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Canada to get 1M COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer this week, Moderna playing catch-up

LEE BERTHIAUME, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Apr 12th, 2021

The federal government is expecting Moderna to make good on a previously promised batch of 855,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses that were expected last week, but have yet to arrive.

Those delayed doses along with a little more than one million shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine represent the extent of Canada’s expected vaccine deliveries this week, even as the number of new COVID-19 cases across Canada continues to surge.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military officer overseeing the federal government’s vaccination distribution effort, blamed the delay in Moderna’s planned delivery on a “backlog with quality assurance.”

“It’s part of the manufacturing process, at the tail end of the manufacturing process, that they want to go through the proper quality assurance processes, and there’s a backlog,” he said last week.

Officials have indicated there could be a similar delay in the delivery of 1.2 million doses from Moderna next week.

“It’s prudent planning on our part right now to bank on the last week of April,” Fortin said.

In comparison, Pfizer-BioNTech has been consistently delivering more than 1 million shots to Canada each week for more than a month, a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.


RELATED: 3 more COVID-19 immunization sites opening in Toronto on Monday


The Public Health Agency is not expecting any shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine this week. Canada has also approved a vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson, but it is not clear when the first of those doses will be delivered.

The rush to get vaccines into Canadians’ arms has grown more urgent as Canada continues to see a massive spike in the number of new COVID-19 infections.

Thousands of new cases were reported on Sunday, including a record 4,456 in Ontario alone. Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief public health officer, noted admissions to intensive care units surged 23 per cent last week compared to the one before and said the Canada is approaching the peak of the current pandemic wave.

Tam said many of those getting sick are younger than in previous COVID-19 surges, which experts have blamed on virus variants that are spreading across the country.

That has prompted some provinces to start looking at changes to how they are distributing their vaccines.

More than 10 million doses had been distributed across Canada as of Sunday afternoon, according to covid19tracker.ca, with nearly 8 million having been administered.

Almost 20 per cent of the population has received at least one shot.

Montreal businesses clean up after anti-curfew protest turns violent

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Apr 12th, 2021

MONTREAL — Business owners in Old Montreal will be assessing the damage this morning after an anti-curfew protest turned violent.

Hundreds gathered in defiance of an 8 p.m. curfew that took effect in Montreal and Laval on Sunday night.

A mostly young crowd danced to music from loudspeakers while lighting fireworks and chanting, “freedom for the young.”

But the festive atmosphere quickly soured as a few protesters lit a garbage fire in Montreal’s Jacques Cartier Square.

Police fired tear gas and rushed the crowd, prompting dozens of protesters to scatter and cause mayhem down the cobblestone streets of Montreal’s historic tourist district.

The protesters lit garbage fires at many intersections and seized projectiles from city streets, hurling them at nearby windows and shattering many.

There was no word from police overnight whether anyone had been injured or any arrests had been made.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Canada’s housing bubble is hitting smaller and smaller communities

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Apr 12th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, bubbles are supposed to burst, aren’t they? At some point? It’s been more than half a decade since house prices in Canada began to truly climb, and that climb has accelerated even through a pandemic. It’s no longer just the big cities that are driving prices, either. It’s the smaller towns outside them—and the towns even further down the road when those smaller towns get too expensive.

What has the unending surge done to the Canadian economy? What could stop it? What happens in small Ontario towns when people from Toronto start flooding in and pushing home prices way over asking? And can we still call this a bubble, if some of the underlying factors driving it appear to be here to stay?

GUEST: Economist Mike Moffatt, Smart Prosperity Institute

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Apr 9th, 2021

Statistics Canada says the economy added 303,000 jobs in in March as employment increased, with gains in sectors hardest hit by public health restrictions.

In March, Statistics Canada says there were about 95,000 more retail jobs, fully recouping losses sustained in January lockdowns, and an employment bump of 21,000 in the accommodation and food services sector.

The figure released this morning outpaced the 259,000 gain seen in February that, at the time, whipped past expectations.

The March increase puts employment 296,000 shy of the pre-COVID level in February 2020, or roughly 1.5 per cent of pre-crisis levels.

It also sent the unemployment rate to 7.5 per cent, down from 8.2 per cent in February, bringing the rate to a pandemic-era low.

The jobs numbers come just over a week before the federal Liberals release a budget where employment levels are expected to be used as a gauge for planned stimulus measures.

They were switched as babies, and found out decades later. And they aren’t alone.

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Apr 9th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, have you ever been mistaken for somebody else by a stranger? They call you by another name and you say “Sorry, that’s not me.” And they say something like, “Oh, I’m sorry, you look just like them.” Sometimes, they might add with a smile, “Are you sure you’re not related?” And you say nope, and off you go.

Today’s story is what happens when you discover that, actually, you are related. That other person is your sibling, and you should have come home from the hospital with their mother, and grown up as a member of that family. But you didn’t.

GUEST: Lindsay Jones, writing for The Atavist

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Canadians react to Prince Philip’s death, announced Friday

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Apr 9th, 2021

Prince Philip has died at age 99. Buckingham Palace said the Duke of Edinburgh passed away at home. Here’s what Canadian public figures are saying about the Queen’s husband:

“Prince Philip was a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others. He will be fondly remembered as a constant in the life of our Queen – a lifelong companion who was always at her side offering unfailing support as she carried out her duties.

“A family has lost a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. The thoughts of Canadians are with Queen Elizabeth II and the members of the Royal Family as they mourn such a significant loss.”

— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

———

“On behalf of all Ontarians, we send our deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the entire Royal Family. Prince Philip was a devoted husband, father, war hero and public servant and he will be missed by many around the world.”

— Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

———

“Sharon and I wish to extend our sincerest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen, the entire Royal family, as well as His Royal Highness’ friends and colleagues, in this most difficult time.”

— Former governor general David Johnston

———

“With love from Canada, we send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family today.”

— Canadian Armed Forces

———

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Who have provinces pegged to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks?

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Apr 8th, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks.

The military commander handling logistics for Canada’s vaccine distribution program says there will be enough vaccine delivered to give a first dose before Canada Day to every adult who wants one.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says that’s if provinces follow the advice to delay second doses up to four months.

He also cautions that it is dependent on having no production delays again.

Health Canada anticipates a total of 36.5 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India by June 30.

Canadian provinces suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in people under age 55 on Monday, acting on an advisory committee’s concerns about a possible link between the shot and rare blood clots.

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief medical officer of health, said the risk of developing a serious problem after being immunized is “very, very low.”

She said people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine should look for symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, sudden onset of severe or persistent headache or blurred vision and skin bruising elsewhere than the site of vaccination, developing four to 20 days after vaccination.

There are approximately 31 million Canadians over 16, and no vaccines are approved for anyone younger than 16.

Here’s a list of the inoculation plans throughout Canada:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Health officials say vaccinations have begun for first responders. They say pre-registration for COVID-19 vaccines has opened for people aged 70 or older and for home-support workers.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced March 3 it was extending the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to four months.

Public health officials said the change will help them vaccinate 40,000 more people with a single dose by the end of March. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said the decision is a game changer for the province’s vaccination prospects.

Nova Scotia

Health officials say people aged 60 to 62 became eligible to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine starting March 18.

Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021.

The province is planning to use mobile van clinics to vaccinate about 900 people who work at or use homeless shelters in the Halifax area.

Public health is partnering with pharmacists and doctors to provide the vaccines at 25 locations.

Nova Scotia, meanwhile, has added front-line police officers to the list of people eligible for vaccination during the second phase of the province’s rollout plan, joining groups such as long-haul truck drivers and hospital workers over the age of 60.

Prince Edward Island

Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some.

The province is offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine people ages 18 to 29 who work in gas stations and convenience or grocery stores.

The announcement on March 16 came after the province opened AstraZeneca vaccination appointments a week earlier to young people in the food and beverage sector.

New Brunswick 

Health officials announced March 18 that people 80 and older, health-care professionals who have close contact with patients, and people with complex medical conditions are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

People 80 and over, a caregiver or a family member acting on their behalf can make an appointment for a vaccine at a pharmacy.

The province says all residents of long-term care homes have been offered at least one dose of vaccine. As of March 19, all residents of First Nations communities who are aged 16 or older were given access to their first dose of vaccine.

Quebec 

Quebec is expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines to Montrealers who are essential workers or who have chronic illnesses.

Essential workers such as teachers and first responders will be able to book an appointment starting April 9, and will need to provide proof of employment.

Montrealers under the age of 60 with chronic illnesses will be able to receive a vaccine in hospital starting April 12.

Vaccines will be accessible to people 60 and older across the province starting April 8, and authorities will open walk-in clinics for those 55 and older wanting to get an AstraZeneca shot.

Ontario

The second phase of Ontario’s vaccine rollout will target people in COVID-19 hot spots aged 50 and older, the province announced April 6, as Premier Doug Ford said new restrictions would be coming soon to fight the third wave of the pandemic.

Government officials said people living in hot spot neighbourhoods in 13 public health units – many of them essential workers – will be able to book their vaccine appointments over the next few weeks.

Officials also said starting April 7, people aged 60 and over will be able to book their vaccine appointments in every region of the province.

The government aims to ramp up vaccinations to 100,000 shots a day. The current seven-day average stands at 73,442.

Manitoba 

Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people aged 64 and older and First Nation people aged 44 and older. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months.

Manitoba has now given at least one dose to more than 10 per cent of people aged 18 and older.

Starting in April, immunization teams are going to more than 100 congregate living facilities to provide vaccines. More than 11,100 doses have already been administered to people living in these locations.

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province’s vaccine task force, has said all adults in the province could have the first dose of a vaccine by the end of June if supplies are steady. There are supersites in cities where people can get vaccines and pop-up clinics have begun in rural and northern Manitoba communities for people who are eligible.

The province has also announced AstraZeneca is only being used for people 55-64 as more information is being sought around some adverse symptoms in younger populations. These are available through medical clinics and pharmacies. Health officials say there have not been any cases of these effects in Manitoba or Canada.

Health officials say the province has capacity to deliver 20,000 doses each day, but are currently hindered by limited supply. Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force says the province’s current supply of vaccine has been spoken for and will be used by April 5. The task force says a shipment of 28,000 Moderna vaccines has been delayed for at least a week. The province, however, is expecting 40,000 doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine per week and 50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week.

Manitoba has already indicated it would opt for a four-month interval between doses.

The military has also been deployed to northern Manitoba to help vaccination efforts in 23 remote First Nations.

Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Health Authority is booking vaccinations for residents 62 and older. The minimum age drops to 50 for people living in the Far North.

Those deemed to be medically vulnerable and those who have underlying health conditions can also get a shot, but have to wait to receive a letter first. Priority health-care workers are also on the list.

The province plans to open more drive-thru vaccination clinics once it receives its next shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca shots.

Alberta 

Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said the province expects to offer all Albertans 18 and over a first dose of vaccine by the end of June.

On March 15, residents aged 65 to 74, and First Nations, Inuit and Metis aged 50-plus, were allowed to begin booking. The province had originally not expected to begin this stage of vaccination until April.

On March 30, the Alberta government was to begin offering shots to some 945,000 people with underlying health conditions. That includes people with certain lung, kidney, liver and heart diseases, people treated for cancer in the past year, those with severe mental illness and substance use disorders, and pregnant women.

Initially, Albertans born in or before 1963 will be able to book appointments through pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.

Starting April 5, Alberta Health Services sites will begin taking bookings for those with eligible health conditions born in or before 1959.

More birth years will be added as more vaccine supply arrives.

After that, vaccines will be available to more health-care workers and people with jobs in certain congregate living settings, such as jails and homeless shelters. Meat plant workers will also qualify in this phase.

Alberta has also said it will follow other provinces by extending the time between the first dose and the second to four months.

British Columbia

British Columbia has decided to bump up its age-based vaccination plan by offering Oxford-AstraZeneca shots to Lower Mainland residents between the ages of 55 and 65.

The move comes after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a pause on use of the same vaccine for anyone under 55 on the advice of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization over concerns about rare blood clots.

Beginning April 7, those between 55 and 65 can call their local pharmacy and book an appointment. Drop-in service may also be an option at more than 150 participating pharmacies.

The province had previously accelerated the timeline for the COVID-19 vaccine by allowing people who are “extremely clinically vulnerable” and some seniors to book their shots earlier than expected.

That means people at higher risk from COVID-19 due to existing medical conditions, including transplant recipients and those with cancer and severe respiratory conditions, can register for their vaccine.

Nunavut

Nunavut has opened vaccinations to anyone 18 and older.

The territory expects to finish its vaccine rollout of first and second doses by the end of April.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories is also providing vaccine to those 18 and older and expects to finish its rollout by the end of April.

Yukon

Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March.

Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Thursday, April 8, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Apr 8th, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 8, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 231,009 new vaccinations administered for a total of 6,991,804 doses given. Nationwide, 746,702 people or 2.0 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 18,448.384 per 100,000.

There were 58,500 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 10,136,650 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 68.98 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting 23,284 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 92,235 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 176.145 per 1,000. In the province, 1.85 per cent (9,699) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland and Labrador for a total of 129,060 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 25 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.47 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 5,736 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 27,448 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 173.033 per 1,000. In the province, 4.80 per cent (7,615) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 39,585 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 25 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.34 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 22,334 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 123,166 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 126.208 per 1,000. In the province, 3.08 per cent (30,069) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 196,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 20 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.63 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 34,062 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 129,317 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 165.783 per 1,000. In the province, 1.69 per cent (13,209) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 190,485 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 24 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 67.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 44,113 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,636,310 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 191.233 per 1,000. There were 23,400 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 2,358,095 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 28 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.39 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 104,382 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,726,221 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 185.595 per 1,000. In the province, 2.21 per cent (324,783) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 4,022,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 27 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 67.77 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 5,412 new vaccinations administered for a total of 222,130 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 161.314 per 1,000. In the province, 4.65 per cent (64,002) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 35,100 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 407,130 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 30 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 54.56 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 6,738 new vaccinations administered for a total of 234,209 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 198.625 per 1,000. In the province, 3.33 per cent (39,319) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 284,995 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 24 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.18 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 21,428 new vaccinations administered for a total of 755,831 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 171.70 per 1,000. In the province, 3.03 per cent (133,401) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 1,078,215 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 24 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting 34,040 new vaccinations administered for a total of 946,096 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 184.368 per 1,000. In the province, 1.71 per cent (87,504) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 1,289,060 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 25 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.39 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting 776 new vaccinations administered for a total of 37,969 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 909.851 per 1,000. In the territory, 33.10 per cent (13,812) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 51,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 120 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 73.87 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 38,574 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 854.939 per 1,000. In the territory, 32.07 per cent (14,471) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 51,600 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 110 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 74.76 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting 535 new vaccinations administered for a total of 22,298 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 575.789 per 1,000. In the territory, 22.77 per cent (8,818) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 37,500 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 97 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 59.46 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published April 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Quebec is key to election success, but for NDP the locks are rusty

CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Apr 8th, 2021

OTTAWA — For NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, the path to a stronger presence in Parliament runs through Quebec — but the trail is littered with obstacles.

New Democrats, whose members gather virtually for a policy convention this weekend, are targeting younger voters with renewed pitches on student debt relief, more affordable housing and a cap on cellphone and internet bills.

All were highlighted during a visit to la belle province last week.

But the party is polling below 20 per cent with little concentration of support outside of a few neighbourhoods in Montreal, says Karl Bélanger, president of consulting firm Traxxion Strategies and former senior adviser to the NDP.

“The prospects at this point are limited. But the potential of growth is there,” he said, citing polls that show a majority of Quebec voters would consider the NDP as their second choice. The challenge is to convert this group to the orange team.

A flare-up of identity politics touching on issues from language rights to systemic racism — and fanned by the Bloc Québécois — threatens to cast the NDP on the far side of sensitive cultural divides.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to hog much of the spotlight during a federal vaccine rollout that has begun to flow more quickly, despite a shaky start.

Singh repeatedly states that the NDP fought successfully over the past year to beef up emergency response benefits, wage subsidies and sick-leave payments, and that Canadians recognize that achievement.

“I’m not so worried about recognition in terms of, like, I need people to be able to rattle off the NDP did this, this, this and that,” he said in an interview.

“I just want people to know I fought for them.”

But failing to get credit for programs unfurled with NDP input in a minority Liberal government has been the bane of New Democrats for decades at the federal and provincial levels.

Minority regimes under Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa and David Peterson and Kathleen Wynne at Queen’s Park have all roared back to majority status come election day after co-operating with NDP lawmakers in various ways that proved electorally fruitless for New Democrats.

“He’s got a problem there,” Brooke Jeffrey, a political-science professor at Concordia University in Montreal, said of Singh.

“(Liberals) have pulled the classic manoeuvre of accepting some of the NDP suggestions and making them theirs. And therefore if the public approves of them, it’s them who get the credit. This has been going on since Pearson’s time.”

The Liberals’ tilt to the left on issues ranging from pharmacare to government spending leaves the NDP forced to propose even more leftward policies if it wants to stand out, potentially isolating some voters, she added.

The NDP hit a high-water mark of 59 seats in Quebec in the 2011 federal election under then-leader Jack Layton, only to ebb to 16 seats in 2015 and just one in 2019, shrinking its organizational strength.

Alexandre Boulerice, the province’s sole remaining New Democrat MP, says Quebecers and Canadians will view the NDP as the party of fresh ideas amid what he calls Liberal inaction on pharmacare, climate change and other fronts, with the COVID-19 pandemic leaving New Democrats well poised to seize on an era of big government.

“We will let (the) Bloc Québécois and the Conservative party fight for right-wing conservative nationalism, and we will go with solidarity and friendship with First Nations and racialized people,” Boulerice said.

“Maybe Justin was able to do it seven years ago, but he’s not the cool guy anymore. And he disappointed a lot of people. So we’ll go after Liberal voters, especially young Liberal voters, and I think that technique is doing very well and will do better during a campaign, because he’s a performer.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2021.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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