Politics Briefing: House, Senate to decide on their big move

Good morning,

No renovation goes the way you expect it to.

The House of Commons and Senate will decide today whether or not to move out of the historic Centre Block this summer and into temporary chambers elsewhere on or near Parliament Hill.

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The decision was supposed to be made in March, but the House and Senate committees responsible for internal economy decided to give bureaucrats and contractors an extra three months to try to catch up on their work.

Centre Block is set to close for at least a decade for badly needed renovations to address everything from structural to electrical problems.

It is part of a long-term rehabilitation of Canada’s Parliament buildings that started more than 10 years ago. The entire project is projected to cost $3-billion. The renovation of West Block — which will soon host the House of Commons inside its former courtyard — is expected to cost $863-million, while the renewal of the Government Conference Centre — a former train station that will be the new temporary home of the Senate — has a $269-million budget.

Committees of each chamber will meet separately this morning to make their own calls about whether to move, or delay until December or possibly next summer.

However, the boards have long been told that both the Senate and the House must move in sync.

“The intention is to move out at the same time, or not move out at all,” House Speaker Geoff Regan told the Board of Internal Economy on March 22.

We’ll find out this morning if both chambers are ready and if Senators and MPs will change their minds.

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This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa and James Keller in Vancouver. If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh have the same lunch plans today: all are campaigning at a cycling event in a Quebec town where a by-election is being held next week.

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The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled federal corrections officials are failing to ensure Indigenous prisoners received unbiased psychological assessments — putting them at risk of being unfairly denied parole or rehabilitation programs.

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The government has not yet lived up to its commitment to make sure veterans have their needed benefits before they retire.

The government also appears to be backing away from its earlier promise to re-establish relations with Iran.

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New provincial guidelines in B.C. warn against putting young people who are addicted to opioids in detox, and says better approaches include pharmaceutical options such as suboxone and counselling.

The City of Vancouver is set to adopt a new housing strategy that will introduce density into single-family neighbourhoods and devote billions of dollars to build affordable units.

And the French-language news outlet La Presse is facing resistance in the Quebec legislature to its plan to convert itself to a non-profit.

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on dairy tariffs: “Is Mr. Trump really willing to lob a tariff grenade into, say, the auto sector – the most deeply integrated industry on the continent – for the sake of securing a minuscule victory that will play well to a modest segment of his party’s rural support base?”

John de Figueiredo (The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s “threat” to U.S. security: “Yes, the Canadian threat to U.S. national security is apparent and real — to only one person: Donald Trump.”

Andrew Potter (The Globe and Mail) on legalized marijuana: “For any major change in the criminal law to happen, public opinion, political will, stakeholder interests and the courts all need to be aligned. And as the case of marijuana legislation shows, we can go decades between favourable conditions.”

Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star) on Maxime Bernier: “In politics, the degree of one’s independence from the party line is inversely proportional to the importance of one’s parliamentary role. Second only to the ministerial obligation to cabinet solidarity is that of official opposition critics to their party’s core policies.”

Robyn Urback (CBC) on Maxime Bernier: “ There are obvious reasons why a caucus of trained seals is preferable to one of rogue MPs: whipped votes move policy; united fronts deliver straightforward messages; harmonious caucuses inspire confidence. A party risks being defined by its fringes if those fringes become too loud.”

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Globe and Mail Editorial Board on the North American World Cup: “No one is saying governments shouldn’t pay to update infrastructure. But in an ideal world, it wouldn’t be done to placate a historically corrupt sports organization .”

Cathal Kelly (The Globe and Mail) on the politics of the World Cup bid: “Eight years is a long time for people to begin wondering about why their money is being used to refurbish perfectly good, existing stadiums. Or who is getting the contracts to do so. Or what major domestic priorities are being put aside to make sure the country looks spiffy for strangers for a couple of weeks a hundred years from now.”

John Doyle (The Globe and Mail) on the World Cup and women: “For the next eight years soccer in Canada will be about the men’s team, the men’s game and our women’s team will be shunted aside in terms of attention and, who knows, maybe even resources. As in so many arenas of life, politics and the arts, big decisions made by men, for men, sell women short.”

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