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Remembrance Day sales in Canada are 'a rookie mistake,' expert says – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Two U.S.-based retailers offered Remembrance Day sales to their Canadian customers this year, a practice one retail analyst calls “horrible” and “disrespectful”.

“Canadians are very sensitive about the commercialization of this sacred holiday,” independent retail analyst and consultant Bruce Wintertold CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. “Certainly in Canada it’s been taboo to have any type of sale on Remembrance Day, for the obvious reason that we’re remembering our fallen soldiers.”

Lenovo’s Canadian-facing site says that “Our biggest Remembrance Day sale ever is coming in 2020,” and asks customers to sign up. Lenovo’s head office is in Beijing, and its operational headquarters is in North Carolina. 

A screenshot of blinds.ca's Remembrance Day sale

Customers of window blind retailer blinds.ca could get a fourth window blind free if they buy three under that company’s Remembrance Day sale, which was originally supposed to end Nov. 11. 

“At Blinds.ca we have the utmost respect for military veterans, their families and their sacrifices,” wrote spokesperson Kathleen Hartnett, who is based in Houston. “We apologize to our Canadian shoppers for any disrespect that this has caused and we have removed the sale from our site.”

Lenovo did not respond to a request for comment.

Remembrance Day sales have been controversial in the past. Veterans and their organizations condemned similar sales by Eddie Bauer in 2010, and The Gap in 2014.  

“While we are supportive of retailers who wish to show their thanks to our veterans, we would not want to see the actual commercialization of Remembrance Day, or of the remembrance period itself,” Royal Canadian Legion spokesperson Nujma Bond said in a written statement.

Grocery chain Whole Foods reversed a controversial ban on employees wearing poppies last week, after political leaders including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Fordcondemned it; Trudeau called it a “silly mistake.”

Winter, and Ryerson University historian Peter Vronsky, point out that Veterans Day sales are common in the U.S. around Nov. 11, and say that companies seem to have carried the concept into Canada without paying enough attention to cultural difference.

“In the United States traditionally, Memorial Day and Veterans Day are holidays in a strange way,” he says. “That’s their cultural tradition, But Remembrance Day was never really a holiday in that sense of the word here. This was a solemn memorial, a dark day. The Americans have a different approach.

“I think there’s a much more solemn sense of what Remembrance Day stands for – it’s not about going shopping, certainly.”

Winter says it’s an example of marketing practices being simply transferred from one country to another without enough attention to cultural difference, something he calls “a rookie mistake.”

“Sometimes companies just don’t do the due diligence,” he says, pointing out that “Canadians are very sensitive about the commercialization of this sacred holiday.”

“There are a number of companies that think that the way they market in their home country, they can use the exact same practices around the world. That’s something you learn the hard way, that you can’t do that – you have to be local. You have to think about local tastes and local holidays and local consumer sentiment and behaviour.”

Retail analyst Craig Patterson calls the sales “a big marketing fail” that would have been prevented by basic research that would have quickly shown previous years’ controversies.

“The bar is not high – it’s pretty easy,” he says.

“I would just shake my head and say: ‘You guys just need to do your research. Do your job. It’s not that hard to do a little bit of backgrounding. You’re operating in another country – you need to understand the cultural norms of that country.’ I don’t know that there are that many excuses.”

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Canada still on track for January 2021 vaccine rollout, despite domestic dose disadvantage: Feds – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The federal government is still eyeing January 2021 as the start date for when people in Canada will begin to receive COVID-19 vaccines, despite frustration and concerns levelled at the Liberals by the opposition on Wednesday about Canada’s position in the queue to receive doses.

“At the beginning of next year, in January of 2021, assuming those approvals are given… Canadians will be able to start being vaccinated,” Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc said in an interview on CTV’s Power Play.

The approvals he is referencing are Health Canada approvals, which will be required before vaccine doses are doled out.

LeBlanc wouldn’t say what specifically the contracts say in terms of licensing and schedules for delivery, but disputed that Canada is at the back of the line and said that the number of doses coming to Canada will increase over time.

“We will start to receive the first millions of doses early part of 2021… those contracts are in place and that distribution will be made very effectively with provinces and territories,” he said.

In a separate segment on CTV’s Power Play, Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner cast doubt on the timeline, saying there is no publicly available evidence to substantiate the government’s January 2021 target will be attainable.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to temper Canadians’ expectations around the timing and rollout of an eventual vaccine or vaccines to immunize against the novel coronavirus, acknowledging that Canada is at a “disadvantage” because Canada “no longer has any domestic production capability” to make our own and is relying on other nations.

While there has been promising news about some vaccine candidates that Canada will receive millions of doses early next year— to be distributed on a priority basis—several other nations are making plans to begin administering vaccines next month.

Among the promising candidates so far are Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, all of which Canada has begun the domestic approval process for. However, Trudeau said that the countries where these pharmaceutical companies are based, including the United States, will “obviously” prioritize vaccinating their citizens before shipping doses internationally.

This caused a flurry of questions levelled at Trudeau during question period on Wednesday, with the opposition slamming the government’s handling of vaccine procurement.

“Why did this prime minister sign deals that placed Canadians months behind Americans for getting a COVID-19 vaccine?” asked Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“The announcement of vaccines gave people hope, but when the prime minister said we’re not able to produce it in Canada people were afraid… They need to know that there’s a clear plan with dates,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during question period.

In a press conference, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said it was “unacceptable” that vaccines could still be months away from arriving in Canada, saying the federal government should have moved sooner to secure manufacturing rights and to ramp up production capacity at home.

Trudeau sought to defend his government’s handling, noting that it was under the previous Conservative administrations that Canada’s domestic capacity dwindled away.

Canada has begun funding domestic vaccine production capacity but Trudeau has said it will take “years” to get in place and likely won’t help Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine situation, but will be in place should there be future pandemics.

On Wednesday, LeBlanc suggested that should there be a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine required, or subsequent booster shots in years to come, the domestic ability to produce the vaccines could be ready.

Canada does produce some vaccines, but not the kind so far looking promising for COVID-19. Pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline make protein-based vaccines, but the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, for example, are mRNA vaccines, which use messenger ribonucleic acid to produce an immune response.

“One is like making wine, one’s like making Coke,” Andrew Casey, the CEO of BioteCanada, told The Canadian Press Wednesday. “Yes, they both grow in bottles. Yes, you can drink both out of a glass. But the manufacturing processes used for the two is so completely different. You can’t just say well, we’ll shut down the protein one, and we’ll switch over to the mRNA.”

On Friday the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed to MPs that the country is on track to receive an initial six million doses by March, four million from Pfizer and two million from Moderna.

In total, Canada has signed deals with seven vaccine manufactures, securing more vaccines per capita than other countries. The deals include an agreement with Canadian-based Medicago, whose vaccine candidate remains the farthest away from approval of those Canada has contracts with.

With files from The Canadian Press

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2 Perfect Holiday Gift Ideas for the Pregnant Woman in Your Life

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To say that this past year has been erratic would be an understatement. From the global pandemic to a tumultuous political and economic climate, 2020 is a year that will go down in the history books. While many people’s daily lives are much different from what they were a year ago, people have also reacquainted themselves with the value of friendship and partnerships. You may have heard the phrase, “we’re all in this together” a hundred times by now, but the truth is, we are. Relationships have become stronger as we pull together through thick and thin.

Some people wouldn’t be getting through these dark days without their partner by their side. You love the woman in your life very much. You hate to think about what this year would have been like without her. She’s the first person you see in the morning; she’s there to hold your hand when you need — she’s the love of your life. And what’s more exciting is that she’s pregnant!

With the holidays coming up next month, you want to surprise her with the perfect gifts — a token of appreciation to tell her how much you love her. For unique ideas on showing her how much she means to you, check out these perfect holiday gifts for the woman (and baby) in your life.

A Boudoir Photography Session

How many times have you looked at your partner and wanted to capture her beauty, forever, in a photograph? Of course, you can whip out your mobile phone to take a snap, but have you ever considered consulting a professional boudoir photographer?

A boudoir photographer in Niagara will elegantly capture your partner’s inner and outer beauty during this exciting time of your lives in customized images that will last a lifetime. When some people hear the term “boudoir,” they immediately think of tantalizing, sassy photographs of women in lingerie. While this aesthetic is one type of element to boudoir photography, there’s more to it than that. It’s all about empowerment and feeling beautiful while pregnant in a comfortable setting. The images are supposed to enhance your partner’s confidence and become a memory for both of you to look back on for years to come. Mention the idea to your loved one to see how she feels about it. We bet that she’ll jump at the opportunity to experience a day to feel gorgeous, sexy, and loved.

A Matching Sweatsuit

Many people spend most of their time inside these days because of the cold weather and the COVID-19 virus. Why not get comfortable while spending so much time in the house? Your lady would love a matching sweatsuit, especially as she’s carrying that baby — the perfect outfit to work from the couch or to snuggle up in for movie night. Look for soft, warm materials such as cotton, fleece, or terry cloth to keep her warm all winter long, and find the right one in her favourite colour.

This year, you want the love of your life to forget about the world’s events for a day or two with a couple of heartfelt gifts. Remind her of her natural beauty with a sophisticated boudoir photoshoot. And when she comes home, surprise her with a cozy outfit to slip into and relax. Such thoughtful gifts will mean so much to her, and your actions will show precisely how strong your relationship truly is.

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'We took our eye off the ball': How Canada lost its vaccine production capacity – CTV News

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TORONTO —
In the race to develop and produce a COVID-19 vaccine, Canada is on the sidelines despite its once notable status as a global source for life-saving injections.

Canada lost that standing long ago, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained this week, which means even if the country had developed its own novel coronavirus vaccine, there would be no means to produce it on the scale required.

“We used to have [production capacity] decades ago but we no longer have it,” Trudeau said Tuesday in Ottawa.

How did it get to this point? Canadian administrations simply took their “eye off the ball,” said Earl Brown, an infectious disease expert and a former member of the H1N1 vaccine task group in Canada. After that pandemic, a review found that vaccine production capacity was “right at the top” of the list of problems, he said. It wasn’t always that way.

“We had great vaccine producers in Canada — world leaders essentially — 50 years ago,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday. There was Connaught Laboratories in Toronto, which was known for producing insulin to treat diabetes and inoculants for diphtheria and polio, and Institut Armand Frappier in Montreal that produced vaccines, including one for tuberculosis, he noted.

“The problem was they had a poor business model,” said Brown. “These were vaccine companies spun off from universities, so there was indirect funding and they had a model of not making so much profit.”

So they were eventually sold, Montreal’s Frappier lab to British multinational GlaxoSmithKline and Connaught, through a series of mergers, to French multinational Sanofi Pasteur​ after Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government’s program of privatization​. The labs now have a “tighter production line and not so much capacity,” said Brown.

The inability to mount a domestic production campaign means that the Canadian government must rely on purchase agreements with top U.S. and European pharmaceutical brands, including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, to produce and provide the shots to Canadians once the vaccines are approved by Health Canada. In the absence of a domestic candidate, Ottawa has ordered as many as 414 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates from seven different companies.

‘A MAJOR GLITCH’

There are some promising vaccine candidates in development across Canada, including Quebec’s Medicago and Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac, but the companies lack the means to produce them here. What would that mean for rollout should those candidates be successful? 

“That’s a major glitch,” said Brown. “You’re going to have to get a partner, somebody who’s got the ability to do that and then you have to get them onside, tuned up, send them your vaccine, get it produced and bottled. Not the best way to do it.”

For those Canadian companies to mount production campaigns on their own will take time — and a lot of it, they have said. VIDO-InterVac said it has plans to build a facility in one year, but that it would take another still to get it in operating shape. “That’s not the time frame you like,” said Brown.

In the meantime, Canadians will have to rely on speedier countries with approved COVID-19 vaccines to provide doses, but Canadians won’t be prioritized ahead of their own people. “Countries like the United States, Germany and the U.K. do have domestic pharmaceutical facilities, which is why they’re obviously going to prioritize helping their citizens first,” Trudeau said on Tuesday in Ottawa.

To help Canadians first, the federal government should set up a Crown corporation to produce vaccines, suggests Joel Lexchin, a professor emeritus with York University’s School of Health Policy and Management. 

“It’s one thing if we give up the ability to domestically make something like laundry detergent. We can all live without laundry detergent. But when it comes to medications and vaccines, those are critical for the health of Canadians and we should be able to make them ourselves,” he told CTV National News. “Not only will the ability to domestically produce them ensure that Canadians get the care that they need, but we can also fulfill our human rights obligations by exporting them at low cost to low- and middle-income countries.”

‘GROSS INCOMPETENCE’

The reliance on other countries and private companies is upsetting critics of Trudeau, who said Tuesday that his administration has begun funding domestic vaccine production capacity because “we never want to be caught short again.” 

“This is gross incompetence that’s going to cost Canadians their lives and their jobs,” said Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner on Tuesday from Parliament Hill.

But criticism toward one government’s inaction may often easily be directed at another with hindsight, countered Brown on Your Morning.

“When you have the problem, you look back and say ‘We should have done something, shouldn’t we?’” he said.

With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello and CTV National News correspondents Glen McGregor and Avis Favaro 

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