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Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre says he would oppose a public digital currency backed by the Bank of Canada and would increase parliamentary oversight of the central bank.

Mr. Poilievre has been highly critical of the Bank of Canada, accusing it of acting as an ATM for the federal government during the pandemic through its government bond-buying program, also known as quantitative easing. He has mocked the central bank for incorrect inflation forecasts over the past two years, and recently called the institution “financially illiterate.”

The Conservative MP doubled down on his criticism on Thursday, saying he would empower the auditor-general to scrutinize the central bank’s balance sheet and transactions. Former party leader Andrew Scheer proposed this idea in a private member’s bill in February.

Mr. Poilievre made his comments during a news conference held outside the Bank of Canada Museum in downtown Ottawa.

Economics Reporter Mark Rendell and I report here.

Meanwhile, CBC is reporting here that Mr. Poilievre’s campaign is getting some help from a conservative meme machine.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you're reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY'S HEADLINES

HEALTH CANADA ENDS BLOOD BAN – An end to the ban on gay men donating blood has been approved by Health Canada and could be brought in by September. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said ending the discriminatory ban was “good news for all Canadians” but had taken too long. Story here.

OTTAWA PREPARING FOR NEW PROTEST – Ottawa’s mayor and interim police chief say a key part of the city’s planning for a massive motorcycle rally in the capital this weekend is to regain the trust of downtown residents who were traumatized by the trucker convoy protest earlier this year. Story here.

LIBERALS AND NDP STRIKE DOCUMENTS DEAL – The Liberal government and the NDP have struck a deal to set up an ad hoc committee – without the approval of the Official Opposition – that will gain access to secret documents on the firings of two infectious-disease scientists at Canada’s high-security microbiology laboratory. Story here.

ANAND AT THE PENTAGON ‐ Defence Minister Anita Anand was at the Pentagon on Thursday to meet with her American counterpart, Lloyd Austin, as the war in Ukraine injects new urgency into cross-border military priorities. Story here.

LATEST ONTARIO ELECTION DEVELOPMENTS – Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is introducing its budget Thursday, which is set to stand as its election platform and includes new promises on widening Highway 401. Story here. Meanwhile, the Ontario Greens are hoping to build on momentum from their first-ever provincial win and expand their caucus of one this spring – or at least hold onto the seat they won four years ago. Story here.

FINAL SUNWING FINES - The federal Transport Minister says 37 passengers on a late-December party flight from Montreal to Mexico have been fined a total of $59,500. Story here.

MANY ENGLISH-SPEAKING QUEBECKERS SUPPORT LANGUAGE REFORM: LEGAULT - Premier François Legault says he knows many, many English-speaking Quebeckers who completely support the Charter of the French Language, even if the current overhaul in the form of Bill 96 goes much further than the old law. Story here from the Montreal Gazette.

ST. JOHN’S RENAMES BUILDING AHEAD OF ROYAL VISIT – The City of St. John’s has quietly rechristened a building nestled on the craggy shore of Quidi Vidi gut ahead of next month’s visit by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Story here from CBC.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Brampton, Ont., Mayor Patrick Brown is in Eastern Ontario. Jean Charest is in Prince Edward Island. Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, Leslyn Lewis was scheduled to make brief remarks, and take questions as the Nasis Lions Club & Community Centre in Fredericton. Pierre Poilievre held a news conference in front of the Bank of Canada Museum in Ottawa.

HIGH PRAISE BUT NOT AN OFFICIAL ENDORSEMENT – Former federal cabinet minister Peter MacKay, whom CBC says here still owes nearly $300,000 for his failed 2020 Tory leadership bid, posted a tweet of a photo in which he poses with leadership candidate Leona Alleslev. He says he ran into her in Toronto. “A bilingual fmr MP, deputy leader w impressive business & military career before politics, she has a lot to offer the members,” he writes, but plays down the notion this is an endorsement by the final line, “Proud 2 support all our fine candidates when & where I can.”

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, April. 28, accessible here.

ETHICS COMMISSIONER UPDATE – The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, an independent officer of Parliament responsible for helping appointed and elected officials prevent and avoid conflicts between their public duties and private interests, has released his quarterly report. You can read it here.

THE DECIBEL

On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, El Chenier, a history professor at Simon Fraser University and founder of Boldly Nonbinary, talks about the impact of the census counting Canada’s transgender and non-binary populations for the first time as part of new data that has just been released. Dr. Chenier talks about why the data is important and how it could be misconstrued. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister spoke with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and was scheduled to attend the Ottawa Yom HaShoah Commemoration Service at the National Holocaust Monument and deliver remarks. The Prime Minister also delivered a statement and held a brief media availability on Parliament Hill.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, and NDP MP Lori Idlout, met with the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages and the pair, as well as MP Taylor Bachrach met, by Zoom, with the Indigenous Leadership Initiative.

No schedules released for other leaders.

PUBLIC OPINION

MORE RIGHT LEANING – A new survey suggests that the political views of most Saskatchewan residents have stayed the same during the pandemic – but of the more than a quarter of respondents who have changed their views, 70 per cent said they have become “more right-leaning,” while 30 per cent have become “more left-leaning.” Story here from CBC.

OPINION

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on six ways we can adapt as the 2021 census tells us Canada’s population isn’t aging – it’s aged: “The 2021 census reveals that more than four in 10 Canadians are now old or getting old, a trend that will accelerate over the next two decades and beyond. We are no longer an aging society. Our society is now aged. And we’re not ready. According to census data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada, 19 per cent of us are 65 or older. Twenty-two per cent are between the age of 55 and 64, the time when people are getting ready to retire.”

Doug Saunders (The Globe and Mail) on how the world learned the wrong lessons about defence spending after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “If generals always fight the last war, politicians often make long-term plans based on the earliest days of the current one. And nothing in modern history has so quickly changed the thinking of generals and politicians as much as Russia’s atrocious and ill-conducted invasion of Ukraine. What has changed since Feb. 24 has not been the global importance of this conflict but its lessons for defence budgets. In short, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown NATO countries, including the United States, that most of them are already spending more than enough on defence – although maybe not always on the right things – and that the 20-year-old goal of spending 2 per cent of their economies on their militaries is, for most, unnecessary.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on why Ottawa can’t get away with a `trust us, we had to’ defence of its use of the Emergencies Act: “There is reason to be incredulous that any information of substance will be revealed over the course of the public inquiry, which was announced by the government Monday. Mr. Mendicino declined to give a straight answer when asked whether his government would waive cabinet confidence if Justice Paul S. Rouleau, who is leading the inquiry, requested access to cabinet documents.”

David Mitchell (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on lessons from Canadian political leadership reviews: ”But perhaps the most relevant precedent was the long-serving Alberta premier, Ralph Klein, who faced a 2006 review by his Progressive Conservative Party. Although he had indicated his intention to retire in 2008, he was at the time facing an internal revolt. A leadership review was organized by the party and Mr. Klein said he felt 75-per-cent approval was needed in order to continue at the helm. He announced his resignation shortly after receiving a convention vote that gave him only 55-per-cent support. Mr. Klein’s sad departure is an extraordinary instance of a premier losing his job as a result of a party leadership review. But political leaders should always be held accountable, to the general public during elections and to members of their parties between elections.”

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