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Politics This Morning: Freeland flies to D.C. to meet with U.S. Senators; Blair, Young, to announce fresh research funding

By Beatrice Paez      

Even though Canada-U.S. relations have hit a low point following an onslaught of lashings from U.S. President Donald Trump and his advisers, Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland can likely expect a welcome reception from the U.S. Senate.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is poised to receive the Diplomat of the Year award from Foreign Policy magazine in Washington, D.C., this evening. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
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Happy Wednesday morning,

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland heads to Washington, D.C., today for a sit-down with members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Even though Canada-U.S. relations have hit a low point following an onslaught of lashings from U.S. President Donald Trump and his advisers, Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro, Ms. Freeland can likely expect a welcome reception from the Senate. Many Republicans and Democrats alike have pushed back against the heated comments and are opposed to the president’s tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Washington’s trade threats could also involve slapping a 25 per cent tariff on auto imports from Canada. Republican Senator Bob Corker, chair of the U.S. Senate committee, has long voiced his opposition to slapping tariffs on U.S. allies, according to The Daily Beast. In an interview with the news outlet in May, Mr. Corker had this to say about the possibility of tariffs on automobiles: “There’s just no basis whatsoever. And it’s just a blatant political move.” Other high-profile committee members include Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Cory Booker. Ms. Freeland meets with the committee at the U.S. Capitol at 2 p.m. In the evening, at 7 p.m., Ms. Freeland will deliver a keynote at an event hosted by Foreign Policy magazine. She is also there to accept the magazine’s award for diplomat of the year. The minister will be in D.C. until Thursday.

Speaking after the Singapore summit, Mr. Trump pledged to punish the “people of Canada,” saying, “that’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada. He learned. You can’t do that. You can’t do that,” according to the Toronto Star. The president is still stewing over Mr. Trudeau’s comments at the G7 news conference, in which he said that Canada would not be pushed around, as “polite” and as “reasonable” as Canadians are.

Mr. Trudeau, for his part, dodged questions over the fallout with Mr. Trump, only saying that he won’t engage in comments and that he supported Washington’s diplomatic efforts with North Korea, according to CBC. The prime minister’s agenda today is a little lighter than it has been these past few days. At 10 a.m., he’ll attend the national caucus meeting, and then Question Period at 2 p.m. He’ll then sit down with members of his youth council at 3:45 p.m. The council recently announced it is looking for new members who can offer non-partisan advice on issues of the day.

At a scrum on Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Freeland reiterated Canada’s unwavering position to defend the country against Washington’s trade actions, “[We] would be absolutely resolute in defence of the national interest. Our approach will be to hope for the best … but always to be prepared for the worst, to have a plan A, B, C, D, E, and F.” She noted that the U.S. is eyeing tariffs on auto imports, but that it’s still in the early stages and that both she and Mr. Trudeau have raised the issue with the president and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his way to a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning in Ottawa. The prime minister had a busy day, which included a meeting with the dairy lobby. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Back on the Hill, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay are holding a teleconference to update reporters on Ottawa’s efforts to improve food safety. That’s happening at 9 a.m.

Then at 9:30 a.m., the Senate Subcommittee on Veteran Affairs is holding a news conference at the National Press Theatre (150 Wellington St.). Conservative Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais and Independent Senator Mobina Jaffer will be on hand to answer question about their report on the accessibility of services available to veterans transitioning to civilian life.

Elsewhere in Ottawa, Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the justice and health ministers, and Kate Young, parliamentary secretary to the science minister, will be at the University of Ottawa to announce the government’s supporting for 30 new research projects aimed at improving health care and medical technology. They’ll be at the University of Ottawa’s Heart Institute on 40 Ruskin St. at 9:30 a.m.

At 10 a.m., Liberal Senator Terry Mercer will mark the 10th anniversary of the National Blood Donor Week Act alongside Mel Cappe, the Canadian Blood Services’ board chair. The event will be held on the front lawn of the Hill.

Aggregate IQ exec Jeff Silvester, pictured just ahead of his testimony before the House of Commons’ Access to Information, Ethics, and Privacy Committee on June 12. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Around the same time, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute is hosting a discussion on Canada’s mission in the Baltic region featuring global affairs scholars, including Stephen Blank of the American Foreign Polucy Council; Elinor Sloan of Carleton University; and Kārlis Eihenbaums, Latvian ambassador to Canada. The talk kicks off at the Kildare House (323 Chapel St., the ground floor).

In the media world, Canada welcomed a new subscription-only service, The Logic, which had a soft launch on Tuesday and is focused on the innovation economy. It’s the brainchild of David Skok, a former Nieman fellow and Toronto Star alum. Its first splashy feature digs into the domestic brain drain as Canadians have flocked to Silicon Valley to advance their careers. The price for entry into The Logic club is $300. To draw subscribers, according to Nieman Lab, the beta site is offering a free newsletter, which goes out in the afternoon.

Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is in Montreal for another announcement on the government’s push to reduce homelessness. Mr. Duclos was in Toronto earlier this week to unveil the government’s “redesigned homelessness strategy,” which aims to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent. For today’s announcement, he’ll be at the Roundhouse Café at 1 p.m. The café, which serves Indigenous cuisine, has become a refugee for the homeless and for those who once lived on the streets, according to Eater.

If you like beer, Conservative MP Scott Reid, along with Liberal MPs Andrew Leslie and Mona Fortier, are hosting the Annual Craft Beer Tasting Reception on Wednesday from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. in Room 216-N Centre Block, the Speaker’s Dining Room for Parliamentarians and staff. They’ll be serving craft beer from Ottawa, including Dominion City Brewing (Beacon Hill); Vimy Brewing (Little Italy); and Stray Dog Brewing (Lowertown). The event is sponsored by Deputy House Speaker Bruce Stanton.

Hashim Thaçi, the president of Kosovo, is in Ottawa for the book launch of his biography, New State, Modern Statesman. Hosted by the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy and the Kosovo embassy in Ottawa, the event includes a panel featuring Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld, who chairs the Canada-Kosovo Parliamentary Friendship Group; James Wright, a former Canadian diplomat; and Maurice Baril, retired general and former chief of defence staff.  The event takes place at 3:30 p.m. and is by invitation. For more details, contact info@thepearsoncentre.ca or 613-295-1260.


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