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Good evening to you.
We begin with ethics commissioner Mario Dion, who has found that former Finance minister Bill Morneau broke ethics law by failing to recuse himself from discussions about awarding WE Charity the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not. The commissioner’s findings were published today, the result of an investigation requested by four MPs on July 10, after the Trudeau government outsourced the $500-million CSSG — a program to pay students for volunteering — to WE Charity, an organization with which the Trudeau and Morneau families had close financial ties for years.
Morneau’s relationship with WE Charity gave the organization “unfettered” access to the minister of Finance’s office, “which amounted to preferential treatment,” the report found. “As soon as Mr. Morneau was advised that WE would likely play an important role in the student relief initiative, he should have recused himself from that point onwards from cabinet discussions and decision making,” Dion said in a statement. Rachel Emmanuel reports.
Circling back to COVID-19, Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said today that more than 2.3 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses have found their way into arms nationwide, and so far, 28 suspected cases of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) have been identified. In addition to supply issues, the rare blood clot is the reason some provinces have stopped administering the vaccine as a first dose. However, early data out of the UK suggests the risk after jab #2 is lower than after jab #1.
Today, Quebec became the latest province to hit pause on administering AstraZeneca as a first dose.
With more doses of the vaccine set to arrive in the coming weeks, Njoo said Canada will continue to buy enough to get existing AstraZeneca recipients their second jab. “The situation with AstraZeneca is evolving and we will work with the provinces in terms of their supply needs,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin. “We want to assure everyone that sufficient supply will be available for those who want a second dose of the AstraZeneca or who cannot take an mRNA vaccine.” More on that from CBC News.
However, in an interview during CTV News Channel’s “Get the Facts on the Vax” special last night, Dr. Theresa Tam said she believes Canada could be mixing different kinds of vaccines in the next few months.
So how should Ottawa respond to the provinces’ panic over AstraZeneca? Charlie Pinkerton has that story.
From panic to pipelines: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she hopes the Biden administration will join her fight against Enbridge to shut down its Line 5 pipeline. Whitmer ordered Enbridge to close Line 5 by May 12 after revoking a state easement for the pipeline last November because of environmental concerns. That’s from Janet Silver.
A proposed tax on foreign, non-resident homeowners would generate less revenue than what the federal government anticipates, says Canada’s spending watchdog. The 2021 federal budget proposes a national one per cent tax on the value of foreign, non-resident-owned residential homes considered to be vacant or underused. The federal government estimated the tax would increase federal revenues by $700 million over four years, starting in 2022-23. However, the parliamentary budget officer estimates revenues will be $200 million less over that period, generating only $509 million. Jolson Lim has the details.
Next door, la belle province is looking to change Canada’s constitution to recognize Quebecers as a nation and make sweeping changes to its language laws with Bill 96, which was introduced today in the national assembly. It’s goal? To increase from 53 per cent to 90 per cent the proportion of newcomers to the province who speak French. “This is a big day,” Premier François Legault told reporters, calling the legislation “essential for the survival and development of our nation.” As the only jurisdiction in North America where French has the status of a common language, he said Quebec is “in an English-speaking ocean,” which makes the bill “solid, necessary, and reasonable.” Kevin Dougherty has the details.
Meanwhile in Alberta, discontent within the ranks of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party caucus has spilled out into social media with an open call for his resignation. Senior backbench member Todd Loewen, who also serves as UCP caucus chair, posted a letter on Facebook this morning calling foe Kenney to resign, citing a lack of confidence in his leadership. “Albertans perceive our government as out of touch and arrogant, and they expect our caucus to bring their issues of concern to the government,” Loewen wrote. “When the premier chooses not [to] listen to caucus, is it any wonder why the people choose to stop listening to the government?”
Further East: “We all knew this was coming.” That was the word from Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey in a video released a short while ago, vowing urgent action in response to a long-awaited economic report that went public last week. Furey said Newfoundland and Labrador’s current path is unsustainable. “Our province is spending more than we have. We are borrowing just to pay interest on what we owe. Over a billion dollars a year with nothing to show for it. Our credit card debt is out of control.”
The latest edition of the No Talking Points podcast is live. This week we’re talking about the Line 5 pipeline and sexual misconduct in the military. You can have a listen here.
The Sprout: Happy National Apple Pie Day!
In Other Headlines:
Lawmaker demands Bloc MP answer for naked screenshot of Liberal colleague (CP)
Private international flights landing at smaller airports despite federal pandemic rules (CBC)
Ontario’s stay-at-home order extended until June 2 (Global)
Ontario will begin vaccinating students ages 12 to 17 at the end of May (CTV)
Greyhound shutting down all bus service in Canada permanently (CBC)
Court dismisses CBC copyright infringement lawsuit against Conservative Party (CBC)
Families of victims of Ethiopian and Iranian air disasters will be able to get permanent residency (CBC)
South of the border, a big step forward in the quest to emerge from the pandemic and the restrictions it has brought to daily life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today fully vaccinated Americans can now gather indoors or outdoors with others and without masks — even if some in their group are unvaccinated.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
She cited three studies — one from Israel and two from the United States — that show vaccines work, and called the progress an “exciting and powerful moment.” The announcement marks the first time the Biden administration has said it is safe for vaccinated people to remove masks in any kind of group gathering — big or small, indoors or outdoors, no matter who is present — a major step toward moving the country back to normal by the July 4 holiday. More from CNN.
President Joe Biden hailed it as a “great milestone.” As the Hill reports, the change in approach was immediately visible at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
At an event in West Virginia, First Lady Jill Biden, took off her mask upon landing in the state. “We feel naked,” she told reporters, adding: “I didn’t mean it that way!”
Although the FBI has historically discouraged American ransomware victims from paying their hackers, word from officials in the U.S. is that Colonial Pipeline paid the hackers who shut down some of its networks $5 million. More on that from Bloomberg.
In Other International Headlines:
Gaza conflict intensifies with rocket barrages and air strikes (Reuters)
Blame game begins as Afghanistan situation worsens (Politico)
Active-duty Marine charged with assaulting police officers at US Capitol riot (CNN)
Trial for 3 ex-cops charged in Floyd’s death pushed to March (AP)
Colombia protests: Shortages in Cali as demonstrations rumble on (BBC)
In Featured Opinion:
Kevin Desjardins: The greatest risk with Bill C-10 isn’t action, but inaction
Finally — rockets launching from Nova Scotia? Seems it could be a thing come next year.
Have a good night.