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‘I represent more than myself.’ Black politicians reflect on their historic firsts – PBS NewsHour

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Black History Month is not only a celebration of past achievements, but also an acknowledgement of the work Black Americans continue to do to help the country realize its promise of democracy and equality.

Black people remain underrepresented across industries, including politics. But as the country’s demographics and priorities shift, recent elections and appointments have ushered in historic numbers of people of color, women and LGBTQ+ individuals into public office at all levels of government, many of whom represent the first person of their background to hold such a position.

During a time of nationwide discussions about racial injustice, diversity and equity, four Black politicians whose elections were historic firsts spoke with the PBS NewsHour to reflect on their time in office and what this moment means to them.

“It’s an honor of a lifetime, but also a tragedy that we’re still talking about firsts in 2018 when I was elected,” Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said. “But as Vice President [Kamala Harris] says, ‘I won’t be the last.’”

The interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Can you talk a little about your background and what inspired you to get into politics?

Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council Vice President, first openly transgender Black woman to serve in public office in the U.S. (2018): “My background has been one of service to community and advocacy around LGBT issues, even more specifically, transgender issues. I have been a lifelong activist for Black liberation and Black rights. But trying to figure out how to do that in the context of within the system, I think we need an inside-outside strategy. … We need people who are agitators who bring the issues to the forefront. We also need service providers who help people, like in [Texas] right now, people need water, people need shelter, clothes. And then we need policymakers to make good policy to bring all of those things together. So, having done the service delivery, having done the activist part, I thought maybe I should try the elected part to see if we can make some change happen in that regard.”

Aaron Ford, Nevada’s first Black attorney general (2019): “As a former educator, I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to improve the educational opportunities for people in our state?’ So I decided to run for office. I decided to get involved as opposed to being on the outside, throwing rocks. I want to get in and try to effectuate some real positive change in the educational arena. Since then, I’ve seen that education and the economy are intimately intertwined and that led me to continue pursuing the legislative arena [as a state senator]. But then mid-term, during my second term in office, the idea of running for attorney general was presented to me as a consideration and I viewed it as an opportunity … to help more people quicker and be able to utilize my unique background as a lawyer and an educator and as a former senator.”

READ MORE: Black women were vital to the Black church. Here are 2 stories

Utah state Rep. Sandra Hollins, first Black woman to serve in the Utah state legislature (2015): “My occupation is social work. I’ve worked as a social worker in treatment centers with my primary focus being on those who are in poverty and those who are experiencing homelessness. … I have always been active in my community. I’ve always been active where I live because I feel that that’s what you should do when you move into a community, you should give back to that community. And so when the position came open to run for office, the woman who was in this position, Representative Jennifer Seelig, reached out to me and asked me, have I ever considered running for public office before? And after some consideration, I decided to run for office. I honestly don’t know if I would have ever run for public office if I wasn’t asked to.”

Harry LaRosiliere, first Black mayor of Plano, Texas (2013): “I was born in Haiti. My family immigrated to the States when I was almost four years old, lived off 125th and Broadway [in New York City] most of my life. And in 1994 I came to Texas, and prior to coming to Texas it was in 1992 that I decided I wanted to be mayor. That was kind of my calling. I got interested in politics because David Dinkins was the first African American mayor of New York at the time, and that was it. And so my path just slowly took me there, and eventually I became mayor in 2013.”

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When you reflect on your history-making achievement, how do you feel being a ‘first’?

Jenkins: “It’s enormously, just, mind-blowing, to be quite honest with you. I’ve been doing this work for a long time, so it almost makes it feel like I’m new to the scene and that’s not the reality. I’ve been doing this work for almost 30-plus years. But it makes me feel proud to be a part of the annals of American history. … It’s awe inspiring. It’s a little overwhelming to have your name mentioned with Shirley Chisholm and Kamala Harris and, you know, Rosa Parks. I mean, who wouldn’t be proud? It’s quite, quite something.”

Ford: “It’s an honor of a lifetime, but also a tragedy that we’re still talking about firsts in 2018 when I was elected. I reflect back on my upbringing, and from college on I have been, if not the only certainly one of the only Black Americans in the room — in my law practice, in my educational endeavors. And recognizing that there is a burden, unfair or otherwise, that is placed upon me as a Black American, and on all of us as Black Americans to represent the entirety of your race and understand that what I do is more than just a reflection on me. … Recognizing that I represent more than myself, sitting in this position as a top law enforcement officer and top legal adviser in this state, is an important consideration that I keep in the forefront of my mind at all times. It’s a blessing to be here, but it’s also a travesty that I’m the first to hold this position. But as Vice President [Kamala Harris] says, ‘I won’t be the last.’”

Hollins: “I was quite shocked to learn … when I was asked to run for office that I would be the first Black American woman at the [Utah] Capitol and to hold a state-level position. I feel it comes with a great responsibility, one that I do embrace. I know as a result of me running, I’ve had a number of young Black American and African American women who have expressed interest in politics now and see themselves in this role and one day running for office or they have run for office. And so it comes with a great responsibility that I carry, but one that I carry proudly. And I’m very conscious of how I carry myself with the hope that I’m making my community proud.”

LaRosiliere: “I remember after getting elected, being the first Black mayor of the city, they said, ‘What do you think?’ … I said, ‘Well, we already had a Black president, so it’s not that big of a deal in my mind.’ But it is in a sense, because I realized as I started going to schools and seeing kids, how they looked up to me because I look like them, and I was in a position that they just didn’t imagine. We’re a population of about 8 percent here in Plano of African Americans. And so we’re not a big population of the city, yet I was chosen to be mayor. It’s something to those kids. So it’s meant more to me afterwards than before, for sure.”

You often hear from Black people who are the first to hold a particular position that being a ‘first’ can come with enhanced scrutiny or pressure. How have such challenges influenced your time in office?

Jenkins: “I used to hear a lot of Black politicians say, ‘I represent a certain district, but I get calls from Black people from all over.’ It’s kind of a very similar scenario being a trans person. I hear from trans people from around the country, from around the state, from other parts of the city that I don’t necessarily represent. But there’s this voice and this representation that is in these seats of power and people want to reach out to you. … Because I am, you know, Black and transgender, I think there’s a certain amount of expectations that people place on me from their own experiences, like they want me to be someone that, quite frankly, I’m not. … People project their own ideals onto me and then get upset when I don’t necessarily live up to their ideals. So that presents a little bit of a pressure kind of too.”

Ford: “I’ve been an unabashed advocate for speaking truth to power from a position of power, irrespective of the negative consequences that may arise out of them. … “I’m the attorney general now, but before that I was the Senate majority leader and before that I was a Senate minority leader. And each of those instances I would speak up on the issues that some would say ‘that’s not a good idea if you want to get reelected.’ ‘That’s not an issue that folks want to hear about and so you shouldn’t discuss it.’ And a lot of that related to race-based issues. A lot of that related to discrimination in the voting process, for example, in housing and in education. And so I’ve always viewed it as an ultimate waste if I did not utilize my authority and my position to speak to issues that otherwise may not even get addressed.”

Hollins: “I agree with our Vice President Harris, when she says that she is the first, but definitely not the last. My goal is to always open that door for other women of color to walk through it. … But it hasn’t been without its challenges. For me, I not only represent my district, but I represent the Black community. A lot of times when there are challenges or anything that’s going on in the Black community, then I’m brought into that conversation. I get trusted with all of the stories of discrimination that may be happening to them in this state. I’m the one that they trust with the stories and to work out the issue or to address the issue. … A lot of times when I walk into [the Capitol], I’m the only Black woman. And for some people I’m the only and the first Black woman that they have ever met. And so I know when I walk into that room, I’m representing every Black woman in the state of Utah. And so I’m very conscious of that but I embrace it.”

LaRosiliere: “As someone in a position like this where I’m one of the few [Black people] there already, it’s very obvious. I think you’re watched a bit more, and there’s opportunities, I think, to rise and to also set the tone and the example for others. It sometimes does weigh because you feel there’s a magnification on you. … But we’ve been fortunate. We’ve had a good run as mayor and a lot of good things happen in our city. And because of me being in this position, we’ve been able to do some things that we otherwise might not have simply because I had a different perspective.”

Raphael Warnock made history in January, becoming the first African American elected to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. In this photo from January, Warnock holds a small rally with young campaign volunteers on election day in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff election. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters.

What keeps you motivated to do this work despite the various challenges you may face?

Jenkins: “It’s a mission, because, quite frankly, it would be really easy to just be like, ‘I’m good. I did my part. Y’all can go fuss with somebody else, because I’m done.’ But, you know, I really believe in the statement that representation matters. And then we need Black voices, we need trans voices, we need people who can relate to the pressures of inner-city life, people that can relate to the challenges that single mothers face, people that can relate to the issues of over policing and all of these things. Because I have long-term experience in this area … I feel like it’s my responsibility to really try to do what I can to move Black liberation forward.”

Ford: “I think back to an ancestor that I just learned about the last couple of years or so: my fourth great grandfather, William. I don’t want to end as he ended, but the story goes this way: He was on the auction block in Fordyce, Arkansas, and he said, ‘I will not be treated like cattle. You will not sell me and separate me from my family.’ So they killed him right there, and then they sold three of his sons to U.S. labor in Texas. One of those sons is my great, great, great grandfather. And the story obviously leads to me, which is the African American attorney general for the state of Nevada. Him standing for his own humanity, irrespective of people trying to treat him as something that he was not, helps to encourage me to continue to stand up, irrespective of what happens to me on Twitter or Facebook or walking in public.”

Hollins I have two things that keep me motivated. Number one is: I know that there’s a number of young women and young Black girls that look up to me. I know that they’re looking to my leadership, and I know that they’re looking to me, as I’m treading this path, to walk behind me. … The next thing is, I tell everybody, when you are doing work around social justice, the best way I can describe it is that there’s just kind of this fire inside of me. And it’s like if I don’t say anything or do anything it’s going to keep burning. And it’s only when I speak up, it’s only when I take action that I could feel that fire subsiding until the next thing comes up. And that’s what keeps me motivated. It keeps me motivated. Something in me won’t let me just sit by and be quiet.”

LaRosiliere: “Being in the position where you can make a difference in direction, tone, policy, allows you to open doors. And so for me one of the things we stress the most is some programs we set up for a summer internship for our high school students, 30 to 40 percent of them first generation college bound. So we provided them skills to connect with businesses and have networking and things like that. So the ability to do those things makes it that much more rewarding in so many ways.”

In recent years we’ve seen a push for diversity and equity that seems to have strengthened in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing. What do you make of this moment we’re in?

Jenkins: “It feels like we’re on a precipice of really transformational, systemic change. Yet by the same token, that change is being met with the same resistance that it has always been met with throughout the history of this country, and that is violence and threats and death and all of these machinations behind the scenes to limit people’s access to the ballot box and to, I think, undermine folks’ ability through lack of access to basic necessities. … I’m cautiously, cautiously optimistic, but we’ve been on this battlefield for a very long time and some days it feels like the whole world has shifted and everything has changed, and then some days when especially you look at the statistics … all of these things give you pause and you have to wonder, are things changing? … I think Harriet Tubman had the audacity to hope. I think my grandmama had the audacity to hope and I think we have to maintain that level of hope and action. Because hope without action is just a dream, right? But we have to have hope and we have to act.”

Ford: “I feel like it’s deja vu all over again. To be sure, we are standing with an opportunity to do some things, but we’ve been here before. We’ve seen the aftermath of the killings of unarmed Black people over the course of time. And people have piped up, and they’ve been engaged, and they wanted to see change and then they’ve gotten complacent.” …

“I was glad to see law enforcement and civil rights organizations alike chime in and say this is an opportunity for change. But as I have said, the conversation should be almost over, if not over. The time for conversing should have passed such that we are now seeing actual policies and laws implemented that effectuate real change on these issues. And I’m glad to see that, in fact, that is happening. For example, duty to intervene coming up in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing and the opportunity to have representation at every level.”

READ MORE: Harris’ inauguration puts spotlight on the political influence of Black sororities

Hollins: “It is pretty exciting to see that we’re not only in this moment, but that we’re in this movement right now and that we have a number of young people who are now stepping up to the plate and who are pushing for these changes in policies and pushing for more diversity and more equity in all industries. They’re out there on the front line and they are demanding change and they’re willing to put in the work to make change in their communities.”

LaRosiliere “I think as more allies awaken to the understanding of what we’ve gone through as a people, and then have the willingness to lend a hand and be partners. I think that’s how we grow. Here in Plano we have an incredible business community that’s reached out in so many meaningful ways. We’re collaborating with them in our schools to provide opportunities. So this is a moment for us, we seize it and we move forward in the most productive way we can.”

What recommendations or thoughts do you have on ways to expand diversity and equity within politics?

Jenkins: “I was so proud to see Cori Bush elected to Congress. You know, she got her start in activism around Ferguson. … This year we we saw record numbers of LGBT and transgender folks and gender nonconforming people elected to public office, and I think we need to continue to see that kind of representation in all areas of elected public life. You need to see people appointed to positions, we need people serving on school boards and library boards … we need to be in those spaces, not just in elected offices, but throughout the process.”

Ford: “Look for diverse talent, expand that applicant pool. Actually go and recruit in places where you can increase the opportunity for minorities to get engaged. Secondly, actually support them once they get engaged. Don’t just think that the task is over once you’ve convinced someone to run. The third piece of advice I offer is to the candidate … you have to be resilient. … You won’t always see success in your efforts. But you have to be resilient. You got to bounce back.”

Hollins: “We’ve got to make a conscious effort. I am the only Black woman up here at this time. But it’s not without me purposely going out and talking to young women and trying to recruit young women to be involved in politics. And let’s not forget, you don’t have to run for office in order to be in politics. There are so many other positions in politics where we can make change, where we don’t have to be running for office because it may not be everybody’s thing. … But yeah, it has to be a conscious effort to get people on the ballot and we have to support Black women in office. It’s one thing to go out and say, ‘We want more diversity in politics. We want to see more Black women in office.’ But yet when they run for office, you’re not volunteering to help them campaign. You’re not putting your money where your mouth is … and you’re not voting for them. And so it takes this concerted effort in order to get Black women in office.”

LaRosiliere: “It really starts by getting involved. You have to be there and you have to do the work, wherever your skills and talents take you and then learn your community so that you can truly serve the people you choose to.”

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Jared Kushner to leave politics, launch investment firm – sources – Reuters

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U.S. White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, who accompanied an Israeli delegation, speaks during a visit to Rabat, Morocco December 22, 2020. Picture taken December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Shereen Talaat/File Photo

WASHINGTON, July 28 (Reuters) – Jared Kushner, a top adviser to former President Donald Trump, plans to launch an investment firm in coming months, a move that will take him away from politics for the foreseeable future, sources familiar with the plan said on Wednesday.

Kushner, the former chief executive of Kushner Companies, who served as the Republican president’s senior adviser in the White House, is in the final stages of launching an investment firm called Affinity Partners that will be headquartered in Miami.

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, is also looking to open an office in Israel to pursue regional investments to connect Israel’s economy and India, North Africa and the Gulf, said two people briefed on the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The sources had no details about potential investors and said the firm was still in the planning phase.

Kushner has spent the last six months with his family in Miami writing a book about his White House experiences that is expected to be published early next year.

Kushner helped broker deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in a six-month flurry last year. He also helped negotiate a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

Kushner remains close with his father-in-law, the sources said, but by re-entering the private sector he is stepping away from politics for the foreseeable future.

The Republican Party has been divided over the deadly attacks on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by Trump supporters, and Trump’s false claims that he beat Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Kushner and his family have been spending the summer as Trump’s next-door neighbor at Trump’s golf property in Bedminster, New Jersey.

People close to the former president say he is strongly considering another run for the Republican nomination in 2024.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Heather Timmons

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Trump and DeSantis choose politics over science as mask wars roar back to life – CNN

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As soon as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rolled back indoor unmasking guidance on Tuesday for a majority of US counties amid surging new coronavirus cases, the ideological conflagration over face coverings roared back to life.
Ex-President Donald Trump, in his latest attempt to damage his successor over a pandemic he himself basically ignored at the end of his own term while pushing his election lies, issued a statement saying, “Don’t surrender to COVID. Don’t go back!” If Trump’s faithful followers accept his advice on ignoring mask guidance again, more of them will likely get sick and die.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, tweeted that a directive by the House’s attending physician that masks now need to be worn again in all interior spaces of the chamber was not “based on science.” Instead, he said, the decision was “conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.”
And in another high-profile clash, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is presiding over his state’s explosion of Covid-19 cases, moved into conflict with President Joe Biden, resisting new CDC recommendations for masking in schools.
The showdown not only augured a new struggle between science and politics — a disconnect that has plagued efforts to beat the worst public health crisis in 100 years. It also unleashed a face-off with extra partisan dimensions since it could preview a possible 2024 presidential election duel between DeSantis and Biden.
The latest GOP attacks were deeply ironic. Had more Republican leaders prioritized public health over politics and urged their voters to get vaccinated, the surge in new cases would likely have been avoided — meaning no reintroduction of measures to stem an again-accelerating pandemic.
Only two months ago, the CDC said vaccinated people didn’t have to wear masks indoors with the pandemic apparently in retreat. But on Tuesday, with the highly transmissible Delta variant raging, the top public health agency said that even vaccinated people in areas of “substantial” and “high” transmission of the coronavirus should mask up. And it said that everyone — staff, kids and visitors — should wear masks in K-12 schools when the summer break ends.
The decision was taken in the context of new data showing that vaccinated people infected with the Delta strain can play a limited role in transmission, even if their chances of getting seriously ill and dying are still very low.
The announcement that masking is back for many Americans came as a devastating blow to morale and could have significant political implications for a White House that made ending the pandemic this year its signature goal.

Waning patience with vaccine holdouts

New tensions over masks are also almost certain to exacerbate the disconnect between the White House, which is urging everyone to get life-saving vaccines, and pro-Trump states, where there is deep resistance to public health precautions even as the virus exacts a disproportionate toll.
It will underscore the self-defeating reality that the people least likely to wear masks are often those most resistant to vaccines — a fact that is driving unnecessary new cases and deaths from the disease and now even restricting the lives of the vaccinated.
Political controversy is likely to ratchet up another notch on Thursday, when Biden is expected to announce that all federal employees and contractors must be vaccinated or face regular testing regimens.
The sign of a hardening White House line comes amid perceptible societal frustration among vaccinated Americans with those who refuse to get their shots. The most haunting realization after the CDC decision is that America, unlike many other areas of the world, has the means to end its pandemic — a plentiful supply of highly effective vaccines — but won’t fully utilize it.
“We would not be in this situation if we already had, now, the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, told “PBS NewsHour.”
In a statement, Biden told the country he had unwelcome news but that he had promised to always level with citizens over the true state of the pandemic. He did offer reassurance that more mask-wearing and vaccinations would mean the country could forestall a full return to the nightmare of last year.
“Unlike 2020, we have both the scientific knowledge and the tools to prevent the spread of this disease. We are not going back to that,” he insisted.
Biden also said that while masking in schools would be “inconvenient” it would allow kids to be able to learn and spend time with their classmates again.
But DeSantis, who has frequently sought to spin political advantage from the pandemic, styling himself as the scourge of health guidance unpopular with conservatives, including on vaccine passports, quickly contradicted Biden’s advice.
“Governor DeSantis believes that parents know what’s best for their children; therefore, parents in Florida are empowered to make their own choices with regards to masking,” said DeSantis’ spokesperson, Christina Pushaw.
She claimed that data showed Covid-19 was not a serious risk to healthy children but that they were at risk of bacterial infections from masks and from difficulty breathing. The statement contradicts CDC evidence that shows more children have already died from the disease, 517 so far, than even in a bad influenza year. Pushaw also retweeted a Fox News story in which she insisted the new CDC schools guidance “isn’t based in science.”
Covid-19 cases are shooting up in almost every state, but Florida is seeing a stunning revival of the pandemic, accounting for nearly 1 in 4 of the new infections in the nation over the last week. DeSantis is now adopting a strategy that seems almost contradictory as he walks a political knife edge ahead of his reelection race next year: urging vaccines, unlike some other conservatives, but opposing most other kinds of countermeasures toward the disease.
DeSantis is a protege of Trump, though his rising political profile might soon get him crossways with the ex-President, who is mulling another White House run in 2024. In resisting CDC mask recommendations, DeSantis is following in well-trodden footsteps. Trump undermined masking guidelines right from the start in the knowledge that there was political advantage for him among base voters who believed him when he downplayed the pandemic. Most notoriously, Trump ripped off his mask in a self-aggrandizing photo op when returning to the White House after his bout with Covid-19 last year.
While a masking showdown with Biden runs directly against the government’s best health advice, it will likely do the Florida governor no harm as he continues to raise his political profile. A slump into an even deeper pandemic, however, could leave him more vulnerable ahead of his reelection race next year.

A new battle over schools

Across the nation, the new CDC guidance on masking in schools is likely to mean a highly charged start to the new semester that begins within days in some states. In New Jersey, for example, some parents are going to court to try to prevent the state’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, from taking any steps to require masks in class.
“We live in a constitutional democracy. We do not have government by doctors meeting in conference rooms at CDC and issuing press releases,” Bruce Afran, a lawyer for the parents, told CNN’s Victor Blackwell on Tuesday.
But the new political clashes over masking are dismaying doctors on the front lines of the pandemic, who are tired of people resisting health guidance.
“I am so sick of this virus filling my emergency department and those of my colleagues around the country. I am sick of watching sickness, severe illness and death,” Brown University Professor of Emergency Medicine Megan Ranney told CNN’s Jake Tapper. Ranney urged people to accept masking so that the country could get the Delta variant under control.
Another physician, Dr. Jonathan Reiner — a professor of medicine at George Washington University — openly blamed people who are resisting vaccines for the CDC having to issue new guidance on masks.
“The problem is that 80 million American adults have made a choice … not to get the vaccine, and these same people are not masking — and that is the force that is propagating the virus around the country,” Reiner said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

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Politics Briefing: From drought to deluge: Canada flush with vaccine doses – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

There are now enough COVID-19 vaccine doses in Canada to fully inoculate everyone eligible, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday.

The federal government hit the critical milestone two months ahead of schedule and after a rocky start to vaccine purchasing in the winter. Since March, the country has moved from drought to deluge in vaccine supply and the focus has shifted to whether enough people will stick out their arms and help avoid a fourth wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“These vaccines work and they’re safe and they’re also available,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters at an event in Moncton. “So with enough doses for everyone, there’s no more excuses to not get your shot.”

Parliamentary Reporter Marieke Walsh reports here.

Reporter’s Comment, Ms. Walsh: “In the last four months (and just in time for a widely expected election call) Canada has moved from vaccine drought to deluge. Up to the end of March, the country had yet to hit 10 million doses, four months later it now has more than 66 million doses. That breaks down to enough shots to fully vaccinate all eligible people – an achievement hit two months ahead of the government’s self-imposed deadline. The milestone is a key box to check before a potential summer election call but with vaccination rates not yet at the levels needed to avoid overwhelming hospitals in a fourth wave, it’s not yet mission accomplished for the jabs.”

TODAY’S HEADLINES

RCMP PROBE ABUSE AT MANITOBA RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL – Manitoba Mounties say they have been conducting a large-scale, years-long investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at a residential school. RCMP said Tuesday that officers with the major crime unit began looking into the Fort Alexander Residential School, northeast of Winnipeg, in 2010 and a criminal investigation was launched the following year. Story here.

FEDS APPROVE WEAPONS SALE TO SAUDI ARABIA – The federal government last year approved a deal with Canadian business connections for the sale of nearly $74-million of weapons to Saudi Arabia, even as there were calls for Canada to stop arms transactions with the Saudis, one of the main combatants fuelling the war in Yemen.

SIMON READY TO BE G-G – Mary Simon says she is honoured, humbled and ready to be the first Indigenous person to serve as the Queen’s federal representative in Canada. Her official installation as Governor-General took place in the Senate on Monday.

ERIN O’TOOLE MAKES PROMISES IN ST. JOHN’S – In St. John’s, N.L., federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole promised changes to a fund intended to cushion province from sharp drops in revenue, CBC reports. The story is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings in Moncton. Then the Prime Minister makes a vaccine announcement and holds a media availability. In Charlottetown, the Prime Minister meets with Premier Dennis King, and makes an announcement and holds a news conference with the Premier, federal Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen and others.

LEADERS

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul holds a virtual roundtable discussion on the climate crisis and media availability.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh visits wildfire evacuees in Thunder Bay, Ont.

PUBLIC OPINION

New data from the Angus Reid Institute finds half of respondents in Michigan (48 per cent) and Ontario (49 per cent) want the embattled Line 5 pipeline to stay open. In Quebec, the 72 per cent who have an opinion are split on what the pipeline’s fate should be. Details here.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Vancouver could change the rules of bidding for he Olympic Games: Democratic countries are running out of voters who will expose themselves to a parasitic organization that nourishes itself on the tax dollars of its host, while raking in billions and leaving behind scars like Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, a white elephant that took the city 40 years to pay off. So, where does that leave a Vancouver 2030 bid? It could be a new type of Games for a new era, with all the sports drama and none of the financial pyromania. No additional infrastructure would need to be built; the existing facilities are barely a decade old.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on why Mary Simon may be the Governor-General that makes a difference for Canada:The duties of a governor general are largely ceremonial, though they can also be quite significant. Ms. Simon will preside over and attend public functions. She will, most likely, read a Speech from the Throne after a new ministry forms following an expected fall election. She may be required, as governors-general Julian Byng and Michaëlle Jean were, to decide whether to grant the wish of a prime minister during a constitutional dispute. These are roles and powers of the Queen’s representative in Canada. But Ms. Simon has a greater duty as well: to help heal the hurt and anger of Indigenous Peoples over the discoveries of hundreds of children in unmarked graves at residential schools, along with the many other wounds that non-Indigenous Canadians have inflicted.”

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on why the time for debating COVID-19 vaccine passports is over: “The most efficient way to stave off this scenario in Canada is requiring proof of vaccination in many public and commercial venues. So let’s dispense with the pointless rhetorical “debate” about whether vaccine certificates or passports are necessary, or represent some gruesome violation of rights and freedoms, and focus on how to make the rules as clear, simple and fair as possible. Canada has, to date, failed miserably on that count, with an incomprehensible jumble of wishful thinking, buck-passing and illogical public policies that vary by province and often by individual institution.”

John Boyko (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on how Canada is making the same mistakes in Yemen that it did in Vietnam: “Brock University assistant professor Simon Black has led protests against continuing our involvement in the Yemen war through continuing our arms sales to Saudi Arabia. “Most Canadians don’t realize that weapons manufactured here continue to fuel a war that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people,” he has said. He’s wrong. We know. We knew in the 1960s when we were profiting from the immoral war in Vietnam. And we know now.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on a looming federal election that won’t shake Alberta’s Conservative landscape, but could come with some surprises: NDP MP Heather McPherson already holds Edmonton Strathcona, the federal riding that includes provincial leader Rachel Notley’s own turf. McPherson is the only non-Conservative MP in the province. She could soon have company. An NDP breakthrough of even a few seats would be a genuine first in Alberta. And the Liberals would have themselves to blame.”

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