Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
After hinting all week at new restrictions, Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday that Toronto and Peel would be entering the “lockdown” stage as of Monday, the strictest level in Ontario’s restrictions. The province also announced that the regions of Durham and Waterloo will join Hamilton, Halton and York Regions in the “red zone,” with the highest restrictions short of a lockdown.
Although schools and daycares will remain open, postsecondary institutions will now go to virtual instruction. Retail stores, including in malls, will go to delivery and curbside pickup starting on Monday. Big-box stores will, however, remain open.
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Trudeau urges Canadians to reduce contact to reverse COVID-19 trajectory
As a new pandemic modelling provides grim warnings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to quickly reduce their contacts. At the current rate of contacts, the pandemic modelling predicts that the country could see more than 20,000 cases per day by the end of December. But this rate could jump to 60,000 COVID-19 cases per day if socialization increases.
Trudeau acknowledged the pandemic fatigue and financial tolls, saying the government is committed to supporting businesses and that restrictions will help ensure economic success over the long term.
- Doug Saunders: The latest COVID-19 surge has tested countries with federal governments. Canada hasn’t passed
Ottawa’s new rent-relief program to accept applications next week
A new federal pandemic rent-relief program will be opened for application on Monday.
The legislation was passed without an amendment that would have let business owners apply before paying rent – a significant requirement for many entrepreneurs who have seen revenues collapse due to pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. But the government said yesterday that businesses with unpaid rent would still be able to apply when applications open and that it plans to correct the matter with another piece of legislation.
Free parking comes at a high cost: Why Canadian cities are looking to change the rules
Politicians in several of Canada’s biggest cities are going after parking, arguing that abolishing rules around how much parking must be included in new developments will lead gradually to cleaner, more liveable and possibly cheaper communities. Although these attitude shifts predate the outbreak of COVID-19, the pandemic has brought scrutiny to whether parking is the best use of space.
Ambassador visits detained Canadians in China
Ambassador Dominic Barton was granted on-site virtual consular access to Michael Kovrig on Thursday and businessman Michael Spavor on Nov. 10. The two Canadians have been detained since December, 2018, shortly after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently referred to China’s actions as “coercive diplomacy” and opposition parties have also urged the Liberal government to take a harder line on Huawei and 5G for what they call national-security threats.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Raptors to start 2020-21 season in Tampa: The Raptors will start the 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida after being denied permission to play home games in Toronto due to travel restrictions. The new NBA season starts on Dec. 22, with training camps opening Dec. 1.
Donald Trump’s bid to overturn election results lags: With Georgia’s recount reaffirming Joe Biden as the winner and judges tossing out President Donald Trump’s legal challenges, Trump’s bid to reverse the result is struggling. Now, Trump’s team is lobbying Republican-controlled legislatures in other battleground states won by Biden such as Pennsylvania and Michigan to declare him the winner, but those interventions would also have to be upheld by Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Canadian Museum of History is hiring: With Mark O’Neill on leave since August due to complaints of workplace harassment, the Canadian Museum of History is now searching for a new president. This is the latest incident in a string of high-level allegations that have rocked major Canadian cultural institutions this year.
Cineplex signs landmark deal with Universal: Cineplex Inc., the country’s largest exhibitor, and Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, one of Hollywood’s biggest studios, has announced a multiyear deal for a “new dynamic window agreement” that dramatically shortens the time it takes for a movie to go from the big to small screens in Canada.
Matthew Raymond found not criminally responsible: After three days of deliberation, the jury has found Matthew Raymond not criminally responsible for fatally shooting four people in Fredericton, N.B., in August, 2018, due to a mental disorder.
U.S. stocks closed lower on Friday as investors wrestled with fiscal stimulus developments, concerns over a lengthy rollout of vaccines, and a growing number of state-level shutdowns to combat the spiralling COVID-19 pandemic. But Canada’s TSX ended with a more than 100-point gain, taking it to within 5 per cent of its all-time high, thanks to rising prices for commodities as well as broad-based strength in the tech sector.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 109.29 points, or 0.65 per cent, to 17.019.10.
The S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted marginal losses for the week, while the tech-laden Nasdaq settled a bit higher from last Friday’s close. The TSX gained just over 200 points for the week.
Dolly Parton is the glitter glue the world needs right now
Elizabeth Renzetti: “For decades now she’s maintained this strange coalition of devotees, perhaps singular in the world of entertainment, following her through troughs of relative obscurity and peaks of popularity, such as this one, in which she’s appeared with a new book, Christmas record and vaccine assist all at once. Truly, it’s a (pre) Christmas miracle.”
Forget electric vehicles. Postpandemic cities don’t need them – they are still cars
Eric Reguly: “The propulsion system of a car is irrelevant. What is relevant is that any car of any technology takes up public space that should be devoted to people. For cities, EVs are not the future; they already belong in the past, along with gasoline and diesel cars.”
Deceit of engineering: It turns out Canada’s top natural wonder, Niagara Falls, isn’t so natural after all
Daniel McFarlane: “Any poll of Canada’s greatest natural wonders puts Niagara Falls at, or near, the top of the list. Niagara is certainly a wonder, but natural? That is debatable. You might say Niagara Falls is just as much artificial – maybe even fake.”
How to celebrate the holidays in pandemic times
Like the rest of 2020, this Christmas will undoubtedly be like no other before it. For many of us, living through a pandemic has triggered a massive shift in priorities and perspective, and is bringing into sharp focus all that is important about the holiday season. Here are a few strategies to find the best in our pandemic holiday situation.
TODAY’S LONG READ
How journalism can stop democracy’s global decline
Michael Petrou: “There are many reasons for democracy’s global decline these past two decades, including financial crises, a lack of leadership from the U.S., and the apparent rise of China and Russia as authoritarian models that promise wealth and power without accountability. But among these factors must also be included the weakening of journalism as a democratizing force. Outlets everywhere have lost trust, readers and viewers, and their once-crucial ability to nurture the cultural norms on which democracy depends. Halting democracy’s decline depends in large part on reversing this trend.”