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Travel bans should be based on evidence, not politics or fear – STAT

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The Trump White House on Monday released a presidential proclamation terminating travel bans on visitors from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and the European Schengen area starting on Jan. 26, when a negative Covid-19 test will be required to enter the country. It took less than an hour before the incoming Biden administration’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, tweeted, “On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.”

It isn’t clear what advice the medical team gave, but scientific evidence suggests that extending such restrictions will not make Americans safer. Instead, travel bans will result in adverse consequences for millions of family members who have been separated for over 10 months, as well as avoidable economic losses.

Travel bans were first introduced in late January 2020, and extended in March and May, as a way to protect the American public from widespread introduction of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. At the outset, with limited information about the virulence of the virus and case counts in the U.S., these bans were justified — and could even have been more stringent for a short period of time to buy time and bolster preparedness.

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Yet once community spread became the dominant source of transmission, the benefits of travel bans became marginal at best. Extending them does little to help meaningfully reduce the number of infections, since U.S. citizens and residents are still allowed to travel, along with select other visa holders who have been exempted. And these bans have also taken economic and human tolls while creating a false sense of protection and security.

Other tools, including testing mandates, quarantines, and end-to-end contact tracing, will make a much bigger difference at a fraction of the cost.

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Why such an ineffective policy remains in place

The public and many political leaders tend to be drawn to easy fixes. Travel bans create the impression of a decisive public health response. During the Trump administration, they aligned with xenophobic policies against China and other countries.

Community spread — not importation — quickly became the dominant source of transmission in the United States. And for most of the past 10 months, the country has had one of the highest rates of Covid-19-related infection and death per capita. Given what we know about the relative safety of air travel and the natural decline in appetite for travel since the virus first emerged, a better response to the pandemic would have consisted of more targeted interventions: masks mandates, mandatory pre- or post-travel testing, quarantines for infected travelers, and contact tracing.

As we write this, about 1 in 35 Americans are infected with Covid-19, more than in most parts of the world from which the U.S. bans travelers — only Belgium, France, Serbia, Ireland, and French Polynesia have higher infection rates.

A policy of short-term travel restrictions, such as when investigating a novel viral strain, complemented by far more affordable and effective interventions is a better way forward.

The economic and human toll of travel bans

Preventing travel by certain groups of visitors carries an enormous human and economic toll. First, the economic costs of the pandemic travel slump was estimated to result in a loss of $355 billion to the U.S. travel industry in 2020 alone, including a $55 billion drop in taxes and a loss of 4.6 million jobs. While it is too early to quantify the exact impact of travel restrictions, the International Air Transport Association has shown that after increasing in the summer months of 2020, the bookings count has plateaued at about 60% to 70% lower relative to the year before. While we cannot speculate about the impact of removing travel restrictions on U.S. airlines, a 45% increase in bookings was observed when the United Kingdom shortened its quarantine from 14 to five days, a meaningful and evidence-based policy change.

Support for travel restrictions may be justified by those who have been isolating away from their relatives within the United States. Yet millions of Americans and many foreign-born U.S. residents have vital family ties to either dependents or caregivers in other countries who may be unable to enter the U.S. unless they first spend 14 days in a country not currently subject to the bans. For most people, this means not being able to help a sick relative or attend important family events. For others, it leads to creative but self-defeating solutions like spending 14 days in an exempt country like Mexico or Serbia before entering the U.S. Neither contributes to protecting the public health here but increases the cost to families that are separated for so long.

We live in a globalized world, and the personal and professional toll on those separated by travel restrictions is hard to quantify. Still, better approaches are possible. The European Union’s Free Movement Directive requires member states to “facilitate the reunion of people in durable relationships.” The EU Council Recommendation from June 2020 lists “passengers travelling for imperative family reasons” and “passengers in transit” in exemptions to any travel restrictions, which also include individuals seeking asylum, students, and workers. The U.S. has not implemented similar reunification policies to serve as exemptions to travel bans.

As vaccines become more widely available and the number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and other countries decline, travel restrictions will become completely futile. The Biden administration should support the termination of existing travel restrictions on Jan. 26 — when pre-trip coronavirus testing for incoming visitors is scheduled to become mandatory — and add or expand exemptions for those holding valid family, fiance, and other U.S. visas.

Jakub Hlávka is a research assistant professor of health policy and management at the USC Price School of Public Policy and a fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. Lisa Bari is the interim CEO of the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative.

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Murphy's Logic: Politics trumps public interest | CTV News – CTV News Atlantic

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The initial reluctance of governments, federal and provincial, to appoint a public inquiry into the N.S. mass shooting, was difficult to understand. It took the heartfelt pleas of the victims’ families and the fast rising tide of public opinion to make the politicians act.

And now we likely know why they were so reluctant.

Imperfect though it may be, the inquiry eventually appointed has now exposed the obscene political considerations that were already at play in the days that followed the horror of April 2020.

The evidence reveals that political leaders, who should have been overwhelmed only with grief and concern for the trauma and misery wrought by a madman, instead seemed to seize an overwhelming opportunity to advance their own partisan interests in toughening gun control.

There is reason to believe the PM or his people, certainly his Ministers, were attempting to dictate, manipulate or at least influence parts of the RCMP the narrative. That’s unacceptable, a brazen display of politics put ahead of public interest, moreover, it’s heartless.

The Commissioner of the RCMP should not have been making promises to her political masters about the release of information about the sort of weapons used by the shooter but more pointedly, the politicians shouldn’t have been asking for such promises about that or anything else.

The Mass Causality Commission has already exposed many shortcomings on the part of the RCMP.

The force’s politically charged relationship with the government is yet another fault, yet another reason to demand changes in the way the RCMP operates.

The arrogance laid bare by the Trudeau government’s apparent willingness to interfere, to capitalize on the timing of a tragedy for crass political advantage, also suggests it may also be time to change the government.

   

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About 675,000 signed up to vote in federal Conservative leadership race: party

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OTTAWA — About 675,000 members have signed up to vote for a new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada — a staggering number that the Tories believe sets an all-time record for any federal political party.

The party said it sent a preliminary voter list to candidates on Thursday. The final number is subject to change, as leadership hopefuls will now be able to challenge the validity of any of those sign-ups or push for names to be added to the list.

Candidates have until the end of Monday to issue these challenges, which the party stressed must be “substantiated.” They will be reviewed by the party’s chief returning officer, whose decisions can be appealed to a dispute resolution committee before the voter list is finalized later in July.

However, the party said some 6,500 non-compliant sales have already been cut according to the Conservatives’ internal rules and those of the Canada Elections Act. 

These include memberships that were purchased for different addresses but using the same credit card or those bought with prepaid cards or corporate accounts.

Ian Brodie, chair of the leadership election organizing committee, said Thursday there are now more members of the Conservative party than people in Hamilton, Ont.

“Canadians are responding to the leadership race in unprecedented numbers. We have crushed all records for prior political participation in Canada,” he said.

To compare, in 2020, when former leader Erin O’Toole was elected in the Conservatives’ last leadership race, the party boasted an eligible voting base of 270,000.

At the beginning of this year, the party said it had 161,000 active and current members nationally, although about 48,000 of those were scheduled to expire by the membership deadline in June.

It said the vast majority of members signed up online, although some registered by mail or phone.

A provincial breakdown of memberships was not provided on Thursday.

The party is also not releasing how many members each individual candidate signed up, despite the urging of Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre, who has claimed he sold nearly 312,000 memberships through his website.

Five other candidates are vying for the top job: Ontario Conservative MPs Scott Aitchison and Leslyn Lewis; former Quebec premier Jean Charest; Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton, Ont.; and Roman Baber, a former Independent member of the Ontario legislature.

The party also said the list had been cleaned up of duplicates, which it described as a normal part of any campaign. Anyone who signed up twice has simply been given a second year of membership.

Both Brown and Lewis had raised concerns about possible duplicates arising from an email sent by Poilievre’s campaign ahead of last month’s deadline to sell $15 memberships.

Brown and Lewis alleged members purchased new memberships after receiving what appeared to be an “official-looking warning” from Poilievre’s team that their status was incomplete.

A spokesman for Poilievre’s team has said the email in question went to people who, according to the campaign’s records, were not members.

The winner is to be announced in Ottawa on Sept. 10.

Brodie downplayed the revenue implications of selling so many memberships, saying that some of the money must be shared with riding associations.

Instead, he said the key takeaway is how candidates have mobilized supporters.

“I think what this shows is a level of engagement and enthusiasm for the race that will continue to pay dividends for us well past the end of the race, and I don’t see that diminishing on Sept. 11.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.

 

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Politics Briefing: Atlantic premiers make the case for more health care funding from Ottawa – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Atlantic premiers are making the case for additional health care funding from the federal government ahead of a meeting next month of all premiers and territorial leaders where the issue will be key to the agenda.

“This increased funding would have a significant impact on the ability of provinces to provide quality health care services and respond to the strain on health care systems,” said the closing statement Wednesday for the meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, chair of the Atlantic premiers council, hosted the meeting in Pictou, N.S. Present for the meeting were Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey, Dennis King of Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.

The 13 provincial and territorial premiers in the Council of the Federation are to meet in Victoria on July 11 and 12. Premiers have said Ottawa should increase its contribution to the Canada Health Transfer by about $28-billion more this year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this year that discussion on the issue should wait until the pandemic is over. He has said the federal government has spent the past two years engaging directly with provinces and territories on funding for health in addition to the Canada Health Transfer, which is worth $43.1-billion this year. Story here.

As B.C. Premier John Horgan, chair of the Council of the Federation, announced Tuesday that he would be stepping down as premier, he said that he remained committed to the health care funding issue and would work on it through to his expected departure from his post later this year.

“Premiers across the country will be assembling in Victoria, where the number one issue on the table is a commitment from the federal government to sit down with the provinces and resolve the crisis in public health care,” Mr. Horgan told a news conference in the B.C. capital.

“I fully intend to carry on that battle to make the federal government stand up for the commitments they made to all of us and convene a meeting so we can fix the most important social program, in fact, the most important program in Canada.”

Mr. Horgan, a New Democrat, said premiers and territorial leaders have been united across Canada on the issue despite partisan differences. “We have been a uniform group.”

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

TIM HORTONS LATEST COMPANY TO SUSPEND HOCKEY CANADA SUPPORT – Tim Hortons is suspending its support of the IIHF World Junior Championship and plans to re-evaluate its sponsorship of Hockey Canada, as the organization faces growing backlash from corporate partners over its payment to settle allegations that eight Canadian Hockey League players assaulted a young woman in 2018 following a Hockey Canada gala. Story here.

$150M SETTLEMENT WITH PERDUE PHARMA CANADA – A proposed $150-million settlement with Purdue Pharma Canada covering all provinces and territories has been reached for the recovery of health care costs related to the sale and marketing of opioid-based pain medication. Story here.

RCMP COMMISSIONER BOWED TO POLITICAL PRESSURE: SENIOR CIVILIAN MOUNTIE – A senior civilian Mountie sent a strongly worded letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki last year, accusing her of bowing to political pressure and displaying “unprofessional and extremely belittling” behaviour to officers investigating the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. Story here.

FIRST NATIONS CHIEFS GATHERING LOOMS – First Nations Chiefs from across Canada are set to gather in Vancouver next week, but along with discussions on issues ranging from climate change to housing and child welfare, they will also face an unfolding leadership crisis within their national advocacy organization. Story here.

CANADA OPENING FOUR NEW EMBASSIES – Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says Canada will open four new embassies in Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Armenia, and will reinforce its presence in Latvia amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Story here.

B.C. PREMIER QUITTING – John Horgan will step down as B.C. Premier this fall, saying two bouts of cancer and 36 years in government have left him without the intensity needed to commit to another term. Story here. Global News looks here at possible successors to Mr. Horgan, including former NDP MP Nathan Cullen.

‘I STABBED HIM IN THE FRONT’: JEAN ON TOPPLING KENNEY – Brian Jean is blunt about his efforts to see Jason Kenney ousted as leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party, leading to the ongoing race to lead the party. “People that say I stabbed Kenney in the back, well, I never. I stabbed him in the front. He knew I was coming. I was very honest with him,” Mr. Jean, a candidate in the UCP leadership race, told The Edmonton Journal. Story here.

JUDGE IN CONVOY CASES THREATENED – One of the judges who presided over the court hearings of Freedom Convoy organizers is speaking out after receiving threats considered serious enough to require police intervention. Story here from CBC.

PMO POWER CENTRALIZATION NECESSARY: FORMER ADVISERS – The frequently criticized centralization of power within the Prime Minister’s Office is a necessary part of governing – regardless of who is in power – argued two former prime ministerial advisers, at an event in Calgary Tuesday. Story here from The National Post.

ALBERTA POSTS SURPLUS – Alberta posted a multi-billion-dollar surplus in the last fiscal year after a record windfall of energy revenue erased a forecasted deficit that motivated the government to cut spending. Story here.

CANADA LACKS AMBASSADOR TO CHINA – Canada has been without an ambassador to China since the end of 2021, when Dominic Barton moved out of the Beijing offices. The government says, while a representative will be named in “due course,” Canada continues to engage with China at the “highest levels” in the meantime. Story here from CTV.

SWEET TAX COMING IN NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR – Newfoundland and Labrador’s pending tax on soft drinks and other sugary beverages is leaving a bad taste with some in the province. The tax, which takes effect in September, will be a first in Canada. Story here from Global News.

TOUGH GREEN LEADERSHIP RULES DRAW COMPLAINTS- The contest to find the next Green Party leader is off to a rocky start, with leadership hopefuls and a former party insider complaining about the restrictive rules governing the race. Story here from CBC.

CYBERSPY AGENCY SOUGHT TO PROTECT ELECTION – Canada’s cyberspy agency launched a defensive operation to protect last year’s federal election – including the party leaders’ debate – from disruption by foreign agencies. Story here from CTV.

INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE NEEDS TO BE DECLARED EPIDEMIC: INQUEST JURY – The Ontario government should formally declare intimate partner violence an epidemic, says an inquest jury after three weeks of testimony into a rural triple femicide nearly seven years ago. Story here.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is in Ontario. Patrick Brown is in Brampton. Jean Charest is in Alberta. Leslyn Lewis is in her riding of Halimand-Norfolk. Pierre Poilievre is in Ottawa. There was no word on the campaign whereabouts of Roman Baber.

BROWN CALLS FOR CONSERVATIVE CLARITY ON ABORTION – Patrick Brown says the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion means the Conservative Party in Canada needs to emphasize it is ruling out changes to policies on terminating pregnancies. Story here.

BROWN AND MACKAY BREAKFAST – Patrick Brown is scheduled to attend a breakfast event in Stellarton, Nova Scotia on Sunday with former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay, also a contender for the party leadership in 2020. However, an endorsement is unlikely. In a statement this week, Mr. MacKay said he is doing what he can to support all candidates, but not picking a favorite.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20

FREELAND IN SHERBROOKE – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Sherbrooke, visiting footwear manufacturer LP Royer and workers. She was also scheduled to meet with workers and hold a news conference. She will also meet with the Sherbrooke Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

MENDICINO IN SCARBOROUGH – Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino is in Scarborough to make an announcement with Toronto Mayor John Tory on federal support for organizations on the front lines of the fight against gun and gang violence in Toronto.

MILLER IN N.W.T AND HAJDU IN THUNDER BAY – In Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller announces a project under the Cultural Spaces in Indigenous Communities Program. Meanwhile, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu announces support to enhance tourism and expand Northwestern Ontario’s creative economy.

ALGHABRA IN MISSISSAGUA – Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, and NAV CANADA vice president Mark Cooper, in Mississauga, will make an important funding announcement regarding investments in air traffic control infrastructure in Canada.

SUTCLIFFE RUNS FOR OTTAWA MAYOR – Writer, broadcaster and podcaster Mark Sutcliffe, the founder of the Ottawa Business Journal, and the former executive editor of The Ottawa Citizen newspaper, has entered the mayoral race in Ottawa. Jim Watson, who has been mayor since 2010 after serving a previous three-year term, is not seeking re-election. There are now a total eight candidates in the Oct. 24 election. I will work hard, every single day, to make Ottawa safe, reliable, and affordable for everyone,” he said in a tweet Wednesday.

THE DECIBEL

Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast features Rosemary Westwood, who has been following the battle over abortion rights in the Southern U.S. for the past six years. She’s the host of Banned, a podcast about the Mississippi case that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. She’s on the show to explain how the U.S. got to this point, the people behind the fight on both sides of the issue and what their plans are now that Roe v. Wade is gone. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

In Madrid for a NATO summit, the Prime Minister held private meetings, and participated in the official arrivals at the summit, met with the Secretary General of NATO,Jens Stoltenberg and Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, and attended the official summit welcome ceremony by Secretary-General Stoltenberg. The Prime Minister also participated in the Opening Session of the North Atlantic Council Meeting, and met with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö. After that, the Prime Minister participated in the North Atlantic Council Plenary Session, and attended the Transatlantic Working Dinner, chaired by the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

OPINION

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on how John Horgan’s power as B.C.’s NDP Premier was his ability to connect with ordinary people:There will be other opportunities to discuss Mr. Horgan’s legacy. But without question, he will go down as one of the top two or three most popular premiers in B.C. history. He had the Irish gift of gab, combined with a common touch that made him highly relatable – a guy with whom you wouldn’t mind having a pint. That’s not something you teach; you’re born with those skills. It’s funny when you consider he almost talked himself out of going for the job.”

Rosemary Westwood (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how the U.S. has demolished abortion rights: “On the day the decision came down, former vice-president Mike Pence – the man whose evangelical bona fides helped affirm the religious right’s support of Mr. Trump – tweeted that Republicans “must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land.” It took half a century for the anti-abortion movement to take down Roe, and its work may not be finished. The question now is whether the abortion-rights movement can mount an expansive, well-funded, enduring movement of even greater force to restore women’s rights – and how fast.”

Jake Enright (The National Post) on the truth behind skyrocketing Conservative party membership sales: Finally, and for me most significantly, each of the three Conservative leadership front-runners are communicating to a unique audience, using a specific medium they themselves dominate. For example, Patrick Brown is primarily communicating to ethnic communities, using cultural media and outreach. Jean Charest is communicating to disillusioned progressive conservatives, using traditional media to reach his audience, especially in Quebec. Lastly, Pierre Poilievre is communicating to the “Left Behinds,” an audience that feels they are falling further and further behind financially, who also do not trust the government and are becoming suspicious of institutions. Poilievre is using his mastery of social media to reach this once illusive political audience. Leslyn Lewis is also communicating to a specific audience, the pro-life community.”

Marjory LeBreton (Policy Magazine) on the Conservative Party’s Make-or-break Moment: Now, I fervently believe that the Conservative Party has reached an existential choice. The current leadership race is the third in six years, and the message that sends to Canadians in general cannot go unheard by Conservatives in particular: We have to get it right this time. I fear that if we don’t, the great accommodation reached by Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay in the fall of 2003 could fracture, possibly beyond repair. Clearly, this trend cannot continue if we are serious about earning the support of Canadians in future elections.”

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