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The Ontario government hired seven advisers to support retired general Rick Hillier in his former role as the head of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine-distribution task force. All had connections to him or to military causes.

The province tapped Hillier, the former chief of the defence staff of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), in late November to lead a nine-member team responsible for co-ordinating the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines from their arrival through delivery to local health units. Those officially on the team, including current chair Homer Tien, a prominent doctor, were announced in early December. But until the spring, the task force also had help from a separate secretariat of appointees whose names were never publicly highlighted.

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“We were just General Hillier’s team,” said Serge Labbé, a former CAF brigadier-general who served in Afghanistan under Hillier and became his chief of staff for the vaccine rollout.

Records obtained by The Globe show that, although Hillier was paid $20,000 a month for his work, several of the aides out-earned him.

Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force at the time, answers questions from the media at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic March 10, 2021.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Liberal cabinet, not Finance Canada, behind decision to delay law on small-business tax breaks

It was the Liberal cabinet, not bureaucrats at Finance Canada, who decided to delay implementing a new tax break for small businesses, a senior departmental official testified yesterday before a special sitting of the House finance committee.

Ottawa initially said the new tax changes under Bill C-208 wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1, but retreated in the wake of criticism.

“The Minister made her decision and it was implemented,” said Trevor McGowan, director general in the tax legislation division of the tax policy branch of the Finance Department. He and other officials declined to identify the cabinet minister, but Chrystia Freeland, as Finance Minister, ultimately oversees the department.

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A new Alzheimer’s drug is up for approval in Canada. But not everyone is sold

Vancouver neurologist Robin Hsiung has been fielding questions nonstop from patients about when Canada might give the green light to aducanumab, a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s the first Alzheimer’s drug the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved in nearly two decades, and it’s also the first aimed at altering the disease’s trajectory. Health Canada accepted a submission for aducanumab in June. The regulator is now expected to conduct a review before making a decision on its approval.

But not everyone is convinced that Health Canada should follow suit. Doctors like Hsiung say that, without more robust data, the FDA’s approval feels premature.

Subscribe to our Olympics newsletter: Tokyo Olympics Update features original stories from Globe reporters in Canada and Tokyo, will track Team Canada’s medal wins, and looks at past Olympic moments from iconic performances.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Bezos blasts into space: Billionaire Jeff Bezos made a brief jaunt into space, marking a milestone for his company, Blue Origin, which built the spacecraft that lifted him off Earth. The company was founded more than 20 years ago, but this was the first time it sent a vehicle carrying passengers to space.

B.C. declares state of emergency over growing wildfires: British Columbia’s Public Safety Minister, Mike Farnworth, has issued a state of emergency, warning residents to prepare for potential mass evacuations if wildfire conditions worsen. Farnworth said officials told him that “we’ll be facing a few days of very difficult weather in the Interior.”

Explainer: Here’s how bad the air quality is now, and when the smoke is expected to clear

Mark Carney rules out fall election run: Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said he won’t be running for a seat in Parliament if an election is called this fall, citing commitments he has made to rally the financial sector together in the run-up to the UN climate conference.

Trump aide indicted over alleged UAE lobbying: Tom Barrack, who chaired Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, is facing allegations that he conspired to influence the former president’s foreign policy positions to benefit the United Arab Emirates. Barrack was among three men charged in a New York federal court with conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent.

In latest Decibel: The aftermath of George Floyd’s murder sparked a widespread reckoning worldwide, including within corporate Canada. There was a rush among businesses to position themselves as allies, but how much progress has been made towards hiring, retaining and promoting Black talent? Reporter Vanmala Subramaniam joins the podcast to tell the story behind The Globe’s Report on Business survey of the landscape.

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Tokyo 2020 chief prepared to cancel Games if COVID-19 cases spike: Toshiro Muto, the head of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of calling off the Olympics at the last minute if infections get out of control.

TIFF lineup features films starring Amy Adams, Clifford the Big Red Dog: Toronto Film Festival organizers unveiled a slate of buzzy productions, including the musical Dear Evan Hansen, co-starring Amy Adams; the sci-fi thriller Encounter, starring Riz Ahmed; and the children’s film Clifford the Big Red Dog. The festival runs Sept. 9-18.

WestJet exits talks with Ottawa over financial aid: WestJet Airlines broke with competitors such as Air Canada and Transat AT Inc. in opting not to take financial aid from the federal government. Negotiations had taken place for several months, with Ottawa putting low-interest loans on the table in exchange for equity stakes that would have diluted the holdings of existing business owners, among other conditions.


MORNING MARKETS

European markets gain: European stocks rose Wednesday ahead of tomorrow’s European Central Bank meeting. The U.S. dollar neared its year-high and bonds rallied further, as the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant displaced inflation as investors’ primary concern and sent them rushing for safe-haven assets. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.59 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.83 per cent and 1.31 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished up 0.58 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.13 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.89 US cents.


WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Will the G7′s plan to take on China work?

“In the face of China’s increasingly muscular posture on the global economic stage, the United States and its allies clearly have reason to be concerned. Yet effectively addressing those concerns will take more than grand mission statements, pledges of co-operation and investments that fail to match – or exceed – those being made by their economic rival.” - Regina Chi, vice-president and portfolio manager at AGF Investments Inc.

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Jason Kenney is praying for an Alberta Renaissance. There are obstacles

“The most recent quarter was the fourth consecutive in which more people left Alberta than arrived. That’s quite shocking for a province that has led population growth in Canada for years, especially among young people.” - Gary Mason


TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

David Parkins

David Parkins/The Globe and Mail


LIVING BETTER

Fitness rules to live by as lockdowns finally lift

From going beyond setting goals to assembling your A-Team, personal trainer Paul Landini swears by these five fitness rules that will help you emerge from the lockdown refreshed.


MOMENT IN TIME: July 21, 1967

Dedication ceremony held for Saskatchewan’s Gardiner Dam

Control superstructures rise from middle of Gardiner Dam on South Saskatchewan River, circa June 1967.

South Saskatchewan River Project

The South Saskatchewan River Project began in the 1920s as a scheme to draw river water, possibly by pipeline, for Saskatchewan municipalities such as Regina and Moose Jaw. That need assumed an urgency during the prolonged drought of the 1930s. The size and scope of the project were dramatically expanded to include the damming of two rivers (South Saskatchewan and Qu’Appelle), the irrigation of hundreds of thousands of hectares of land, and hydroelectric power generation. Despite the efforts of Liberal agriculture minister and former premier Jimmy Gardiner and Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation premier Tommy Douglas, the federal government balked at supporting the multimillion-dollar project until Saskatchewan’s John Diefenbaker assumed power as Progressive Conservative prime minister in 1957. Construction took nearly a decade and included one of the largest earth-fill dams in the world on the river south of Outlook. At the dedication ceremony, held this day in 1967, Liberal prime minister Lester Pearson paid tribute to the three political personalities behind the project through the naming of the Gardiner Dam, Lake Diefenbaker and Douglas Park. Lake Diefenbaker now serves as a popular recreational area for one of the former prime minister’s favourite hobbies: trout fishing. Bill Waiser

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