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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.”

What happens when we’re tempted by herd immunity in a dark winter

The Big Story | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, the proposal is called the Great Barrington Declaration, and while it’s couched in lots of scientific language, herd immunity is what it boils down to. It has support from a group of scientists and is scoffed at by many, many more.

But during a time when Canada’s various COVID-19 regulations, thresholds, protocols and half-lockdowns can seem incredibly confusing, the Barrington approach offers a simple answer. Especially as a dark winter looms and it feels easier to just give up. What do we know about herd immunity? Why is it so attractive? And if it’s too dangerous to consider, what are our other options to get through the months ahead?

GUEST: Andre Picard, health reporter, The Globe and Mail

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Vaccines coming to Canada and tighter restrictions: In The News for Nov. 19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 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. 19 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Ontario’s health minister is suggesting Canada could start receiving millions of doses of COVID-19 as soon as January.

Christine Elliott said in question period that the country is set to get four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine between January and March as well as two million doses of Moderna’s vaccine.

She said that 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 of the Moderna vaccine are destined for Ontario.

When asked directly to confirm the dates and numbers, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu would only say it was “really exciting” that Canada is well-positioned to receive millions of doses from both companies.

In Alberta, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced on Twitter that the province is expecting its per capita share of 465,000 doses from Pfizer and 221,000 from Moderna, with the first shipments to arrive early in the new year.

The news comes as some provinces begin to impose restrictions to try to control spikes in COVID-19 cases.

As of today, no more than five people will be allowed to gather inside homes in Saskatchewan for the next four weeks.

There will be no visits with seniors and others living in long-term care and personal care homes except for compassionate reasons.

Mandatory mask use in public indoor areas has been expanded to the entire province instead of only in communities of more than 5,000.

Yukon’s premier says as of Friday, everyone entering the territory other than critical services workers will be required to self-isolate for two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Sandy Silver also says the government no longer recommends any non-essential travel outside the territory.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and B.C.’s health officer are expected impose further health restrictions this week.

Also this …

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson will show Canadians his path to net-zero emissions today.

Wilkinson will be tabling climate legislation in the House of Commons to fulfil an election promise to be more aggressive in cutting greenhouse gases.

The legislation will include legally-binding five-year targets for reducing emissions.

Wilkinson promises that the new plan will cut more emissions by 2030 than Canada promised in the Paris accord.

And it will show a path to net zero by 2050, meaning any emissions still produced 30 years from now are absorbed, rather than left in the atmosphere to contribute to global warming.

Canada has set multiple goals for curbing emissions over the last three decades but to date has never met a single one of them.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Georgia election officials expect to release a report today on a hand tally of the presidential race.

They have repeatedly said they expect it to affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow lead over Republican President Donald Trump.

The secretary of state’s office expects to put out a report on the results by midday.

The hand recount of about five million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any suspected problems with the state’s results or an official recount request.

The state has until Friday to certify results that have been certified and submitted by the counties.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Chinese President Xi Jinping is calling for closer international co-operation on making a vaccine for the coronavirus available.

Xi spoke today in an address delivered via video at an event at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Xi said: “To beat the virus and promote the global recovery, the international community must close ranks and jointly respond to the crisis and meet the tests.”

He said co-operation would include closer co-ordination on policies for development and distribution of a vaccine.

Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm are in the late stages of testing vaccines, putting them among nearly a dozen companies at or near that level of development.

On this day in 1954 …

The United States and Canada announced the construction of a radar warning system across northern Canada.

In entertainment …

CTV will air a two-hour nighttime Santa Claus parade special this year, featuring remote performances from an array of artists, including Dolly Parton.

The broadcaster says the “Original Santa Clause Parade” was pre-taped over three days on a closed route at Canada’s Wonderland, and without spectators, in order to adhere to local COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

CTV normally airs the parade live-to-tape.

Guest performers for the nationally televised special on Dec. 5 also include Kelly Clarkson and Brett Eldredge, as well as Meghan Trainor.

Reggae star Shaggy will perform with Markham, Ont.-born actress-turned-singer Aviva Mongillo, known by her stage name Carys.

Edmonton’s Ruth B. and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will also be among the performers on the Christmas-themed broadcast, while Melissa Grelo of “The Social” and Kelsey McEwen of “Your Morning” will host.

ICYMI …

Use of the word “Micmac” on city signs, buildings and other municipal assets in Halifax is under review.

Regional council has unanimously endorsed a motion by councillor Sam Austin requiring city staff to review how the word is used and to produce a report. Micmac is an anglicized version of the Indigenous word for the Mi’kmaq First Nation.

Austin, who represents Dartmouth Centre, says the term is outdated, adding that his motion was based on recommendations from the city’s Cornwallis task force.

The task force was created in 2018 to propose changes to the way Halifax remembers its founder, Edward Cornwallis, the British officer accused of practising genocide against Indigenous people in the 18th century.

“It’s been a simmering issue as to whether or not it’s an appropriate use of the word,” Austin says. “With the Cornwallis task force it seemed like the right time to take a look at this.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2020

The Canadian Press

How will restaurants survive the winter?

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, at least in the spring, there was a summer to come and some sort of certainty — restaurants would stay closed until COVID-19 was under control. This Fall, in most places in Canada, neither of those things are true. Opening plans and case thresholds are constantly shifting, while cities and provinces have different opinions about what should be open and when.

Beyond all that, of course, there are climbing COVID case counts, which means that even open restaurants are far from guaranteed enough business to survive. So…will they? How many will make it? And what can we (and governments at all levels) do to help them get through?

GUEST: John Sinopoli, restaurateur, co-founder of savehospitality.ca

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Donald Trump on Elections Canada’s disavowal of voting machines: ‘THIS SAYS IT ALL’

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A tweet seeking to distance Elections Canada from the use of electronic voting equipment has earned a like from the president of the United States.

Despite a lack of evidence, Donald Trump is accusing a Canadian maker of vote-counting machines of conspiring against him in the Nov. 3  presidential election.

He’s now dragged Canada’s independent elections administrator into the fray.

Elections Canada tweeted Monday that it has never used tabulation equipment made by Dominion Voting Systems or anyone else in its 100-year history.

Trump retweeted the agency today in an effort to further cast doubt on the company, which was founded by Canadian partners and has offices in Toronto and Denver.

Dominion officials have categorically denied the president’s claims.

“THIS SAYS IT ALL,” Trump tweeted Tuesday after Elections Canada pointed out that it only uses paper ballots that are counted by hand.

“Elections Canada does not use Dominion Voting Systems,” the agency’s Monday tweet read. “We do not use machines to count ballots.”

Elections Canada issued another tweet Tuesday pointing out that Monday’s posting was only intended to note they don’t use vote-counting machines “and should not be construed as anything other than that.”

Dominion, founded in Toronto in the aftermath of the voting debacle that followed the 2000 U.S. election, has been pushing back hard against spiralling conspiracy theories fuelled by the president, his supporters and Trump-friendly media outlets.

“Dominion Voting Systems categorically denies false assertions about vote-switching issues with our voting systems,” the company declares in an all-caps headline on its website.

“An unsubstantiated claim about the deletion of 2.7 million pro-Trump votes that was posted on the internet and spread on social media has been taken down and debunked by independent fact-checkers.”

The website also cites last week’s declaration by the cybersecurity wing of the Department of Homeland Security that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history.”

Despite failing to win the necessary number of electoral votes and falling more than five million votes short of Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Trump has steadfastly refused to concede the election.

Biden, for his part, has called Trump’s intransigence “embarrassing” and warned Monday that the current administration’s refusal to co-operate with his transition team could worsen the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday Nov. 18, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EST on Nov. 18, 2020:

There are 306,468 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 126,054 confirmed (including 6,675 deaths, 107,326 resolved)

_ Ontario: 96,745 confirmed (including 3,383 deaths, 80,430 resolved)

_ Alberta: 40,962 confirmed (including 432 deaths, 30,462 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 23,661 confirmed (including 310 deaths, 16,469 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 11,608 confirmed (including 179 deaths, 4,324 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 5,422 confirmed (including 31 deaths, 3,336 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,151 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,062 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 379 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 341 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 305 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 292 resolved)

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

_ Nunavut: 60 confirmed

_ Yukon: 25 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 306,468 (0 presumptive, 306,468 confirmed including 11,086 deaths, 244,151 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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