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Election speculation

A daily look inside Canadian politics and power.
Oct 03, 2023 View in browser

By Nick Taylor-Vaisey and Zi-Ann Lum

Thanks for reading Ottawa Playbook.

In today's edition:

→ MPs elect a new speaker.

→ Albertans are in lobbying mode today on the Hill.

→ House of Commons IT isn't taking any chances with suspicious user behavior.


DECISION DAY — Cabinet typically gathers at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays to do its executive business. This morning ministers will meet at 10:45. They'll also have the election of the new House speaker on their minds. The Commons is back in session at 10, and that's the first order of business.

— The candidates: Eight MPs will reportedly keep their names on the ballot.

Three opposition parties have one candidate apiece: Conservative CHRIS D'ENTREMONT, New Democrat CAROL HUGHES and Green ELIZABETH MAY.

The Liberals have five, including four from Quebec: SEAN CASEY, GREG FERGUS, STÉPHANE LAUZON, ALEXANDRA MENDÈS and PETER SCHIEFKE.

— Last-ditch campaigning: Every candidate can opt to make a five-minute speech this morning in hopes of winning over colleagues. That means up to 40 minutes of combined speechifying before a 30-minute break during which the contenders will race to woo the undecideds in the lobbies on each side of the chamber ahead of the vote.

— The voting system: MPs must vote in person.

They fill out ranked ballots, the same system most major political parties have adopted for leadership elections. They'll select candidates in their preferred order, though they don't need to rank the candidates they don’t support.

The sergeant-at-arms collects the ballots, and the clerk of the House counts them. If no candidate has more than 50 percent of the vote after one round, the candidate with the least support is eliminated — and the second choices on those ballots are redistributed accordingly. When the first candidate gains a simple majority, they take the chair.

— Vote splits: A week's worth of behind-the-scenes dealmaking comes to fruition today. Indulge us in some secret-ballot speculation.

→ Oppo winner: The opposition could rally around their own, meaning d'Entremont and Hughes would rank highly among at least the 117 Conservatives and 25 New Democrats, respectively. The likely result: Speaker d'Entremont, especially if Liberals are split and enough of them rank the Tory near the top of their ballots. Another potential result: Speaker Hughes, if she swings more Liberal colleagues than d'Entremont.

→ Liberal winner: The Liberals could coalesce around a single caucus colleague and even leave d'Entremont and Hughes off their ballots entirely. There are murmurs of a caucus meeting this morning to plot strategy. If an opposition candidate fails to gain a majority of votes in early rounds and the lucky Liberal secures down-ballot opposition support, they could blaze a path to the speakership.

→ The wildcards: 32 Bloc Québécois MPs whose votes could play kingmaker.

THE HOUSE GOAT — Bloc MP LOUIS PLAMONDON, the longest-serving dean of the House ever to hold the position, returns to the chair today for an occasional star turn as overseer of speaker elections.

— Longevity specialist: Plamondon bested former Liberal heavyweight HERB GRAY's record-setting 4,802-day run as dean on Dec. 8, 2021. When the uncontested GOAT of the deans was first elected in 1984, the "Ghostbusters" theme song topped Canadian charts.

Plamondon is the sixth longest-serving MP of all time. By the end of the year, he'll be fourth. Next April, he'll vault past Gray onto the podium of parliamentary endurance. By January of 2025, Plamondon would pass JOHN GRAHAM HAGGART for second all-time.

At that point, only former PM WILFRID LAURIER would have sat longer in the House: 44 years, 11 months, 5 days. Plamondon would hit that mark on Aug. 10, 2029.

— Obscure water-cooler trivia for Speaker Election Day: Plamondon is the only MP to have served during every single secret-ballot speaker election since 1986, when the late JOHN BOSLEY resigned the role and the House replaced him with JOHN FRASER.

MOAR TRIVIA — Here's one tidbit about each speaker candidate for your morning Slack channels, texts and coffee catch-ups with fellow Hill nerds. You're welcome.

→ SEAN CASEY has lived in all four Atlantic provinces — born in Newfoundland, raised in New Brunswick, educated in Nova Scotia, employed (and elected) on Prince Edward Island.

→ CHRIS D'ENTREMONT was once a radio personality in Nova Scotia, described by another local radio personality as "King S--t of F--k Mountain."

→ GREG FERGUS was a House of Commons page in 1988-89, three years after Procurement Minister JEAN-YVES DUCLOS (and several before KATIE TELFORD).

→ CAROL HUGHES was marooned by a bad snowstorm in Blind River, Ont., where a couple at the hotel restaurant persuaded her to run in 2008.

→ STÉPHANE LAUZON has, fittingly given the job, said the word "colleague" more than any other in House interventions.

→ ELIZABETH MAY is the only American-born candidate.

→ ALEXANDRA MENDÈS has won three elections in a row, but hasn't yet removed the #OpenToWork label on her LinkedIn profile.

→ PETER SCHIEFKE was a member of the boy band INMOTION at the turn of the millennium. Yes, there's video evidence.


Enter the “room where it happens”, where global power players shape policy and politics, with Power Play. POLITICO’s brand-new podcast will host conversations with the leaders and power players shaping the biggest ideas and driving the global conversations, moderated by award-winning journalist Anne McElvoy. Sign up today to be notified of new episodes – click here.

For your radar

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks with European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn earlier this year. | AP

BRUSSELS TO OTTAWA — When EU Commissioner JOHANNES HAHN met Treasury Board President ANITA ANAND on the Hill last week, he called it a rare chance to meet someone with more or less the same job.

“We quasi-agreed we are the COOs: She is the COO of the Canadian government and I'm the chief operation officer of the European Commission,” Hahn said during a roundtable Friday with five press gallery journalists at the EU delegation’s office in Ottawa.

— VIP trend: Hahn, the bloc’s commissioner for budget and administration, is the latest high-level EU official to stop in Ottawa this year following visits by internal market chief THIERRY BRETON and Commission President URSULA VON DER LEYEN.

— Behind closed doors: Hahn said he and Anand “mainly” swapped notes on post-pandemic telework policies and experiences, but also touched on finances.

The pandemic, war in Ukraine and inflation have placed the EU’s budget under pressure and the bloc is keen to diversify its borrowing strategy. Europe wants Canada and institutional investors to buy Eurobonds. Financing high-stakes green transition programs isn’t cheap.

“There have been engagements in the past by Canada, but there's always room for improvement,” Hahn said.

The EU budget commissioner said he also met with Bank of Canada Governor TIFF MACKLEM and Export Development Canada Chief MAIREAD LAVERY while he was in town.

Hahn’s invest-in-Europe roadshow has also visited Southeast Asia and the United Arab Emirates. Stops in Latin America are in the works.

— Rethinking new programs: When von der Leyen pitched a so-called “EU sovereignty fund” last year, it was received as the bloc’s response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act — and a potential catalyst for a global green subsidies race. It's a "race to the bottom" scenario Deputy Prime Minister CHRYSTIA FREELAND has repeatedly warned about.

But the pitch was a hard sell and countries were reluctant to pay extra money for the new fund.

— Less is more: Hahn toured member states and visited nearly all EU capitals for feedback. “It turned out it's more effective if you're not creating a new fund but if you're using existing ones, and reinforcing them for biotech technologies, microelectronics, but also quantum computing, et cetera,” he tells Playbook. “We don't have to discuss new regulations for new funds.”

— Cooperation carrots: Brussels is entertaining the idea of bringing Canada on board as an associated member of Horizon Europe, a tranche of €95.5 billion (C$136.9 billion) in funding set aside for research and development.

The U.K. government secured its post-Brexit re-entry into Horizon Europe this summer.

“Negotiations are ongoing,” said EU Ambassador MELITA GABRIČ, who sat next to Hahn, about Canada’s potential eligibility.

— What’s next: Discussion about Horizon Europe will likely be on the agenda at the upcoming EU-Canada summit. Global Affairs Canada has yet to confirm dates.

— For the record: “We are expecting the summit still to take place this year,” Gabrič said.

LOCKED OUT — The House of Commons appears to be fighting a cyber-war with robots — even harmless little scripts of code that extract publicly available data from

— Suspected attack: The House website was down and out most of Sept. 25, the same day the chamber was embroiled in post-Hunka yelling matches over exactly how a man who fought under Nazi command ended up on the receiving end of standing ovations.

An internal note acknowledged the House website was experiencing an "unusually high number of network connection attempts" — a tactic known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which can overwhelm servers and make sites unresponsive.

— We come in peace: The IT defenses appear to be blocking web scrapers — scripts of code that crawl websites with instructions to extract specific information.

Say, the most recently disclosed MP expenditures for the first quarter of 2023–24, which ran April 1 to June 30. Each MP's detailed expenses are downloadable at the click of a button. A scraper can accomplish that task in minutes. A non-robot must click manually on each MP's listing — as in, hundreds of times. It's a lot of clicking, OK?

— To be continued: Playbook will have more to say about the millions in taxpayer dollars they spent on contracts big and small. For now, we present one line item from every federal leader's MP office budget from Q1 of 2023-24:

— JUSTIN TRUDEAU shelled out C$8 for voice and data overage fees for mobile devices.

— PIERRE POILIEVRE spent C$145.48 on overages.

— JAGMEET SINGH dropped C$52.16 on framing done in the House of Commons.

— YVES-FRANÇOIS BLANCHET scrounged up C$375.35 on subscriptions to Amazon, Coopérative nationale de l'information indépendante, Journal de Mirabel, La Presse, Le Courrier International, Le Devoir, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique and the New York Times.

— ELIZABETH MAY found C$138.03 for "equipment rental" from Long & McQuade.


— Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU will chair the Cabinet meeting and attend question period.

— Bloc Québécois Leader YVES-FRANÇOIS BLANCHET kicks off a nine-day Eurotrip that includes stops in Paris, Edinburgh and Belfast. In Paris, Blanchet will meet with government officials, Quantonation founding partner OLIVIER TONNEAU and former French PM JEAN-PIERRE RAFFARIN.

— It's election day in Manitoba. Polls close at 8 p.m. local time. (For what it's worth, POLITICO Canada contributor PHILIPPE J. FOURNIER projects an NDP win.)

8:40 a.m. The Bank of Canada’s NICOLAS VINCENT will deliver a speech at the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.

10 a.m. The House convenes to elect a new speaker.

3:30 p.m. Parliamentary Budget Officer YVES GIROUX will be at the House industry committee to take questions on his report on subsidies for Stellantis-LGES and Volkswagen.

6:15 p.m. Trudeau will deliver remarks at the “One Alberta. One Canada.” reception. He will be joined by Employment Minister RANDY BOISSONNAULT.


HEARTLAND HUDDLE — The crush of cocktail circuit events continue on the Hill today with an “Alberta on the Hill” reception featuring Big Rock brews, beef and bison nibbles (obviously) and a cameo by Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU.

— Lobbying lookout: The event coincides with the arrival of a large business delegation from the province, counting executives from Cenovus, TC Energy, Enbridge, the Mikisew Group and WestJet executives among its 50-plus member pack.

It’s the biggest delegation representing the province in years, says Business Council of Alberta President ADAM LEGGE. Getting its “Alberta isn’t what you think it is” message across is a goal to see more cooperation with Ottawa. He noted a Nobel Prize-winning virology lab among the province’s bragging rights on top of it being the birthplace of the Caesar and ginger beef.

“We’re more than just hillbillies that people may think we are in Alberta driving pickup trucks everywhere,” Legge told Playbook in an interview previewing the delegation’s fall meeting blitz on the Hill.

Pros can read POLITICO's conversation with Legge this afternoon.


— India has told Canada to withdraw 41 diplomatic staff from its mission in New Delhi, the Financial Times reported.

— The Star’s RAISA PATEL reports on the work of KIMBERLY MURRAY, the federal government’s point person on seeking justice for Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves. Halfway through her mandate, Murray discusses her frustrations with government stonewalling.

From the Star's ALEX BALLINGALL: Rude, disrespectful and unruly: MPs say the House of Commons has turned into a circus — and someone needs to tame it

— MICHAEL KOVRIG recommends some reading on China.

— A damage report via the Star's ALTHIA RAJ.

— In case you are not paying attention, courtesy of ALEX PANETTA: What Trump plans to do if he wins in 2024.

— Navigator’s JAIME WATT says Canada is now tied closer to America than ever before: “The least we can do is to start pulling our weight.”


For POLITICO Pro subscribers, our latest policy newsletter by KYLE DUGGAN and ZI-ANN LUM: Time for an Indo-Pacific rethink?

In other news for POLITICO Pro subscribers:

— Europe takes climate fight global as carbon border tax goes live

— How SAM BANKMAN-FRIED’s fall keeps rattling Capitol Hill

— The real story on Europe's transgender debate

— GOP senators weigh go-big-or-go-home strategy on Ukraine

— Brussels finalizes critical tech list

On the Hill

— MPs will elect a new House speaker. They'll convene at 10 a.m.

9 a.m. Former senator RAYNELL ANDREYCHUK returns to her old stomping grounds to be a witness at the Senate rules committee. Senators BRIAN FRANCIS and DAVID ARNOT will have their turn in the second half to take questions on amending Senate rules.

9 a.m. The Senate national finance committee will discuss main estimates.

3:30 p.m. The House national defense committee continues its study on procurement. Witnesses will include MIKE MUELLER, president and CEO of Aerospace Industries Association of Canada; CHRISTYN CIANFARANI, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries; and officials from the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman.

3:30 p.m. Parliament’s budget watchdog joins MPs on the House industry committee to review his report on subsidies for Stellantis-LGES and Volkswagen.

3:30 p.m. The House justice committee will start its meeting in camera; at 4 p.m. it will open its webcast as it considers Bill S-12.

— Behind closed doors: The House procedure and House affairs committee meets. The House committee on Indigenous and northern affairs meets on committee business. MPs on the citizenship and immigration committee will spend some of their time discussing their upcoming report on application backlogs. The House committee on veterans affairs will review their study on a national strategy for veterans employment after service.


Birthdays: HBD to former Cabmin DIANE FINLEY, NDP MPP PETER TABUNS, former MPs MARJOLAINE BOUTIN-SWEET, PIERRE BRETON, CAROLYN PARRISH and SVEN SPENGEMANN. Crestview partner CHRISTINE MCMILLAN, the interim head of the firm's Washington operations, also celebrates today.

Send us birthdays: [email protected]

Spotted: Health Minister MARK HOLLAND, cheering on the Blue Jays from the right-field stands on Saturday … Treasury Board President ANITA ANAND, who grew up in former Treasury Board president SCOTT BRISON's former riding of Kings–Hants, on the roster of Brison roasters at an Oct. 6 event hosted by current Liberal MP KODY BLOIS.

Foreign Minister MÉLANIE JOLY, turning a gift from Albanian PM EDI RAMA over to the ethics commissioner: a framed painting by Rama.

MANISHA KRISHNAN, in Times Square with an Emmy … U.S. Ambassador DAVID COHEN in the Rockies … U.N. Ambassador BOB RAE, calling out ELON MUSK … Liberal MP KIRSTY DUNCAN showing off ballet arms after her third surgery in three months.

Movers and shakers: NICOLAS SIMARD has been named ambassador to Mali.

Sandstone Group is now repping the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples on the Hill. SHAWN DRISCOLL, a new consultant with the firm fresh from PIERRE POILIEVRE's stakeholder relations team, is on the account … Bluesky's JORDAN PAQUET is lobbying for Nav Canada. GREG LOERTS, also new to the firm, is lobbying for Seaspan Shipyards … Rubicon's Ottawa team has PETRONAS Canada as a client.

NorthStar Public Affairs is the newest GR firm on the Hill, led by GREG MACNEIL, FRED DELOREY and ADAM TAYLOR (and in partnership with spark*advocacy).

IAN CAMERON, former d-comm to Energy Minister JONATHAN WILKINSON, recently started a new gig as d-comm at asset manager Power Sustainable … JONATHAN MOSER is hanging his shingle at Moser Public Affairs.

LAPHONZA BUTLER was named California’s junior senator on Monday by Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM. The appointment fulfills Newsom’s pledge to appoint a Black woman to succeed DIANNE FEINSTEIN, and she will also be the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate.

Media mentions: Broadcaster PETER MANSBRIDGE has invested C$100,000 to create an “emerging reporter fund” at the Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication. The school says the fund will allow upper-year or graduate journalism students to tackle in-depth reporting and research projects on governance and public policy.


Friday’s answer: Our question was from reader J.D.M. STEWART: 

Who said in the 1987 NFB film “Dancing Around the Table”: “Our people cannot be packaged and put into the four corners of the history book and put on a shelf. 'Here, read about these people.' What we do have is a historical continuum that has begun beyond the memory of all those in this room."

The answer: JOE MATHIAS, chief of Squamish First Nation.


Have a question that will stump Playbook readers? Send it our way.

Today’s question: Name the first speaker of the House.

Answers to [email protected]

This post first appeared on Test Sandbox Updates, please read the originial post: here

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