Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
B.C. judge rules against private care in test of universal system
A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has ruled against a surgeon advocating for the right of patients to access private care in violation of a provincial law banning extra billing and private insurance.
The written ruling, following a four-year trial, says that Brian Day and other plaintiffs have failed to show patients' constitutional rights are being infringed by the Medicare Protection Act.
The plaintiffs had argued patients have a constitutional right to pay for private care when waiting times in the public system are too long. Critics counter that the case is not about health care delivery but money, and that opening the door to a two-tier system would prioritize treatment based on a person’s ability to pay over need.
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Morneau breached election laws by using ministerial role to promote Liberal candidates, watchdog says
Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Côté has found former finance minister Bill Morneau violated federal election laws ahead of the 2019 election by using his government role to promote Liberal candidates.
The decision points to two examples in which Morneau visited Ontario ridings in his capacity as Minister of Finance, but used each visit to promote the local Liberal candidate.
The report determined that the “known quantifiable costs” associated with these events have a commercial value of $1,661. That amount has since been paid back to the government.
Bob Woodward defends decision to withhold Trump’s comments on severity of COVID-19
Bob Woodward, facing widespread criticism for only now revealing U.S. President Donald Trump’s early concerns about the severity of the coronavirus, says he needed time to be sure that Trump’s private comments from February were accurate.
In Woodard’s coming book, Rage, the President is quoted saying the virus was highly contagious and “deadly stuff” at a time he was publicly dismissing it as no worse than the flu. The veteran Washington Post journalist and bestselling author spoke with Trump more than a dozen times for his book.
Analysis: “The combination of the presidential remarks about the military and the Woodward book make for a combustible mix less than two months from the election, particularly because they involve a voting group that the President himself believes is devoutly attached to him.” - David Shribman
Opinion: Donald Trump’s critics continue to miss the plot - Konrad Yakabuski
Bank of Canada’s Macklem highlights inequalities in economic recovery
A day after the Bank of Canada held its key interest rate steady, Governor Tiff Macklem delivered the central bank’s economic update in a speech by video-conference. In his prepared remarks, he warned that rising inequality in employment and incomes poses the biggest threat to a broad-based recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
Macklem said that the nature of the pandemic, and the close-contact sectors of the economy that remain the most strained, have meant disproportionate job losses for women, young Canadians and low-income workers, despite the strong rebound in employment since broad lockdown measures were lifted.
While the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit has done a good job replacing the lost incomes for these groups, he said, many of these workers may suffer permanent job losses, which would threaten to weigh down the broader economy.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Transat renews call for bailout: Airline and tour operator Transat AT says it needs more cash to survive the pandemic that hammered demand for air travel, but its ability to borrow is restricted by the stalled Air Canada takeover deal. In releasing its latest earnings today, it also revealed that about 2,000 staff will be laid off permanently.
Jane Fraser named CEO at Citigroup: A rising star in the financial industry, she will take over from Michael Corbat next year as chief executive, making her the first woman to lead a major Wall Street bank.
RIP Emma Peel: Diana Rigg, the British actress whose career stretched from iconic 1960s spy series The Avengers to fantasy juggernaut Game of Thrones, has died of cancer at 82.
Canadian swaps gridiron for Ivy League: As the National Football League’s regular season kicks off tonight with the Kansas City Chiefs playing host to the Houston Texans, one player who will not be suiting up for the defending Super Bowl champions is Canada’s Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. The McGill University medical school graduate, who in July became the first NFL player to opt out of the season, says he will spend the next few months taking online classes at Harvard University’s school of public health.
Wall Street stocks gave up early gains today and moved steadily lower with tech stocks leading the way, erasing nearly all of a rally from a day earlier and extending their losses for the week. Bay Street followed suit.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 405.89 points or 1.45 per cent to 27,534.58, the S&P 500 slipped 59.77 points or 1.76 per cent to 3,339.19, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 221.97 points or 1.99 per cent to 11,191.80.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index erased 198.28 points or 1.21 per cent to end at 16,185.32 in a broad-based decline led by energy stocks.
Premature trips to the polls could backfire on Horgan and Trudeau
“Calling an election without an issue demanding the confidence of the people could be a grave miscalculation on the Premier’s part. Just as it would be for the Prime Minister.” - Gary Mason
Toronto Raptors did many things wrong, but still managed to force a Game 7
“Meanwhile, Boston did most things right on Wednesday and still found a way to lose. If mental advantages exist in sport, that means mental disadvantages must as well. We’re about to see which is more important.” - Cathal Kelly
What if we never repay the national debt?
“With long-term interest rates now below 1 per cent, the share of the federal budget that goes to servicing the debt has never been lower than it is right now. And that fact is leading to a fundamental rethink of our fiscal policy options.” - Michael Smart, economics professor, University of Toronto
Attention shoppers: Drugstore chain Rexall is launching its own loyalty program after it dropped Air Miles, its partner of 20 years. With the new program, called Be Well, Rexall aims to get access to more data on shoppers to develop personalized marketing offers and provide health care services, in addition to rewards points. Its mobile app services will include a record of the user’s medication and vaccination histories, test results from labs that partners with Rexall, plus digital fitness-tracking tools.
TODAY’S LONG READ
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on track despite suspension of trial, CEO says
The chief executive of AstraZeneca says it is not uncommon for vaccine trials to be paused because of an adverse event and he believes the company can still deliver a safe COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year.
“If you have an event that you didn’t expect, then you stop to look at it and explore it and study it,” Pascal Soriot said Thursday during a conference sponsored by British news outlet Tortoise Media. “And that’s what happened in our case, but it’s really common.”
AstraZeneca announced this week that it had halted the Phase 3 trial of a COVID-19 vaccine that the company is developing with researchers at Oxford University. It is considered one of the best candidates for a viable vaccine, but the trial was stopped after a volunteer in Britain fell ill. This was the second time the trial for the vaccine, known as AZD1222, has been halted. Read Paul Waldie’s full story here.