When in doubt, ask Jane Philpott to get the job done

Politics Insider for June 5: The former federal health minister is tapped by Doug Ford, a lack of taxman audits gives up hundreds of millions in revenue and a Nova Scotian aerial artist pays tribute to protest

Jane Philpott listens to an address at the B.C. Assembly of First Nations annual general meeting at the Musqueam First Nation, in Vancouver on Sept. 19, 2019. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

Jane Philpott listens to an address at the B.C. Assembly of First Nations annual general meeting at the Musqueam First Nation, in Vancouver on Sept. 19, 2019. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

Letters to America from Black Canadians: Maclean’s asked eight writers to pen open letters to America addressing the task of confronting racism that—deny it as some Canadians might—persists in their own country. Read them all here: Desmond Cole, Andray Domise, Esi Edugyan, Lawrence Hill, Sandy Hudson, Eternity Martis, Rinaldo Walcott and Ian Williams.

Jane Philpott to the rescue: The popular former federal health minister may not get a call from her former friends in Trudeau’s Ottawa anytime soon, but Doug Ford‘s Progressive Conservatives weren’t afraid to call her up. The Globe and Mail first reported that Philpott will lead Ontario’s effort to harness data to better understand the fight against COVID-19. Earlier this year, she gained on-the-ground experience on the front lines of the pandemic.

The feds published new COVID-19 modelling data that reinforced a lot of what Canadians already know: the coronavirus is deadliest when it infects older people, four in five deaths is linked to long-term care homes and the vast majority of cases—more than 90 per cent of new diagnoses in the past two weeks—are now in Ontario and Quebec. The models project that Canada will hit 100,000 cases and between 7,700 and 9,400 deaths by June 15.

If Bill Morneau and his Department of Finance want a recovery plan, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce delivered its comprehensive roadmap on a silver platter. There’s some pro-business code in there. The Chamber wants business subsidies to give way to a “growth-led approach that makes Canada among the most competitive investment environments in the world”—in other words, “please lower our taxes.” But it’s hard to ignore a business-friendly plan with more detail than what’s so far on the table from Tory leadership candidates. (By the way, most readers who responded to yesterday’s appeal for the most notable book on Morneau’s shelf were drawn to Bill Clinton’s memoir, My Life.)

Leslyn Lewis took a novel approach to proving her electoral bona fides are the real deal. The aspirant to the Conservative throne asked a polling company to survey Canadians on the four Tory candidates—but leaving out their names entirely and relying solely on their credentials. Lewis was framed as: “Female. Lawyer and entrepreneur. PhD in law and Masters in Environmental studies. Visible minority.” Evidently, 46 per cent of respondents preferred her description over that of her rivals.

Trudeau or Trump? Philippe J. Fournier dives characteristically deeply into a Léger poll that asked Canadian voters to take sides: would they prefer their own Prime Minister to run the country or his counterpart south of the border? While most support Trudeau, 31 per cent of Conservative voters wish Trump was their man. Fournier teases the quandary facing the next Tory leader:

While one could easily picture many Canadian conservatives favouring Ronald Reagan over Pierre Trudeau in the 1980s, or even George W. Bush over Paul Martin in the early 2000s, one wonders how the CPC will deal with supporters who either enjoy or approve Trump’s brand of populism and authoritarian tendencies.

That was fast: Stephen Poloz, until earlier this week the governor of the Bank of Canada, didn’t wait long to jump on the corporate board bandwagon. Enbridge, an energy company stuck in the middle of fractious national pipeline debates, now counts Poloz as a director.

The cost of turning a blind eye: The Canada Revenue Agency stopped auditing Canadians as the pandemic swept the nation and the taxman was consumed with shovelling emergency aid out the door. That was March 27. The agency has since put its auditors back to work, but a new report from the parliamentary budget officer says the CRA expects a 10-15 per cent drop in audit activity this year. The PBO crunched the numbers on how much revenue the feds would miss out on by temporarily leaving people alone with their money. The estimate: $616 million. That’s in the same ballpark as the total cost of last year’s carbon tax rebates.

Dimitri Neonakis, a pilot in Nova Scotia, has a knack for airborne artistry. Flight trackers noted Neonakis’s latest work, a raised fist in solidarity with George Floyd protests over the lobster-shaped province. The pilot’s Twitter account, which includes the quarantine-inspired “Hanging in there” (check out its flight history), now doubles as a virtual art gallery.