Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
WHO calls for 'vigilant’ global response to coronavirus
The new coronavirus poses a growing global threat, but transmission can be stopped if countries around the world mount a vigilant response, the World Health Organization said.
“The whole world needs to be on alert now,” Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a news conference in Geneva. “The whole world needs to take action.”
The number of people infected in China with the new coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, officially surpassed the number of SARS cases during its epidemic in that country today. More than 6,000 cases of 2019-nCoV have been identified and 132 people have died as a result of the illness. The vast majority of cases are in China. Authorities need to use even more rigorous measures to limit its spread, a leading Chinese public health specialist says. And the Wuhan virus, which is believed to spread primarily through respiratory means, is twice as virulent as Ebola, another Chinese scholar said – although nowhere near as deadly.
This afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government has a plane preparing to fly Canadians out of the province in China at the centre of the outbreak. The next step is to secure co-operation from China to assist the 160 Canadians who have requested help. Canada is working with allies to co-ordinate its plans and make the logistics work.
Meanwhile, Air Canada is halting all direct flights to China after the federal government’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel to the mainland. The suspension is effective tomorrow and slated to last until Feb. 29, Air Canada said.
Earlier today, British Airways halted all flights to China and American Airlines suspended Los Angeles flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing. They joined several Asian carriers that are either suspending or significantly cutting back service to the country.
- Robyn Urback: “It is probably fair enough to say the system is working – as well as a system can work when the source of the outbreak has a lousy reputation for truthfulness.”
What can I do about the Wuhan coronavirus? A guide for Canadians of what’s helpful, and what’s not.
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Panel recommends sweeping changes to Canada’s media and communications sectors, including tax on Netflix and ending ads on CBC
A government-appointed panel is recommending a massive overhaul of Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications laws, including requiring internet streaming companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to invest in Canadian programming and to charge sales tax.
The six-member panel is also recommending that CBC/Radio-Canada eliminate advertising on all of its platforms over the next five years and that companies that share and aggregate media be forced to pay levies that would fund the production of news content.
Some of the proposed changes have already been promised by Ottawa. Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, has vowed to introduce legislation requiring foreign-based internet platforms to fund the creation of Canadian cultural content by the end of this year.
- Catherine Tait: “One thing is clear to me: Canadians count on their public broadcaster for much more than trustworthy news. They count on us for their connection to language – and to place.” Catherine Tait is president and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada
Mind the gap: Canadians are talking about mental health
Many Canadians grapple with mental-health issues year-round, but the conversation kicks into high gear every January on Bell Let’s Talk Day. That’s when telecom giant BCE Inc. commits to spending five cents on mental-health initiatives every time someone tweets its hashtag or watches its official video, and every time one of its subscribers texts or calls someone.
Still, the shortcomings and inequities of Canadian mental-health care cannot be resolved in single day: Psychiatric care is hard or impossible to find in some parts of the country, police are being forced into the role of front-line mental health workers and, at school and in the workforce, Canadians’ need for care is growing.
As parliamentarians return to Ottawa this week, they have another once-in-a-generation opportunity to work together to deliver on one of this government’s key health promises: national standards for mental health care to ensure every Canadian can access services where and when they need them most. Mental illness costs the Canadian economy $50-billion annually; that’s nearly $1,400 for every single one of us.
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Trump signs USMCA bill into law, clearing way for Ottawa to begin its own ratification process
Canada is now the only member of the trilateral deal that has yet to ratify the agreement, a process that’s expected to begin later in the day as Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who presided over the negotiations as foreign affairs minister, introduces legislation in the House.
Trump’s Mideast peace plan draws praise from Netanyahu, ire from Palestinians
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who was not invited to Washington, immediately denounced Mr. Trump’s blueprint. “I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass.”
White House objects to publication of Bolton’s book as Trump’s impeachment trial begins new phase
A letter from the White House National Security Council to former national security adviser John Bolton’s attorney said the manuscript based on a preliminary review appeared to contain “significant amounts of classified information” and could not be published without the deletion of this material. Some of the material was considered top secret, according to the letter.
Downturn in lobster exports to China is a blip, N.S. minister says
Chinese authorities have not banned imports from Nova Scotia, however markets have dried up this week because of the country’s internal efforts to halt the spread of the new virus. The timing isn’t bad, according to Nova Scotia’s Fisheries Minister, since many of the province’s lobster fishermen curtail their work during February and March because of bad and unpredictable weather.
Resource stocks sent Canada’s main stock index higher, but concerns over the economic impact of a coronavirus outbreak in China kept gains in check.
The energy sector climbed 0.2 per cent as oil prices rose on talk that the OPEC could extend oil output cuts if the new coronavirus hurts demand and data that showed a decline in U.S. stockpiles.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite Index was up 10.87 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 17,511.75.
In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 12.24 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 28,735.09, the S&P 500 lost 2.78 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 3,273.46 and the Nasdaq Composite added 5.48 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 9,275.16.
A new St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts is a good idea, but it will need the funds to both build it and fill it
J. Kelly Nestruck: “What Toronto City Council should absolutely avoid is building yet another theatre complex of nebulous purpose that is somehow magically also supposed to break even … like the original St. Lawrence Centre.”
Disregard for rock in Juno nominations should not be seen as a snub, but as accurate reflection of the times
Brad Wheeler: “The Juno hardware will be handed out at the SaskTel Centre on March 15 in Saskatoon, where the disregard for rock should not be seen as a snub, but as an accurate reflection of the times. In 1997, everywhere Bryan Adams would go – around the world or around the block – he told us, “Kids wanna rock.” Now? They wanna rap, they wanna remix, they wanna rhythm and blue.”
Updating the iconic Joy of Cooking
The grandson of one of the original authors has just spent nine years revising the cooking classic, in collaboration with his wife, adding more than 600 new recipes, releasing their gloss on the family’s magnum opus, just before Christmas. Never out of print since its release in 1931, it has absorbed four generations of his clan’s energy, and now includes recipes for banh mi, lamb shawarma and miso ramen with chashu pork.
Nestruck on Theatre
From a chance to see Martha Henry outside of Stratford in Marjorie Prime, to The Progress Festival, a three-week showcase of international and avant-garde performance and theatre, here’s what’s on stage across Canada through this weekend, along with announcements by theatre companies for later in the season.
LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE
Hidden gems: These 10 companies are using clever tactics to dominate their fields – and creating opportunities for investors
Amid the hottest stock run in history, there are still solid, unglamorous performers that somehow get overlooked by most investors. Several of these companies share traits. Some are conceptually challenging, or have specialties that look risky or bewildering at first glance, such as subprime lending or making internet protocol equipment and software for broadcasters. Others produce reliable profits and share-price appreciation in humdrum but essential businesses like rental housing, iron ore mining and managing local hockey arenas.