Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
The latest COVID-19 developments: Lockdown restrictions ease in Britain, vaccination updates and more
People across much of Britain enjoyed a pint in the pub, hugged their friends and watched a film in a movie theatre for the first time in months today after the government dramatically eased lockdown restrictions. But the newfound freedom has been tempered by fears that a surge in cases of a variant of the COVID-19 virus could force the government to scrap further easing.
Still, British vacationers began arriving in large numbers in southern Portugal today for the first time in more than a year, after governments in the two countries eased travel restrictions.
Vaccination updates: Starting tomorrow, all adults in Ontario will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine. Nova Scotia today opened vaccine appointments to people 30 and older.
By the numbers: Quebec is reporting 551 new COVID-19 infections today – the lowest number since September. Meanwhile, Manitoba is reporting 430 new cases – it has the highest per capita infection rate rate in the country – as health officials expect the demand for intensive care beds to soon reach a record level. Read more on these stories and other COVID-19 news today here.
- Former head of Canada’s vaccine rollout learned details of allegation against him from a news reporter
- Survival mode: How the pandemic turned us into fierce competitors
- COVID-19 has brought Patrick Brown back to prominence. Is all forgiven?
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Israeli air strikes hit Gaza tunnels as ceasefire efforts remain elusive
The Israeli military unleashed another heavy wave of air strikes today on the Gaza Strip, saying it destroyed militant tunnels and the homes of nine Hamas commanders. International diplomacy to end the week-long war that has killed hundreds appeared to be making little headway.
Israel has said it will press on for now with its attacks against Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the United States signalled it would not pressure the two sides for a ceasefire.
Opinion: Gaza shows the challenge for governments trying to control the narrative - Bessma Momani, professor, University of Waterloo
Bloc Québécois offers to help shut down debate, pass Bill C-10 before summer
The Bloc Québécois is offering to work with the Liberals to shut down debate on Bill C-10, the government’s controversial plan to bring streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime under Canada’s existing broadcasting rules, in an effort to pass the legislation into law before the summer recess.
Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet announced the plan last night on the popular French language talk show Tout le monde en parle, during a panel discussion with Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
Host Guy Lepage said the show invited Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, whose party opposes the bill over free-speech concerns, but he declined.
April home sales slip from record levels, price growth slows across Canada, CREA says
Canadian homes sales in April dropped slightly from March’s record-breaking flurry of activity as the pace of price growth fell back across the country.
There were 74,049 home resales in April, down 2.8 per cent from March’s all-time record sales of 76,259, according to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association.
CREA’s Home Price Index is up 2.4 per cent from March, with the seasonally adjusted national average home price hitting $723,500, lower than the 3-per-cent rise recorded in March.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
AT&T to spin out media assets in US$43-billion deal with Discover: AT&T, owner of HBO and Warner Bros studios, and Discovery, home to lifestyle TV networks such as HGTV and TLC, say they will combine their content assets to create a standalone global entertainment and media business.
Microsoft investigated Gates: Microsoft conducted a probe into co-founder Bill Gates’ involvement with an employee almost 20 years ago after it was told in 2019 that he had tried to start a romantic relationship with the person, the company said today. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that its board had decided that Gates’s involvement with the female employee was inappropriate and he needed to step down in 2020, citing people familiar with the matter.
Bitcoin’s wild ride: Bitcoin fell to a three-month low in a volatile session that saw investors selling and buying the digital currency after Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted about the carmaker’s bitcoin holdings.
Gaetz associate pleads guilty: Joel Greenberg, a Florida politician who emerged as a central figure in the Justice Department’s sex trafficking investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz, has pleaded guilty to six federal charges including sex trafficking of a minor and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors as part of a plea deal.
U.S. to court to hear abortion challenge: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider gutting the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, taking up Mississippi’s bid to revive a Republican-backed state law that bans the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Goyette joins Leafs, Wickenheiser promoted: Hockey Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist Danielle Goyette has been named director of player development for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. She joins former Canadian teammate Hayley Wickenheiser, who has been promoted to senior director of player development.
Earthquake in southern Quebec: Tremors from an earthquake measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale could be felt this morning in Montreal, Repentigny and Joliette, with no damage reported.
Wall Street stocks ended lower today, weighed down by tech shares as signs of growing inflation worried investors about the potential for tighter monetary policy. Canada’s main stock index ended higher, right near its all-time record.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 54.34 points or 0.16 per cent to 34,327.79, the S&P 500 lost 10.56 points or 0.25 per cent to 4,163.29 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 50.93 points or 0.38 per cent to 13,379.05.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 107.96 points or 0.56 per cent to 19,474.65.
Crosby’s time in Pittsburgh has been epic. Now please make it stop
“Crosby is still a vibrant force in the game, but he doesn’t belong in Pittsburgh any more. It’s depressing watching him get old, while the team can’t do what it needs to to start over.” - Cathal Kelly
Is Canada in line to be the next Silicon Valley?
“As the United States has tightened immigration and become less welcoming, Canada has made shrewd policy moves to attract top global talent and capital. Canada now has six times as many skilled immigrants, as a percentage of population, as our American neighbours do.” - Chris Albinson, incoming CEO of Communitech and Silicon Valley venture capitalist
Seven years ago, Betty Siwicki died on the floor covered in infected bedsores. Her son Ron, accused of neglect, went to prison, but his community rallied to help him. In this edition of The Decibel podcast, reporter Wency Leung and host Tamara Khandaker discuss how this family’s tragic story reveals the challenges of at-home elder care.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Toronto couple trades tech jobs for a drive-in
Drew Downs and Dawn Laing were in their car, wondering what to do with their lives.
For months in 2019, Laing said, they had been asking themselves the kind of questions that have since surfaced for many people during the pandemic: " ‘What are we doing? Why are we doing the things in the world that we’re doing? Are we happy?’ In reality we were working 24/7.”
Feeling burned out from working at a tech-accessories company in Toronto that Downs had cofounded, they were staying at a cottage in Prince Edward County. There, they spotted a drive-in theatre and pulled in to watch a movie. By the time the movie was over, Downs and Laing had found the answer they were looking for.
“Drew was like, ‘We could totally do this,’ " Laing said. “This” meant buying the drive-in and completely transforming their lives. Read Dave McGinn’s full story here.