Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Front-line workers who have been given their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are reporting typical physical side effects (aching arms, tenderness), but have been less prepared for a side effect many of us are yearning for at this stage of the pandemic: hope.
“It felt like I was given a gift,” Toronto neurologist Jacqueline Solomon tells The Globe’s Andrea Woo. “I would much rather take those very small risks of the side effects with the vaccine than the risk of getting COVID, but at the same time also protecting those around me.”
Still, the horizon for the “ramp up” phase of inoculation in Canada – when a million doses will be delivered weekly – is expected to be April, the military leader in charge of logistics for Public Health Agency of Canada said today.
And political leaders continue to struggle finding the right balance of restrictions that will stop the spread of the coronavirus while still considering other factors. In Ontario, residential evictions have been temporarily paused. In B.C., Premier John Horgan is looking at limits on interprovincial travel as his province warily eyes higher case numbers in other jurisdictions.
- Related: African countries secure new COVID-19 vaccines but remain far behind wealthier nations
Biden to unveil $1.5-trillion stimulus package tonight as D.C. locks down ahead of inauguration
Placing his administration’s initial focus squarely on pandemic recovery, U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to spend at least US$1.5-trillion to speed up COVID-19 vaccine distribution, send US$1,400 in stimulus cheques to individuals and provide other forms of stimulus to the economy. Biden will introduce the package, which is said to cater to minority communities in particular, in a televised address tonight, even though Americans may be distracted by events in the nation’s capital.
Washington, D.C., is locking down ahead of Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 due to security concerns triggered by last week’s attempted siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, it’s possible that Trump’s impeachment trial could be heard in the Senate parallel to Biden’s swearing-in next Wednesday.
Biden says he hopes impeachment proceedings will not prevent the Senate from attending to “other urgent business.”
- In Photos: Washington is on high security alert ahead of inauguration day
- Explainer: What we know so far about inauguration day plans
Tunisia’s Arab Spring revolution, 10 years later
When Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali exiled himself a decade ago, it punctuated the first in a string of democratic uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East. But no revolt was as successful as Tunisia’s, and several have resulted in untold bloodshed through civil wars.
But in Tunisia, the view 10 years later shows serious economic hardship despite the progress of democracy, Eric Reguly reports.
- Doug Saunders: A decade after the Arab Spring, we can see how we failed it
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ALSO ON OUR RADAR
The cleanup that wasn’t: Calgary-based Aeraden Energy Corp. will not face financial penalties despite an apparently egregious case of falsifying documents in an application to Alberta regulators to have 59 natural gas wells deemed cleaned up and returned to their natural state.
Spavor, Kovrig spoke with family: Two Canadian men in custody in China were permitted phone calls home over the holidays, but the Chinese government would not commit to letting family visit them, despite the fact detained Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was reunited in Vancouver with her family last year.
Mining for scandium locally: An investment by Quebec and Rio Tinto in a scandium mining project has the potential to secure a steady North American supply of the critical mineral, which currently comes primarily from China and Russia.
Surprisingly high numbers of unemployment claims in the U.S. made it hard for fiscal stimulus news to keep Wall Street investors optimistic today. The economic recovery from the pandemic is bound to be months in the making, but word of Joe Biden’s proposed stimulus package did have the S&P 500 index in positive territory for most of the day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 68.95 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 30,991.52, the S&P 500 lost 14.3 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 3,795.54 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16.31 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 13,112.64.
In Canada, the Toronto Stock Exchange managed to close with a slight gain owing largely to the energy sector. The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 23.35 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 17,958.09, as energy stocks rose 2.54 per cent.
Navdeep Bains’s departure shows how hard it is for Canadians to balance family and work
Lori Turnbull: “Politics has a way of being all-encompassing, so perhaps we should never be surprised when an elected official, especially a cabinet minister, decides that they’ve fought their last campaign. It is worth noting, however, that this government promised to do things differently when it comes to the work-life balance – both for politicians and for Canadians.”
Why the West offers Justin Trudeau electoral opportunities
Gary Mason: “People are fed up of being cooped up. But they are also tired of the often disastrous handling of the crisis by various provincial governments, which have been responsible for the day-to-day management of the pandemic inside their jurisdictions. To that extent, Ottawa has been shielded from much of this rancour.”
Canada’s new measures around China’s violations against Uyghurs aren’t really all that new
Alex Neve: “Given the scale of the massive crisis faced by Uyghurs and other largely Muslim minorities in China, it is vital to see Canadian government action. It’s certainly a courageous step given the Chinese government’s propensity for retaliation. The challenge now will be to build on this momentum.”
When cooking, how can I cut calories but keep flavour?
It’s never a bad time to remind ourselves that simply eating less is the best weight-loss program. But eat we must, so here’s a collection of pointers – from avoiding frying foods to making good use of spices and herbs – designed to keep meals flavourful while maintaining healthy eating.
Four great streaming choices if your brain needs summer vacation
As long as cross-border travel remains but a dream for most of us, escapes will have to come through the beloved TV set. Let critic John Doyle be your guide through settings such as the Adriatic coast, the English seaside or a buffet of locations “outta town.”
TODAY’S LONG READ
Laneway housing rules turned a city hall reporter into a private developer. Here are her lessons
In the first instalment of a four-part series, Vancouver reporter Frances Bula kills the suspense by revealing that the laneway house she and her husband built for their family’s youngest generation to grow up in has turned out to be “completely lovely.”
But the long, bumpy journey that saw her become a rookie private developer can provide lessons for other Canadians in cities with scarce housing options and emerging rules for laneway houses or basement suites.
“The first thing you learn,” Bula writes, “is that it takes almost a year of having your builder/architect negotiate with the city before you even apply for a development permit.”
And while that’s a clue about the length of the process, navigating the city’s hoops and hurdles meant rising frustration and uncertainty before shovels had even hit the ground.
Read Bula’s introduction to the series.
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