Good evening, let’s start with today’s top coronavirus stories:
The latest: Tam warns on spike in cases, Ontario tightens some restrictions and more
Canada could lose its ability to manage the coronavirus pandemic because of a worrying recent spike in new COVID-19 cases, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said today. It’s the clearest indication yet of how worried authorities are about the potential for the outbreak to spiral out of control.
An average of 779 new cases had been reported daily during the most recent week, more than double the level in July, Tam said. Officials in larger provinces blame social gatherings for the spike.
As a result, Ontario is lowering the number of people permitted at social gatherings in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa. The changes – only 10 people allowed to gather indoors and 25 outdoors – will not apply to businesses like restaurants, movie theatres or banquet halls. Meanwhile, Quebec regions that have seen sharp increases recently will remain at a pre-alert level for now, authorities say, but people there are being asked to show restraint socially.
Meanwhile, the Quebec government is hoping a new ad campaign with testimonials from people who’ve had COVID-19 or lost someone to it will persuade skeptics who question the disease’s seriousness.
Nationally, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says the federal government is causing a COVID-19 disaster by not moving more quickly to approve rapid testing methods that are already in use in other countries. O’Toole and his family were tested today for COVID-19 through a program for MPs, after waiting for several hours to be tested in Ottawa yesterday and having to give up.
Ontario families living in more racialized neighbourhoods less likely to send children back into classroom, Globe analysis finds
As some of Ontario’s largest school boards scramble to accommodate a mass migration to remote learning, an analysis by The Globe and Mail shows families living in more racialized neighbourhoods are less likely to send their children back into the classroom.
The Globe analyzed the percentage of remote learners for hundreds of schools across the Greater Toronto Area, identifying patterns related to income, race, density of housing and COVID-19 cases. The data reveal regional and neighbourhood differences, suggesting the government’s back-to-school approach of offering a choice between online learning and in-class instruction could be forcing people with the fewest resources into unfamiliar learning environments.
- COVID-19 outbreak prompts University of Western Ontario to shut down many non-academic activities
- Officials raise alarm as Queen’s University students throw parties that defy COVID-19 restrictions
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McMaster professor embroiled in White House controversy
A McMaster University professor is at the centre of a White House controversy over reports he tried to muzzle government scientists, demanded the power to edit COVID-19 documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and accused CDC staff of attempting to “hurt” U.S. President Donald Trump.
Paul Elias Alexander, an assistant professor of health-research methods at the Hamilton university, joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this year. He was brought in as a scientific adviser to Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign staffer with no scientific or medical background installed as HHS’s assistant secretary of public affairs in April.
Yesterday, HHS announced Alexander is “leaving the department” permanently and Caputo will take a 60-day medical absence. The HHS made the moves after Politico and the Washington Post published a string of e-mails from Alexander and Caputo attempting to silence scientists working on COVID-19 or make them change their reports to play down the pandemic’s severity and support Trump’s messaging.
U of T law school under fire for opting not to hire human-rights scholar after pressure from sitting judge
The University of Toronto’s law school is facing international and internal criticism, accused of caving in to pressure from a sitting federal judge not to hire a human-rights director because of her scholarship on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
A hiring committee recommended Valentina Azarova to fill the job of director of its International Human Rights Law Program. In an e-mail to law dean Edward Iacobucci, two former directors of the program allege that the school made her an offer, which was accepted. But when an unnamed judge on the Tax Court of Canada pressed him on the matter, Iacobucci rescinded the offer, according to the e-mail.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Suspicious activities on CRA accounts: The Treasury Board of Canada has uncovered suspicious activities on more than 48,000 Canada Revenue Agency accounts following cyberattacks in July and August. It has revoked 9,300 credentials for its system and is contacting those users in hopes of blocking subsequent attacks.
BoC’s Wilkins will not seek another term: Carolyn Wilkins, the second-in-command at the Bank of Canada, says she won’t seek a second term. Wilkins had been seen as a likely successor to Stephen Poloz as bank governor after his term ended this year, but the top job went instead to Tiff Macklem, a former deputy governor.
Notley to run again: Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley has confirmed she will run for premier again in 2023. Her one term as premier ended in April, 2019, when Jason Kenney and the UCP handily won the provincial election.
U.S. stocks dropped today as technology-related shares extended a recent slide and as data showed high levels of weekly jobless claims. Canada’s main stock index also fell, but a rally in the energy sector put a cap on losses.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 130.40 points or 0.47 per cent to 27,901.98, the S&P 500 lost 28.48 points or 0.84 per cent to close at 3,357.01 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 140.19 points or 1.27 per cent to 10,910.28.
The S&P/TSX composite slid 48.94 points or 0.3 per cent to 16,246.76.
The enduring unpopularity of Jason Kenney
“Things were so easy on the campaign trail when all of Alberta’s problems were the fault of someone else. Today, Kenney is discovering what happens when reality gets in the way of best-laid plans.” - Gary Mason
If James Mattis is afraid, the rest of us should be, too
“[Bob Woodward’s book Rage] is valuable on many levels, but especially when it draws back the curtain on the terrifying, knife’s-edge landscape of nuclear threat, which is normally hidden from view of the average person – the very people [former U.S. secretary of defense James] Mattis was worried about burning to a crisp.” – Elizabeth Renzetti
The sale of MEC to a foreign investment firm feels like a betrayal
“The co-op understood its own history and mandate because its shareholders were also its customers. MEC cared about the environment, and conducted its business accordingly, because its members cared..” – Charlotte Gill, author
After decades of controversy and many lawsuits, Canadian discount brokerages will be banned in 2022 from selling mutual funds that have charged investors billions of dollars in fees for advice they did not receive. Discount brokers have never been allowed to provide advice to investors under regulatory rules, but they have often collected fees known as trailing commissions on funds that have an advice fee bundled in. Now, the Canadian Securities Administrators is putting an end to online brokerages selling Series A funds – a type of mutual fund that was originally designed to be sold to clients through investment advisers.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Men Without Hats’s Ivan Doroschuk on the strange timeliness of their hit song The Safety Dance in a pandemic
Ivan Doroschuk wrote The Safety Dance, an international hit for the Montreal synth-pop robots Men Without Hats in 1982. The Safety Dance is about nonconformity. “You can act really rude and totally removed,” Doroschuk sang, a rebel back when the free world was ruled by Thatcher and Reagan.
Today we’re ruled, in many ways, by COVID-19. Physical distancing is the protocol. Public social dancing is frowned upon, even disallowed. But there’s been a push back on that. The scofflaws are holding dance parties. Today’s libertarians are anti-maskers. Should we be allowed to dance if we want to?
Doroschuk says yes. “Men Without Hats come from a punk background,” says the band’s singer and chief songwriter. “The song is about the resisting of blandly following the pack, and to follow your own inner voice.” – Read Brad Wheeler’s full story here.