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Politics Briefing: Harper's endorsement of Poilievre changes the race, pollster says – The Globe and Mail

Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s declaration of support for Pierre Poilievre as leader of the Conservative Party is being described as a game-changing event in the race.
Pollster Nik Nanos said Tuesday that Mr. Harper’s endorsement in a video message you can watch here sets the stage for the political showdown between the Liberals and Conservatives in the next federal election.
“The Harper endorsement is an acknowledgment that Poilievre is the likely leadership winner and Harper legacy inheritor,” the chief data scientist at Nanos Research said in a statement.
“An endorsement by Harper is a powerful signal within the Conservative movement. The same endorsement could very well fire up and mobilize progressives during the next election.”
In his posting Monday night, Mr. Harper, who has previously avoided comment about Conservative leadership races, said the five candidates in the race constitute a “strong field” but that Mr. Poilievre, whom he described as a “strong minister” in his government, is the best prospect for leadership.
“I know, of course, that others, including some of my friends, may disagree with me, and I respect their views, but I thought you would like to know what my opinion actually is,” Mr. Harper said.
Mr. Harper was the first leader of the current Conservative Party of Canada, formed in 2003 with the merger of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the Canadian Alliance. He was prime minister from 2006 until Justin Trudeau led the Liberals to victory in 2015. Mr. Harper has been the only member of the new party to serve as prime minister.
Conservative commentator Tim Powers, the chairman of public affairs consulting firm Summa Strategies, said he was hard-pressed to remember an occasion when a past prime minister has publicly endorsed a candidate in a leadership race.
“That’s probably not just a statement on Mr. Harper’s comfort with Pierre Poilievre but also a statement about what he may perceive as uncertainty about the future of the Conservative Party,” said Mr. Powers.
He said Mr. Harper may be trying to tell people who voted for him that they can be comfortable with Mr. Poilievre despite controversies over the Ottawa MP “cuddling with convoys and promoting crypto and booting bank governors,” referring to some of the candidate’s pronouncements.
There are five candidates in the race for the leadership: a winner will be announced on Sept. 10. The candidates are Mr. Poilievre and fellow Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison and Leslyn Lewis, as well as one-time Quebec premier Jean Charest and Roman Baber, a former Progressive Conservative member of the Ontario legislature.
In a statement, Mr. Charest called Mr. Harper’s endorsement of Mr. Poilievre a “personal choice,” and noted that Conservatives win when united and Mr. Harper was successful in uniting the Conservative Party. “As the leader of the CPC, I commit to doing the same.”
Other campaigns had not responded by Tuesday afternoon to requests for comment.
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.
SPORT CANADA AWARE OF ALLEGED ASSAULT – Michel Ruest, a senior director of Sport Canada, says the federal organization was made aware of an alleged sexual assault involving members of Canada’s world junior hockey team in late June, 2018, but did not follow up with Hockey Canada at the time. Story here.
HORWATH WANTS TO BE HAMILTON MAYOR – Andrea Horwath, former long-time Ontario NDP leader, is running for mayor in her hometown of Hamilton. Story here. Meanwhile, Steven Del Duca, Ms. Horwath’s former Liberal rival for the premier’s office in Ontario, is said by The Hill Times here to be considering a run for the mayor’s job in Vaughan – a city of about 320,000 people north of Toronto.
PAPAL TOUR – Pope Francis has praised reverence for Indigenous elders during a mass on Tuesday in Edmonton as part of his Canadian tour. Details here. Meanwhile, there’s a close look at the papal apology here for the church’s role in Canada’s residential-school system.
CONFLICTING TESTIMONY ON ALLEGED POLITICAL INTERFERENCE BY RCMP – Commissioner Brenda Lucki and two senior Mounties offered conflicting testimony about whether political interference on behalf of the Liberal government’s gun-control agenda was at work in the force’s response to the Nova Scotia mass shooting. Story here.
NOVA SCOTIA MLAs MEET TO SCRAP THEIR PAY RAISE – Nova Scotia’s 55 provincial representatives returned to the legislature Tuesday for an emergency sitting to rescind a raise recommended in a report released earlier this month. Story here.
TRUDEAU `HORRIFIED’ BY LANGLEY SHOOTING – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s “horrified” by a shooting that spanned six hours Monday in Langley, B.C., where two people were killed and two others were wounded. Story here.
CALLS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO STEP UP WAR MEMORIAL SECURITY – The federal government is facing fresh calls to boost security at the National War Memorial after images surfaced showing someone draping flags on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Story here.
WANTED: NEW SUBMARINE TORPEDO-DEFENCE SYSTEM – The Canadian navy is on the hunt for a new system to defeat torpedoes as it works to extend the life of its four Victoria-class submarines through the mid-2030s. Story here from CTV.
CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is in Fredericton and Charlottetown. Roman Baber is in Brantford, Guelph and Kitchener. Jean Charest is in British Columbia. Leslyn Lewis is in Winnipeg. Pierre Poilievre is in Ottawa.
The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.
LAMETTI IN TORONTO – Justice Minister David Lametti, in Toronto, made a funding announcement with Merrilee Fullerton, the Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
MILLER IN EDMONTON – Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, in Edmonton, made an announcement related to the government’s 2022 budget.
EBY TALKS POLITICS – Wearing an exuberant shirt, David Eby, the presumed front-runner in the race to lead the British Columbia NDP and succeed John Horgan as premier, talks politics in an episode of This is Vancolour available here.
On Tuesday’s edition of The Decibel, Globe and Mail feature writer Ian Brown talks about how bonds work, how they play into today’s economy, and why the foundation they’re built on may be cracking. The Decibel is here.
“Private meetings” in the Ottawa region.
No schedules released for party leaders.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on whether hockey and Canada would be better without Hockey Canada?:Hockey Canada, back on its heels over allegations that players in its charge were involved in group sexual assaults in 2003 and 2018, and facing a second round of grilling from a parliamentary committee this week, on Monday did what organizations often do when cornered. It released an “action plan.” Its plan to “shatter the code of silence and eliminate toxic behaviour in and around Canada’s game” is one of those glossy documents designed to focus the public’s attention on some brighter future, and take it off the many failings of the organization whose public relations team scrambled to put it together. No one should fall for it.”
Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on how Pope Francis’s apology was heartfelt and historic but left us wanting more: Apologies will never reach our countless lost and dead children. Those who suffered at the hands of their Catholic perpetrators, and, those who then suffered at home, in their own personal hell brought on them by survivors who took their anguish out on those they loved the most. They will not reach the tens of thousands of our children who have taken their lives with their own hands because the weight of history – one they did not ask to be born into – was too much. But we, as First Nations Peoples, know deep down, that it is not the Christian Church that will save us. Some may choose to walk with us, but, we will save ourselves, by turning to our families, our communities and rediscovering the spirituality that has sustained us since time began. What saves us is learning our languages, our ceremonies. In order for us to heal, we must turn to each other – we will not get absolution and peace from a man in white.”
Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on Hockey Canada being dragged kicking and screaming into the year 2017: “There was a reckoning in hockey a few years ago over coaching – Bill Peters resigned as head coach of the Calgary Flames after admitting he used racial slurs; former Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock was accused of bullying players – but there was little in the way of a public examination of how hockey culture might fuel retrograde ideas about masculinity, abuse and consent. That reckoning may be happening now, years after the rest of society began grappling with these issues. Welcome to the year 2017, Hockey Canada: only five more years to go.”
Hermona Kuluberhan (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on why some asylum seekers make it into the West quickly while others have to wait more than a decade: Picture this: You grow up living in an eight-bedroom home in a residential neighbourhood two hours outside the capital city. Your father runs a public transportation business, and your mother is a shopkeeper who sells spices. You and your seven siblings attend the only private school in town. The life you lead is a good one – until one day, the political situation in your country changes and suddenly your family loses everything. Before you know it, nearly two decades pass by in the refugee camp where you’ve been waiting in limbo for your asylum papers to arrive. This is my uncle’s story, in a nutshell. Despite hailing from Ethiopia, the life he led prior to the 1998 Ethiopia-Eritrea border war was not all that different from the life of your average middle-class Canadian citizen. Yet December will mark 18 years since my uncle first filed an asylum claim in 2004. He does not “seem so like us,” as one Telegraph writer described Ukrainian asylum seekers – and there is no telling when his ordeal will end.”
Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on Danielle Smith turning her love of fringe views to cancer care:UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith’s dabbles in quackery are sometimes almost funny. This one is dangerous. Her bizarre statement about cancer care could encourage patients not to seek “mainstream” or “traditional” care until their cancer is at stage four. By which time, in many cases, the patients will die no matter what care they get. If I’d followed her prescription, I might very well be dead, too.”
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