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WELCOME TO OTTAWA PLAYBOOK. I’m your host, Nick Taylor-Vaisey. Today, dribs and drabs about the next Cabinet, but at least we’ll have a date. Also, Calgary Mayor NAHEED NENSHI bids the national stage adieu. And Playbook got its hands on secret Cabinet meeting minutes that fretted over national unity — way back in 1999.

OFFICE HOURS — Your daily Playbook correspondent is back for more this week. At last week’s coffee speed dating, we chatted about the withering lack of diversity in Canadian media and the future of cybersecurity. Today, I’ll be hanging out at a downtown Ottawa pub this afternoon between 4 and 6. There will be special guests you can meet. RSVP via email and I’ll send you our coordinates.

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NEW CABINET SCUTTLEBUTT — The Toronto Star published its salvo of speculation on Wednesday, and CBC’s DAVID COCHRANE brought more details on Thursday. Cochrane says the announcement of a swearing-in date will come today. He adds the government “could” add a save-the-date for Parliament’s return, too.

The PM has promised to appoint a Cabinet before the month is out. The G20 summit goes down in Rome on Oct. 30, so Trudeau will be on the road in advance of that. The last two post-election swearing-in ceremonies fell on Wednesdays, so Playbook’s best guess remains Oct. 27.

Deputy PM CHRYSTIA FREELAND didn’t add much on the topic at a media avail in Washington. The first question she faced was on the next crop of cabmins. “You know what? I have the list of the whole Cabinet, and I forgot to read it off,” she quipped. “The prime minister is hard at work on the transition.”

— Our latest reader picks: As speculation heats up and up and up, Playbook heard from JAIDEN RAMNATH, a Grade 10 student in Mississauga. Jaiden sent us a one-pager with his own best guesses — 18 men and 20 women. “I tried to make it gender neutral but it’s hard balancing out political experience, popularity and potential!”

For the record, our aspiring politico predicts that BARDISH CHAGGER will be named to a new portfolio: pandemic recovery. Jaiden also has ANITA ANAND taking over for HARJIT SAJJAN at defense, and former Ontario cabmin HELENA JACZEK replacing PATTY HAJDU at health. You hearing this, PMO?

CLIMATE PRESSURE — The No More Delays coalition of climate action groups says the vast majority of Canadians want the Liberals to move quickly on the climate file. Abacus Data found broad support for the coalition’s priorities among 1,500 respondents contacted earlier this month.

— Three next steps: 64 percent said the feds should place a cap on oil and gas emissions. 62 percent wanted a plan to end fossil fuel subsidies. And 65 percent wanted “swift delivery” of a “just transition” plan for workers in the energy sector.

— The Conservative view: Liberal, NDP and Green voters were much likelier to agree with the urgency of the coalition’s priorities. But many Tories were onside, too: 47 percent supported an emissions cap and 44 percent wanted an end to subsidies. Fifty-two percent of Albertans held the same views.

NENSHI SAYS GOODBYE — Outgoing Calgary Mayor NAHEED NENSHI delivered his last speech to a national audience in Ottawa on Thursday. “I want to do one last national speech because next week, no one will care who I am,” Nenshi told a small group of masked and physically distanced attendees at Ottawa City Hall. “And I got some things to say.”

— Why he’s worn purple every day for the past 11 years: “It’s because purple is not a primary color. … It’s a combination of red and blue. And the argument that I tried to make by wearing purple everyday is that we are human beings. We’re not red. We’re not blue. We’re not partisans. We’re not defined by our ideology. We’re defined by our humanity.”

— Why his social media has become “pretty damn boring”: Though he said he misses engaging more with people and retweeting the lost cats and dog posts, social media has “become a bit of a cesspool.” He said he couldn’t deal with the onslaught of vitriolic “crap” a person would get for simply being mentioned in the same tweet as him. “And I can’t expect them to spend all day going block, block, block. And so I kind of got away from it.”

— Why federal politics isn’t for him: Because he’s ashamed that Bill 21, a Quebec law that bars public servants from wearing religious symbols, exists in Canada. “Our federal politicians have remained silent about it. And I find that deeply offensive.”

— Bill 21’s distorting mirror: “We live in a country, where, because of your faith, there are jobs that are closed to you. And when two women of color raised that on a national stage, they were called racist. And they were called discriminatory because we don’t talk about that,” Nenshi said, referring to leaders’ debate moderator SHACHI KURL and outgoing Green Party Leader ANNAMIE PAUL.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in “private meetings,” though surely his itinerary will be updated — perhaps soon after you read this newsletter.

What is happening? Questions about the Hill? Send them our way.

SECRETS REVEALED — We almost never know what Cabinet ministers really think. Some are more candid than others when they go on the record — see: CARLA QUALTROUGH — but they mostly keep their unvarnished opinions behind closed doors, within the safe confines of the Cabinet room.

Cabinet secrecy is a convention as old as Canada, and it shields decision-makers who need to speak freely without consequence from the prying eyes of the public.

But the federal access-to-information law slaps a 20-year limit on the government’s ability to redact records of Cabinet deliberations — a written record of who said what about some of the most important and sensitive issues facing the country.

Set a timer for 20 years, and all that federal sausage-making is a matter of public record.

— National unity: On Nov. 23, 1999, the Liberal Cabinet helmed by JEAN CHRÉTIEN first considered a law that responded directly to a Supreme Court reference on secession. Three years after Quebec’s 1995 referendum, the court had ruled that future referendum questions that could break up the country must be clear. Chrétien tasked his intergovernmental affairs minister, STÉPHANE DION, with crafting a federal response.

The Clarity Act he proposed would set the terms for any federal-provincial negotiation after a successful vote to separate from Canada.

— It was no slam dunk: Chrétien was upfront that no government had ever acknowledged Canada even was divisible. Several ministers had serious reservations about the draft bill in front of them. They worried the bill (ironically) lacked clarity, and were concerned it inadvertently offered a roadmap to separation. Some said the feds should consult more widely — say, with premiers — before proceeding.

— A feisty committee: Over the next several days, a committee of ministers, chaired by Deputy PM HERB GRAY, hashed out all the details in the Cabinet room on the second floor of Centre Block. Meeting minutes revealed a lack of consensus on the full Cabinet’s main concerns — and a determined Dion.

On the second day of meetings, Treasury Board president LUCIENNE ROBILLARD was paraphrased as saying the bill reads “more like a resolution in a party conference than a draft law, perhaps because of its generality.”

ALFONSO GAGLIANO, the public works minister who several years later took much of the blame for the disastrous Sponsorship Scandal, said the bill “could not be pushed quickly through Parliament if we are engaged in a lesson on democracy.” He wanted a simpler draft.

The ministers also debated dropping the bill and voting on the matter as a non-binding resolution of the House. Dion argued that a resolution would be easier for then-opposition leader PRESTON MANNING to vote against. He favored his bill.

Justice Minister ANNE MCCLELLAN cautioned against moving too quickly at the expense of other business. “She cited the cutting off of the Nisga’a hearings as an example of the political damage that can be done,” read the minutes, referring to a landmark First Nations self-government agreement then working its way through the Commons.

Robillard insisted caucus members should have a voice, but still doubted a bill was the best option for the government on the clarity issue. Dion was “depressed” by that conclusion, arguing federal inaction would only empower Quebec premier LUCIEN BOUCHARD and Bloc Québécois leader GILLES DUCEPPE.

— Rough notes: The clerk of the privy council, MEL CAPPE, summarized ministers’ concerns in a briefing note to Gray — including a section on parliamentary challenges.

— A decision: On Nov. 30, there was still no consensus on whether the bill should go forward, but Gray told the committee that Chrétien favored that approach. Dion said the bill should be “a law for all.” Gagliano snapped back that he “was concerned about too much emphasis on fairness; he would like more on keeping the country united.”

When the full Cabinet met on Dec. 7, they agreed on the draft of the bill, stubbornly reworked by Dion, and resolved to “move for early passage” in the Commons. The Clarity Act was tabled on Dec. 13, passed through the Commons in March, and the law of the land before the summer of 2000. The Liberals won a third majority that November.

Pro subscribers should not miss ZI-ANN LUM and ANDY BLATCHFORD’s Pro PM Canada newsletter: Watchdog: Canada’s privacy protections falling behind provinces

In other headlines for Pros:

IEA: Increasing global climate ambitions projected to price out Canadian oil

Congress permits Pentagon to shift $3B within its budget

Coal and gas plants could win climate funds to woo Manchin’s support

The Davos crowd takes over COP26

White House scrambles to address looming Christmas crisis

Chrétien-era Liberal Cabinet minister SERGIO MARCHI interviewed rookie MP YASIR NAQVI in Ottawa Life magazine. Naqvi said he’s working with local caucus colleagues to get the city’s issues on the prime minister’s radar: “We Ottawa MPs are trying to coordinate our priorities and messaging for the PMO.” Marchi also asked if unvaccinated MPs should stay home. Naqvi’s response: “Yes.”

In The Narwhal, MATT SIMMONS writes about why tensions are escalating on Wet’suwet’en territory over the Coastal GasLink pipeline: “They harass us and keep us out of our territory, block us out of our territory, destroy our land and then have the audacity to put an orange shirt up for our children,” said Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, Gidimt’en Camp spokesperson.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel south of the border has approved Moderna booster shots. POLITICO reporters serve up three takeaways.

MARK CARNEY sat down with Reuters’ global editor of breaking news, ROB COX, on The Exchange podcast. They talked climate finance in advance of COP26.

As pediatric vaccine doses edge nearer, PATRICIA TREBLE writes in Maclean’s about how well Canada has protected its kids from Covid.

What are you reading? Playbook wants to know.

Birthdays: A milestone HBD to Employment Minister CARLA QUALTROUGH, 50 today. … Former Tory MP HAROLD ALBRECHT is 72.

Birthdays, gatherings, social notices: Send them our way.

Spotted: ALAN NEAL, host of CBC Radio’s All in a Day, in the front row for Feist at rhe NAC. … Ontario Labour Minister MONTE MCNAUGHTON at the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario’s annual convention: “We are happy to stand with union leaders and workers.” Says DAVID TARRANT: “Politics is changing…” #TBT: JENNI BYRNE posing with HILLARY CLINTON.

Movers and shakers: Former Ontario housing minister PETER MILCZYN signed up to lobby for a Toronto company, Spotlight Developments, that wants to build a 1,000-unit affordable housing project in the city. … MEHDI RAZI of Parscom Management is repping the Canadian arm of global satellite comms company Iridium Communications.

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research aims to solve “some of the most challenging questions facing humanity,” and hauled in C$36.4 million in federal funding last year.

On Sept. 23, CIFAR met with JUSTIN TRUDEAU and cabmins CHRYSTIA FREELAND, PATTY HAJDU, JEAN-YVES DUCLOS, ANITA ANAND and FRANÇOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE. Also on that day’s docket were a pair of DMs: SIMON KENNEDY at ISED and STEPHEN LUCAS at Health.

DAN BREZNITZ will serve as the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist at the Department of Finance for the 2021-22 academic year: “Time to reboot and have a better Canada (and world) as we open after Covid.”

Ethics files: National Capital Commission CEO TOBI NUSSBAUM coughed up C$250 to the ethics commissioner’s office for “failure to disclose within 30 days a material change relating to assets.”

Media mentions: Toronto Star reporter JOANNA CHIU testified at U.S. Congress on civil and political rights in Hong Kong. … CAMILLA BAINS is interning as a chase producer on Power & Politics. … KAYLA ZHU is interning at CBC’s investigative unit and news lab.

As Playbook noted earlier this month, ALEX BOUTILIER is off to Global News. ALEX BALLINGALL is staying put. That means only one Alex B will work at the Toronto Star’s Hill bureau. The Hill Times preserved the ginger-bearded bromance for the rest of time with a glorious photo from the pre-Covid era.

Thursday’s answer: We asked readers to name two Indigenous leaders who were at the forefront of an alliance with British forces during the War of 1812.

The most popular answer was TECUMSEH, and several readers also identified TEYONINHOKARAWEN (John Norton) and AHYONWAEGHS (John Brant). Tecumseh’s brother, TENSKWATAWA, also participated in the war. BLACK HAWK led his own people in battle on the American side of the border. The Canadian Encyclopedia wrote an extensive history of the alliance and its leaders.

Props to MICHAEL MACDONALD, JASON BROWN, GARY ALLEN, VICTOR SAUNTRY, JOHN ECKER, ART WHITAKER, and BEN ROTH.

Friday’s question: This Montreal-based newspaper launched on Oct. 15, 1884 as a direct competitor to Le Monde, another daily owned by HECTOR-LOUIS LANGEVIN — a politician known most infamously as an architect of Canada’s residential school system. Name the upstart, which renamed itself only a few days into its existence.

Send your answers to [email protected]

Playbook wouldn’t happen without Luiza Ch. Savage, editor Sue Allan, Zi-Ann Lum and Andy Blatchford.

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