Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
The latest COVID-19 developments: Vaccine supply issues in the spotlight, the latest on AstraZeneca and more
This afternoon, federal Public Procurement Minister Anita Anand is expected to face questions regarding delays in COVID-19 vaccine shipments at a committee meeting. Her appearance comes as two health networks in Toronto say vaccine shortages are forcing them to limit or close immunization clinics.
Health Canada addressed issues with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, reporting there is enough evidence to say it may cause very rare blood clots, but the shot is still extremely safe, very effective and will remain on the Canadian market. Denmark, however, has become the first country to stop using AstraZeneca’s vaccine altogether, following the link to blood clot cases.
If you have already received a dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, here’s what you can and cannot do.
In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney has condemned recent protests against public-health measures, dismissing the demonstrators as “unhinged” conspiracy theorists who crossed a line by threatening the province’s top medical official. In B.C., hospitals faced with record-breaking numbers of patients in critical care are cancelling surgeries and redeploying health workers.
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Ottawa aims to make 90,000 temporary workers and graduated students permanent residents
The federal government hopes to convert more than 90,000 temporary foreign workers and graduated international students into permanent residents as part of its ambitious goal of admitting 401,000 immigrants this year, despite borders being closed because of the pandemic.
The new measures, announced today, will allow 20,000 temporary foreign workers in health care, 30,000 workers in other occupations deemed essential and 40,000 international students who have graduated from a university or college to apply to become permanent residents.
Under the new rules, any foreign resident who graduated from a Canadian university or college within the past four years may apply.
Canada’s anti-money laundering agency struggles to implement reforms as employees work from home
FINTRAC, the federal agency responsible for tracking and preventing money laundering and terrorist financing, has struggled to adapt to remote work, which has affected its compliance operations and delayed the implementation of amendments to regulations.
Internal documents obtained through freedom of information legislation paint a picture of substantial disruption at the agency. One slide of an internal presentation states that employees had “no access” to the tools needed to implement updates to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act by the June 1, 2021, deadline.
A number of legislative changes were made to the act in mid-2019 to bring Canada’s anti-money laundering regime in line with international standards. Key among them were rules relating to cryptocurrency exchanges that facilitate transactions for Canadians.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Defence testimony at Chauvin trial: George Floyd died of a sudden heart rhythm problem due to his heart disease while being restrained by police, according to a retired forensic pathologist testifying for the defence at former officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, contradicting several experts who said Floyd succumbed to a lack of oxygen.
Charge in Daunte Wright’s death: White former suburban Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter has been charged with second-degree manslaughter for killing 20-year-old Black motorist Daunte Wright in a shooting that ignited days of unrest and clashes between protesters and police.
Biden to begin U.S. Afghanistan exit on May 1: In a speech today, President Joe Biden said that it is time for American troops to come home from the country’s longest war and that the U.S. cannot continue to pour resources into an intractable war and expect different results.
European powers warn Iran: The European countries party to the Iran nuclear deal told Tehran that its decision to enrich uranium at 60 per cent purity, bringing the fissile material closer to bomb-grade, was contrary to efforts to revive the 2015 accord. But in an apparent signal to Israel, which Tehran blamed for an explosion at its key nuclear site on Sunday, Germany, France and Britain added that they rejected “all escalatory measures by any actor.”
Ponzie schemer Madoff dies: Bernard Madoff, who was convicted for running the largest known Ponzi scheme in history, has died sat 82 in prison where he was serving a 150-year sentence, officials say.
Wall Street indexes closed mixed today, with the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 falling despite another record intraday high for the latter and big banks’ stellar results on the first day of earnings season. Canada’s main index closed lower, as heavyweight Shopify lost 5 per cent on the day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 53.62 points or 0.16 per cent to 33,730.89, the S&P 500 slid 16.90 points or 0.41 per cent to 4,124.69 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 138.26 points or 0.99 per cent to 13,857.84. The S&P/TSX Composite index fell 32.04 points or 0.17 per cent to 19,171.66.
The politicization of professional sports is a home run for society
Lawrence Martin: “The culture wars need all the weapons available, provided they are on the right side of the battlefield.”
Tory MP’s bill to ban sex-selective abortion is the stinking albatross Erin O’Toole was warned about
Konrad Yakabuski: “You might call it karma. Mr. O’Toole won the Conservative leadership last year by furtively courting supporters of anti-abortion candidates Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis to clinch a third-ballot victory against rival Peter MacKay.”
Grandmothers doing it for themselves
Canadian bubbies hold a virtual benefit concert this week to help their African counterparts. Together in Concert: In Solidarity with African Grandmothers is a webcast celebration that marks the 15th anniversary of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.
The campaign involves 160 groups of grandmothers across Canada devoted to the support of fellow grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa who are caring for children left orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Performers include Jackie Richardson, Lorraine Klaasen, the National Ballet of Canada, Fredericton singer-songwriter David Myles, traditional Québécois musical trio Genticorum and Forte - Toronto Gay Men’s Chorus. Former Barenaked Ladies star Steven Page, the event’s concert director, will sing a song as well.
TODAY’S LONG READ
My inflatable kayak gives me the freedom to explore
We purchased two inflatable kayaks and immediately made paddling a regular part of our life. In last year’s pandemic summer, getting out on Manitoba’s lakes and rivers allowed us to paddle our worries away in complete, physically distanced safety. Living in a province that boasts 100,000 lakes, we won’t soon run out of places to explore.
Our cheap kayaks may not be up to the specifications of dedicated wilderness trippers. You wouldn’t use them in big waves or dangerously cold water. Carrying a fishing rod, water bottle and snack pretty much maxes out the cargo capacity. But they have given a couple of newly minted seniors the ability to explore rivers and lakes all summer long. Read Bob Armstrong’s full essay here.
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