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A new book reveals that former finance minister Bill Morneau wanted to break a 2015 Liberal campaign promise to keep Old Age Security eligibility at 65, rather than raising it to 67, out of concern for the huge cost the policy would have on federal finances.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper first announced at the World Economic Forum in January 2012 that his government intended to raise the eligibility age for OAS. His government’s budget of that year announced that this would be implemented gradually between 2023 and 2029.

The 2012 Conservative budget said the change was necessary because OAS is the federal government’s single, largest program and it needed to be adjusted to account for the fact that Canadians are living longer and healthier lives.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party defeated Mr. Harper’s Conservatives in the 2015 election in which the Liberals campaigned on a pledge to scrap the OAS change.

Robert Asselin, who played a lead role in drafting the Liberal platform and was then named Mr. Morneau’s budget director in the finance minister’s office, is quoted in a new book saying Mr. Morneau wanted to scrap the OAS promise.

“He saw the costs associated with this measure,” Mr. Asselin said. “He repeatedly urged him not to do it. Prime Minister Trudeau decided to go ahead anyway.”

Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Bill Curry reports here.

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 sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY'S HEADLINES

FIRST KING CHARLES III REMARKS – King Charles said Friday he feels “profound sorrow” over the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, and is vowing to carry on her “lifelong service” to the nation. Charles was making his first address to the United Kingdom – and the world. He became King on Thursday after the Queen’s death. Story here. There’s a transcript of the King’s remarks here.

THE PASSING OF QUEEN ELIZABETH – Britain began a period of mourning for Queen Elizabeth on Friday with gun salutes, ringing church bells and the first address by the new King. Story here. There’s an Explainer here on how Canada and Britain will mourn, and the royal plans so far. Also: From coast to coast to coast, the Queen came to know Canada well during her 70 years as the country’s head of state, visiting in her official capacity 22 times between 1957 and her last visit in 2010. Story here. And Canadians will be carrying around portraits of Queen Elizabeth for years to come as coins and bank notes featuring the late monarch will remain in circulation as legal tender. Story here.

TORIES PROCEEDING WITH LEADERSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT – The federal Conservatives say they will proceed with Saturday’s announcement of the winner of their leadership vote despite the death of the Queen. Story here.

YUKON PREMIER QUITTING – Yukon Premier Sandy Silver has asked his Liberal Party to find a new leader, but says he will stay on as Premier until then. Mr. Silver also announced Friday that he will not be seeking a fourth term as MLA in the 2025 election. Story here from CBC.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE UP – Canada’s unemployment rate shot up in August as the economy shed jobs for a third consecutive month, the latest sign of a chill that’s spread through the labour market. Story here.

STRONG MAYORS LEGISLATION PASSED IN ONTARIO – Ontario’s legislature has passed a bill to give the leaders of Toronto and Ottawa strong mayor powers, which the Progressive Conservative government has pitched as a way to get housing built more quickly. Story here.

QUÉBEC SOLIDAIRE BANKING ON YOUTH VOTE – While poll after poll puts François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec far ahead of the pack in the race to the Oct. 3 provincial election, the top pick for voters between the age of 18 and 34 is Québec Solidaire, a left-wing sovereigntist party focused on climate change, wealth inequality and the housing crisis. But any party depending on the youth vote faces the challenge of youth as a smaller segment of an aging society, and the reality that they are less likely to vote. Story here.

RIVALS IN UCP RACE UNITE AGAINST SMITH LAW – More than half the candidates in the race to replace Premier Jason Kenney are raising the alarm over a rival’s plan to proclaim Alberta would reject federal laws and court decisions deemed against the province’s interests. Story here.

HIRING SOARS FOR FEDERAL PUBLIC SERVANTS – Tax and Policy Reporter Patrick Brethour looks here at the multiyear hiring spree that has swollen the ranks of federal civil servants by nearly a third since the Liberals came to power in 2015.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Candidates Scott Aitchison, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre are in Ottawa. There is no word on the whereabouts of Roman Baber.

THIS AND THAT

COMMONS NOT SITTING – The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

BRAVERY HONOURED – Governor-General Mary Simon presented 41 Decorations for Bravery, considered one of Canada’s most respected civilian honours. There’s a list of recipients and their stories of bravery here.

THE DECIBEL

Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast deals with the death of Queen Elizabeth. While the Queen was widely beloved, the popularity of the monarchy has been waning here in Canada and elsewhere. Vicky Mochama, royals writer and contributor to The Globe, tells us about the Queen’s life and legacy, and how we might reckon with the monarchy now that she is gone. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Vancouver, had a working lunch scheduled with British Columbia Premier John Horgan.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Halifax to attend the ongoing caucus retreat, was scheduled to participate in a round table discussion with health care workers, and meet with Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

No schedules released for other party leaders.

OPINION – THE PASSING OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how the Queen was so good at her job because she was from another age: “The one thing that nearly all observers comment on, even those who don’t much like the idea of Canada’s constitutional monarchy, is that Queen Elizabeth II was accorded such popular affection and respect because she worked to earn it. She was born into exceptional privilege, but what stood out (unlike many other members of previous and subsequent generations of the Royal Family) was her exceptional dedication to service – to the duties that are the justification for the privilege. It was hard not to like someone who worked so hard at her role.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on a loss of a link to the past and some of the fairy dust of Canada’s constitutional monarchy: “There aren’t many Canadians who can remember her 1951 visit to Canada as Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of a wartime king who herself trained as a truck mechanic in the Second World War. She had been here, and on the throne, before most Canadians were born. Her likeness stretched back into silvery memories. There’s hardly any other conception of a queen. It’s too soon, of course, to know what succession means for the future of the monarchy in Canada, but it seems hard to conceive now of any other royal ever receiving the same assumed deference, even veneration. The Queen’s constancy over history provided some quiet magic of the kind that makes a monarch’s valuable constitutional role, the idea that there is a rightful, beyond-questioning arbiter, easier.”

Philippe Lagassé (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how, legally speaking, Charles is now the King of Canada: “There has been a demise of the Crown: Queen Elizabeth II is dead. Charles is now King, not only of the United Kingdom, but of Canada and the Crown’s other realms. Charles’s coronation will not take place for some time, and an Accession Council has not yet met to recognize the new monarch, but these are ceremonial events, not legal ones. Accession happens automatically and instantaneously; the coronation and Accession Council will merely formalize what has already occurred. Since the Canadian Constitution is silent about royal succession and accession, it is worth reiterating how we know that Charles is King of Canada and what this entails in Canadian law.”

Shachi Kurl (The Ottawa Citizen) on how Queen Elizabeth was part of the fabric of our lives: “Currently, Canada is a constitutional monarchy. The House of Windsor is our house. Whether people of this country are excited by or supportive of it – and they are not, really – this will not change in the short term. Canadians think their country should not continue with this institution for generations to come, by a ratio of two-to-one (51 per cent versus 26 per cent). But find me a politician willing to take on the constitutional overhaul required for Canada to repatriate its head of state. For now, we remember her. We miss her. The smiles. The hats. The bags. The symbol. The woman. Let us sit with these memories and feel the warmth of them. Then let us think about what comes next.”

OPINION

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how the Liberals look like they’re done, or would be if the Tories weren’t determined to save them: “In sum, this is a government that would appear ripe for the plucking: repellent to those outside its base, and increasingly unable to inspire much enthusiasm within. Indeed, a great many centrist voters, one suspects, the kind who flocked to the Liberal banner in 2015, would vote for any responsible alternative, and would have in each of the past two elections, if a responsible alternative had shown up. That’s all the Conservatives have to do, it would seem: show up, shaved and sober, with practical proposals for addressing the everyday concerns of swing voters. And yet, time and again, the party has failed to do so. It failed to do so in 2019, it failed in 2021, and it seems determined to do so again.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on how Canada’s revolving-door justice system has cost innocent people their lives: “Reasonable people will ask how a man with 59 criminal convictions as an adult was ever allowed to roam free in Canada. Surely after three strikes (and an additional 56), along with a history of violence, domestic assault and robbery, an individual would lose his or her ability to live among the public – at least until authorities could be reasonably sure public safety was not at risk. But how does one properly assess if and when an inmate no longer poses a threat to the general public? And perhaps more pertinently, what does it really matter when the vast majority of incarcerated persons will be released by a fixed date anyway?”

Alison Haines (The Montreal Gazette) on how, next week, the Supreme Court of Canada will decamp from its Ottawa headquarters to sit in Quebec City: “In Quebec City, the court will hear two cases with big implications – and the public is welcome to observe. Both originated in Quebec. The first will examine police procedures for taking breathalyzer samples from suspected impaired motorists. The second will weigh the constitutionality of Quebec’s ban on individuals growing cannabis at home and whether provincial or federal law takes precedence over such matters, since Ottawa’s legislation allows up to four plants. While in Quebec City, the justices will also meet with faculty and students at the Université Laval law school, conduct a free question-and-answer session at the Musée de la civilization, and fan out to nine different local high schools. The first time the Supreme Court took the show on the road was when it visited Winnipeg in 2019.”

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