Happy Halloween Weekend, Canada! As you nurse your candy hangovers, read our roundup of this week’s top political stories:
1. CETA: Earlier today, Canada and the European Union signed the long-delayed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a landmark trade agreement that, when implemented, will eliminate 98% of the tariffs between Canada and the EU. Prime Minister Trudeau called this “…a good thing for our economies…and a good thing for the world.” Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper also tweeted his congratulations. (CBC)
- What’s next? Ratification. Though the deal has been signed, ratification is not guaranteed. According to a statement from the European Commission, “Its full entering into force will be subject to the conclusion by the EU, through a council decision with the consent of the European Parliament, and by all member states through the relevant national ratification procedures. “(CBC)
- ICYMI: Trudeau had initially expected to sign the deal in Brussels on Thursday, but the Belgian region of Wallonia nearly killed the deal because of its opposition to the pact’s investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.
2. Trudeau names 9 new Senators: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named nine new, non-affiliated senators Thursday, bringing him within reach of his goal to transform the Senate into a more reputable, independent chamber of sober second thought.They are the first senators to be chosen under an arm’s-length process that saw more than 2,700 Canadians apply to fill the 21 vacancies. (CBC)
- For an overview of the appointees and their respective backgrounds, see this article from CBC Politics.
3. Battle over Muskrat Falls: The fight over the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador reached a temporary standstill Wednesday after an agreement was reached between Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball and Inuit officials. Premier Ball promised the government would seek further independent assessments of the project and create a special committee to look at ways to reduce possible methylmercury contamination. (CBC)
- If you’re a bit behind on the Muskrat Falls battle, check out this article from CBC. It explains the Muskrat Falls project, who is protesting, why they are protesting, and why the controversy has escalated recently.
4. Cash-for-access fundraisers: Federal lobbying commissioner Karen Shepherd says she is investigating what she called the governing Liberals’ “pay-for-access” fundraisers to determine whether senior Trudeau cabinet ministers have breached the Lobbying Act. The probe began in response to stories in The Globe and Mail that revealed wealthy donors are paying as much as $1,500 per ticket for private time with senior cabinet ministers in charge of major spending and policy decisions. (The Globe and Mail)
- Prime Minister Trudeau has defended these so-called “cash-for-access” fundraisers, and said the following in the House of Commons on Tuesday: “In our federal system, we have very clear, restrictive and robust rules concerning fundraising. It’s impossible for someone to give more than $1,500 per year to a federal party. … That is why we don’t have money influencing political decisions. The rules in place ensure that when those rules are followed there are no ethical breaches.” (The Globe and Mail)
5. FBI Re-Investigating Clinton’s emails: The FBI informed Congress on Friday it is investigating whether there is classified information in new emails that have emerged in its probe of Hillary Clinton’s private server. The FBI said in July its investigation was finished. (iPolitics)
- FYEI (For Your Extra Information): According to reports, FBI Director James Comey acted independently when he briefed lawmakers on Friday, defying convention and direction from the US Justice Department. Justice department officials said the move would be inconsistent with rules designed to avoid the appearance of interference in an election. The move has been assailed and praised by Democrats and Republicans alike. (BBC, The Guardian)