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Welcome to the Ottawa Playbook. I’m your host, Nick Taylor-Vaisey with Maura Forrest. Barring some crazy, unforeseen event, welcome to the last House sitting day until September. We made it, everybody. Thank god for all those stress-relieving garden parties, amirite? Today we dig into the Canada Day convoy, proposed new lobbying rules (RIP receptions?), and the long, long road to EV domination in Canada.

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THIS SEEMS UNTENABLE — A law enforcement source fed a special bulletin from Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre to freelance reporter JUSTIN LING. In it, the intelligence community warns that elements of a convoy of protesters planning Canada Day events in the capital have “aspirations to overthrow the federal government or to engage in mass violent resistance.”

Rolling Thunder, the tepid April biker protest that entered and exited the city in relatively orderly fashion, this is not.

— Lobby day on the Hill: The anti-mandate movement that wants Trudeau out of office and vaccines far from people’s arms found its way into the halls of Parliament Wednesday.

PIERRE POILIEVREcame under fire earlier in the week for encouraging the protests (so long as they remain legal), even as he denied the movement’s claims that he’d been in contact with them.

Turns out that was the appetizer.

A not-insignificant number of Tory MPs are giving the movement their full support. At a meeting room on the Hill, the Tories welcomed and applauded JAMES TOPP, a former military anti-mandate activist who literally ran to Ottawa from British Columbia. Former Trump advisor PAUL ALEXANDER was there, too, alongside winter occupation spokesperson TOM MARAZZO. Watch their recording of the session.

— The MPs in attendance: TED FALK, ARNOLD VIERSEN, RYAN WILLIAMS, DEAN ALLISON, COREY TOCHOR, SCOT DAVIDSON, DAMIEN KUREK, JAMES BEZAN, WARREN STEINLEY, KERRY-LYNNE FINDLAY, JOHN BARLOW, JEREMY PATZER and leadership contender LESLYN LEWIS.

“You do have allies. You’ve had allies all along, and so I just wanted to encourage you guys going forward,” Patzer told the activists.

— Scenes from the room:CBC’s DAVID FRASER was there.

— For the record: In the Commons, Allison delivered a strong statement of support for Topp. “Starting a conversation and listening to each other during these difficult times, when our country seems so divided, is the only path forward. James has started the conversation, and I intend to participate for the good of our country.”

BATTLE FOR RECEPTIONS — A pair of lobbyist lobby groups have beef with the lobbying commissioner. NANCY BELANGER‘s office has proposed a new draft code of conduct for the small army of consultants and advocates who want to influence policymakers on the Hill.

One of Belanger’s proposals would change the rules for gift-giving. The basic rule of thumb is, well, don’t give gifts. But there are exceptions made for “low-value tokens of appreciation or promotional items” — basically, your garden-variety tchotchkes.

— What is “low-value”? The draft code says it’s C$30, and no lobbyist should exceed that limit with any public official over a 12-month span.

— What lobbyists say: The Government Relations Institute of Canada and Public Affairs Association of Canada teamed up on a submission to Belanger’s office. They fear the C$30 limit would “eliminate receptions on the Hill with parliamentarians.”

We can already hear the desperate gasps from the cocktail circuit set. But GRIC and PAAC have a serious point to make. Receptions, they say, are “a key means of communicating with busy parliamentarians.” It’s “impossible” for one-on-ones with every interest group. A little harmless wining and dining is a “less resource-heavy way” to reach the people who vote.

There’s more. The submission claims measuring all the finger food and free drinks “will be impractical, if not impossible.” Not to mention “unenforceable.”

Playbook wonders: what’s the going rate on a pig in a blanket?

And here’s where things get really dramatic. The lobbyists warn the chill on receptions “may infringe on the parliamentary privilege afforded to our elected officials.”

— What’s next: Nothing’s a done deal at this point. The deadline to make submissions to the lobbying commissioner’s office passed Wednesday. Belanger has run public consultations on an updated code of conduct since 2020. This is the “third and final round.”

INSERT NO ENTRY SIGN HERE — As Playbook first reported Monday, a significant number of foreign-based tech entrepreneurs and startup founders were forced to cancel their attendance at this week’s Collision mega-conference in Toronto.

The National Post reported Tuesday that most of the attendees that were forced to Ctrl + W their travel plans live in Africa or Southeast Asia — stymied by “crippling visa backlogs in Canada’s immigration bureaucracy.” The Post reported Wednesday that up to 400 African delegates could miss next month’s International AIDS Conference in Montreal.

— The minister’s defense: Immigration Minister SEAN FRASER faced questions on the backlogs as he left Wednesday’s Liberal caucus meeting. Fraser was at Collision for two days this week. He marveled at its magnitude, blamed “complexities” of individual cases, and implied some travelers simply applied too late.

“Whenever we’re dealing with events of that scale, there are sometimes cases that we try really hard for people to get here,” he said. “We encourage them to apply early and the vast majority of requests that came to the conference organizers, we were able to approve.”

Fraser said Collision’s organizers were satisfied with his efforts. “Despite some challenges along the way, and despite the fact that there are some people who didn’t get approvals on time, [the organizers] were extremely grateful for our partnership with them to get so many people who were able to take part in the conference.”

— Related reading: POLITICO’s RYAN HEATH reports from Toronto on tech conferences for grown-ups.





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