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For almost a year now, global health experts have been issuing a stark warning to Canada and other wealthy countries: Ensure that COVID-19 vaccines reach the poorest corners of the world – or dangerous new coronavirus variants will inevitably emerge.

Now, with the arrival of Omicron, designated a variant of concern, that prediction has come true. Omicron has been detected in a dozen countries worldwide, including Canada. The Ontario government reported two cases Sunday, involving individuals in Ottawa who recently travelled to Nigeria.

While the exact origins of the variant may never be known, it seems almost certain to have emerged in a region with a low vaccination rate, probably in Africa, where only 7 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, writes The Globe and Mail’s Africa bureau chief, Geoffrey York.

Read more:

Travellers queue at a check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Nov. 27, 2021, after several countries banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant Omicron.PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP/Getty Images

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‘An extremely volatile situation’: Abbotsford, B.C., residents on evacuation order as constant rains threaten to flood southern parts of the province

Water from the Nooksack River breached a dike in Washington State Sunday afternoon and was expected to cross the border into Abbotsford, where almost 100 more households have been put on evacuation order.

The province is preparing for the third in a series of storms, expected midweek, which B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said could be the most intense since the heavy rainfall of two weeks ago that paralyzed Southern B.C.

Farnworth said the province is prepared to use the Alert Ready emergency-notification system if communities feel there is an imminent threat to life or public safety. B.C. has been criticized for not using the system in natural disasters and other emergencies.

Read more coverage on the B.C. floods:

Sexual violence as a weapon of war spreads to new regions in Ethiopia

As Tigrayan fighters march closer to Addis Ababa in a military offensive that threatens to topple the Ethiopian government, disturbing evidence of brutal abuses is emerging from some of the towns and villages captured by the rebels.

The evidence, gathered by human-rights researchers and The Globe and Mail, suggests that Tigrayan soldiers have perpetrated the same kind of sexual violence documented among the Ethiopian and Eritrean troops the rebels have been fighting for the past year.

The Tigrayan military advances have already prompted many foreign diplomats and United Nations staff to evacuate from the Ethiopian capital.

More: Sudan says six of its soldiers have been killed in fighting at border with Ethiopia

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Afghanistan’s ambassador remains in Ottawa with no government to report to: Hassan Soroosh has found himself in limbo. More than three months since the Taliban’s takeover in August, Ottawa still lists him as Afghanistan’s ambassador, but he has no government to report back to. Soroosh is trying to keep the embassy open with limited funds and no support from Kabul, and he and his family have no prospects of returning to their homeland in the immediate future.

More: Immigration Minister offers no timeline on Afghan refugee resettlement as desperation grows

Who is the real Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein enabler or unwitting pawn?: As the socialite’s trial in the U.S. kicks off Monday, jurors will be faced with a key question: Was she an unwitting pawn of Jeffrey Epstein’s manipulations or an opportunist who knew all about his sex crimes? Prosecutors in New York will argue that even as Ghislaine Maxwell was enjoying cocktails with the likes of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, the 59-year-old was secretly abetting Epstein’s crimes with girls as young as 14.

GM Marc Bergevin out in Montreal as Canadiens shake up front office: In a major push to clean house, the Montreal Canadiens have fired general manager Marc Bergevin, along with assistant GM Trevor Timmins and Paul Wilson, a communications executive. Mere months after the Habs advanced to the 2021 Stanley Cup final, the team now finds itself mired in on-ice struggles.

Cathal Kelly: Post-Cup-run comedy of errors in Montreal lands on Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin

How Bridging Finance fooled Bay Street – and hundreds of millions of dollars disappeared: Natasha and David Sharpe won the confidence of many investors, coming across as masters of risk with a bulletproof loan portfolio that was churning out stable, sizable yields. Bridging Finance seemed to find a sweet spot in debt markets: lending to mid-sized Canadian companies that had been ignored by the big banks. But Alejandro Cardot, a financial consultant and money manager, wasn’t entirely buying the company’s pitch and set off on a deep dive into its claims.

Backgrounder: What is Bridging Finance and who are its leaders?

Listen to The Decibel: What’s stopping people from buying cannabis-infused drinks: When recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada, the industry expected a huge market for infused beverages. But even as the big alcohol players got into the market alongside cannabis producers, weed drink sales seem to have gone bust. Globe business reporter Irene Galea joins the podcast’s new host, Menaka Raman-Wilms, to discuss what’s hindered the market’s growth and what the problems could mean for the industry’s future.

Investment bankers up for large bonuses amid busy flow of deals, competitive job market: Year-end bonuses on Bay Street are expected to balloon by as much as 20 per cent this December – and more in some cases – as financial institutions look to head off fierce competition for talent by boosting payouts after a year of frenzied deal-making. Filings show the Big Six banks accrued a combined $14.6-billion for variable or performance-based compensation through the first three fiscal quarters of 2021, which ended July 31.


MORNING MARKETS

Global markets look to stabilize: A semblance of calm returned to world markets on Monday as investors waited for more details to assess the severity of the Omicron coronavirus variant on the world economy, allowing battered stock markets and oil prices to recover. Just after 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.99 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.60 per cent and 1.04 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 1.63 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was fell 0.95 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.48 US cents.


WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

John Horgan leads a province under siege while dealing with his own personal crisis

“Forest fires, heat waves and now catastrophic rains that have led to unimaginable destruction and caused five deaths – B.C. has seen it all in 2021. And Mr. Horgan has had to deal with the tragic events of the last week while coping with his own personal health crisis.” - Gary Mason

Short-term boon to Alberta’s finances belies ever-present, bigger, longer-term problem

“There will be new expectations for spending – including for an overwhelmed health care system, or to meet climate targets. And politically, at least in the short term, it will make it much more difficult for the Alberta government to make any forlorn arguments to Ottawa on the fiscal stabilization or equalization programs.” - Kelly Cryderman

As a Chief, I have visited more than 300 reservations. I don’t want to see any more broken windows

“The problem of broken windows goes far beyond the visual sight or, for that matter, the cost of a new window. A broken window is a reflection of the lifestyle of the family inside that house. A boarded-up window is also an indication of the broken spirit of that rez.” - Clarence Louie, Chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band


TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

David ParkinsDavid Parkins/The Globe and Mail


LIVING BETTER

A less angry Rick Mercer looks back in his newly published memoir Talking to Canadians

Anger was once Rick Mercer’s schtick. He earned plaudits for his trademark routine, “The Rant,” a high-octane kvetch delivered straight to camera. Though the 52-year-old may be in the statesman phase of his career, he can still sharpen his blade when necessary, writes The Globe’s Simon Houpt.


MOMENT IN TIME: Ontario parts with coal

The second of four smokestacks, known as the Four Sisters, crumbles during a controlled demolition in Toronto, June 12, 2006.STRINGER/CANADA/Reuters

For more than 100 years, photographers and photo editors working for The Globe and Mail have preserved an extraordinary collection of 20th-century news photography. Every Monday, The Globe will feature one of these images. This month, we’re looking at the causes of air pollution.

For 44 years, the quartet of towering smokestacks at the Lakeview Generating Station in Mississauga served as a local landmark that boaters dubbed the Four Sisters. In its heyday, the coal-burning plant provided about 17 per cent of Ontario’s electricity needs, while adding significantly to air pollution in the Toronto region. By the time a new century dawned, a series of technical improvements had substantially reduced the station’s emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. But carbon dioxide proved to be its undoing. The station was shut down in 2005 as part of Ontario’s plan to eliminate coal from its energy sector. On June 6, 2006, the stacks were toppled in a 20-second demolition that marked the end of an era. Ivan Semeniuk

Subscribers and registered users of globeandmail.com can dig deeper into our News Photo Archive at tgam.ca/newsphotoarchive


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