Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is calling the COVID-19 situation in Alberta “heartbreaking,” and says Ottawa will send ventilators to the province. Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole wouldn’t say if he still supports Premier Jason Kenney’s response to the pandemic.
The federal campaign has been roiled by Kenney’s decision this week to declare a state of public-health emergency and introduce a vaccine passport system in the province. On Thursday, Trudeau criticized O’Toole’s previous support of the Alberta Premier. In turn, Mr. O’Toole went after Mr. Trudeau for calling an election in the middle of a pandemic, and said the estimated $600-million spent on the campaign could have been sent to provinces to fight the highly-contagious Delta variant instead.
“Ventilators are on the way. Anything more we can do, whether it is sending more medical professionals as we did to Ontario a few months ago when they were overwhelmed. We are going to make sure that Albertans get the support from everyone in this country the way they need to get through this time.”
Alberta Health Services said Wednesday the agency would be asking other provinces if they could take Alberta intensive-care unit patients, as well as If they could send front-line staff.
- Federal campaigns need to go all out to get supporters to polls
- Saskatchewan to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to try to increase uptake
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Chinese PLA general collaborated with fired scientist at Canada’s top infectious-disease lab
A high-ranking officer in the People’s Liberation Army collaborated on Ebola research with one of the scientists who was later fired from Canada’s high-security infectious-disease laboratory in Winnipeg.
The research conducted by Major-General Chen Wei and former Canadian government lab scientist Xiangguo Qiu indicates that co-operation between the Chinese military and scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory went much higher than was previously known. Maj.-Gen. Chen Wei was recently lauded by President Xi Jinping for developing a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine,
Maj.-Gen. Chen Wei and Dr. Qiu, who until recently headed the vaccine development and antiviral therapies section at the Winnipeg lab, collaborated on two scientific papers on Ebola, in 2016 and 2020. Those papers did not identify Maj.-Gen. Chen as a high-ranking officer in the military wing of China’s ruling Communist Party. Instead, she is identified as Wei Chen, who held a PhD and worked at the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology.
Comirnaty? SpikeVax? Health Canada authorizes brand name change for approved COVID-19 vaccines
Health Canada has approved new names for Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will now go by the brand name Comirnaty, which the company says represents a combination of the terms COVID-19, mRNA, community, and immunity. The Moderna vaccine will go by SpikeVax and the AstraZeneca vaccine will be called Vaxzevria.
The manufacturers say the changes followed full approval of the vaccines by Health Canada on Thursday. During the interim order, which expired Thursday, the vaccines didn’t go by their brand names.
- NHL says it expects 98 per cent of players to be fully vaccinated before start of season
- France suspends around 3,000 health care workers for failing to comply with COVID-19 vaccine mandate
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Ontario requiring universities and colleges to update sexual assault policies: Province says policies must do a better job of supporting students who bring complaints forward. The guidelines were issued amid calls by students at the University of Western Ontario to address the threat of sexual violence on campus after allegations that young women were drugged and sexually assaulted in residence last week.
World likely to miss climate targets despite pandemic-related pause in emissions, UN says: The virus-related economic downturn caused only a temporary downturn in CO2 emissions last year and it was not enough to reverse rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the World Meteorological Organization said, adding there is a rising likelihood the world will miss its Paris Agreement aim of reducing global warming to 1.5 C above preindustrial levels.
Suncor partners with eight Indigenous communities to buy TC Energy’s remaining stake in Northern Courier Pipeline: Suncor, three First Nations and five Métis communities will own a 15-per-cent stake in this pipeline asset with a value of about $1.3-billion. The partnership is expected to generate gross revenue of about $16-million annually for its partners and provide reliable income, Suncor said in a statement.
Maple Leafs and Sabres to play outdoor game in Hamilton on March 13: Buffalo is listed as the home team against the Maple Leafs in the NHL’s Heritage Classic, to be played at Tim Hortons Field. Buffalo becomes the first U.S.-based team to compete in what will be the sixth Heritage Classic.
A drop in commodities depressed Canada’s main stock index a day before heightened volatility associated with the quarterly expiry of options known as quadruple witching.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 91.69 points to 20,602.10.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 63.07 points at 34,751.32. The S&P 500 index was down 6.95 points at 4,473.75, while the Nasdaq composite was up 20.39 points at 15,181.92.
The Canadian dollar traded for 78.90 cents US compared with 79.05 cents US on Wednesday.
Climate change puts Canada’s seniors at risk
“If you think the pandemic has been incredibly difficult, remember that the World Health Organization and the Lancet have both declared climate change the number one health threat of this century. And just as we have seen with COVID-19, climate change will also not affect all Canadians equally.” – Amit Arya and Samantha Green
Canada’s gun-violence epidemic doesn’t look like what you might think
“Instead of just hearing a sound bite of Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s opinion of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s semi-automatic rifle ban, it would have been nice to also hear him and other leaders debate the details of Bill C-21. Gun owners and community leaders have been vocal in their opposition to the legislation, which contains lots of provisions that are not rooted in evidence-based science.” – Jooyoung Lee
Low-income Canadian households will suffer the most from soaring inflation
“If we truly value the critical services our workers provide to our economy, we should also value seeing their wages increase. Higher wages will cushion the impact of inflation on low-income Canadians, encourage more of these workers to re-enter the labour force, and ease businesses’ labour shortages.” – Sohaib Shahid
Five shows to see across Canada (and five to see online) as theatre journeys back to normal
Globe theatre columnist J. Kelly Nestruck says it’s never been clearer than it has been this month that theatre is a local art form. As such, Canadian cities are in wildly different states of return.
In Montreal, for example, the performing arts are almost back at a prepandemic level of activity. In Toronto, by contrast, many major theatre companies are waiting until the winter or even the spring to resume in-person, indoor performances.
Nestruck looks at some in-person shows to look forward to this fall, but also offers a few online alternatives.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Non-profit Ocean Cleanup struggles to fulfill promise to remove plastic from Pacific
Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit launched in 2013 and funded by cash donations and backing by corporations such as Coca-Cola, had hopes of ridding the world’s oceans of 90 per cent of floating plastic by 2040. But a recent test run that collected a meagre haul shows how difficult the task will be.
The group’s own best-case scenario sees it removing 20,000 tonnes a year from the North Pacific, a small fraction of the roughly 11 million tonnes of plastic flowing annually into the oceans. And that amount entering the ocean is expected to nearly triple to 29 million tonnes annually by 2040, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
During a 120-hour trip month, Ocean Cleanup gathered 8.2 tonnes of plastic, or less than a garbage truck’s standard haul.
“I think they’re coming from a good place of wanting to help the ocean, but by far the best way to help the ocean is to prevent plastic from getting in the ocean in the first place,” said Miriam Goldstein, director of ocean policy at the Center for American Progress think tank.