Send tips | Subscribe here | Email Maura | Follow Politico Canada
WELCOME TO OTTAWA PLAYBOOK. I’m your host, Maura Forrest, with Nick Taylor-Vaisey. Today, we tell you as much as we know about how the next few days will unfold, following the death of QUEEN ELIZABETH II. Also, we have 43 short things about PIERRE POILIEVRE.
Did someone forward Ottawa Playbook your way? Click here to sign up for your own edition. It’s free!
IN MEMORIAM — It was a day that had to come, but somehow seemed like it never would.
Canada woke up on Thursday to news that doctors were concerned for the health of QUEEN ELIZABETH II, and her family was traveling to her side. After that, it felt like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The moment arrived at 1:30 p.m. ET, when Buckingham Palace announced the queen had died peacefully at Balmoral.
Half an hour later, the flag on the Peace Tower at Parliament Hill was being lowered to half-staff. Not long after that, a tearful JUSTIN TRUDEAU emerged from his Cabinet retreat in Vancouver to speak to reporters.
“As her 12th Canadian prime minister, I’m having trouble believing that my last sit-down with her was my last. I will so miss those chats. She was thoughtful, wise, curious, helpful, funny and so much more,” said the prime minister, who first met the queen when he was just five years old and his father, PIERRE TRUDEAU, was PM.
“In a complicated world, her steady grace and resolve brought comfort and strength to us all. Canada is in mourning. She was one of my favorite people in the world and I will miss her so.”
REACTIONS — The queen dedicated her life to service and was a stabilizing force for decades. But in Canada, the monarchy represents a colonial history that is impossible for many to overlook. Here are some of yesterday’s reactions:
“Following my appointment, Her Majesty said to me: ‘be gentle with yourself.’ I’ve come to understand her words to mean that while we should work hard on the issues that matter, we should also take time to pause. To be patient. To lead with understanding and respect.” — MARY SIMON, Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General
“Queen Elizabeth II lived a life of history and duty. She was also a mother, grandmother and great grandmother. My thoughts today are for her family who have lost a pillar of strength in their lives.” — NDP Leader JAGMEET SINGH, who has said he doesn’t see the monarchy’s relevance
“Although I also offer my condolences to the family, I object to the Quebec nation lowering its flag.” — PAUL ST-PIERRE PLAMONDON, leader of the sovereigntist Parti Québécois
“‘She loved to colonize’: World remembers Queen Elizabeth II” — WALKING EAGLE NEWS, satirical Indigenous news outlet
CHANGING PLANS — The 10-day mourning period for the queen comes just as political Ottawa was kicking back into gear at the tail end of the summer recess. From Vancouver, Trudeau had been expected to announce measures to tackle the rising cost of living on Thursday, but the announcement was delayed.
According to MIA RABSON for the Canadian Press, the PM was planning to announce the government’s plans to “temporarily double GST rebate cheques, increase aid to help low-income Canadians pay their rent and launch the first part of a national dental care plan.”
— Delayed coronation? Trudeau’s announcement would have come just ahead of the Conservatives’ leadership election, which was scheduled for Saturday in Ottawa. MP PIERRE POILIEVRE is widely expected to win, and has promised to take the Liberals to task over rising inflation.
But now it seems Saturday’s event may also be postponed. The organizing committee “is considering an appropriate, respectful way to announce the results,” chair IAN BRODIE said in a statement, and will give an update today.
— Open questions: The Liberal caucus had been scheduled to meet for a retreat in New Brunswick starting Sunday. As of Thursday evening, there had been no announcement about a change of plans.
Parliament is scheduled to return Sept. 19, which falls just outside the 10-day window. However, it’s possible Trudeau could reconvene Parliament to move an address of loyalty and sympathy, as per protocol.
— Speaking of protocol: It’s still too early to say much about what the coming days will entail. For a start, members of the public are invited to sign books of condolence at Rideau Hall and Parliament Hill and online. A GG spokesperson told Playbook that people would also be invited to write messages of condolence on construction hoarding that abuts the driveway in front of Rideau Hall’s main building.
Trudeau and Simon will attend the funeral in London. Per the Globe and Mail, there will also be a commemorative ceremony at Ottawa’s Christ Church Cathedral and a parade past the National War Memorial.
Beyond that, according to the CBC’s MARK GOLLOM, much is left to the discretion of the prime minister, including whether to declare a national holiday for the memorial service.
— Related:Here’s royal expert PATRICIA TREBLE with a Big Story podcast, recorded in 2019, about what happens in the minutes, hours, days and weeks following the queen’s death.
BY THE NUMBERS — From all the figures swirling about the queen’s 70 years on the throne, here are a few that jumped out.
9 out of 10 — Living human beings who have never known another British monarch.
12 — Canadian prime ministers who served during her reign, from LOUIS ST. LAURENT to the younger Trudeau.
101 — The number of years between the births of the first British prime minister to serve her, WINSTON CHURCHILL, and the last, LIZ TRUSS.
22 — Her visits to Canada as queen (she also visited once as Princess Elizabeth in 1951).
1 out of 2 — Years since Confederation that the queen occupied the throne (almost).
READINGS — We know you’ve been inundated with obituaries. But if you’ll bear with us, we want to point you to a little of what we’ve been reading. None of these is a traditional tribute, we promise.
— Who she was:For POLITICO, OTTO ENGLISH took a stab at writing about the life of ELIZABETH WINDSOR, rather than the death of the queen. “We know this much about her,” he writes. “She was in essence a countrywoman, of a certain type familiar among the British upper classes. Dry and stiff upper lipped. Raised in singularly cosseted surroundings from which she never strayed far. She adored horses and people who loved horses, and dogs and people who loved dogs.
“She knew a lot about the things she had inherited and not much about anything else. She drove — fast — about her estates in a beaten-up Land Rover and dedicated her life to fiercely protecting the promulgation of the family firm.”
— A complicated legacy: For the Ottawa Citizen, Angus Reid Institute president SHACHI KURL took on our difficult relationship with the monarchy, and what comes next. The queen’s death “has left my dad in tears,” she writes. “My father, who grew up steeped in the new era of an independent, post-colonial India. A country that fought to kick out the king and all he represented. … And yet there she had been, someone who — albeit from a distance — had travelled with him the entirety of my father’s life. And now she is gone.”
Kurl points to her own recent polling that shows more than half of Canadians think this country should not continue as a constitutional monarchy. But change won’t come soon, she warns. “Find me a politician willing to take on the constitutional overhaul required for Canada to repatriate its head of state.”
— Flashback: The Nunatsiaq News on Thursday reposted an article by GORD HOWARD from 2002, when the queen last visited Nunavut during her golden jubilee tour, marking 50 years on the throne. It was just three years since Nunavut’s creation in 1999, and then-prime minister JEAN CHRÉTIEN referred to it as the queen’s “last new territory.”
One quote jumps out, from elder CELESTINE ERKIDJUK, who said he had held the queen’s arm during her 1972 visit to Iqaluit and bore her no ill will. “Inuit are generous by nature,” he said, “and as a child growing up, my parents used to tell me no matter how badly treated you are, be patient.”
— The long read: If you’ve got time, dive into this opus by KEN MACQUEEN and PATRICIA TREBLE for Maclean’s. It begins with a scene of the queen dropping the puck at a VANCOUVER CANUCKS game in 2002. “These thousands, perhaps millions, of small acts, performed ad tedium in the decades before and the years since that event are, to many, the public face of her reign,” they write. “Small intangibles, and yet, cumulatively, relentlessly, inexplicably, of value.”
MISCELLANY — A lot of things will change with the queen’s death — and some things won’t. Here are a few of each.
Money — It will be up to the government to decide if new bank notes will feature the image of KING CHARLES III, Bloomberg’s STEPHEN WICARY reports. There’s no legislative requirement.
Parliament — MPs will not need to renew their oath of allegiance, Speaker ANTHONY ROTA shared on Thursday. And Parliament will not be dissolved — phew!
Legal system — The Queen’s Counsel is now the King’s Counsel. Ditto for the Court of Queen’s Bench. And court cases will be styled Rex v. ___.
Portraits — The queen’s official portraits will eventually be replaced with those of the King. Per CTV’s RACHEL AIELLO, they could be draped with black fabric in the interim.
God Save the Queen — You can probably guess.
AND FINALLY, A FLASHBACK TO 1952 — When King George VI died on Feb. 6, three weeks passed before Parliament convened in a new session. Former PM LOUIS ST. LAURENT rose to deliver an address of sympathy and loyalty to the new queen.
The formal address included these words:
“Your Majesty’s sorrow and that of the royal family is shared in a personal way by the people of Canada, whose representatives we are. King George VI was a great king and a good man. By his devotion to duty, his high courage, his example as a husband and a father, and his concern for the welfare of those he ruled, he greatly endeared himself to his Canadian subjects.”
Then-Conservative leader GEORGE DREW seconded the motion, which received the full support of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and the Social Credit Party.
— Times have changed: St. Laurent’s preamble to the address included this line. “All political parties worthy of the description are as one in their devotion to the crown and in their attachment to the commonwealth.”
The House chamber at that time didn’t include members of the separatist Bloc Québécois, nor a New Democratic Party that has expressed deep concern with the Crown’s relationship with Indigenous people in Canada.
Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU is in Vancouver where his itinerary indicates he’ll be in private meetings until noon local time when he meets with B.C. Premier JOHN HORGAN.
The federal NDP caucus is in Halifax ahead of the return of Parliament.
8:30 a.m. Statistics Canada will release its August labor force survey.
11 a.m. (9 a.m.): The RCMP is scheduled to hold its National Memorial Service in Regina for members who lost their lives in the line of duty. The service will honor Const. ALLAN POAPST, Const. SHELBY PATTON and Const. HEIDI STEVENSON, who was among those killed during the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia. You can watch it here.
IN OTHER NEWS — PIERRE POILIEVRE isn’t the Conservative leader yet, but he probably will be soon. He’d better be, in fact, because your Playbook host wrote a really long thing about him, and it took a lot of work, and there isn’t time to do another one about JEAN CHAREST.
We decided to let Poilievre speak for himself. Not in an interview, of course, since he rarely gives those anymore, but by combing through his (extremely long) record of speeches, op-eds, interviews, and so forth.
Today, we offer you 43 short things about Pierre Poilievre.
Here’s a quick sample:
— In 2012, his mother said she thought he’d “go for the big job in another 10 years.”
— As a university student, he once referred to JOE CLARK and JEAN CHRÉTIEN as “Jurassic Clark and Ancient Chrétien.”
— He once referred to himself as “a very nice guy.”
— At age 25, on the eve of his first session in Parliament, he told JOHN IVISON, “I feel completely prepared for this job — I don’t feel lacking in any area.”
— He likes to play online chess.
— At one point, he went by Jeff.
— The upshot: We’re not the first to say this, but what’s remarkable is Poilievre’s consistency. He seems to have emerged, fully formed, at age 17 or so.
It was all there. The taste for the stinging one-liner. A certain distrust of the mainstream media. The willingness to go after non-partisan institutions, from Elections Canada to the central bank. The take-no-prisoners approach to debate.
And also the intelligence. The way with words. The thoughtfulness. And the deeply held belief in small government and individual freedom.
— So here he is. In his own words.
— To our Canadian readers: We hope you learn at least one new thing about the probable future Conservative leader.
— To our American readers: Meet Pierre Poilievre! Sorry for all the minutiae about Canadian political history.
— The New York Times features a guest essay from Pulitzer finalist ELIZABETH RUSH: What Antarctica’s disintegration asks of us.
— The Star’s ROBERT BENZIE has the latest on DOUG FORD’s“strong mayor” law, which will take effect after Oct. 24 elections.
— In case you missed it, here’s JOANNE CHIANELLOon the tenure of Ottawa Mayor JIM WATSON.
— Defense Minister ANITA ANAND showed up this week on The Bridge pod with PETER MANSBRIDGE. Listen here.
— And last word to TANYA TALAGAwriting from Fort William First Nation this week: “It is time for Canada to take responsibility … Listen to Indigenous peoples and leaders. Bring true reconciliation to that cold, empty word that has left us in a state of seemingly inevitable, violent flux.”
For POLITICO Pro subscribers, catch up to our latest policy newsletter: The announcement that wasn’t.
In other news for subscribers:
— Wicker optimistic that rail strike won’t materialize.
— White House: Crypto could weaken U.S. climate goals.
— Digital great game: The West’s standoff against China and Russia.
— Gavin Newsom encounters an unexpected antagonist: Joe Biden.
Birthdays: HBD to Veterans Affairs Minister LAWRENCE MACAULAY and NDP MP NIKI ASHTON. Celebrating Saturday: MPs DARREN FISHER and BEN LOBB, and Senators PAUL MASSICOTTE and DANIEL CHRISTMAS. On Sunday: Deputy Finance Minister MICHAEL SABIA.
Send birthdays to [email protected].
Movers and shakers: Shopify Inc. has two new execs:JEFF HOFFMEISTER is the new CFO. KAZ NEJATIAN becomes chief operating officer.
Spotted: At the Banff Forum: CHRISTY CLARK, PETER MACKAY, ROBERT GHIZ, BARINDER BHULLAR, LEAH BAE, MATT CAMPBELL and AMANDA SHATZKO. This year’s edition is in Charlottetown and runs through Saturday.
CATHERINE CLARK, recounting a memorable encounter with the queen when she was 10 years old.
ROBERTO ROCHA, at a virtual citizenship ceremony that was delayed while officials worked out the new oath of allegiance.
NATE ERSKINE-SMITH, in Kingston on the weekend for the annual Queen’s University baseball alumni tournament. “Great to see the guys even though I now pitch like I’m 80,” he tweeted. His fastball speed? Mid-60s today, low 80s in his prime, he tells Playbook.
And a genealogy of the Royal corgis.
In memoriam: Michael Anderson Dagg died in Ottawa Sept. 1.DEAN BEEBY pays tribute to a pioneer of freedom of information in Canada.
Thursday’s answer: Green MP ELIZABETH MAY participated in a 17-day hunger strike on Parliament Hill in 2001. She once spoke with AARON WHERRY about it here.
Props to CHRIS MCCLUSKEY, JOHN DILLON, MARY JANE ALLAN, ALYSON FAIR, JOANNA PLATER and DEAN VALENTINO.
Friday’s question: Who named Rideau Hall?
Send your answers to [email protected]
Playbook wouldn’t happen without Luiza Ch. Savage and editor Sue Allan.