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

Federal officials voiced cautious optimism Friday that the pace of vaccinations will pick up in the next two or three months, after another COVID-19 vaccine was added to the country’s cupboard.

Health Canada announced the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, saying regulators have evidence showing it is both safe and effective against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

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The Prime Minister, meanwhile, said Friday that Canada will receive 1.5 million more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine this month, and another two million doses that were set to arrive in the summer will now come in April and May.

“We are expecting far more doses by September than there are Canadians, even given that we’re only talking about doses from four different approved companies right now,” Justin Trudeau said Friday. “We have reasons to be optimistic.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single dose and can be stored and transported at refrigerated temperatures for at least three months, facilitating distribution across the country. There is no timeline yet for its delivery, with those details still being hammered out, federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand said.

Health Canada has now approved four distinct COVID-19 vaccines: from Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstaZeneca.

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Ontario aims to give all seniors first COVID-19 shot by June, removes stay-at-home order for Toronto, Peel

Ontario announced new details about its mass vaccination plans Friday, saying it intends to give all seniors over 60 a first shot by early June – if not sooner as more vaccines arrive.

The government also said it is lifting its remaining stay-at-home orders in Toronto and Peel Region next week, but heeding requests from local medical officers of health in those hardest-hit areas to keep them in the province’s grey or “lockdown” level of restrictions. The changes allow non-essential retailers to reopen for in-person shopping, but only with a 25-per-cent capacity limit. Restaurants must remain closed to indoor dining and offer only takeout and delivery.

Ontario’s vaccination plans, which allow for a longer four-month interval between first and second doses, show residents 80 or older receiving their first doses in March. Younger groups then follow in five-year increments: those over 75 would start receiving shots in April, and everyone over 60 would have a first dose by early June. The province’s web appointment-booking portal is now being tested before being rolled out March 15.

Ombudsman failed to provide information to allow probe of allegations against Vance: PM

Justin Trudeau told reporters Friday that officials could not investigate an allegation of sexual misconduct against former chief of defence Staff Jonathan Vance because a former ombudsman didn’t provide the information required to investigate further.

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“When the ombudsman came forward … the minister directed to the official the appropriate independent officials to follow up on those allegations. The ombudsman did not provide sufficient information to the officials in place to be able to follow up on these allegations,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

The Prime Minister did not defend Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan – but said he has not lost confidence him. Earlier Friday, The Globe reported that Sajjan’s top staffer told a senior adviser inside the Prime Minister’s Office three years ago that the minister was troubled by information about former chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance, shortly after the minister met with a military watchdog.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Anti-abortion groups eye Conservative policy convention

Social-conservative activists are seeking to dominate this month’s Conservative policy convention by electing large numbers of anti-abortion delegates, which could undermine the leadership of Erin O’Toole. The leaders of anti-abortion groups Campaign Life Coalition and RightNow have been active in nominating slates of candidates at the riding level.

Israel upgrading plans to strike Iran if Tehran shows signs of nuclear escalation

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Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz told a U.S. television network that his country is upgrading contingency plans to strike Iranian targets if Tehran shows signs of nuclear escalation, the latest sign of rising tensions between the two arch-enemies. His comments came as President Joe Biden considers rejoining a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

Canada calls Michigan’s shutdown of Line 5 a threat to country’s energy security

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan is calling Michigan’s order to shut down the Enbridge pipeline Line 5, a major petroleum conduit for Central Canada, a threat to this country’s energy security. He said Canada considers the continued operation of Line 5 “non-negotiable.” It is the strongest language Ottawa has used to date for a bilateral dispute that is quickly becoming a test of the budding relationship between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and new U.S. President Joe Biden.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index reversed early losses to close higher on signs of a quicker economic recovery that sent crude oil prices to a near two-year high.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 255.24 points to 18,380.96. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 572.16 points to 31,496.30. The S&P 500 index rose 73.47 points at 3,841.94, while the Nasdaq composite was up 196.68 points at 12,920.15.

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The Canadian dollar traded for 78.94 cents US compared with 79.13 cents US on Thursday.

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TALKING POINTS

A minister who ducked when the allegation came his way

“For women in the Canadian Forces, there is no way to look up the ranks, past top military brass, to find the person who is accountable when there are allegations of sexual misconduct against high-ranking officers. There is no one.” - Campbell Clark

Beyond Order shows the disconnect between how Jordan Peterson is perceived and what he writes

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“I have not read Peterson’s first book, 12 Rules for Living: An Antidote to Chaos, which he says in this follow-up has sold 4 million copies, not counting translations. If the old rules are anything like the new rules, I am left wondering why 24 of them were required. God only needed 10, and that included a fair bit of overlap.” - Cathal Kelly

Dissent and acrimony threaten historic Wet’suwet’en accord

“It is hard to imagine that a group charged with effectively hammering out the foundation of a treaty with two levels of government could be so cavalier about allowing anyone but themselves to have a say in what that looks like. And yet, it appears that’s where we are.” - Gary Mason

LIVING BETTER

‘We are really going somewhere’: Qaumajug Inuit art centre opening this month at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

View of Qilak, the main gallery at Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the inaugural exhibition INUA. Photo by Lindsay Reid

Lindsay Reid/Winnipeg Art Gallery

Canada is building a monument to Inuit culture – 2,000 kilometres from Iqaluit. Qaumajug, the new Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, opens to the public March 27. It will house the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world, with examples from all four regions of the Nunangat – the Inuit homeland in Canada – as well as work from other circumpolar territories; the planning has involved Inuit curators, artists and elders from the start.

And yet Qaumajuq sits on the Métis homeland and traditional territories of the Cree, Dene and Dakota, a place of tall grasses and big rivers far distant from the blue ice and sharp peaks of the Nunangat. So, why Winnipeg? Truth is, Winnipeg has always been a cultural crossroads. With a colonial history as a fort, a Hudson’s Bay depot and a medical centre, it is the place where East meets West and the South goes North.

Subscription services offer more sustainable options for stuck-at-home shoppers

Shopping for essential items has been a stressful experience for many people during the pandemic. Once we were locked down at home, a good portion of our lives went virtual, particularly shopping. With trips to the mall suspended, subscription delivery services kicked into gear, with niche products ranging from teabags to toothbrushes arriving regularly at our doorsteps.

These next-generation subscription services are more than just an excuse to send ourselves mail. Sustainability-led subscription deliveries offer an opportunity for more mindful decision-making, and the chance to consume responsibly.

TODAY’S LONG READ

Canada’s hockey dad Walter Gretzky was always there for his son Wayne, but never in his way

Wayne Gretzky poses with the Stanley Cup with father Walter, left, and brother Glen, right, after the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1984.

Charlie Palmer/The Canadian Press

As Cathal Kelly reminds us, when children “were still raised free-range” the sports parent didn’t exist.

Star athletes had parents, but you didn’t really notice them. Now, sports parents are everywhere, and usually not for the better. They fill television screens on behalf of their clients (er, children).

The good version of the modern sports parents keep a low profile, and during the 80s and 90s, Walter Gretzky occupied the sweet spot between the two extremes.

“He was always there, but never in the way. He didn’t go on TV to yell about how amazing his son was. He didn’t work behind the scenes to get the coach or the GM fired. He didn’t latch on once the money started coming in and begin siphoning. He had his own thing going on.”

Read Cathal Kelly’s full appreciation here.

Evening Update is presented by Rob Gilroy. 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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