Good evening, let’s start with today’s top coronavirus stories:
Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign rolls out, beginning in Ontario and Quebec
A long-term care resident in Quebec City and a nursing home worker in Toronto received Canada’s first COVID-19 vaccinations today, kicking off the largest immunization campaign in the country’s history. The Pfizer-BioNTech shots were given within half an hour of each other, creating confusion about which province could lay claim to being first.
Quebec’s health minister said 89-year-old Gisèle Lévesque received her vaccination at 11:30 a.m. ET. But that was announced only after Anita Quidangen received her shot in Toronto during a live broadcast at about noon.
In other vaccine developments, over the weekend Health Canada warned that people allergic to ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine should forgo getting the shots, after two people in Britain suffered severe reactions.
For people who have an autoimmune disease and are wondering whether you should take the vaccine, former Globe health editor Paul Taylor says rest assured you won’t get COVID-19 from the shot. But it is harder to predict how well the vaccines will work in people with underlying medical conditions.
Opinion: “Our end goal should not be to create various classes of citizens, vaccinated and unvaccinated, but to create herd immunity, a large percentage of the population with immunity.” - André Picard
Explainer: Here are the federal and provincial COVID-19 vaccination rollout plans so far.
Europe tightens restrictions as COVID-19 infections climb and threaten third wave
Central Rome on the weekend looked exactly like a pre-pandemic weekend just before Christmas – and that was the problem, European bureau chief Eric Reguly writes. Italy and much of the rest of Europe are paying the price for lax controls over the summer and into the autumn and are rolling out new restrictions as the infection and death numbers go from record to record. Any hope among Europeans that they might enjoy a festive Christmas and New Year with friends, go to parties and restaurants and travel to visit relatives has all but vanished.
- Alberta hospitals, already overwhelmed, brace for more COVID-19 patients even as new restrictions take effect
- Damage control: My Facebook friend is a vehement anti-masker. How do I deal with her?
- Canada pledges $485-million toward global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 treatments
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Man who threw trailer hitch at Indigenous woman in Thunder Bay found guilty of manslaughter
Brayden Bushby, who threw a trailer hitch at an Indigenous woman in Thunder Bay, has been found guilty of manslaughter in Barbara Kentner’s death.
Justice Helen Pierce said the Crown proved Bushby knew he would seriously injure Kentner when he threw the hitch from a moving car in January, 2017. She also said the Crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Kentner’s injuries from the assault accelerated her death, which took place in July, 2017.
Bushby admitted throwing the hitch and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, but not guilty to manslaughter. A sentencing hearing will be held on Feb. 9, 2021.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Parcel delivery delays: Canada Post has moved up deadlines for pre-Christmas parcel delivery within the country in response to unprecedented holiday demand caused by COVID-19, but is still telling Canadians to expect delays
U.S. electors cast ballots: U.S. Electoral College convened today to formally confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s victory as the next U.S. president and effectively end President Donald Trump’s long-shot attempt to overturn the election results. Meanwhile, a narrowly divided Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his election loss in the battleground state about an hour before the Electoral College cast Wisconsin’s 10 votes for Biden.
Google outage: Google users in the Canada, the United States, Europe, India and other parts of the world were briefly unable to access their Gmail accounts, watch YouTube videos or get to their online documents during an outage this morning. The problem appeared to cleared up just before 8 a.m. ET.
Desjardins knew it was vulnerable before massive breach, watchdog says: Desjardins Group did not have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent a “malicious employee” from stealing the information of 9.7 million customers over 26 months, says Daniel Therrien, Canada’s privacy commissioner – which led to the biggest-ever data breach in the country’s financial services sector.
Navalny says poisoning case solved: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has declared his poisoning case solved after a joint media investigation said it had identified a team of assassins from Russia’s FSB security service as his would-be killers, who had stalked him for years.
The S&P 500 and TSX closed lower today, as the start of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Canada and the United States offered some respite to investors, but spikes in infection and death rates tempered optimism.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 184.82 points or 0.62 per cent to 29,861.55, S&P 500 lost 15.97 points or 0.44 per cent to end at 3,647.49, while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 62.17 points or 0.5 per cent to 12,440.04. The S&P/TSX Composite Index dropped 161.52 points or 0.92 per cent to 17,387.40.
Looking for investing ideas? Check out The Globe’s weekly digest of the latest insights and analysis from the pros, stock tips, portfolio strategies and what investors need to know for the week ahead. This week’s edition includes three REITs for your radar, BMO’s 2021 market forecast and TFSA tips.
Justin Trudeau goes all-in on the carbon tax. It’s the right thing – for the environment, and the economy
“This tax is like no other because its goal is to change behaviour, not to raise revenues. The aim is for people to do such a good job of reducing emissions, and thereby avoiding the tax, that revenues eventually spiral to zero. The carbon tax’s goal is its own obsolescence.” - Globe editorial
Trudeau’s carbon-tax surprise dares opponents to fight on the hustings
“Mr. Trudeau is clearly betting that more people want to see action on climate change and no longer fear the tax-and-rebate scheme is going to cost them dearly. And that the fight will push those people into the Liberal camp.” - Campbell Clark
Work through the pain if you have arthritis: It will get better
The traditional view of osteoarthritis is that it’s the result of wear and tear on the cartilage that cushions your joints, leaving the bones rubbing painfully against each other. Newer research, however, has suggested that cartilage isn’t as inert as once thought, and may become bigger and springier in response to regular stimulus from exercise.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Supreme Court sends signal to appellate courts on sexual assault rulings
In a series of sexual-assault rulings this fall, the Supreme Court has sent a message to appellate courts that they should listen to lower-court judges who believe the complainant.
The court has ruled in seven sexual-assault cases this fall, and has taken the side of the complainant and prosecution in all of them. In five of those cases, appeal courts had thrown out convictions registered by trial judges, saying their decisions had been unfair to the male defendants. In the other two, trial judges convicted the men and appeal-court majorities upheld the convictions.
The rulings, all within a six-week period, have largely flown under the public’s radar. Even in the legal profession, they are only beginning to draw notice. But taken together, the rulings suggest that in the Supreme Court’s view, the top courts of provinces are making missteps on sexual assault, particularly when it comes to how credibility is being assessed by the judges who presided over the trials. Read Sean Fine’s full story here.