Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Billions of dollars in ineligible COVID-19 benefit repayments are at risk of being uncollected because the federal government is not doing enough to identify people and businesses that should be forced to pay back those funds, according to Auditor-General Karen Hogan.
More than $210-billion in payments were distributed to both individuals and businesses between early 2020 and mid-2022 in an effort to avoid a spike in poverty and business closures as large swaths of the Canadian economy were forced to shut down or scale back during the pandemic. To get the payments out as quickly as possible, the Liberal government made the conscious decision to rely on self-attestation and vowed to confirm eligibility after the fact.
She found that $4.6-billion was overpaid to ineligible recipients, and an additional $27.4-billion should be further investigated.
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Ukraine appears to expose Russian air defence gaps with long-range strikes
A third Russian airfield was ablaze today from a drone strike, a day after Ukraine apparently reached hundreds of kilometres deep into Russian air space with attacks on two Russian air bases. The Kremlin says it was Soviet-era drones that hit Engels air base, home to Russia’s strategic bomber fleet, and Ryazan, a few hours’ drive from Moscow.
Officials in the Russian city of Kursk, located just north of Ukraine, released pictures of black smoke above an airfield after the latest strike. The governor said an oil storage tank had gone up in flames but there were no casualties.
Kyiv did not directly claim responsibility for the strikes, but nonetheless celebrated them. Although the attacks struck military targets, Russia characterized them as terrorism and said the aim was to disable its long-range aircraft.
- Trudeau says Canada will work harder to stop exports that help Russia wage war
- Eric Reguly: The new price cap on Russian oil will not deliver the fatal blow to Putin’s war machine
Biodiversity negotiators face uphill climb at COP15 in Montreal
Delegates have reached the starting line for COP15 in Montreal, the 15th United Nations conference on biodiversity, where work on a new international agreement to protect nature is set to commence on Wednesday.
But participants say the road ahead is already looking like a steep, uphill climb.
For representatives from 196 countries who are party to the UN Convention on Biodiversity, the central purpose of the meeting is to hammer out a new framework under the convention, with agreed targets to be met by 2030. The previous framework expired in 2020 with none of its targets met.
- Explainer: What’s on the agenda at the UN’s COP15 nature summit in Montreal?
- At COP15, Indigenous leaders to show how their conservation efforts can shape global biodiversity agreement
Inside Myanmar’s civil war: A photojournalist’s journey to the front line with insurgent groups
After armed forces removed the civilian government back in February, 2021, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has plunged into a civil war. The country’s public institutions have collapsed and its economy is severely strained. Many civilians have joined the shadow National Unity Government, and thousands have joined civilian militias and other armed groups.
The junta, led by ethnic-majority Burmans, has responded brutally against the widespread opposition. As the war reaches its second year, thousands of civilians – including close to 200 children – have been killed. The past couple of months have been the deadliest since the start of the conflict, with the Tatmadaw, as the military force calls itself, stepping up aerial attacks across the country using Russian-supplied fighter jets and attack helicopters.
Foreign journalists have been banned from Myanmar since the conflict began. But over two trips in the past year, photojournalist Siegfried Modola has spent nearly three months with insurgent groups in the junta-controlled country. In September, he accompanied a local militia unit on a four-day journey through water, jungle, mountain ranges and valleys to the front line. Here is what he saw.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Carey Price apologizes to families of Polytechnique victims: Carey Price has issued an apology to the families of victims of the 1989 murder of 14 students at École Polytechnique after the Montreal Canadiens goalie posted a photo of himself holding a hunting rifle to protest new gun legislation proposed by the federal government.
Trump’s company convicted of scheme to defraud tax authorities: Donald Trump’s real estate company was convicted on Tuesday of carrying out a 15-year-long criminal scheme to defraud tax authorities, adding to the legal woes facing the former U.S. president as he campaigns for the office again in 2024.
Spain eliminated from the World Cup: Morocco dumped Spain out of the World Cup in a last-16 penalty shootout on Tuesday with Spanish-born Achraf Hakimi scoring the decisive spot-kick after Spain squandered all three of their attempts, following a 0-0 draw over 120 minutes. Meanwhile, Christiano Ronaldo was benched during Portugal’s game against Switzerland, but they still won 6-1.
Porter Airlines to expand its reach across North America: Porter Airlines is set to receive the first of its Embraer E-195 jets this month, a 132-seat aircraft that will drive the expansion of the carrier’s network and help it compete with its mainline rivals.
Most Canadians would stop using credit cards at businesses charging processing fees: An online survey of 2,774 Canadians, conducted by the Angus Reid Institute from Nov. 28 to 30, found that just one in 10 respondents said they would accept a surcharge for paying by credit card. The rest would either switch to a different form of payment, such as cash, or stop shopping at that business all together.
U.S. and Canadian stocks closed lower on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 declining for the fourth straight session, as skittish investors fretted over Federal Reserve rate hikes and further talk of a looming recession.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 252.09 points or 1.25 per cent at 19,990.17.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 350.76 points or 1.03 per cent at 33,596.43. The S&P 500 index was down 57.58 points or 1.44 per cent at 3,941.26, while the Nasdaq composite was down 225.05 points or 2 per cent at 11,014.89.
The Canadian dollar traded for 73.27 compared with 73.90 cents US on Monday.
Hospitalizing homeless people with mental illness would just replace one failure for another
“For decades now, we’ve lacked a coherent system to care for and support people with severe mental illness. That’s a problem that won’t be resolved with simplistic approaches such as police roundups.” – André Picard
As China snuffs out its protests, the U.S. watches from the sidelines
“The recent protests show that maintaining stable U.S.-China ties isn’t easy, as domestic events in China – or in the United States – can easily affect the relationship.” – Frank Ching
Make no mistake – the Alberta government has been hijacked by the Freedom Convoy
“What we are witnessing at the moment is a right-wing government trying to cause havoc and assert rights it doesn’t have all in the name of bullying a Liberal government in Ottawa that it finds ideologically abhorrent.” – Gary Mason
TODAY’S LONG READ
Apollo 17′s ‘Blue Marble’ photo is 50 years old. How’s the Earth looking now?
On Dec. 7, 1972, Apollo 17 blasted off for NASA’s final crewed mission to the moon. En route, one of the three astronauts – historians still aren’t sure which – held a custom-made Hasselblad camera and took one of history’s most famous planetary portraits.
It was dubbed the Blue Marble: the first Earth photo with one hemisphere in a single frame, fully lit by the sun.
How have 50 years and the changes wrought to the Earth’s climate affected the places that the Blue Marble showed us? Take a look at the iconic portrait and how the last several decades have changed the planet’s ice, deserts and forests.