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Good evening to you.
Facing pressure to align with the U.S. to help poorer countries access COVID vaccines more quickly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped short today of declaring whether Canada would support waiving patent protections for COVID vaccines.
Katherine Tai, President Joe Biden’s trade representative, announced on Wednesday that the U.S. would support a proposal before the World Trade Organization that would temporarily eliminate protections of intellectual property rights for life-saving vaccines. The proposal, which was originally presented by India and South Africa last fall and is supported by more than 50 countries, as well as the African Union’s 55 member states, requires consensus support from the WTO’s more than 150 member countries.
“We are … continuing to work at the WTO on a range of discussions around proposals, and we look forward to moving forward on a consensus basis,” Trudeau said Friday.
Until the U.S. declared its position this week, many of the world’s richest countries had opposed the proposal. European countries remain divided over the idea, while in Canada, pressure has been mounting on the Trudeau government to align itself with the American administration. Charlie Pinkerton has that story.
Still with Trudeau, he pushed back today against Ontario’s ongoing calls for tighter travel restrictions, saying finger-pointing won’t help Ontarians as the province grapples with the third wave of COVID-19. His comments come after an ad released Thursday by the governing Progressive Conservatives, which accused him of failing to appropriately restrict travel into the province. “If the Ontario government wants to do more to restrict the volume of people coming into Ontario, we are more than happy to work with them on it,” Trudeau said. “But you know, it’s been a week since we’ve received that request directly from the premier, that they haven’t followed up on, except with personal attacks, which doesn’t make sense and frankly won’t help Ontarians.” That story from CP.
Still with Ontario, workplace spread of COVID-19, particularly in populous hot spot areas, poses the biggest threat to the province, a top science adviser told a House of Commons committee today. The testimony from Dr. Brian Schwartz, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, stands in contrast to the recent political messaging campaign from Premier Doug Ford’s government, which has focused on what it says are Ottawa’s failures to secure Canada’s borders.
“I think the biggest threat, really moving forward, is in fact related to crowded workplaces, and crowded workplaces in hot spots,” Schwartz told the standing committee on Health. “And in particular … workplaces that are involved with distribution (and) transportation.” He added: “We have workers in those workplaces that live in hot spots, that live in crowded conditions, that live with other workers in multi-generational households, particularly in Northwest Toronto and Peel.” More on that from
Still with COVID, a growing number of Canadians have been without work for a long time, prompting concerns that the pandemic will cause long-term “scarring” of the labour market. The number of workers categorized as being long-term unemployed reached 486,000 in April, according to Statistics Canada’s labour-force survey released Friday. People are considered long-term unemployed if they’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. Among them, 312,000 haven’t been able to find work for more than a year, i.e., since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic or earlier. Jolson Lim has that story.
Meanwhile, at least 10 air travellers have been charged for violating the Quarantine Act, and four have been arrested, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. The data were released in response to an order-paper question from Conservative MP Damien Kurek on March 18. The RCMP, meanwhile, says it’s issued 129 fines, totalling $162,167, under the Act as of March 1. Rachel Emmanuel reports.
Back on the Hill, in an effort to get beyond the stalemate that MPs on the Heritage committee are facing over Bill C-10, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather introduced a motion to have the Justice minister provide a Charter statement on Bill C-10 “as soon as possible” and for both the Justice and Heritage ministers to appear before the committee “as soon as possible.” Bill C-10, an Act to amend the Broadcasting Act, was introduced last fall. Last month during clause-by-clause considerations, the Liberals removed section 4.1 related to user-generated content from the bill. Section 4.1 was taken out because it “excluded social-media platforms,” Guilbeault said in a statement Monday. Janet Silver has that story.
In an 8-1 decision today, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the conviction of a young offender for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl who didn’t have the capacity to validly consent to sex. Leslie MacKinnon has more.
The Rebel to Rabble Review: Ministerial Twitter bans & anti-lockdown rodeos
The Sprout: Happy Roast Leg of Lamb Day!
In Other Headlines:
Telford repeatedly dodges questions about not telling Trudeau of 2018 Vance allegation (Global)
Judges’ sexual assault training bill receives royal assent after clearing the Senate (CP)
Nova Scotia introduces tighter boarder restrictions (CBC)
Kenney announces COVID-19 vaccine partnership between Alberta and Montana (Global)
Maxime Bernier uttered racist slur about Jagmeet Singh, according to statement filed in court (CBC)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Friday of “repeatedly documented” instances of coronavirus spreading through the air to people more than 6 feet away under certain conditions. The new document explaining the latest understanding of how the virus spreads is part of a shifting emphasis towards airborne transmission of the virus.
“Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from inhalation of virus in the air farther than six feet from an infectious source can occur,” it says in large letters, while noting it is “less likely than at closer distances.” The risk of this kind of spread is highest indoors in places with “inadequate ventilation,” when people are shouting or singing, or when people are exposed for long periods of time, the CDC said. More from CNN.
Even though it could, neither the U.S. military, nor its new Space Force, has any intention of shooting down an out-of-control Chinese rocket core that’s expected to crash somewhere on the planet this weekend. The exact location of where won’t be known until a few hours before impact. “We have the capability to do a lot of things, but we don’t have a plan to shoot it down as we speak,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters. “We’re hopeful that it will land in a place where it won’t harm anyone — hopefully in the ocean or someplace like that.”
He did make a veiled dig at Beijing, however. “For those of us who operate in the space domain, there should be a requirement to operate in a safe and thoughtful mode and make sure we take those kinds of things into consideration.” So, now we wait.
In Other International Headlines:
Chinese Covid vaccine gets WHO emergency approval (BBC)
Canada’s not on Britain’s latest quarantine-free travel list (AP)
Major cruise ship company may avoid Florida if state doesn’t permit COVID-19 vaccination checks (CNN)
California reports first ever yearly population decline (AP)
White House posts visitor logs for first time since Obama (The Hill)
Federal grand jury indicts four former Minneapolis police officers in George Floyd’s death (CNN)
In Featured Opinion:
Mariam Memarsadeghi: Iran’s election to women’s-rights body makes a mockery of UN and feminism
Andy Broderick: Solving the housing crisis through social finance
Goodness knows a few good puns can’t hurt when trying to weather a never-ending pandemic.
Have a great weekend.