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Politics Briefing: Trudeau concerned vaccination passports would raise 'fairness' questions – The Globe and Mail

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is holding off on giving his stamp of approval to the domestic use of documents that confirm COVID-19 vaccination, drawing a distinction between that idea and international passports.

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At a news conference, Mr. Trudeau said there is already a “well-established practice” internationally of proof of vaccination for some diseases.

But he said he is concerned about the domestic use of documents to confirm someone has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“When it comes to distinguishing people who have been vaccinated and others who have not within our own country, there are questions of fairness and justice that come into play,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau said, that despite hopes that everyone is vaccinated, he was concerned about discrimination against those who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated.

“The idea of certificates of vaccination for domestic use to decide who can go to a concert or who can go to a particular restaurant or engage in certain activities does bring in questions of equity, questions of fairness,” he said.

Marieke Walsh reports here on the federal government’s chief science adviser releasing a report with recommendations on whether and how Canada should implement COVID-19 vaccine passports.

Mr. Trudeau also spoke to election speculation – comments worth keeping in mind depending how things play out in coming weeks or months. With a slightly exasperated tone, the Prime Minister said, “I understand that the opposition parties and parliamentary journalists have elections on their mind. I am not thinking of elections right now. My priority is COVID-19. It’s this pandemic. It’s rebuilding the economy as quickly as possible.”

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

Canada’s job market snapped back in February, undoing close to all the damage inflicted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a Thursday appearance before the House of Commons finance committee, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland urged the opposition parties to wrap up debate on legislation to approve emergency support measures announced in the fall economic update, but faced pushback from the Conservatives over plans to raise the debt ceiling to $1.8-trillion.

The acting chief of the defence staff is vowing to focus on changing the culture in the Canadian military during his time as top commander, as two military police investigations are under way into now-retired general Jonathan Vance and Admiral Art McDonald, who initially replaced the former defence chief.

WE Charity is raising a roadblock to their co-founders testifying before a parliamentary committee looking into last summer’s controversial proposed federal student volunteer program.

Policy-makers in Canada need to keep supportive measures in place as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic before turning to debt management, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said Thursday.

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Opioid-related overdose deaths increased by nearly 60 per cent in Ontario in the first 11 months of 2020, bringing renewed calls for a provincial overdose strategy. B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan also had their worst years on record for drug deaths in the period since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

A woman who was incarcerated at a federal correctional institution has launched a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of herself and other women, citing a systemic failure to protect them from sexual abuse.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says for the first time Canada is to have a pool of money dedicated specifically to “active transportation” – upgrading bike paths, pedestrian walkways and bridges, and nature trails.

OTTAWA ROUNDUP

  • Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan appears before the standing committee on National Defence on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.
  • Former prime minister Stephen Harper speaks to the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence.
  • The pandemic put a dent in the number of free trips accepted by MPs in 2020. Only seven, all in January or February, down from over 40 in 2019, according to a report out on Thursday from Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion: https://t.co/tT1SzlcuiP

POLLS

A new Angus Reid Institute poll on Alberta suggests the opposition NDP under Rachel Notley are slightly ahead of the United Conservative Party under Premier Jason Kenney, 41 per cent to 38 per cent. The next provincial election is scheduled for March 1, 2023. CBC reports on the poll here.

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The You Gov international research data and analytics group has a new poll of Britons out that suggests public opinion of Harry and Meghan has fallen to a new low after the Oprah interview.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Remarks on COVID-19 and a news conference.

OPINION

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on challenges facing Erin O’Toole: “The Conservatives are starting to act like a party comfortable in opposition, happier beating ideological drums than in doing the hard work needed to win a plurality of ridings. This makes Mr. O’Toole look weak, which in politics is fatal.”

Jane Philpott and David Walker (The Ottawa Citizen) on a proper COVID-19 recovery plan for all citizens: “We need care plans for society in all its manifest complexity, plans specific to sectors, particularly for those vulnerable populations that suffered disproportionately in the pandemic. Their plight predated COVID-19 and has been magnified. Recovery will be more difficult.”

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Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on how the urban-Northern divide has produced a tale of two vaccination efforts for Indigenous people: “We know this virus has further exposed the strong inequities that had already existed in our society; in different ways, the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, the homeless, people of colour and precarious workers. Now, we know that the 80,000 Indigenous peoples living in Toronto are not being equally served with a robust parallel vaccine rollout here or in Thunder Bay, which so many First Nations, Métis and Inuit call home, having left their home communities.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Celina Caesar-Chavannes and seven other eminent Canadians (The Globe and Mail) on how we’ll live differently once the world returns to normal: “I will live differently by stubbornly ensuring that we learn all the lessons we need so that we are never caught so unprepared again in the event of another pandemic. I have more than 2.5 million reasons worldwide – more than 22,000 reasons in Canada – fuelling this compulsion. These tragic death tolls brought back terrible memories of people dying alone during the Ebola crisis, and these lost lives will drive me to fight fiercely for dignity in death.” – Joanne Liu, a physician and the former international president of Médecins sans frontières.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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Prince Philip took a keen interest in Canada, but stayed above politics, former GGs and PM say

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When former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien met the late Prince Philip for the first time, he told him that for an Englishman, his French was very good.

“He said ‘I’m not English and I’ve spoken French since before you were born,’” Chrétien told the Star Friday, commenting on his many encounters over 50 years with the Duke of Edinburgh.

“He was not dull, let me put it that way,” Chrétien said. “He had some strong views. Sometimes he had to show discipline to not speak up more than he would have wished.”

Philip, born in Greece in 1921 and husband to Queen Elizabeth II for over 73 years, died at the age of 99 on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he first met Philip when he was a little boy, described him as “a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others.”

Former prime ministers and governors general spoke of a man who understood his role and knew not to get involved in politics, but who was very knowledgeable about Canada and took a keen interest in the country’s success.

“I was always impressed by their knowledge,” Chrétien said of Philip and the Queen, Canada’s head of state.

He said he can recall Philip asking about the prospect of Quebec separating from the rest of the country. “Not in a very political fashion, just in terms of interest. Of course he was interested to not see Canada break up. He would certainly say that to me.”

 

Statements from former prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper highlighted Philip’s devotion to the Canadian armed forces and charitable organizations, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, an international self-development program for young people.

Former governors general David Johnston and Michaëlle Jean, through their role as the Queen’s representative in Canada, were also able to get to know Philip more intimately, particularly at the Queen’s Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland.

Jean recalls being “overwhelmed” by all the protocol recommendations ahead of a Balmoral visit with her husband and six-year-old daughter prior to taking office in 2005, only to find Philip and the Queen greeting them at the door, with Philip paying special attention to her daughter.

“The memory I keep of Prince Philip is that of an affable, caring, elegant and warm man,” Jean told the Star, adding he was a man who was very attentive to detail.

She recalled attending a barbecue on the Balmoral estate, just the four of them, and Philip telling her, “Don’t forget to congratulate Her Majesty for her salad dressing, because she made it herself.”

What Jean also saw was a man sometimes hampered by the limitations of his role, like when he talked about one of his favourite topics, the environment.

“He said ‘I do a lot about it, I raise awareness, I take actions…I feel that whatever I do, no one cares,’” Jean recounted. “What I got from that is how lonely he felt…There was a sense of not feeling appreciated in proportion to his contributions, a feeling of being misunderstood.”

Johnston, who succeeded Jean, said Canada’s constitutional monarchy — where the head of state is politically neutral and separate from elected office — is an “important and precious” form of government, and Philip was key to making it work.

Philip showed leadership as a servant, Johnston said, “not taking centre stage, but by ensuring that the Queen and the monarchy were front row and centre.

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“He played such an important structural role, and did that with great diligence and commitment. He was selfless in that respect,” Johnston said in an interview.

For Matthew Rowe, who works on the Royal Family’s charitable endeavours in Canada, the Duke of Edinburgh’s political value to Canada was precisely that he was not political — that he, along with the rest of the monarchy, provided a stabilizing force outside of the partisan fray.

He was dynamic, irascible, exasperating, intriguing. And he was always three steps behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth, who utterly adored him throughout their 73-year marriage, flaws, faux pas and all.

“His presence, and the role of Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family, has been to be able to represent the nation, to represent Canadian interests, and commemorate Canadian achievements without being tied to a particular political ideology or regional faction,” Rowe, who met Philip at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in 2010, said in an interview.

 

Philip’s role meant he could speak more frankly than the Queen in public, and spoke “quite thoughtfully” about the constitutional monarchy in Canada, said University of Toronto history instructor Carolyn Harris.

At a press conference in Ottawa in 1969, Philip famously said that the monarchy doesn’t exist “in the interests of the monarch…It exists solely in the interest of the people. We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

Philip had a good, joking relationship with Johnston’s wife, Sharon. He recounted how the two joined the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral in August 2010, prior to Johnston’s swearing-in later that year.

One evening, they were returning to the castle from a barbecue at a renovated shepherd’s hut on the estate — just the four of them, the Queen driving with Johnston in one land rover, and Philip driving with Sharon in the other ahead of them on narrow, highland roads.

“We were coming home at about 10 p.m., as black as could be, he and Sharon were ahead, kind of weaving, and we could hear these gales of laughter coming out. They were cracking jokes at one another,” Johnston said.

“I had a vision of him going over the edge and down half a mile into the valley, and my first thought is: Do the Queen and I rustle down to rescue them?”

Chrétien said “it must be terrible” for the Queen to now find herself alone after a marriage that lasted for more than 70 years. He noted it’s been almost seven months to the day since he lost his wife, Aline.

 

“It’s a big change in life but she’s an extremely courageous person and she will face the situation with the strength that she has been able to show to the world for the almost 70 years she’s been queen,” Chrétien said.

With files from Alex Boutilier and Kieran Leavitt

 

 

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After warning, McConnell softens posture on corporations’ taking political stances

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., softened his stance on corporations’ getting involved in politics Wednesday, a day after he warned companies not to weigh in on hot button issues.

“I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are,” McConnell told reporters. “My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill.

“They got intimidated into adopting an interpretation … given by the Georgia Democrats in order to help get their way,” he said.

McConnell was referring to a controversial voting law recently passed in Georgia, which came about in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of falsehoods about the election result in the state last fall.

The law led the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola — which are based in Atlanta — to condemn the measure. And last week, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest. The game will, instead, be played in Colorado.

In recent weeks, McConnell has excoriated corporate America for boycotting states over various GOP-led bills. He said Tuesday that it is “stupid” for corporations to take positions on divisive political issues but noted that his criticism did not extend to their donations.

“So my warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell said in Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s not what you’re designed for. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of one of America’s greatest political debates.”

Major League Baseball’s decision drew the most outrage from Republicans, as Trump called for a boycott of baseball and other companies that spoke out against the Georgia law. McConnell said Tuesday that the latest moves are “irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.”

McConnell, long a champion of big money in politics, however, noted Tuesday that corporations “have a right to participate in a political process” but said they should do so without alienating “an awful lot of people.”

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said. “I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don’t like a particular law that passed. I just think it’s stupid.”

Source:- NBC News

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Facebook Removes 1,000 Fake Accounts Seeking to Sway Global Politics

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(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc. said it removed 14 networks representing more than 1,000 accounts seeking to sway politics around the world, including in Iran and El Salvador, while misleading the public about their identity.

Most of the removed networks were in the early stages of building their audiences, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Tuesday. Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday, part of its monthly reporting on efforts to rid its platforms of fake accounts, represents one of the larger crack downs by the company in recent months.

“We have been growing this program for several years,” said David Agranovich, Facebook’s global threat disruption lead. “I would expect to see this drum beat of take downs to continue.”

In one example, the company removed a network of more than 300 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and the photo-sharing app Instagram that appear to be run by a years-old troll farm located in Albania and operated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq opposition group. The group appeared to target Iran, but also other audiences with content about Iran, according to a report released by Facebook.

The group was most active in 2017, but increased its activity again in the latter half of 2020. It was one of a handful of the influence campaigns that likely used machine learning technologies capable of creating realistic profile photos to the naked eye, Facebook said in the report.

The company also removed 118 accounts, eight pages and 10 Instagram accounts based in Spain and El Salvador for violating the company’s foreign interference policy. The group amplified criticism of Henry Flores, a mayoral candidate in Santa Tecla, El Savador and supportive commentary of his rivals, the company said.

The social media giant also took down a network of 29 Facebook accounts, two pages, one group and 10 Instagram accounts based in Iran that was targeting Israel. The people behind the network posed as locals and posted criticism about Isreali prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Facebook. The company also took down networks based in Argentina, Mexico, Egypt and other nations.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said the company has improved its ability to identify inauthentic accounts, but said bad actors continue to change their strategies to avoid Facebook’s detection.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Source:- BNN

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