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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top COVID-19 stories:

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by Health Canada

Canada now has a second COVID-19 vaccine, following its approval of Moderna’s vaccine today. The federal government has so far secured 40 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, with up to 168,000 doses to be delivered by the end of December.

This amount should allow the inoculation of more people in long-term care homes and remote Indigenous communities because Moderna’s product, unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, can be kept in regular freezers. To learn more about Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, check out this explainer by Globe health reporter Kelly Grant.

A second COVID-19 variant found: A new variant of the coronavirus has been found in Britain in cases linked to South Africa. Countries around the world have recently closed their borders to both Britain and South Africa following news about the virus mutations. Canada is also extending a ban on passenger flights from Britain to Jan. 6.

Lagging economy growth: Canada’s economic recovery chugged along in the fall despite the growing second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. But economists are bracing for much weaker growth in December and the start of 2021, given the restrictions recently announced in key regions – most notably, Ontario and Alberta.

Read more:

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Scarborough LTC home puts out mayday call as it runs out of staff

Family doctor Silvy Mathew called the situation at Tendercare Living Centre a “worst nightmare,” after working a shift at the private, for-profit longterm care home in Scarborough, Ont. At the centre, 145 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 26 people have died from the coronavirus. There were also not enough staff to help sick patients eat and drink, leaving some severely dehydrated. North York General Hospital announced that the provincial government has asked it to temporarily take over management of Tendercare.

Senator and residential school survivor pushes Red Chamber to confront institutional racism

Mary Jane McCallum, a Manitoba senator and residential school survivor, introduced a motion earlier this month to expel Lynn Beyak from the Red Chamber for one purpose: to elevate the voices of residential school survivors who have been harmed by Beyak’s actions. McCallum said she had talks with elders from Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba to hear their thoughts on the motion.

Care packages help residents in island countries with fragile health care systems

Many Canadians who hail from the Caribbean routinely send barrels full of food, clothing and other staples back to their home countries – a boon for residents of islands where some items are hard to find, and there are often heavy duties on imported goods. The pandemic has altered the dynamics of barrel shipping. People who haven’t sent barrels for years are doing it again, and the contents are often tailored to surviving COVID-19 in countries with fragile health care systems.

Sylvanus Thompson, stands for a portrait outside the Jamaican Canadian Association in North York on December 19, 2020. Sylvanus recently helped send barrels of COVID-19 supplies with the Association to assist communities in Jamaica.Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Globe and Mail


ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Why 2021 will be a big year for deals: A wave of big deals in recent weeks has financial players predicting 2021 could be the most active year in recent memory for Canadian corporate mergers and acquisitions as the economy starts to shake off the effects of COVID-19.

Michelle Latimer will return Vanguard award: The Documentary Organization of Canada says filmmaker Michelle Latimer has agreed to return its BMO-DOC Vanguard Award, after her claims of Indigenous identity were called into question last week.

Injunction in flight refund case lags: The Air Passenger Rights organization wanted to challenge a Federal Court of Appeal decision that dismissed the group’s bid for an injunction compelling the Canadian Transportation Agency to temporarily remove a post about refunds from its website while a broader case about the statement’s validity plays out. But the Supreme Court of Canada won’t hear the case.

Trump veto threat raises fear of government shutdown: President Donald Trump has threatened not to sign a $2.3-trillion government funding and coronavirus aid package. Trump, in a video posted to social media on Tuesday evening, surprised some of his closest officials by demanding the bill be revised to include $2,000 payments to each American, more than triple the $600 per person that is included in it.

New chief of defence staff named: Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is being tapped as the next head of the Canadian Armed Forces. His appointment ends a long drought for the Navy, which has been passed over numerous times as various governments have instead appointed officers from the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force.

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press


MARKET WATCH

Stocks rose on Wednesday as investors waved away a threat by Trump not to sign a pandemic relief bill, while the British pound soared on rising expectations of a Brexit trade deal.

Canada’s main stock index rose on Wednesday as the domestic economy grew more than expected in October, spurring hopes for a quicker economic recovery, while gains in energy stocks further lifted sentiment. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was unofficially up 41.11 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 17,593.57.

The S&P 500 closed in positive territory on Wednesday as an expected stimulus deal and falling jobless claims prompted investors to put their money into sectors most likely to benefit from the economy re-opening when it recovers from the global health crisis. While the blue-chip Dow and and small caps led the gains, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the session slightly lower.

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TALKING POINTS

Santa Claus is going to court: The antitrust case against Father Christmas

Andrew Coyne: “An early pioneer in big data, Defendant collates information on billions of children’s Christmas wishes each year, amassed through letters, whispers to mall-based brand representatives, and – most troubling from a privacy perspective – legions of parental informants.”

A COVID Christmas carol: This holiday season, we all face Scrooge’s moral crisis

Randy Boswell: “We can, Scrooge-like, recognize that this is the pivotal moment to consider the well-being of the wider community above each individual’s personal wants and perceived needs. We can prevent the worst by choosing altruism over avarice, selflessness over selfishness, action over apathy and inalterable fate.”

The federal climate plan provides the clarity that Canada’s economy needs

Grant Bishop: “Uncertainty around national emissions policy has long loomed as an economic threat to Canada. The plan provides our energy producers and consumers with a clear and credible path for future carbon pricing.”


LIVING BETTER

Third-annual holiday binge-watching guide

In desperate need of escapism this dreary holiday season? Television critic John Doyle has picked 30-plus series, specials, dramas, documentaries and comedies to binge-watch over the holidays.


TODAY’S LONG READ

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shares a laugh with Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc. Eric Schmidt at the Google Go North conference at the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto on Thursday Nov. 2, 2017.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

From sunny ways to icy reception: How the Liberals are handling issues involving Big Tech firms

Once willing to cozy up to Big Tech with cameras rolling for the sake of foreign direct investment, the Liberals have shifted their position to one of skepticism. Until this past spring, that came in the form of gradually distancing themselves from behemoths accused of massive-scale data collection and outsized market power, such as Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon. Now, the Trudeau government has moved to actively curtail tech giants’ power in Canada, ramping up initiatives during a rapid-fire series of late-fall announcements.

Read The Globe’s full analysis of the six hot-button issues related to Big Tech that Ottawa is tackling, or likely will soon.

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