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New measures expected in Alberta and pandemic weight gain: In The News for Nov. 24

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 24 …

What we are watching in Canada …

EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says COVID-19 has become like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up size and speed, and threatening to overwhelm the health system.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says immediate action is needed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Premier Jason Kenney and select cabinet ministers were to meet with Hinshaw, and new measures are expected to be announced today.

Alberta, once a leader in how to prepare for and contain the virus, has in recent weeks become a national cautionary tale.

There have been well over 1,000 new cases a day for five straight days, and there are more than 300 patients in hospital and more than 60 in intensive care.

Kenney has said he wants targeted measures to control the virus while keeping businesses as open as possible.

Others, including some doctors, say the focus needs to be on a sharp clampdown, even for a short period.

Also this …

A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests many Canadians are gaining weight because they’re eating more and exercising less during COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they have gained weight since March, while 15 per cent said they lost weight over that time.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says this is one of the collateral effects of the pandemic, as the survey suggests there is a link between weight gain and fear of COVID-19.

Forty-six per cent of respondents who said they are very afraid of COVID-19 gained weight during the pandemic.

Forty-four cent of those who expressed that level of fear said they have been exercising less than they did before the pandemic and about 46 per cent said they were eating more than usual.

The online survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Oct. 29-31 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The U.S. General Services Administration has ascertained that president-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said Monday that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

The move clears the way for the start of the transition from Trump’s administration and allows Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.

An official said Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.

And today, Biden is preparing to formally announce his national security team to the nation.

Those being introduced during an afternoon event are among Obama administration alumni whose roles in the upcoming administration signal Biden’s shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies.

The picks include former Secretary of State John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. Outside the realm of national security and foreign policy, Biden is expected to choose former Fed chair Janet Yellen as the first woman to serve as treasury secretary.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

China’s latest trip to the moon is another milestone in the Asian powerhouse’s slow but steady ascent to the stars.

China became the third country to put a person into orbit a generation ago and the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019.

The Chang’e 5 mission, launched today, will be the first to bring back moon rocks and debris since a Soviet mission in 1976.

Future ambitions include a permanent space station and putting people back on the moon more than 50 years after the U.S. did.

On this day in 2002 …

Quebec Premier Bernard Landry announced that the May 24th Quebec holiday, “La fete de Dollard,” would henceforth be known as “La Journee nationale des Patriotes.” The name was changed to honour the movement that contributed to the Rebellions of 1837-38 in Lower Canada and became an early symbol of French-Canadian nationalism.

In entertainment …

Anne Murray wasn’t sure her singing voice was still intact until a few months ago.

The famed Canadian crooner had left her most-cherished instrument largely unchecked while in retirement, aside from belting out a song here and there while doing household chores.

But last summer, she decided to dust off her guitar to see whether her trademark lush alto voice could still carry a tune.

Murray says she performed a few of her old songs “just for the fun of it,” and was pleased to learn her famous pipes are still humming.

The winner of 24 Junos and four Grammys swore off recording new music more than a decade ago, but she recently compiled several of her classic tracks for a new holiday album.

“The Ultimate Christmas Collection” brings together 22 songs pulled from Murray’s various Christmas albums, including “Joy to the World, “Blue Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with Michael Buble.


A Quebec municipality that had planned to cull about 15 white-tailed deer in the coming days relented late Monday amid pressure on officials to relocate the animals.

Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent said in a statement the threat of people intervening or attempting to thwart the cull has forced the city to consider other options.

Parent noted the plan to capture and slaughter the deer, approved by Quebec’s Forests, Wildlife and Parks Department, was supported by a “broad consensus within the scientific community.”

But given the circumstances, she’s asking the city’s top civil servant to come up with a plan to move the deer from Michel-Chartrand Park to a sanctuary authorized by provincial officials.

Parent’s announcement came hours after an animal rescue group and a lawyer who champions animal rights urged the Montreal-area city to reconsider its plan to kill half the white-tailed deer in the park and donate the meat to a food bank.

The organization, Sauvetage Animal Rescue, along with well-known Montreal lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, had urged Parent to consider its own plan to relocate the animals to a sanctuary, free of charge.

Ultimately, the city relented but Parent said the deer situation would need to be resolved quickly.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EST on Nov. 24, 2020:

There are 337,555 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 133,206 confirmed (including 6,842 deaths, 115,367 resolved)

_ Ontario: 105,501 confirmed (including 3,505 deaths, 88,992 resolved)

_ Alberta: 48,421 confirmed (including 476 deaths, 34,779 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 27,407 confirmed (including 348 deaths, 19,069 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 14,087 confirmed (including 236 deaths, 5,353 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 6,708 confirmed (including 37 deaths, 3,807 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,190 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,074 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 445 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 349 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 321 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 294 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 134 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 69 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 38 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 337,555 (0 presumptive, 337,555 confirmed including 11,521 deaths, 269,195 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Rent relief for businesses and AMA love for The Weeknd: In The News for Nov. 23

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 23 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent-relief program offered by the federal government.

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords to apply for help.

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.

Federal cabinet ministers will highlight the program during a news conference this morning in which they will also open two initiatives designed to help businesses owned by Black Canadians.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small companies across the country, is welcoming the new rent program as long overdue for firms hard hit by COVID-19.

However, it is criticizing the government for not opening it to businesses that would have qualified for the previous rent-relief program, but could not access federal funds because their landlords chose not to apply.

Also this …

OTTAWA — N-D-P MP Laurel Collins is reviving a call for the environment commissioner to be a stand-alone officer of Parliament.

Collins is pushing a motion at the environment committee to pull the position out of the Office of the Auditor General and make it a separate entity.

The Victoria MP says the commissioner needs its own dedicated staff to ensure it can fulfil its mandate.

She says the commissioner used to perform up to five environmental audits annually but has just one underway this year and two planned for 2021.

The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien created the position in 1995, but did not meet a campaign promise to make it an office independent from the auditor general.

The motion from Collins is nearly identical to one passed by the same committee 13 years ago but the request was never fulfilled.


OTTAWA — Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada’s current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries.

Announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, the interim pact is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1

But few details were released about the new agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U-S President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed plenty of lawsuits in six states as he tries to upend an election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

The strategy may have played well in front of TV cameras, but it’s proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly have rejected claims of vote fraud.

The latest case ended Saturday, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presented only “speculative accusations” and no proof of rampant corruption in the vote.

A law school professor says the suits threaten the future of elections because so many Americans believe the claims being made by Trump’s team.

Meanwhile, Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

If nominated and confirmed, Blinken would be a leading force in Biden’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

LONDON — AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease.

The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca.

The drugmaker reported today that no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in those receiving the vaccine.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective,’’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial.

Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.

In entertainment …

LOS ANGELES — Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at last night’s American Music Awards.

She beat out Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd for the top award, while also winning favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist.

Though The Weeknd lost artist of the year, he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, the pop star dominated the 2020 American Music Awards with multiple wins.

The Toronto native won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours” and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless.

The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout last night’s three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised.

He was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others taped performances because of the pandemic.

Bieber and fellow Canuck pop star Shawn Mendes opened the show with a performance of their new duet “Monster.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Nov. 23, 2020

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 23, 2020:

There are 330,492 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 132,042 confirmed (including 6,829 deaths, 114,085 resolved)

_ Ontario: 103,912 confirmed (including 3,486 deaths, 87,508 resolved)

_ Alberta: 46,872 confirmed (including 471 deaths, 34,206 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 25,474 confirmed (including 331 deaths, 17,477 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 13,544 confirmed (including 229 deaths, 5,193 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 6,473 confirmed (including 33 deaths, 3,757 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,168 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,070 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 430 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 347 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 319 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 294 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 130 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 68 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 32 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 330,492 (0 presumptive, 330,492 confirmed including 11,455 deaths, 264,048 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Forensic psychiatrist to testify for defence at Toronto van attack trial

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 2020

A forensic psychiatrist is set to testify for the defence on Monday in the murder trial for the man who killed 10 people after driving a van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk.

Dr. John Bradford is set to provide his evaluation of Alek Minassian, who has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

CityNews reporter Adrian Ghobrial is covering the trial, follow his tweets below:

Minassian argues he should be found not criminally responsible due to autism spectrum disorder for his actions on April 23, 2018.

He has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack and his state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial.

Another psychiatrist has testified that Minassian’s autism spectrum disorder left him fixated on mass killings and vulnerable to the ramblings of an American mass murderer.

Dr. Rebecca Chauhan assessed Minassian over three days in September 2018. She testified on Wednesday that his autism spectrum disorder left him struggling to understand emotions and vulnerable to the online writings of mass killer Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in a 2014 attack near the campus of the University of California.

She testified Thursday that Minassian told her he read Rodger’s manifesto almost daily between January and April, 2018.

After assessing him, she wrote in her report that Minassian started reading about mass murders and became interested in the subject in high school. “He would fanaticize about shooting people every three to four months,” she wrote.

Dr. Chauhan was brought on by Dr. Bradford because he wanted a second opinion on Minassian’s autism diagnosis.

The defence case rests on the argument that his autism spectrum disorder meant he couldn’t fully understand the consequences of his actions during the attack.

The court has heard that Minassian has told various doctors his motivation for the attacks ranged from notoriety to revenge against society for years of rejection by women to anxiety over starting a new job.

Trudeau to tout climate and trade as China, U.S. set to dominate Asia-Pacific summit

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will pitch the economic benefits of fighting climate change and doing business with Canada as he meets with counterparts from both sides of the Pacific during today’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation leaders’ summit.

Yet the degree to which the prime minister’s sales pitch will even be heard by APEC leaders remains unclear as Canada’s tensions with China and the much bigger dispute between Beijing and Washington threaten to overshadow the meeting.

Trudeau hinted at his planned approach to the summit during a speech on Thursday that was followed by a question-and-answer session in which Ottawa’s tense ties with Beijing and relationship with the White House figured prominently.

The summit, which is being hosted by Malaysia but held online because of COVID-19, is supposed to focus on the pandemic, particularly its economic impacts and what actions the members can take to mitigate those now and recover afterward.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump will be among the participants, with the latter likely marking one of his last such international gatherings following this month’s presidential election.

This year’s meeting also comes days after China joined nearly a dozen other Asian countries along with Australia and New Zealand in inking what is being billed as the world’s largest free-trade agreement, which excludes Canada and U.S.

Trudeau stopped short Thursday of saying Canada was interested in joining the new Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, but instead suggested Ottawa would be watching to see how Beijing behaves in the trade deal.

China “is an important player in the global economy that we need to try and include and get to play by better international rules,” the prime minister said during the question-and-answer session during the APEC CEO Dialogue on Thursday.

“So if the RCEP deal is able to actually start to create level playing fields, that’s going to be something very, very interesting. So we’re going to watch carefully.”

Trudeau during the same session defended the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is facing extradition to the U.S. to face fraud charges, and whose case has become a weeping sore in the relationship between Canada and China.

The prime minister also indicated that he planned to not only push back against growing protectionism around the world, particularly during the pandemic, but also call for more of the benefits of free trade and globalization reach everyday people.

Much of the attention, however, will be on Trump and Xi. The former has refused to concede this month’s U.S. presidential election to challenger Joe Biden, and has made a point in the past of calling out China on trade and security.

The Trump administration during the last APEC summit in 2018 refused to sign off on a final statement over those same issues.

The APEC meeting today will be followed this weekend by the G20 leaders’ summit, which is being hosted by Saudi Arabia and will also focus on responding to the economic damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the first G20 leaders’ summit held in 2008 was aimed to ensure a unified international response to the financial crisis that year, experts say the ensuring 12 years have seen growing polarization around the world along with more populism and instability.

“We’re in a geopolitically polarized environment that’s not getting any better,” said Fen Hampson, chancellor’s professor at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

“And unless there is a will on the part of the great powers to co-operate even at a minimum, you’re just not going to see a whole lot of action. So yes, you may get a communique. But it’s likely to be quite anodyne.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2020.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Ontario community grieving after shooting that killed officer, civilian

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

The mayor of a town on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island says the community is reeling after a shooting that left a police officer and a civilian dead Thursday.

Dan Osborne, mayor of Gore Bay, says news of the incident quickly spread through the small island community yesterday.

He says it’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and the loss is “devastating.”

Ontario’s police watchdog said yesterday it is investigating the shooting, which took place after the officer was called to a property in Gore Bay.

The Special Investigations Unit said the call was related to an “unwanted man” on the property.

It said the officer, identified as Const. Marc Hovingh, was shot dead after he arrived, while the man on the property died in hospital.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2020.


COVID-19 projections and an Ontario community in mourning: In The News for Nov. 20

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 20 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will amplify his plea for Canadians to stay home as much as possible after alarming new projections for the spread of COVID-19 in Canada are released today.

The updated projections are expected to forecast a dramatic rise in cases over the next few weeks — to as much as 60,000 new cases a day by the end of the year — if Canadians don’t strictly limit their contact with people outside their households.

Trudeau is to hold a news conference after the latest modelling is unveiled by chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam this morning.

To underscore the importance of minimizing contacts, Trudeau will conduct the news conference outside his home, Rideau Cottage — the site of his daily briefings during the first wave of the deadly pandemic last spring.

He ended that practice over the summer when the pandemic went into a bit of a lull and, throughout the fall until now, he has joined Tam and select ministers at news conferences on Parliament Hill once or twice a week.

Tam has already warned that Canada is on track to hit more than 10,000 cases per day by early December if Canadians maintain their current rate of contacts outside their household.

Also this …

TORONTO — Ontario is expected to release new public health measures today to fight the surging spread of COVID-19 in hot spot regions.

Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week that the restrictions will affect Toronto, Peel, and York Region where virus cases have been increasing in recent weeks.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has made recommendations to Ford’s cabinet which is expected to make a decision this morning ahead of the afternoon announcement.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe says keeping schools open remains a priority.

Ford has repeatedly said in recent days that he will take targeted action in the hot spot regions, but he would not hesitate to use full lockdowns if necessary.

And …

The mayor of a town on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island says the community is reeling after a shooting that left a police officer and a civilian dead Thursday.

Dan Osborne, mayor of Gore Bay, says news of the incident quickly spread through the small island community yesterday.

He says it’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and the loss is “devastating.”

Ontario’s police watchdog said yesterday it is investigating the shooting, which took place after the officer was called to a property in Gore Bay.

The Special Investigations Unit said the call was related to an “unwanted man” on the property.

It said the officer, identified as Const. Marc Hovingh, was shot dead after he arrived, while the man on the property died in hospital.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

New York’s attorney general has sent a subpoena to the Trump Organization for records related to consulting fees paid to his daughter Ivanka Trump as part of an investigation into the president’s business dealings.

That’s according to a law enforcement official who spoke Thursday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The New York Times reported that a similar subpoena was sent to U.S. President Donald Trump’s company by the Manhattan district attorney, who is conducting a parallel probe.

Ivanka Trump tweeted that the subpoenas were “harassment pure and simple.”

The Times reported that the president reduced his company’s tax liability by deducting some consulting fees as a business expense.

On this day in 1877 …

Edmonton obtained its first telegraph service.

In entertainment …

Actor Richard Schiff, who appears on the Vancouver-filmed TV series “The Good Doctor,” has been released from hospital after being treated this week for COVID-19.

The 65-year-old American performer tweeted the update from his verified account Thursday, saying his wife and co-star on the medical drama, Sheila Kelly, was picking him up from the hospital.

Schiff said earlier this week on Twitter that he was being treated with the antiviral medication remdesivir, oxygen and steroids, three weeks after testing positive along with Kelly while filming the latest season of the series.

In an Instagram post last week, Kelly said they did not contract the virus on the set.

“The Good Doctor,” which airs on ABC and CTV, was continuing filming in Vancouver as of last week.

In business …

Postmedia has notified unionized employees in Vancouver that it wants to reduce salary expenses there by 15 per cent through a voluntary buyout program or layoffs.

Unifor Local 2000 represents Postmedia employees at the Vancouver Province and Vancouver Sun — separate daily newspapers in British Columbia’s biggest city.

The number of Postmedia employees involved with the downsizing wasn’t immediately available.

It’s the latest cost-cutting initiative this year at Canada’s largest newspaper group, which also owns the National Post, Toronto Sun and other digital and print publications.

Conventional media businesses across Canada saw a major drop in advertising revenue after the COVID-19 closures in the pandemic’s first wave.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2020

Canada-Britain trade negotiation in final stages as Dec. 31 tariff deadline looms

MIKE BLANCHFIELD, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

Canada and Britain say they are in the final stages of negotiating a new trade deal before a Dec. 31 deadline.

That would prevent Canadian products from seafood to steaks and autos from being slapped with new tariffs when Britain leaves the European Union.

The spokeswoman for Trade Minister Mary Ng says Canada is hard at work on an interim agreement with Britain to replace the pact with the European Union that currently covers trade between the two countries.

“We understand that time is short. That’s why Canada is at the table, working hard to get a good agreement to ensure continuity, predictability and stability for Canadian businesses, exporters, and workers,” Youmy Han said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

“A deal is within reach and we continue to work with the U.K. to move this forward.”

Britain’s decision to leave the EU after its Brexit referendum means that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, will no longer apply to the country at the end of the year.

Han said Canada is seeking “a transitional agreement based on CETA as an interim measure once the Brexit period ends” but that government negotiators won’t finalize anything “that isn’t the best deal possible for Canadians.”

A spokesman for Britain’s international trade department said it is committed to “seeking to secure a continuity trade deal with Canada before the end of the (Brexit) transition period, and trade talks are at an advanced stage and progressing well.”

A deal would protect the $33-billion trading relationship between the two countries and “will provide stability for British exporters and act as a stepping-stone to a deeper trading relationship with Canada in the future,” said the British statement.

Trevor Kennedy, the policy director of the Business Council of Canada, said Britain remains a key European trading partner for Canada, and if a new deal isn’t reached Canadian firms will lose out on the market access they secured under CETA.

Japan and South Korea have already rolled over their old EU trade deals with Britain, while Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. are working on new agreements, Kennedy told the House of Commons trade committee this week.

“Some of these talks appear to be advanced and if (they) are in place without a transitional deal for Canada, it could result in Canadian firms losing their market share and first-mover advantage that we secured under CETA.”

Mark Agnew, the international policy director for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said that without a new bilateral deal tariffs of at least 10 per cent on Canadian exports such as lobster, beef and autos would kick in on Jan. 1, 2021.

“The short answer is that Brexit matters for Canadian businesses,” Agnew told the trade committee.

Canada’s trade negotiators have amassed vast experience meeting tight deadlines and overcoming late-breaking obstacles in landing trade deals other than CETA. Canada risked being frozen out of a new North American trade pact in 2019 after the U.S. and Mexico reached their own agreement, forcing Canada to scramble.

Canada also engaged in some tough 11th-hour talks with Japan and others in 2018 to finalize the 11-country Pacific Rim deal known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. That negotiation was thrown into flux after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2017, which left Canada and the 10 remaining countries to find a way to repair their pact without the world’s largest economy as a member.

Britain, meanwhile, has for decades deferred its trade negotiation work to EU officials in Brussels. The British have had to build a new trade department since the country voted in its June 2016 referendum to leave the EU.

Britain formally left at the end of January but the two parties have lived under an 11-month transition period, which for Canada has meant CETA continued to apply to its trade relations with Britain.

In the meantime, Britain has been forced to negotiate a series of new trade agreements with the EU and others, under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steve Verheul, Canada’s chief trade negotiator, told the Commons trade committee in early November that talks with Britain ramped up this past summer.

“We think we’re fairly close to the finish line, but we’re not quite there,” Verheul said. “As you can imagine, in any kind of trade negotiation, the most difficult parts are the ones you deal with at the very end.”

Canada’s approach was to import as much of the existing CETA pact as possible into a new bilateral agreement.

“A lot of the issues were very easy, but there are a handful of issues where we do have to have actual negotiations to reach a landing zone,” Verheul said.

Verheul said one sticking point was working out the specific levels of market access for various Canadian products. Another revolved around “issues related to temporary entry of business people for business purposes.”

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