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

On the second anniversary of the incarceration of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, Ottawa says that the Canadians have not been put on trial, contrary to remarks by a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson who said today the two have already been brought to court.

The men have been “arrested, indicted and tried,” Hua Chunying said. But a statement released later in the day by the Canadian Global Affairs department said it had confirmation from Beijing that “the confusion was caused by an inaccurate characterization of the process made by the Chinese MFA spokesperson.”

Kovrig is being held in Beijing and Spavor in Dandong, a city on the North Korean border. They were not formally charged until June, when authorities laid espionage charges against them, and can be taken to trial at any time with little notice.

Health care workers in Toronto, Ottawa to be first in Ontario to receive Pfizer coronavirus vaccine next week

Toronto’s University Health Network and The Ottawa Hospital will be the sites of the first vaccinations against COVID-19 on Tuesday, after Ontario receives “a very small number of doses” to begin its effort to vaccinate those on the front lines of fighting the pandemic.

While the province says it is ready to receive any number of doses of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine, the Solicitor-General says their specific locations will not yet be named for security reasons.

In a different kind of indication of the importance of the vaccine, Vancouver-based AbCellera, a developer of vaccine antibodies, is expecting to sell shares in its initial public offering, which could raise between US$391-million and US$476-million, on Friday.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Hot Airbnb: On the first day Airbnb Inc. shares were traded publicly, the company defied dreadful pandemic conditions for the travel industry with 2020′s biggest IPO and a US$101.6-billion market cap.

Assisted-dying bill approved: In the House of Commons, Conservatives have ended their filibuster of proposed legislation to expand access to medically assisted death. After four days of debate at third reading, the bill is expected to come before the Senate ahead of the court-mandated Dec. 18 deadline – but with little time for debate.

Hudson’s Bay takes on Ontario: Canada’s oldest retailer has applied for a judicial review of the Ontario government’s restrictions on non-essential retail.

Empire ramps up e-commerce: The Sobeys retailer announced today it will move up construction of a third order-fulfillment centre in Calgary for its online grocery service Voilà.

Cyberpunk game a hit: A video game eight years in the making and featuring Keanu Reeves made its long-awaited debut today. Sales of Cyberpunk 2077 could challenge the two-quarter record of 22.4 million units sold held by Animal Crossing.

MARKET WATCH

Mixed economic news in the United States left the major stock indexes flat today, while the TSX enjoyed a small gain tied to a boost in energy shares.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 33.48 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 17,593.23, as the energy sector rallied 4 per cent thanks to gains in crude oil. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 69.55 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 29,999.26, the S&P 500 lost 4.72 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 3,668.1 and the Nasdaq Composite added 66.86 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 12,405.81.

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TALKING POINTS

Canada is trying to engage with a benevolent China that doesn’t exist

“The effective kidnapping of two Canadians should have been a red line for Canadian engagement with China, extinguishing whatever lingering notion this government might have had about normal diplomatic relations with Beijing. China was – and is – a hostile power, yet for the past two years, Canada has resisted treating it as such.” – Robyn Urback

Sorry, Mr. Kenney: Criticism of your COVID-19 response isn’t Alberta-bashing

“Alberta-bashing. Drive-by smears. That’s what Mr. Kenney calls completely legitimate questions and observations about his government’s atrocious handling of the novel coronavirus this fall. This, from the man who launches drive-by smears in the direction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal federal government at every opportunity he gets. I guess if you’re a true Albertan, a good Albertan, you don’t ask the province’s Premier uncomfortable questions about life-or-death matters that are 100 per cent within his mandate to answer.” – Gary Mason

Canada needs to prepare for rare but serious health problems resulting from vaccination

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are concerned that, given the anticipated scale of the COVID-19 immunization campaign and new vaccine technologies employed, mass immunization may result in a small number of Canadians experiencing serious adverse events following immunization (AEFI), despite adherence to best practices. While AEFIs are possible with routine immunizations, pandemic situations are unique with respect to the speed and scale with which vaccine technologies are developed and distributed. Rare serious AEFIs may not be captured during phases of clinical trials because it may require very large numbers of the population to be immunized for AEFIs to manifest.” – Jane Philpott, Kieran Moore and Ethan Toumishey

LIVING BETTER

Ten sparkling wines you’ll enjoy even if you’re not feeling festive

Sparkling wines made in the traditional method, which is the time- and labour-intensive manner popularized by the Champagne region of France, can offer a pleasing mix of fruit flavours as well as nutty, toasty or bready notes. The 10 sparkling wines recommended here encompass a range of crémants from other regions of France and some stellar bubblies made in Canada.

TODAY’S LONG READ

The death of a father of nine and a health care aide in Manitoba leaves layers of devastation

The death of Jean Claude Dianzenza Bahati, a Congolese health care aide who was a husband, father of nine, and surrogate parent to his grandchildren, offers a glimpse at the layers of devastation COVID-19 leaves behind.Courtesy of family

Jean Claude Dianzenza Bahati, 60, a Congolese immigrant and father of nine, died Nov. 6, just days after he tested positive for COVID-19. His death was so sudden, so unexpected, that his family didn’t even get to hold a bedside vigil in personal protective equipment or have a teary goodbye over FaceTime.

His death has been added to the tally of the more than two dozen health care workers who have died of COVID-19 in this country, but to his family and community, the loss is so much more. He was the husband who would set his alarm for 6 a.m. so he could pick up his wife after she’d worked the overnight shift at a nursing home. The grandfather who took his grandchildren to the park after an exhausting day at work. The community leader who rallied fellow Congolese immigrants to visit one of their own in hospital. The father who spent endless hours in the passenger seat to help his children pass their driving tests.

Read the full story by Dakshana Bascaramurty here.


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