it fall apart.

Trudeau calls on some celebrity friends to urge Canadians to stay inside

Feature|By Neil Moss
Plus, the Green Party has adjusted its leadership contest barriers amid COVID-19, and the Peace Tower bells will be silenced.

How to save the Canadian media industry from mass extinction

Opinion|By Daniel Bernhard
Our challenge is clear: find a way to pump a lot of money into the Canadian media sector, while avoiding the ethical problems inherent to government picking and choosing which media outlets get saved.

Here’s how AI can help, and is already helping, Canada fight COVID-19

The government has already announced funding for artificial intelligence researchers and developers to help fight COVID-19. Experts say the technology could do more, if done right.

Start date for new North American trade pact could be pushed back amid coronavirus pandemic, says NAFTA Council member

News|By Neil Moss
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress on March 17 that the new NAFTA will go into effect on June 1.

Release low-risk prisoners to prevent COVID-19 outbreak, say advocates calling for ‘immediate action’ 

It’s not a matter of ‘if, but when' COVID-19 will reach Canada's prisons, says Sen. Kim Pate, who, like NDP MP Jack Harris, sees it as a matter of ‘life and death,’ and is demanding ‘immediate’ action.

A health crisis is no time to double down on political peeves

Opinion|By Scott Taylor
One has to hope that our international leaders will quickly realize that you cannot close the borders to a virus that is already expanded to all corners of the world.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured Jan. 17, 2020, with David Morrison, his defence policy adviser, shortly before holding a press conference and an update at the National Press Theatre on the downing of Flight PS752 tragedy. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Minority rules: 2020’s most influential figures to watch in federal politics

Feature
This year’s Top 100 Most Influential List reflects the power brokers who will help shape the terms of how this minority Parliament will shake out.
The return of Parliament is more than an event in the news cycle. It’s a time to look ahead, and to thoughtfully consider the important role each branch of government will play in that future, and in the life of each individual Canadian.
Opinion|David Coletto
Our worldview, our desire for control, and the way we get information are just three things that new MPs should consider as they orient themselves to life in Ottawa and as elected representatives. But the implications of these three forces matter to everyone who seeks to engage and connect with Canadians.
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Politics This Morning: House Finance Committee to hear from businesses, experts

Plus, the Board of Internal Economy Committee is meeting in camera to discuss 'employment matters' in relation to COVID-19.
Marie Curie once said, ‘Nothing in life is to be feared: it is only to be understood.’ In order to protect the most vulnerable, the public needs to know who will get sick.
Opinion|Scott Taylor
A premature, public relations optics-only deployment of the CAF is not going to help fix this broken egg called COVID-19.
'We need a sustainable and stable supply of these products, and that means making them at home, and we’re optimistic that they will be available in the coming weeks,' says Prime Minister Trudeau.
Opinion|Gwynne Dyer
Achieving herd immunity requires 60 per cent-70 per cent of the population to have had the disease—and with this particular coronavirus, about one or two percent of those people will die.

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Opinion
While the $107-billion in emergency measures outlined, and billions of dollars more provincially seems impressive, it will likely be dwarfed by the quantum leap in government investments needed for the post-recovery.
We’ll need to count the lives lost in the short term directly related to the pandemic, of course. But we’ll also need to consider deaths over the long term, as a consequence of fighting the pandemic. 
If the government is to inspire the confidence in Canadians that will be required to successfully navigate this challenging period as a nation, timely decision-making and the proper documentation of both the decisions an
Opinion|Erica Ifill
The employment insurance program can barely function when we need it most because politicians stole from workers to make their books look balanced. Indeed, as is the custom of the first of April, we were fooled.
Opinion|Stan Kutcher
History has taught us that ignoring our fear or focusing primarily on our negative feelings, can lead to denying the urgency to act, and even to avoiding taking the essential actions to overcome the threat we are facing.
Hunkering down amid a global pandemic whose containability depends on your latitude, longitude, and head of government requires mad adaptation skills.
Opinion|Alex Marland

‘Bold decisions’ are needed if the CBC is to survive

David Taras and Christopher Waddell recently authored The End of the CBC?, published by the University of Toronto Press. They have exceptional credentials to examine the English arm of the public broadcaster.

Feds asking travellers from abroad to self-identify coronavirus symptoms amid concerns over screening efforts

'Implementation of the new measures has begun and will be finalized' in the 'coming days,' says a CBSA spokesperson.

A few fresh faces on National Revenue Minister Lebouthillier’s busy team

Plus, there are a couple of staff additions to Associate Finance Minister Mona Fortier’s team to note, including Émilie Gagnon as director of communications.

A dive into federal Heritage Minister Guilbeault’s 24-person team

Senior staff to the minister include Rebecca Caldwell as director of policy, Michael Brewster as director of parliamentary affairs, and Linda Campbell as director of operations.
Feature|Neil Moss

Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner postponed until October

Plus, MPs urge CBC to reinstate local TV news, and Jack Harris is diagnosed with cancer.
Feature|Neil Moss

Coronavirus hits home for the Hill

Plus, Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau has been named Canada's next vice-chief of the defence staff and NDP MP Charlie Angus hosts an online St. Patrick's Day concert.

Chief HR officer works to quell confusion, asks departments to identify, update ‘critical’ services lists

‘People are unsure, people are scared, this is a whole new time, so we have to have some clear messaging from our government letting our people know of what they need to do,’ said CUPW national president Jan Simpson.

Situation ‘changing hourly’ as feds, unions, public service contend with COVID-19 work-from-home confusion

'The government of Canada will be as flexible as possible and will not only allow, but encourage teleworking whenever and wherever possible,' says Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos.

No more Hill parties, after coronavirus pandemic forces Parliament Hill to shut down

'Politics and the Pen is probably the exact opposite of social distancing. We cram so many people into the ballroom that you can barely keep one to two inches away,' says Jim Armour.  

Sorbara makes ’em howl at the Métropolitain

Pat Sorbara's new book, Let 'em Howl, offers lessons learned over a more than four-decade career in federal and provincial politics as a high-ranking Liberal backroomer.

Embassies in Ottawa offer ‘around the clock’ support in the new work-from-home reality

Envoys comment on the ‘uncharted territory’ brought forward by the ‘dreadful ordeal’ COVID-19 brings, and urge co-operation in the global response.

‘Busy and worried’: Italian envoy says country is at ‘forefront’ of COVID-19 battle, urges solidarity in global response

The most important thing is that people understand ‘they are the solution,’ and the only way to stop the spread is to keep separate from a virus that ‘walks with our legs,’ Claudio Taffuri says.

PM, ministers continue daily briefings during COVID-19 shutdown

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
Deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo, left, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos speak at an Ottawa press conference about the government’s response to COVID-19 on March 27. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

June Winger, national president of the Union of National Defence Employees, joins a rally held by Public Service Alliance of Canada demonstration outside the Prime Minster's Office in Ottawa on Feb. 28, 2020, to mark four years of Phoenix Pay System issues.

The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

The Hill Times file photograph
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