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

After a thorough review of the data, Health Canada has determined the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine for children between five and 11 years of age outweigh the risks.

Pfizer and BioNTech said their trials in children show comparable safety and efficacy to those recorded in a previous Pfizer-BioNTech study in people aged 16 to 25.

For many, the news comes as a long-awaited relief. For nearly two years, the pandemic has upended children’s lives with school closings, cancelled social gatherings and countless other disruptions.

What you need to know about the vaccine’s efficacy, side effects and more

At the end of the Pfizer/BioNTech study, three children who received the vaccine became infected with COVID-19 seven days or more after their second doses, compared with 16 kids in the placebo group. That means the vaccine efficacy rate is about 91 per cent, similar to the strong protection seen in older age groups.

The vaccine, produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, is the same mRNA formulation as the one given to those 12 and older, but the dosage has been reduced to 10 micrograms, one-third the amount in the original version. Children tend to have robust immune responses, so reducing the dosage ensures kids will have high levels of protection while minimizing the risk of side effects.

Nearly three million doses of the vaccine, or one for every child aged 5 to 11 in Canada, are expected to arrive imminently.

People walk by a COVID-19 vaccination sign in Montreal, Aug. 7, 2021.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Three helicopters, 311 stranded people, 26 dogs and one cat: How Operation Lentus pulled off a tricky rescue mission on Highway 7

More than 300 people spent the night in their vehicles under an unrelenting downpour that has since flooded much of the cities of Abbotsford and Merritt and the town of Princeton. Bridges, railways and roads have been destroyed throughout Southern B.C., prompting the province to declare a state of emergency.

With the night already pitch-black, it was determined that trying to lead the stranded motorists on foot across the slide closest to Agassiz – a 100-metre tangle of broken trees, rocks and at least six mangled vehicles – was too dangerous: The slide was still moving.

What unfolded next was an unprecedented rescue of civilians involving the crews of three CH-149 Cormorant helicopters from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron based at CFB Comox.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Leroux, the commanding officer of 442, calls the response to the situation on Monday “the largest mass evacuation the squadron has executed in decades.”

More flood-related news:

Crew members from Royal Canadian Air Force 442 Squadron lead some of over 300 motorists stranded by mudslides towards a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter for their evacuation, in Agassiz, British Columbia, Nov. 15, 2021.RCAF/Reuters

The Peng Shuai case is not going away

Peng Shuai is a Chinese tennis star who has been incommunicado since accusing a former top official of sexual assault.

Inside the Great Firewall, China’s vast surveillance and censorship apparatus, Peng has not just disappeared, she has become a non-person. All mention of her is subject to intense censorship, and even posts about other tennis players, many of whom have spoken out in support of Peng in recent days, are being policed, with commenting and sharing tightly limited.

But China’s censors cannot control the narrative outside the Great Firewall, however, and must hand over such duties to the country’s propaganda apparatus. It’s fair to say the propagandists have dropped the ball this time, making the situation worse and tying the government’s hands to a certain extent. Officials have been unable to respond as forcefully as they have to other scandals, because doing so would acknowledge that there is a scandal in the first place.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Ottawa leaves most COVID-19 testing requirements in place for travellers, drops rule for Canadians abroad for fewer than 72 hours: The federal government is lifting the pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who are abroad for fewer than 72 hours, but is keeping the testing rules in place for all other travellers – against the advice of its own expert panel.

Air Canada exits federal aid program as outlook brightens: Air Canada said it is pulling out of the government bailout program, leaving much of the interest-bearing credit facility untouched amid an improved financial outlook. The federal government in April approved $5.375-billion in loans to Canada’s largest airline. Air Canada said it will use $1.4-billion in government aid to provide customer refunds, but walk away from the unused portion of the package, worth $3.975-billion.

Billionaire tech bros anoint another company for success, this time it is electric-car maker Rivian: Two of the world’s richest men, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, are competitors in space. Now they are competitors on planet Earth, training their money rockets on another bit of tech – electric vehicles. The results so far have defied gravity. Billionaire tech-bro capitalism is scoring another eye-popping victory.

“You know when a building is in bad shape”: Miami Beach residents worry Champlain Towers collapse is harbinger of problems to come: Some locals say a combination of lax building codes, inadequate inspection protocols and enforcement, and the corrosive effects of the oceanfront climate make the possibility of more tragedies like the Champlain Towers South collapse a possibility – and not just in South Florida.

Listen to The Decibel: The refugees caught in a political chess game


MARKET WATCH

New European COVID lockdowns rattled investors to end the week as Canada’s main stock index fell with commodities faltering on worries about the impact on demand. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 82.51 points to 21,555.03. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 268.97 points at 35,601.98.

The S&P 500 index was down 6.58 points at 4,697.96, while the Nasdaq composite was up 63.73 points at 16,057.44. The Canadian dollar traded for 79.12 cents US compared with 79.27 cents US on Thursday.

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TALKING POINTS

There’s a word for a system that demands unanimous support for the leader, and it isn’t democracy

“To bridge the gap between party and public, (Erin O’Toole) simply promised them each different things, hoping the first would not mind and the second would not notice. And indeed, had the public not noticed, and Mr. O’Toole been elected, the party would probably not have minded, much. Power is the ultimate sedative. Alas, you can only push this so far.” - Andrew Coyne

Canadians should avoid extreme measures to coerce the unvaccinated

“Canadians went through a weird period of longing last fall and winter as we watched Australia successfully implement a COVID-zero containment strategy. While we hunkered down in our homes and absorbed ever-worsening news of community spread, life in Australia carried on largely as normal, which inspired many Canadians – researchers, doctors, epidemiologists and others – to push for a COVID-zero strategy of our own.” - Robyn Urback

We can’t ignore the role deforestation plays in triggering devastating floods

“We needn’t twist arms in Scotland to combat global warming, when solutions lie here at home. Did climate change cause the storm that engulfed much of B.C.? Certainly it contributed. Another factor is logging, which has left the landscape denuded of the forests that absorb rainwater and mitigate the effects of torrential rainstorms.” - Peter Kuitenbrouwer

Europe’s preventable outbreak has one cause: politicians pandering to the unvaccinated

“The real mistake – one we see repeated in Canada and elsewhere – is how politicians pander to the unvaccinated. Legislators continue to view them as something like an ethnic group or disability community – people who have rights to be respected, rather than a problem to be solved urgently.” - Doug Saunders


LIVING BETTER

A beloved Christmas tradition that dates back to 1900s Germany, the Advent calendar is a fun way to celebrate the season. These daily surprises also make getting out of bed on dark December mornings more bearable. Calendar options have evolved far beyond the classic and delicious petite squares of milk chocolate to include options for virtually every interest and hobby, from beauty products to beverages – and even for the eight nights of Hanukkah. Ahead of the beginning of Advent, here are six inventive calendars to add to your mantel.


TODAY’S LONG READ

On his deathbed, Ted Rogers looked into the future. This is not what he saw

It was the dying wish of Ted Rogers that the telecom giant he poured his life into would look much different today from the one he left behind 13 years ago. In the time since his death, the founder of Rogers Communications believed the company might have diversified into new lines of business and even cemented itself as a big player in the U.S. market.

As the document makes clear, Rogers’s great fear was that after he died his four children might carve up the company into four parts, or sell off significant chunks of the business. Doing so would deprive family members of the “rare opportunity” to build “character traits of leadership” through working at the combined company. (Indeed, the middle-management ranks at Rogers are dotted with what other employees dub ROTs, or Relatives of Ted.) This anxiety fuelled the creation of the control trust, with its labyrinth of checks and balances and consultation clauses that made the recent power struggle even more complicated.

But he also saw family ownership of the empire he built as a bonding exercise and a safeguard against the corrupting influence of untethered wealth.

One thing is certain. The iconic entrepreneur would be horrified to see his children and wife at each other’s throats in a high-profile battle that exposed the inner workings of both the family and the company to intense public scrutiny.

Rogers corporate head office and headquarters seen from Ted Rogers Way in Toronto on Oct. 25, 2021.Evan Buhler/The Canadian Press

Evening Update is written by Emerald Bensadoun. 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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