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Nearly three years after announcing $1.5-billion for two foreign-aid financing programs, the Liberal government has, so far, only spent $120,000 of that money.

Initially touted as groundbreaking initiatives to bring new funding to developing countries, the department of Global Affairs says the programs have been stalled by “operational constraints” and other factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Analysts, on the other hand, say the financing programs were obstructed by poor strategies, inadequate preparations and a lack of bureaucratic appetite for risk.

“Two years without disbursing any funds is a gross underperformance,” said Boris Martin, chief executive officer of the Canadian branch of the non-profit aid group Engineers Without Borders. “It is a shame that while support is most dearly needed, these programs aren’t ready to deploy anything.”

More coverage:

Rita Trichur: Blood money from Saudi Arabia arms deals casts Canada as an international sellout

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Bono prior to a meeting at the Global Fund conference Saturday, September 17, 2016 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

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Pence, Harris spar vigorously in vice-presidential debate

In the only vice-presidential debate before the U.S. election, Vice-President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris went head to head on a number of issues, including the Trump administration’s pandemic response, systemic racism, the Supreme Court nominee and Trump’s refusal to commit to the election results if he were to lose.

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With Trump recovering from the virus in Washington, COVID-19 was the big issue of the debate early on. Pence defended the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans while his Democratic challenger condemned it as “the greatest failure of any presidential administration.”

More coverage:

David Shribman: Some, but fewer interruptions: Harris and Pence displayed strong bearings and made sensible remarks

John Doyle: That was weird: Moderator failure and a fly dominate vice-presidential debate

China censors Mike Pence’s comments on China during vice-presidential debate

Anxiety grows in First Nations communities amid pandemic’s second wave

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As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in First Nations communities across the country, Indigenous leaders are closely monitoring the situation because of the virus’s potential to spread quickly in communities that are often far from medical care.

First Nations only had 32 COVID-19 cases at the end of the first month of the lockdown. As of Monday, Indigenous Services Canada was aware of 722 infections since the pandemic began, adding to worries that the second wave could be much worse than the first for Indigenous communities.

More coverage:

Tanya Talaga: Canada tramples on First Nations treaty rights as it works to pay off its COVID-19 bill

First Nations urge B.C. privacy watchdog to disclose localized COVID-19 data

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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Climate change will push Canada’s dams to their limits: Many of Canada’s aging dams are in poor condition and are at risk of collapse as climate change produces more heavy rainfall. Added to that problem is that many provinces don’t regulate dams, leaving residents unaware of which ones are at risk of failing and causing massive damage.

Critics question whether Global Affairs can impartially investigate arms exports: Arms-control advocates say competing interests inside Global Affairs make it impossible for the department to conduct an impartial investigation into whether Canadian-made target-acquisition gear is being used in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, and whether this violates arms-control law. “There is an obvious conflict of interest because they are pursuing two contradictory policy objectives: the selling of weapons and the protection of human rights,” said Cesar Jaramillo, executive director of Project Ploughshares.

Supreme Court upholds rules that Ottawa argued would stop race-based rejection of jurors: The Supreme Court has upheld a ban on peremptory challenges, in which a prospective juror is rejected with no reasons given. The case pitted Indigenous groups against several groups representing racialized minorities over whether the new rules prevent discrimination, or promote it.

How one woman’s vision to mentor Black youth has taken flight: While prepping kids for spelling contests at her church, Candies Kotchapaw discovered a community of Black youths who faced an all-too-familiar challenge – a lack of Black role models, particularly Black female role models. So she started recruiting professionals to fill that role and created DYLOTT, Developing Young Leaders of Tomorrow, Today.

This is part of Stepping Up, a series introducing Canadians to their country’s new sources of inspiration and leadership.


Global shares mostly higher on hopes for U.S. stimulus: Global shares were mostly higher on Thursday on optimism that U.S. stimulus may be coming after all, as President Donald Trump appeared to reverse his earlier decision to halt talks on another economic rescue effort. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.28 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.51 per cent and 0.31 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished up 0.96 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.20 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 75.53 US cents.

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Campbell Clark: “... Canada’s two most populous provinces have premiers that are among the most popular in the country. Quebec’s François Legault and Ontario’s Doug Ford both impressed voters during the first wave by taking a reassuring tone. Now both should expect to be measured on how well they prepared for the second wave. And they might well find the crisis surge in their popularity deflating.”

Konrad Yakabuski: “Only in the absence of any rigorous methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of the program could Mr. Bains declare – as he did in response to the PBO report – that “we are seeing the five superclusters live up to their promise.” Some promise, when the PBO could not even determine whether any jobs that do emerge from the initiative would be temporary or permanent.”

David Parkinson: “In the event of a second lockdown, perhaps we should consider a CERB equivalent for small-business owners. A program that would simply replace a portion of lost income of shuttered businesses for a few weeks, until they can reopen. It wouldn’t be cheap. But the cost of letting those businesses sink could prove much harder to bear in the longer run.”


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Brian Gable

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


One important question to ask when buying winter tires

It’s almost the time of year again when winter tires are top of mind for drivers. When buying winter tires, you should ask one important question – universal fit or hub-centric wheels? Automotive advice columnist Lou Trottier says hub-centric wheels are the way to go. There is a minor bump in cost, but the upgrade is worth it.


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Canadian flags are proudly waved during a citizenship ceremony at Seneca College in Markham, Ont. on Oct. 23, 2013.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Canada’s multiculturalism policy is introduced

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In 1971, prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced multiculturalism as an official government policy – a first of its kind in the world. In his speech to the House of Commons, Mr. Trudeau said that no single culture could define Canada and that the government accepted “the contention of other cultural communities that they, too, are essential elements in Canada.” In a rare moment of parliamentary unity, Mr. Trudeau faced no opposition that day as no one wanted to vote against a policy that fought against discrimination. The Liberal Party’s goal was integration – to formally respect the diversity of Canadian citizens' many different languages, religions and cultures. The policy grew out of a Royal Commission studying bilingualism and biculturalism and the unrest of the October Crisis and rising Québécois nationalism. But what happened next in the country was just as interesting, author Erna Paris wrote in a 2016 Globe editorial. “Over the next decades, official multiculturalism evolved into an ingrained collective value. Incrementally, Canadians began to define themselves as citizens of a multiethnic, multireligious society.” The policy helped shape Canadian society but, as protests against systemic racism continue in this country, there is much room to improve. Mark Iker

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