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Pierre Poilievre made his Question Period debut as Leader of the federal Conservatives and the Official Opposition on Tuesday, challenging the federal government on issues of affordability.

Encouraged by a standing ovation from Conservative MPs, Mr. Poilievre asked whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will cancel tax increases on workers and seniors.

However, neither Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nor Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland were in the House so the question was answered by Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, who congratulated Mr. Poilievre on his first question as Opposition Leader.

He said he expects the session of the Commons to show two competing visions – the Liberal plan to support Canadians who most need help and the vision of the Conservatives who don’t care about Canadians.

He cited the dental plan and increase in GST credit recently announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as part of a $4.6-billion affordability program. (The Globe’s Bill Curry reported here on the new session and the program.)

Mr. Poilievre disputed the suggestion that Conservatives don’t care about Canadians, citing rising housing costs, and food prices at the same time as increasing taxes on heating and gas. He asked what the government will do to help Canadians pay their bills.

Other ministers, including Families Minister Karina Gould and Housing Minister Ahmed Hussein, backed up Mr. Boissonnault.

At one point during Mr. Poilievre’s debut, Speaker Anthony Rota asked members to calm down so individual members could be heard. “We had started so well,” he said. “I just want to continue and make sure that everybody knows that when somebody is talking we normally stay quiet, listen and then we can ask questions or answer after.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Liberal House Leader Mark Holland and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held news conferences to talk about the new session. There were no similar news conferences featuring Mr. Poilievre or a Conservative representative, nor any featuring Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet or a party representative.

Mr. Poilievre issued a statement saying the federal government lacks a plan to fix inflation.

Mr. Holland, asked during his news conference how Mr. Poilievre would affect the tone of the House said Canadians are facing difficult times, and, in a reference to the Conservative leadership race, that if the circus continues “they’ll have to see who will buy tickets.”

Mr. Singh, asked about Mr. Poilievre at a news conference, said he had concerns about the record of the new Conservative leader, during his time in the former government of Stephen Harper and after.

Specifically, Mr. Singh said Mr. Poilievre had opposed a March, 2022, motion advanced by Mr. Singh that called for an expansion of a proposed Liberal surtax of 3 per cent on banks and insurers to include profitable “big oil companies and big-box stores,” and also opposed an increase in the federal minimum wage. The NDP leader also cited Mr. Poilievre’s opposition to the Liberal affordability program announced last week.

“He’s shown very clearly that he’s not, in any way, on fundamental issues, in the same realm of what I believe needs to happen for people, for workers, for families. So I don’t see a way to work together with someone who is so fundamentally opposed to making life better for people.”

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

ARRIVECAN APP TO BE OPTIONAL: SOURCES - The federal government plans to drop the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for people who enter Canada by the end of September, the same day it ends random testing of arrivals and makes optional the ArriveCan app, The Globe and Mail has learned. Story here.

CANADIAN WARSHIP SAILS IN TAIWAN STRAIT - Canada sailed a warship Tuesday through international waters in the Taiwan Strait, the same narrow passage where China staged an unprecedented show of force last month after a high-level U.S. political visit to Taipei. Story here.

INFLATION RATE FALLS FOR SECOND MONTH - Canada’s annual inflation rate fell for a second consecutive month in August as prices for gasoline and other products dropped, offering some hope that the Bank of Canada’s campaign to restrain price growth through much tighter lending conditions is having its intended effect. Story here.

NDP LAUNCHES ATTACK AD AGAINST PIERRE POILIEVRE - The NDP is the first party out of the gate with an attack ad against Pierre Poilievre, launching an attempt to frame the new Conservative leader as “not in it for you” just as the fall sitting of Parliament gets under way. Story here from CTV.

NEW REPORT SPOTLIGHTS INDIGENOUS-MANAGED CONSERVATION AREAS - Indigenous-managed conservation areas are key to Canada’s pledge to designate nearly one-third of its land and ocean waters for biodiversity protection by the end of this decade, according to a new report. Story here.

FINANCIAL WELL-BEING OF WORKING CANADIANS HAS DECLINED: STUDY - A new study has found that the financial well-being of working Canadians has declined in the past year, with distress growing for those who are financially struggling the most. Story here.

FORTIN TRIAL CONTINUES - The complainant in the sexual assault trial of the military officer who led the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign says her assailant in a 1988 alleged assault was, “without a doubt,” Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin. Story here.

FUNERAL AND MEMORIAL SERVICES FOR QUEEN ELIZABETH II - Britain and the world have bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II in a day-long series of services that began, on Monday, with a sombre funeral at Westminster Abbey and ended with the symbolic removal of her crown, orb and sceptre at Windsor Castle. Story here. Meanwhile, in Ottawa, mounted RCMP officers, an honour guard and a military band marched through the streets to commemorate the Queen’s death, as a national day of mourning played out under overcast skies. Story here. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney spoke to the Ottawa ceremony. His remarks are here.

QUEBEC ELECTION - Quebec Premier François Legault says he didn’t intend to offend Joyce Echaquan’s family when he said the “problem that happened at the Joliette hospital with Mrs. Joyce is now resolved” during last week’s debate. Story here from CBC.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons sat again. for the first day of the fall session. The Projected Order of Business is here.

PM AND DEPUTY PM AWAY AS HOUSE SITS - As the House of Commons resumes full-time sitting, both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister will be absent. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Toronto attending the funeral of former federal cabinet minister Bill Graham and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in New York at the United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Trudeau will be back for Question Period on Thursday.

VANDAL IN SASKATOON - Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, in Saskatoon, announced $7.5-million to help Saskatchewan’s mining and mineral processing sector by funding Canada’s first rare-earth-elements processing facilities.

THE DECIBEL

Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast focuses on the fate of $10-a-day daycare in Ontario, set to be enacted by 2026 as part of Ontario signing on to the national Early Learning and Child Care Agreements. The Globe’s Dave McGinn has been following the child-care agreement and its rollout across the country. He tells us which jurisdictions are doing well according to child-care advocates and why Ontario is falling behind. Plus, we hear from parents about their experiences trying to navigate the system. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the opening of the High-Level General Debate of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. The Prime Minister met with Suriname President Chandrikapersad Santokhi, participated in an executive roundtable with Hillary Rodham Clinton on Unlocking and Realizing the Benefits of Inclusive Job Growth, participated in the Global Food Security Summit, was scheduled to participate in the Christchurch Call Summit, and attend the Countdown to COP15: Landmark Leaders’ Event for a Nature Positive World. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault was also scheduled to attend.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held a media availability on Parliament Hill, attended Question Period and was scheduled to attend the CUPE National Executive Board meeting.

No schedules released for other party leaders.

PUBLIC OPINION

A new poll suggests a plurality of Canadians still believe Justin Trudeau is the best person for the job of prime minister, but he has only a slight lead over new Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre. Story here.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how we grew up with Queen Elizabeth II and Canada is not the country it was in 1952: In 1959, Queen Elizabeth II made a 45-day visit to Canada. One of CBC television’s top personalities then was Joyce Davidson; during the royal visit, she was a guest on NBC’s Today show in the United States, and was asked what she thought. “Like most Canadians,” she said, “I am indifferent to the visit of the Queen.” Many Canadians of 1959 were similarly indifferent. Many more were not. The CBC – and advertisers, and politicians – were flooded with angry letters and phone calls. Ms. Davidson was taken off the air for few days, sponsors dropped her and she ended up moving to the United States. It was such a big story that news editors later named her Canada’s most newsworthy woman of the year. Half a century later, in 2007, an Ipsos-Reid poll for the Dominion Institute found that only 8 per cent of Canadians knew that the Queen was Canada’s head of state. From an excess of reverence for monarchy to a surfeit of ignorance, in barely a generation. The Queen was our head of state for 70 years. The world changed around her. So did Canada.”

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on how governments got an F for their pandemic responses – but will they learn from their multiple mistakes?: “The Lancet Commission on lessons for the future from the COVID-19 pandemic, a blue-ribbon group of 28 global experts (with another 173 scientists contributing to the commission’s task forces), has essentially given the world’s response a big fat F grade. The commission described COVID-19 mortality – 6.9 million officially but estimated, more realistically, at 17.2 million – as a “staggering death toll [that] is both a profound tragedy and a massive global failure at multiple levels.” Canada is closing in on 45,000 pandemic deaths, which is more than the 44,090 Canadians who died fighting in the Second World War. The commission’s overarching conclusion is sobering: “Too many governments have failed to adhere to basic norms of institutional rationality and transparency, too many people – often influenced by misinformation – have disrespected and protested against basic public-health precautions, and the world’s major powers have failed to collaborate to control the pandemic.”

Dr. Mekalai Kumanan and Dr. Kamila Premji (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how one in five Ontarians could soon be without a family doctor: When patients don’t have a family doctor, cancers may go undetected. Patients will turn to hospital emergency departments because they have nowhere else to go. Family doctors may not be able to provide the kind of care the growing population of elderly Ontarians needs in order to stay healthy and age at home, putting even more pressure on scarce long-term-care beds. If patients can’t see their doctor in a timely manner, it not only impacts the individual, it adds more burden – and cost – to the entire health system.”

Huda Mukbil (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how CSIS’s role in the Syrian trafficking operation must come to light: Many security experts argue that Mr. al-Rashed’s role as a smuggler for the terrorist group was a necessary cover to infiltrate and gain credibility, in order to gather information about ISIS’s intentions and capabilities. And it is true that the best sources are the ones steeped in terrorist group activities. But the buck must stop there. Every ethical and legal consideration should have been made by the source, his alleged handlers, law enforcement and security officials to ensure these minors were not trafficked into a war zone. If a source does not comply with direction, he is to be cut loose, and his relationship is to be immediately terminated.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on how elected members of Alberta’s governing United Conservative Party are adjusting to the possibility of Danielle Smith winning the party leadership: “One MLA summed up the feeling this way: “There is no one in this caucus, not one person, who thinks a Rachel Notley-led government is better than a Danielle Smith-led government. “The feeling is, let’s get our arrows pointed in the same direction.” The mere fact of this happening shows that many UCP MLAs believe Smith will win. In some rural ridings, MLAs can’t find party members voting for anyone else — except maybe Todd Loewen, who has a big following. Recently Smith’s campaign has been privately sending out conciliatory messages to other candidates. Her campaign chair, Rob Anderson, now says it publicly: “If Danielle becomes premier, she is not going to waste time settling scores with former leadership opponents and their supporters after a hotly contested election. That’s what children do in the schoolyard.”

Tasha Kheiriddin (The Ottawa Citizen) on how the Quebec election has profound implications for the rest of Canada:The Conservatives are the party to watch in this fight. Headed by Éric Duhaime, a former radio talk show host, they have taken a decidedly populist tack, mirroring the direction of Pierre Poilievre’s federal Tories in both style and substance. The Quebec Conservatives’ slogan is “Libre Chez Nous / Freedom to Choose”; their website proclaims their founding political principle to be individual freedom. Duhaime is a self-described libertarian who led opposition to masking and vaccination mandates during the pandemic. As Conservative leader, he is advocating for a diverse range of issues, including more private health care, raising speed limits to 120 kilometres an hour on highways and repealing Bill 96, the CAQ’s latest language law.”

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