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

Ottawa has appointed former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour as an independent reviewer to examine sexual harassment and misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said earlier today that Arbour will provide recommendations on how the military and the department can set up an independent, external reporting system for those affected by misconduct and free from the chain of command.

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“I am truly sorry,” Sajjan said, apologizing to every person in the armed forces and in the defence department who has been affected by sexual harassment and violence and who felt they did not have adequate support. “We know we must transform the culture of the defence team to one of dignity and respect.”

Also: Opposition seeks to have Telford testify on Jonathan Vance controversy

Andrew Coyne: On Jonathan Vance, the Liberals return to form

Campbell Clark: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan needs to take responsibility for the Vance controversy

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speaks on a livestream during a virtual news conference, in Ottawa, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Sajjan announced that former Supreme Court justice and United Nations high commissioner for human rights Louise Arbour to lead what it is billing as an independent review of the military’s handling of sexual assault, harassment and other misconduct.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Transat reaches $700-million federal aid deal; will offer refunds for cancelled flights

Transat will receive a $700-million bailout from the federal government, aid that will help the Montreal-based tour and airline operator stay afloat and give refunds to customers whose flights were cancelled during the pandemic.

Transat has not flown since the end of January, and halted flights for four months in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline has laid off as much as 85 per cent of its workforce, deferred aircraft lease repayments and accelerated the retirement of several planes as it lost $497-million in 2020.

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Also: How to apply for a refund from Transat for a cancelled or changed flight

Ontario increasing allocation of vaccines to hot spots for two weeks

Ontario will send half of its available COVID-19 vaccines to hot spots around the province in the first two weeks of May in an effort to stamp out the virus in those hard-hit regions.

The move follows a recommendation from the province’s science advisers to allocate vaccines based on transmission rate rather than age group.

In addition, officials say Ontario will also lower the age eligibility for mass vaccination clinics to 55 and older starting tomorrow. The province expects to lower age eligibility for the vaccine throughout May, with access to for aged 18 and older forecast to start on the week of May 24.

Robyn Urback: Ontario’s government should be a laughingstock for shuttering outdoor activities – again

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Rising grey tide consumes growing share of federal budget: It was billed as the child care budget. But look past the rhetoric and instead examine how Ottawa is actually spending, and the 2021 budget is really about elder care.

Editorial: Old Age Security costs more every year. The Trudeau government’s budget is making it worse

Will Biden’s presidency lead to a return of Cold War-style geopolitics?: U.S. President Joe Biden has vowed to push back against against the advance of authoritarianism around the world. But there are already signs of resistance from countries that see the new President as raising tensions by pushing for Cold War-style groupings that divide the democratic world from the authoritarian one.

Also: Biden halts drone attacks, offers a new strategy for Africa

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Canadian movie theatres staring down a cruel summer: Thanks to a robust and speedy vaccine campaign, more and more movie theatres in the U.S. are reopening just in time for the summer blockbuster season. In Canada, however, the situation is quite different. Anxiety in the Canadian entertainment sector is growing by the day as about 90 per cent of this country’s cinemas are currently shuttered, and there’s no clear timeline as to when that might change.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index fell as the materials sector posted losses. The S&P/TSX Composite Index lost 0.52% to end at 19,255.92 On Wall Street, the S&P 500 closed at a record high on Thursday, fueled by gains in Facebook following its strong earnings report, while Amazon jumped in extended trade following its quarterly report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.71% to end at 34,060.36 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.68% to 4,211.47, and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.22% to 14,082.55.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

TALKING POINTS

Can we follow the British model to tame the virus by Canada Day?

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“Can we follow the British model to achieve a Canada Day miracle? Yes, we can. The aim must be to cover 80 per cent of our adult population (16 years and older) with a first vaccine dose, and provide a timely second dose for those who are immunocompromised or over 70. If Canada averages 400,000 jabs a day over the next 10 weeks, we’ll be done early. Recent daily doses have exceeded 300,000, and there’s documented room to go above 400,000 doses a day. Enough federal-provincial squabbling. Get the doses and get it done.” - Fahad Razak, Arthur Slutsky and David Naylor

The killing of Abraham Natanine echoes a grim chapter in RCMP history

There can’t be two levels of justice and accountability in Canada – one for the big cities, and another for those who live in the Far North. The circumstances in this case wouldn’t be acceptable in Ontario, and they shouldn’t be acceptable in Nunavut – or anywhere in Canada. - Gary Mason

LIVING BETTER

Canadian authors tell us the books that shaped them (and the ones kids should read today)

From the curriculum set piece that overwhelmed a future poet to the Canadian classic that felt like a kindred spirit to a one-day children’s author, these are the pieces of literature that captivated an assemblage of Canadian writers (and one politician). They also reveal some of the contemporary books they’re recommending to the kids in their lives now.

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TODAY’S LONG READ

Health workers get ready to perform PCR tests to passengers in the arrival area of Cagliari's airport in Sardinia, on March 15, 2021.

ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

A cautionary COVID-19 tale: Sardinia’s ride from Italy’s lowest- to highest-risk region – in three weeks

Sardinia earned a fair amount of notoriety late last summer when the party crowd, including former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, pushed it to the limit and turned its hedonistic nightclubs and restaurants into COVID-19 hot spots.

The Italian island, with a population of 1.6 million, became a cautionary tale of the dangers of playing fast and loose with physical-distancing rules and other pandemic-fighting restrictions.

Sardinia apparently learned its lesson and buttoned-down hard. By March, it was the only region in Italy to be declared a zona bianca (white zone) – meaning the number of new cases was falling precipitously and life was returning to normal – as every other region was either a medium-risk orange zone or a high-risk red zone.

Today, Sardinia is a cautionary tale once again. Its sweet victory over the virus has proven exceedingly short. Only three weeks after it was declared white, it moved into orange status as the downward infection rate reversed course. It is now red, the only region in Italy with that status as the country reopens.

Evening Update is written by Omair Quadri. If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

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