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Vaccines End the Pandemic’s Political Harmony – The New York Times

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CANADA letter

Vaccines End the Pandemic’s Political Harmony

Erin O’Toole, the Conservative leader, is using the government’s vaccine plans to begin his first big political attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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  • Dec. 4, 2020, 9:04 p.m. ET

This week people in Britain learned that a coronavirus vaccine will soon be on its way — at least for the first batch of people. In Canada, however, vaccines were the focus of political squabbling.

Pfizer’s plant in Belgium that will be supplying vaccine to Britain.
Credit…Ksenia Kuleshova for The New York Times

After several months of the pandemic not being a partisan issue in Canada, the prospect of effective vaccines has finally politicized it. While the political dissent in no way resembles the polarization that surrounds the pandemic in the United States, Erin O’Toole has made the government’s vaccine plans the subject of his first major attack as Conservative leader on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Joining Mr. O’Toole have been several of the premiers. Ontario’s premier Doug Ford, who as recently as August said, “I absolutely love Chrystia Freeland,” Mr. Trudeau’s deputy prime minister, now grumbles about being denied information by the Liberal government.

Although no vaccine is currently approved for use in Canada, or in the United States or Europe, Mr. O’Toole introduced a motion in Parliament on Thursday to, among other things, require the government to post specific dates for when Canadians will start receiving each of the various vaccines it has ordered; offer details on how the vaccines will be shipped and stored; and state who the government will recommend be first inoculated by provincial health care systems.

“Canadians deserve to know when they can expect each vaccine type to be available in Canada and how many vaccines will be available per month,” Mr. O’Toole said. “In the middle of a historic health crisis, this government should not be operating behind closed doors.”

The motion followed earlier claims by Mr. O’Toole that the government had excessively focused efforts on a joint vaccine venture between CanSino, a Chinese vaccine maker, the National Research Council and Dalhousie University that ultimately fell apart because of lack of cooperation from China. He also said Canada was at the back of the line for the millions of doses of vaccines it has ordered.

The government rejects Mr. Toole’s accusations that it has somehow dropped the ball on vaccines and will leave Canadians waiting for the shots.

When confirming this week that the first doses will arrive in early 2021, Anita Anand, the minister responsible for buying them, emphasized that everything now hinges on Health Canada determining that the vaccines are both safe and effective.

Credit…Blair Gable/Reuters

“While there is pressure to move at the speed of politics, we will not rush the science,” she told a news conference. “It is not possible to circle a single date on the calendar but I can assure you that as soon as Health Canada approval occurs, our delivery process will kick in.”

But that does open up the question of why Britain is going ahead now with the vaccine from Pfizer, the American company that will also be Canada’s first supplier. Benjamin Mueller, my colleague based in London, recently explained that, unlike Canada and the United States, Britain’s regulator is willing to rely more on reports by drug makers that their vaccines are safe and work as promised, rather than analyze the raw data.

[Read: Why the U.K. Approved a Coronavirus Vaccine First]

Not everyone accepts the wisdom of Britain’s accelerated approach.

Scott Matthews, a professor of political science at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, told me that it was inevitable that the political harmony in Canada around the pandemic would erode.

Credit…Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

“The prime minister has been benefiting from the absence of criticism,” he said.

But he said there was no danger that the current focus on vaccine delivery would harm the overall message of the importance of following public health guidelines to reduce infection.

“The Conservatives’ approach isn’t putting anyone’s life in danger and it’s natural they’d be criticizing the government — that’s what the opposition does,” he said. But Professor Matthews wondered what would be gained if specific dates are pinned down. “Is the motion they’re talking about really that important?” he asked.


Credit…Devin Olsen
  • On Nov. 7, before British Columbia imposed new pandemic restrictions and after the end of the pro hockey season, several N.H.L. players and Patrick Chan, an Olympic gold medalist in figure skating, climbed aboard two helicopters. Their destination was a makeshift rink about 100 kilometers north of Vancouver at a mountaintop altitude of 1,800 meters. Gerald Narciso tells the story of that day, which was captured in stunning photos by Devin Olsen and Zachary Moxley.

  • In Opinion, Nicholas Kristof has examined the harm inflicted by Pornhub and its Montreal-based parent company, Mindgeek, and asks: “Why does Canada host a company that inflicts rape videos on the world?” (A note of caution: His powerful report includes descriptions of sexual assaults.)

  • Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia is foremost among scientists who have changed how we understand forests. She has demonstrated that they are not a collection of solitary trees fighting each other for resources but rather vast and intricate societies exchanging carbon, water and nutrients through underground networks of fungus. Set aside some time for Ferris Jabr’s article for The New York Times Magazine, which is beautifully illustrated by Brendan George Ko, a photographer from Toronto.

  • Elliot Page, the Halifax-born and raised actor and Oscar-nominated star of “Juno,” announced on Tuesday that he is transgender.

  • A clutch of tiny eggs arrived at the Montreal Insectarium in 2018. They would solve a century-old mystery about an elusive leaf insect.

  • Several Indigenous podcasters offered their recommendations for podcasts about their people and communities.

  • As it wrote off $20 billion in natural gas investments. Exxon Mobil said it was removing gas projects in Canada, the United States and Argentina from its plans.

  • The police said two American women tampered with railway signals in Washington state, an action with the potential to cause a derailment. The tampering, which led to terrorism charges, appears to have been an act of solidarity with Indigenous Canadians opposed to the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline between Alberta and British Columbia.


A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


We’re eager to have your thoughts about this newsletter and events in Canada in general. Please send them to nytcanada@nytimes.com.

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Mandryk: Keystone XL fight is just sad old politics with a new twist – Regina Leader-Post

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Alas, much of this is about both new-style virtue signalling and old-style politics.

Much has been made about how KXL’s cancellation — tied to the U.S. environmental left’s rhetoric about “dirty tarsands” oil — has always been about Biden consolidating the left of the Democratic party/ the coalition that helped oust Trump. Cancelling KXL — a move that doesn’t reduce current greenhouse gas emission levels but creates the need for more offshore oil — may be the ultimate virtue signalling.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of not having this pipeline will be U.S. railways. And one of the biggest American railways investors is billionaire Warren Buffet. What often gets missed isBuffet’s political interest as a big-time Democratic donor and his willingness to use his position to sway policies.

Sadly, we seem to be right back where we were before Trump. Even more sad is that how we react may make things worse.

Kenney’s talk about retaliatory trade action aimed at our biggest trading partner is unhelpful. Moe — presumably understanding our agriculture trade interests — wisely didn’t go quite that far.

But if this is now about the old politics of both sides ginning up their base, it gets us nowhere.

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Regina Leader-Post has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.

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Newfoundland ex-pat makes waves pairing politicians with their cartoon doubles – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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An effort to shake off some homesickness led Adam DuBourdieu to mix pop culture and provincial politics — namely, taking politicians involved in this election and matching them with their visual counterparts on “The Simpsons.”

Originally from Kippens on the province’s west coast, DuBourdieu, 30, moved to Edmonton just before the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

As with many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he experienced homesickness in the months that follow such a move.

A keen follower of local politics, DuBourdieu set about combatting his traveller’s lament by having some fun with the upcoming provincial election.


“Let’s have a laugh with it, It’s a good thing. It’s a bit of good fun.” — Jim Dinn (aka Principal Skinner)


Combining his love for “The Simpsons” and politics, he matched the politicians running in the upcoming election with the Simpsons character he saw as their cartoon counterparts.

“It is something people are familiar with,” DuBourdieu said about why he chose to use “The Simpsons” as a reference point.

Some matchups were tough, while others were easy fits, such as the NDP’s Jim Dinn, a former schoolteacher, and his match with Principal Skinner.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously. Being a teacher, that’s par for the course,” Dinn said of that character match.

Dinn has seen the rather large social media thread containing the pictures.

He said that as a teacher, he learned long ago that you have to have a sense of humour, and it’s a lesson he’s taken with him to politics. Seeing the thread, he took it in good fun.

He said it could be worse. It could turn into a meme like a recent picture of United States Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Let’s have a laugh with it,” said Dinn. “It’s a good thing. It’s a bit of good fun.”


Kippens native Adam DuBourdieu generated plenty of interest when he started matching Newfoundland and Labrador politicians with characters from The Simpsons earlier this week. Contributed photo — Contributed

The result was a 47-part thread on Twitter filled with pictures of the politicians placed alongside images of characters from the show. It involves a mixture of retiring MHAs, incumbents and party leaders of all political stripes.

“The Simpsons” and politics have a bit of history. Across its 32 seasons, the show has mixed humour and politics.

The show seemingly predicted the start of the United States presidency of Donald J. Trump, and the Lisa Simpson presidency that followed him.


“I hope people get a good chuckle out of it.” — Adam DuBourdieu


Coincidentally, Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans is paired with the presidential Lisa.

The relationship, however, between “The Simpsons” and the political arena doesn’t stop at a coincidental presidential prediction.

The show has often tackled topics of the day, such as same-sex marriage and gun control, and it has often been accused of having a liberal bias. Springfield’s Mayor Quimby is a regularly appearing character, and DuBourdieu saw him as a perfect match for Conception Bay East-Bell Island incumbent David Brazil.


NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter
NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter

Homer Simpson — coupled with Topsail-Paradise MHA Paul Dinn — once fought former U.S. president George H.W. Bush after the two became neighbours. Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford have also made cameo appearances on the show.

DuBourdieu tabbed Ford as the right match with Mount Pearl North MHA Jim Lester.

“Politics has always been in ‘The Simpsons,’ and Newfoundland politics has some characters,” said DuBourdieu, who says he always the show.

“I watched it with my dad.”

Some of his political subjects have a similar appreciation of the show,

Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons knew at once who voiced Bart Simpsons’ former babysitter, Laura Powers.

“That’s the one where Darlene from Roseanne voiced the character. Sara Gilbert,” she said.

Like other children of the ’80s and early ’90s, Parsons grew up in the early years of “The Simpsons.” She saw the show move from animated shorts on “The Tracy Ullman Show” to a pop culture phenomenon on Fox.

“Growing up as a child, I certainly watched ‘The Simpsons.’ I loved Bart Simpson. I think we all did,” said Parsons. “I even had the little toys that McDonald’s was putting out.”


Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter
Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter

Parsons is one of 10 women featured in the long Twitter thread. Of the 10, nine are incumbent MHAs and their animated doppelgangers. The other is Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote.

She was paired with Springfield Elementary second-grade teacher, Mrs. Hoover.

“I like that (Dubourdieu) was non-partisan (in his choices),” said Parsons, who appreciated the comedic break it offered.


Liberal MHA Pam Parsons was paired with former babysitter Laura Powers. Photo courtesy Twitter  — File Photo
Liberal MHA Pam Parsons was paired with former babysitter Laura Powers. Photo courtesy Twitter — File Photo

“I got a good chuckle out of it.”

The response to the sizeable thread has been favourable online.

It was something that surprised DuBourdieu at first.


“I like that (Dubourdieu) was non-partisan (in his choices). I got a good chuckle out of it.” — Pam Parsons (aka Mrs. Hoover)


Since it went online, there have been dozens of interactions between politicians and the public. People have marvelled at how spot-on some of the comparisons are, such as independent MHA Eddie Joyce being matched with oil tycoon Rich Texan.

Still, there have been alternative suggestions, including by the subjects themselves. Liberal candidate George Murphy tweeted he thought of himself as the lovable barfly Barney Gumble instead of Police Chief Wiggum, his chosen match by Dubourdieu.

Other candidates, such as Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis and the NDP’s Jenn Deon, have expressed interest in being connected to animated doubles.

Lake Melville NDP candidate Amy Hogan even went ahead and did her own. It was Jerri Mackleberry, the mother of notable twins Sherri and Terri.

“I think I’m probably the twins, Sherri and Terri’s mom, Jerri. It’s is the purple hair and the glasses,” Hogan tweeted.


Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter
Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter

DuBourdieu pledged to add a third part to the thread if there is enough interest.

In the days since the original post, a link to the thread made its way around the Progressive Conservative email chain.

“We got a good kick out of it,” said Conservative MHA Barry Petten. “You can’t help but laugh.”


“We got a good kick out of it. You can’t help but laugh.” — Barry Petten (aka Superintendent Chalmers)


The Conception Bay South representative readily admitted he wasn’t much of a Simpsons watcher and had little background on Superintendent Chalmers or why he was paired with him.

Still, Petten said he appreciated the work and the humour it brought to the election.

“It’s all good humour,” he said.



 DuBourdieu has enjoyed the work that’s gone into his humourous entry into the Newfoundland and Labrador political scene,

Some comparisons were easy, while others required a bit more thought, he said, and he learned a little along the way, including how male-dominated this province’s legislature is.


Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown and Bart Simpson sidekick Milhouse got paired together. — Photo courtesy Twitter
Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown and Bart Simpson sidekick Milhouse got paired together. — Photo courtesy Twitter

As the province rolls toward the Feb. 13 election, DuBourdieu will watch from his home in Alberta.

In the meantime, he is glad he got to contribute to the run-up in some way.

“I’m glad I did it and I hope people get a good chuckle out of it,” said DuBourdieu.

Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering central Newfoundland for SaltWire Network.


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Scaramucci to Trump: ‘Get out of politics and back to business’

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The Canadian Press

Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

LOS ANGELES — Larry King, the suspenders-sporting everyman whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for a half-century, died Saturday. He was 87. King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted. No cause of death was given, but CNN reported Jan. 2 that King had been hospitalized for more than a week with COVID-19. His son Chance also confirmed King’s death, CNN reported. A longtime nationally syndicated radio host, from 1985 through 2010 he was a nightly fixture on CNN, where he won many honours, including two Peabody awards. With his celebrity interviews, political debates and topical discussions, King wasn’t just an enduring on-air personality. He also set himself apart with the curiosity be brought to every interview, whether questioning the assault victim known as the Central Park jogger or billionaire industrialist Ross Perot, who in 1992 rocked the presidential contest by announcing his candidacy on King’s show. In its early years, “Larry King Live” was based in Washington, which gave the show an air of gravitas. Likewise King. He was the plainspoken go-between through whom Beltway bigwigs could reach their public, and they did, earning the show prestige as a place where things happened, where news was made. King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews. In 1995 he presided over a Middle East peace summit with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He welcomed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Elizabeth Taylor, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Barack Obama, Bill Gates to Lady Gaga. Especially after he relocated to Los Angeles, his shows were frequently in the thick of breaking celebrity news, including Paris Hilton talking about her stint in jail in 2007 and Michael Jackson’s friends and family members talking about his death in 2009. King boasted of never overpreparing for an interview. His nonconfrontational style relaxed his guests and made him readily relatable to his audience. “I don’t pretend to know it all,” he said in a 1995 Associated Press interview. “Not, `What about Geneva or Cuba?’ I ask, `Mr. President, what don’t you like about this job?’ Or `What’s the biggest mistake you made?’ That’s fascinating.” At a time when CNN as the lone player in cable news was deemed politically neutral, and King was the essence of its middle-of-the-road stance, political figures and people at the centre of controversies would seek out his show. And he was known for getting guests who were notoriously elusive. Frank Sinatra, who rarely gave interviews and often lashed out at reporters, spoke to King in 1988 in what would be the singer’s last major TV appearance. Sinatra was an old friend of King’s and acted accordingly. “Why are you here?” King asks. Sinatra responds, “Because you asked me to come and I hadn’t seen you in a long time to begin with, I thought we ought to get together and chat, just talk about a lot of things.” King had never met Marlon Brando, who was even tougher to get and tougher to interview, when the acting giant asked to appear on King’s show in 1994. The two hit it off so famously they ended their 90-minute talk with a song and an on-the-mouth kiss, an image that was all over media in subsequent weeks. After a gala week marking his 25th anniversary in June 2010, King abruptly announced he was retiring from his show, telling viewers, “It’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders.” Named as his successor in the time slot: British journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan. By King’s departure that December, suspicion had grown that he had waited a little too long to hang up those suspenders. Once the leader in cable TV news, he ranked third in his time slot with less than half the nightly audience his peak year, 1998, when “Larry King Live” drew 1.64 million viewers. His wide-eyed, regular-guy approach to interviewing by then felt dated in an era of edgy, pushy or loaded questioning by other hosts. Meanwhile, occasional flubs had made him seem out of touch, or worse. A prime example from 2007 found King asking Jerry Seinfeld if he had voluntarily left his sitcom or been cancelled by his network, NBC. “I was the No. 1 show in television, Larry,” replied Seinfeld with a flabbergasted look. “Do you know who I am?” Always a workaholic, King would be back doing specials for CNN within a few months of performing his nightly duties. He found a new sort of celebrity as a plainspoken natural on Twitter when the platform emerged, winning over more than 2 million followers who simultaneously mocked and loved him for his esoteric style. “I’ve never been in a canoe. #Itsmy2cents,” he said in a typical tweet in 2015. His Twitter account was essentially a revival of a USA Today column he wrote for two decades full of one-off, disjointed thoughts. Norm Macdonald delivered a parody version of the column when he played King on “Saturday Night Live,” with deadpan lines like, “The more I think about it, the more I appreciate the equator.” King was constantly parodied, often through old-age jokes on late-night talk shows from hosts including David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, often appearing with the latter to get in on the roasting himself. King came by his voracious but no-frills manner honestly. He was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in 1933, a son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who ran a bar and grill in Brooklyn. But after his father’s death when Larry was a boy, he faced a troubled, sometimes destitute youth. A fan of such radio stars as Arthur Godfrey and comedians Bob & Ray, King on reaching adulthood set his sights on a broadcasting career. With word that Miami was a good place to break in, he headed south in 1957 and landed a job sweeping floors at a tiny AM station. When a deejay abruptly quit, King was put on the air — and was handed his new surname by the station manager, who thought Zeiger “too Jewish.” A year later he moved to a larger station, where his duties were expanded from the usual patter to serving as host of a daily interview show that aired from a local restaurant. He quickly proved equally adept at talking to the waitresses, and the celebrities who began dropping by. By the early 1960s King had gone to yet a larger Miami station, scored a newspaper column and become a local celebrity himself. At the same time, he fell victim to living large. “It was important to me to come across as a ‘big man,”’ he wrote in his autobiography, which meant “I made a lot of money and spread it around lavishly.” He accumulated debts and his first broken marriages (he was married eight times to seven women). He gambled, borrowed wildly and failed to pay his taxes. He also became involved with a shady financier in a scheme to bankroll an investigation of President John Kennedy’s assassination. But when King skimmed some of the cash to pay his overdue taxes, his partner sued him for grand larceny in 1971. The charges were dropped, but King’s reputation appeared ruined. King lost his radio show and, for several years, struggled to find work. But by 1975 the scandal had largely blown over and a Miami station gave him another chance. Regaining his local popularity, King was signed in 1978 to host radio’s first nationwide call-in show. Originating from Washington on the Mutual network, “The Larry King Show” was eventually heard on more than 300 stations and made King a national phenomenon. A few years later, CNN founder Ted Turner offered King a slot on his young network. “Larry King Live” debuted on June 1, 1985, and became CNN’s highest-rated program. King’s beginning salary of $100,000 a year eventually grew to more than $7 million. A three-packs-a-day cigarette habit led to a heart attack in 1987, but King’s quintuple-bypass surgery didn’t slow him down. Meanwhile, he continued to prove that, in his words, “I’m not good at marriage, but I’m a great boyfriend.” He was just 18 when he married high school girlfriend Freda Miller, in 1952. The marriage lasted less than a year. In subsequent decades he would marry Annette Kay, Alene Akins (twice), Mickey Sutfin, Sharon Lepore and Julie Alexander. In 1997, he wed Shawn Southwick, a country singer and actress 26 years his junior. They would file for divorce in 2010, rescind the filing, then file for divorce again in 2019. The couple had two sons, King’s fourth and fifth kids, Chance Armstrong, born in 1999, and Cannon Edward, born in 2000. In 2020, King lost his two eldest children, Andy King and Chaia King, who died of unrelated health problems within weeks of each other. He had many other medical issues in recent decades, including more heart attacks and diagnoses of type 2 diabetes and lung cancer. Through his setbacks he continued to work into his late 80s, taking on online talk shows and infomercials as his appearances on CNN grew fewer. “Work,” King once said. “It’s the easiest thing I do.” Funeral arrangements and a memorial service will be announced later in co-ordination with the King family, “who ask for their privacy at this time,” according to the tweet from Ora Media. ___ Former AP Television Writer Frazier Moore contributed biographical material to this report. Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

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