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At a tense moment for Canada-U.S. relations, Trudeau travels to D.C. for trilateral talks – CBC.ca

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will travel to Washington this week for the first Three Amigos summit in five years — a trilateral meeting with U.S. and Mexican leaders that has been dismissed in the past as high on symbolism and low on substance.

The one-day summit comes at a challenging time for the Canada-U.S. relationship.

The election of U.S. President Joe Biden was celebrated by many in Canada as the dawn of a new era in bilateral relations after the fractious four-year term of his predecessor, Donald Trump. During his campaign, Biden promised a return to “normalcy” and better relations with U.S. allies; the revival of the once-dormant Three Amigos gathering is a sign that the Trump-era froideur is over.

But on Biden’s watch, a number of new irritants have emerged. Biden, more beholden to progressive elements in the Democratic Party than past presidents, has made climate policy a priority to appeal to green activists. Canada’s energy sector is paying a price.

Canada battling U.S. protectionism, anti-oil agenda

In the first week of his presidency, Biden cancelled permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, dealing a multi-billion dollar blow to Alberta’s oilpatch.

He has done little to stop Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, from trying to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline — a crucial artery that supplies oil products and natural gas to power huge portions of the Canadian economy. Experts agree its closure would be devastating to Canada — a threat to the continued operation of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and the free flow of fossil fuels to other critical industries.

A spokesperson for Biden said this week the White House is awaiting a review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before deciding whether to wade into a debate over the future of the controversial pipeline. Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan — who served as the natural resources minister until recently — has said the line’s continued operation is “non-negotiable.”

Lauren Sargent takes part in a protest before the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline public information session in Holt, Michigan on July 6, 2017. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP Photo)

While Canada lifted land border restrictions on non-essential travel this summer, the Biden administration only did away with its months-long ban on cross-border travel last week. Non-stop flights from Moscow and Beijing were arriving at New York’s JFK airport while fully vaccinated Canadian travellers were turned away at land crossings in the states of Maine, New York and Washington — disrupting business, tourism and family reunification.

Legislation before the Democratic congress also threatens trade relations between two of the world’s largest economies. Congress has drafted a bill, the Build Back Better Act, that would offer sizeable tax credits worth up to $12,500 to the buyers of new electric vehicles — as long as those cars and trucks are manufactured in the U.S.

That tax measure would be a devastating development for the Canadian automotive sector, which is trying to attract new investment as the industry transitions away from internal combustion engines.

A congressional staffer holds a copy of H.R.5376, the Build Back Better Act. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Biden’s massive infrastructure bill, which he is set to sign into law tomorrow, is littered with Buy America provisions that could leave Canadian companies out of the competition for contracts potentially worth billions of dollars in government business — provisions that undermine the new NAFTA signed by the three countries just a few years ago.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has identified this protectionist push as a significant problem but Canadian protests have so far fallen on deaf ears.

David MacNaughton, who served as Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. during the Trump administration, said that while the former reality TV star-turned-politician generated a tremendous amount of “unpredictability” in the Oval Office, it was still possible for Canada to advance its agenda because Trump “didn’t have any particular ideology. In fact, he had no real ideology at all.”

“The problem you face with President Biden is you have some really comforting words about allies but you have, within his own party, and his own domestic agenda, some real ideologically protectionist elements which are going to cause problems in terms of our mutual economic interest. We’re already seeing that,” MacNaughton told CBC News.

“I think the problem with the Democrats is that a lot of them just don’t really believe in global trade and really would prefer everything be done in the U.S. It’s always better when you have somebody who’s sympatico [rather] than someone who’s constantly railing against you, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.”

WATCH: Trudeau, Biden and López Obrador to meet in person in Washington

Trudeau, Biden and Lopez Obrador to meet in person next week in Washington

4 days ago

Agustin Barrios Gomez, former Mexican congressman, Maryscott Greenwood, former U.S. diplomat to Canada, and David MacNaughton, former Canadian ambassador to the United States, joined Power & Politics Wednesday to discuss the upcoming ‘Three Amigos’ summit. 11:34

The Three Amigos gathering, formally known as the North American Leaders’ Summit, is not the best forum to address Canada-U.S. bilateral issues because of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s presence, said Christopher Sands, director of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute.

The Mexican leader is not particularly concerned about the future of Windsor, Ont. as a centre for car manufacturing, or if a major source of Quebec’s national gas supply is in danger of going offline, he said.

“It’s like, ‘Yeah, we want to talk to you but not with the other guy in the room,'” Sands told CBC News. “Canada feels like an afterthought.

“But it’s the Americans trying to economize the president’s time and focus because there are some similarities on things like borders, North American competitiveness and economic issues with both Canada and Mexico. Just for efficiency, they’re grouped together. It’s the way the Americans think.”

The only major trilateral accomplishment of Trump’s term — the renegotiation of the new NAFTA, the Canada-U.S.-Mexican Agreement (CUSMA) — was done without formal Three Amigos summits, Sands said.

But despite the format’s shortcomings, it’s still a chance to get these leaders around a table talking about issues of common interest, he added.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Trudeau will use the short time he has before Biden to press these bilateral concerns and “discuss shared priorities and find North American solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Coming off the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Trudeau is also eager to discuss the environment as the world struggles to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. López Obrador skipped COP26 and Mexico, a major oil producer, has rebuffed renewable energy projects.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador rings the bell as he gives the annual independence shout from the balcony of the National Palace to kick off subdued mid-pandemic Independence Day celebrations at the Zocalo in Mexico City on Sept. 15, 2021. (Fernando Llano/AP Photo)

“Our countries are committed to providing a better future for our people, including creating more middle class jobs, building a cleaner economy and tackling climate change and finishing the fight against COVID-19. I look forward to meeting with my counterparts to discuss a new path for our partnerships at a time when the world is facing complex global challenges,” Trudeau said in a media statement.

In its own media statement, the White House pitched the summit as a way to “strengthen” the “partnership” and “revitalize our leadership and respond to a widening range of regional and global challenges.” The statement says that Biden — doubtless with an eye on domestic politics — will also use the meeting to discuss “a regional vision for migration,” an issue of little relevance to Canada.

The first formal North American leaders’ meeting was held in 1956 when then-U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower gathered his continental counterparts — Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent and the Mexican leader, Adolfo Ruiz Cortines — as the Cold War standoff with the Soviet Union was starting to heat up.

Canadian ambivalence

Canadian ambivalence at the time about this trilateral dynamic was reflected in a piece in the Chicago Tribune.

On the occasion of the first-ever Canada-U.S.-Mexico leaders’ meeting in West Virginia, the newspaper reported that “Canada traditionally has kept aloof from Latin America in trade matters, in the belief that it can deal better with Washington on a bilateral basis.”

The focus of the 1956 summit was on how the three countries could “develop democratic processes” at a time when communism was on the march in the developing world. The U.S., seen by some as an imperial power, wanted to recruit “smaller countries like Canada and Mexico in offering a helping hand to countries that have been determined to remain neutral in the ‘Cold War,'” according to an account of the summit in the New York Times.

The leaders’ summits were held sporadically in the decades that followed. U.S. President George W. Bush created the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) in 2005, a regular forum for the three countries to meet to cooperate on security and economic issues.

Mexican President Vicente Fox, U.S. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left to right, walk along the steps of the Mayan Pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico in 2006. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

The SPP was the subject of much criticism: left-wing groups in Canada said they feared it would be the first step toward a North American union, while right-wing activists in the U.S. fretted about a possible spike in the number of people crossing between the three countries. Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama, scrapped the SPP but kept the leaders’ meeting portion.

“They’ve always been more important to the Americans. Stephen Harper didn’t put much of a priority on this. Canada skipped hosting it a couple times,” Sands said. “Now, the Biden administration has put great stock in the return to normal.”

“It’s not a longstanding tradition but having civilized conversations with your neighbours is pretty normal compared to what we’ve seen recently. Is it absolutely necessary? No, we can live without them, we did for a long time and we did just recently. But I think what makes this important is the U.S. signalling it wants to have this conversation and it’s bringing it together on relatively short notice.”

Just as Eisenhower gathered his Canadian and Mexican counterparts while the Soviet Union was flexing its muscles in the 1950s, Biden is hosting this year’s summit as the Western world grows increasingly concerned about China. Biden will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping before Trudeau and Lopez Obrador arrive in D.C.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, was in a jovial mood as he had informal talks with Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent in Ottawa in January, 1951. (Archive/Canadian Press)

“It’s pretty clear North America will have to work together to counter its competitor in China and counter the threats in China,” said Scotty Greenwood, a former U.S. diplomat and an expert in Canada-U.S. relations at Crestview Strategy.

As the U.S. shifts its supply chain away from Asia and an increasingly hostile China, Canada and Mexico will become “extremely relevant” to the American economy, she said.

Mexico’s low-wage labour and Canada’s critical minerals and natural resources could help the U.S. “decouple” from its continued reliance on China, she said. “I think the outline is there for really important North American cooperation.”

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • Liberals introduce bill to ban intimidation of patients and health-care workers.

Israel on Saturday said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country — making it the first to shut its borders completely in response to the potentially more contagious omicron coronavirus variant — and that it would also reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology in order to contain the spread of the variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days.

“Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country,” Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told local media, “and that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree.”

Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to quarantine, Bennett said. The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday. A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was imposed on Friday.

WATCH | What’s known about the omicron variant: 

What’s known about the omicron variant

The World Health Organization has declared a new variant of concern called omicron, first identified in South Africa. Scientists say there are a large number of mutations in the omicron variant, which means it could be more infectious and cause more severe illness. 3:00

The Shin Bet domestic security agency’s phone-tracking technology will be used to locate carriers of the new variant in order to curb its transmission to others, the statement said.

Used on and off since March 2020, the surveillance technology matched virus carriers’ locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine with whom they had come into contact. Israel’s Supreme Court this year limited the scope of its use after civil rights groups mounted challenges over privacy concerns.

The variant — which since first being detected in South Africa has also been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and Britain — has sparked global concern and a wave of travel curbs, although epidemiologists say travel curbs may be too late to stop omicron from circulating globally.

Israel has so far confirmed one case of omicron, with seven suspected cases. The Health Ministry has not said whether the confirmed case was vaccinated. Three of the seven suspected cases were fully vaccinated, the ministry said on Saturday, and three had not returned from travel abroad recently.

Also on Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was necessary to take “targeted and precautionary measures” after two people in the U.K. tested positive for a recently discovered coronavirus variant.

WATCH | U.K. tightens COVID-19 rules over omicron concerns:

U.K. tightens COVID-19 rules as world on alert over new omicron variant

9 hours ago

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was necessary to take ‘targeted and precautionary measures’ after two people in the U.K. tested positive for a recently discovered coronavirus variant. 3:51

He told a news conference that the new rules will be reviewed in three weeks when scientists will know more about the variant, named omicron. It was first detected in South Africa this past week.

Johnson said anyone arriving in England will be asked to take a mandatory PCR test for COVID-19 on the second day and must self-isolate until they provide a negative test. And if someone tests positive for the omicron variant, their close contacts will have to self-isolate for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status.

He also said mask-wearing in shops and on public transit will be required and that the vaccination program will be accelerated, without providing specific details.


What’s happening across Canada


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday, more than 260.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.1 million.

In the Americas, France has postponed implementing a vaccination mandate for health workers in the Caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe after the measure spurred widespread protests in which police officers were injured and journalists attacked.

PHOTOS | France mulls more autonomy for Martinique, Guadeloupe amid COVID-19 riots: 

In Europe, hospitals in southern and eastern regions of Germany have warned they are running out of intensive care beds because of the large numbers of seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

In Africa, officials in South Africa say urgent preparations are needed to enable public hospitals to cope with a potential omicron-driven influx of patients needing intensive care.

In Asia, India restarted exports of vaccines to the global vaccine-sharing network COVAX for the first time since April, and producer Serum Institute of India forecast a substantial increase in supplies beginning early next year.

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Holiday shopping in Canada: Supply chain issues, delivery deadlines – CTV News

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BARRIE —
Canada Post says it is adding additional staff and vehicles in anticipation of another busy holiday season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for Canada Post told CTVNews.ca in an email Saturday that the company “continues to ramp up for a busy peak holiday season as Canadians have become much more comfortable shopping online during the pandemic.”

The company said in 2020, during the two weeks ending on Christmas Eve, its employees delivered almost 20 million parcels to Canadians. A record 2.4 million of which were delivered on Dec. 21.

But, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and persistent global supply chain issues, should Canadians be worried about holiday package delivery delays?

Here’s a closer look at what’s going on.

GET HOLIDAY SHOPPING DONE EARLY

David Soberman is a professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

He told CTVNews.ca that ultimately, shipping companies like Canada Post are the “last link,” when it comes to the global supply chain and getting goods to consumers.

“Most of the problems in the supply chain are occurring at the retail level and further upstream,” he said during a telephone interview on Saturday.

Beyond ramping up their capacity to deal with an influx of packages during the holiday season, Soberman said there’s not much else shipping companies can do to mitigate these issues for consumers.

He said customers should make sure they check the estimated delivery date listed online by retailers, to ensure their holiday gifts will arrive on time.

However, Soberman cautioned that some specific, popular items might be especially hard to find this year.

“What someone’s going to do if they go into Canadian Tire and they can’t find something – they’re going to start to look on Amazon.ca, or they’ll maybe they’ll look on Walmart.ca,” he said. “And then they’ll start looking on other sites.”

He said if everyone looking for the same item does the same, “eventually you won’t be able to get it.”

“And that’s what’s going to happen with some of the more popular items – certain toys, certain board games, certain electronics, etc.,” he said.

Consumers should try to get their holiday shopping done as early as possible, Soberman said, and should have back-up gift ideas for their loved ones, in case the item they want is unavailable.

Soberman also pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying if new variants are detected in Canada, or the pandemic? worsens, some areas could see new lockdowns or restrictions, which could impede holiday shopping.

“The sooner you get your shopping done the better,” he said.

WHAT HAS CANADA POST SAID?

Canada Post said it encourages customers to “take the time and do their research online with retailers to understand the availability of certain items and ensure they aren’t disappointed.”

The company has also released a schedule for sending holiday cards and packages. The dates vary depending on what you are sending and where.

The deadline to send a package by regular mail to an address in Canada is Dec. 9, while customers have until Dec. 21 to ship priority packages within Canada.

The deadline to send a card nationally is Dec. 17.

The full details, including deadlines to send packages internationally can be found here.

Canada Post said the company is also taking several measures to keep up with the busy holiday season.

The company said it is hiring 4,200 additional seasonal staff across the country and is adding 1,400 more vehicles to its fleet.

Canada Post is also “leveraging new sortation capacity” recently added in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Kitchener, Montreal and Moncton.

The company said it is also adding “temporary parcel pickup locations” in major urban centres and secondary markets to “ease congestion and lineups for holiday parcel pickup at some of our busier post offices.”

WHAT HAS UPS SAID?

In an email to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson for UPS didn’t note any shipping delay concerns, but said the company’s “dedicated employees make UPS well-equipped to handle the challenges of the pandemic and the peak holiday season.”

The company said by the end of next year, it will have also added 49 new aircraft to its fleet since 2017, and said it will have added two million square feet of automated facilities by the end of the year. According to UPS, almost 90 per cent of its packages will flow through these automated facilities.

UPS said the investments in additional air and ground capacity and technology means it can process about 130,000 more pieces of mail per hour than last year.

CTVNews.ca also reached out to Amazon and FedEx to determine if Canadian customers can expect to see shipping delays, but did not hear back by time of publication.  

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Canada bans flights from South Africa and neighbouring countries – Canada Immigration News

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Published on November 27th, 2021 at 03:00am EST

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Sunset over Cape Town in South Africa.

Sunset over Cape Town in South Africa.

The Canadian government announced that it will limit travel to southern Africa, a region which has reported cases of a new COVID-19 variant of concern.

As of November 26, all foreign nationals who have travelled through the seven affected countries in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter Canada. The affected nations include: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique .

Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to return home, but they will have to fly home indirectly, passing through a third country where they will also need to take a  molecular COVID-19 test.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Canada’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos said people already in Canada who travelled in the region over the past two weeks should get a COVID-19 test and stay in isolation until they receive a negative test result.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the new measures will be in affect until at least Jan. 31, 2022.

The announcement comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) dubbed the new COVID-19 strain, also known as Omicron or B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern. So far, the Omicron variant has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, as well as in Israel, Belgium, and Hong Kong. It has not been found in Canada, according to Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam.

The transport minister encouraged Canadians who are unable to get home due to the restrictions to contact the emergency watch centre.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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