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Ottawa allocated $300-million for the construction of 15 mobile hospitals at the start of the pandemic, but only four 100-bed units have been completed and they are sitting in storage despite the strain on hospitals caused by Omicron across the country.

In April, 2020, Ottawa awarded SNC-Lavalin and Pacific Architects and Engineers a sole-sourced contract of up to $150-million to build five mobile respiratory-care hospitals that can be set up in existing structures, such as conference centres and indoor skating arenas.

A similar multimillion-dollar contract went to Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd. for 10 stand-alone field hospitals that can be deployed either in urban or remote areas.

Catch up with our COVID-19 coverage:

Workers set up a field hospital in the parking lot of Sunnybrook Hospital, in Toronto, on March 17, 2021.Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

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Vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers to take effect; Ottawa calls reversal ‘error’

A day after the Canadian Border Services Agency said an incoming vaccine mandate for truck drivers crossing from the United States would not be going into effect this week, Ottawa said the reversal was all a mistake.

The CBSA’s comment to The Canadian Press, which created much confusion within the trucking industry, “was provided in error,” said a joint statement released late Thursday afternoon by three federal cabinet ministers.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino did not provide an explanation on how the mistake was made.

Prince Andrew’s military titles, royal patronages removed amid sexual-assault allegations

Prince Andrew has given up his military affiliations, including several in Canada, and will no longer use the title “His Royal Highness” as he prepares to face trial in the United States over allegations of sexual assault.

In a short statement Thursday, Buckingham Palace said the changes were made “with the Queen’s approval and agreement,” and that the Duke of York will defend “this case as a private citizen.”

The palace’s announcement came a day after a judge in New York rejected a bid by Andrew’s lawyers to dismiss a case against him filed by Virginia Giuffre, who has alleged that he sexually assaulted her on three occasions when she was underage.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Far-right Oath Keepers members charged with seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 attack: U.S. prosecutors on Thursday charged the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, Stewart Rhodes, and 10 alleged members of the group with seditious conspiracy for their role in the deadly attack on the Capitol more than a year ago. It’s the first time alleged participants in the attack have been charged for attempting “to overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States.”

Toronto, Montreal populations decline as urban exodus accelerates: Toronto and Montreal saw their populations drop over a portion of the pandemic as immigration waned and more residents decamped to cheaper housing markets. The Toronto population declined by about 16,000 and Montreal’s by roughly, 46,700, according to Statistics Canada.

Canada joins Mexico in escalating legal dispute with U.S. over core portion of USMCA: Canada is joining Mexico’s request for a dispute settlement panel to rule on Washington’s interpretation of how much of a car or truck must be made in North America to qualify for duty-free treatment under the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. The renegotiated pact was supposed to seamlessly replace the 25-year-old North American free-trade agreement.

Russia says talks on Ukraine crisis hitting ‘dead end’ as Poland warns of risk of war: Russia says it’s not yet walking away from diplomatic efforts but that military experts were preparing options in case tensions over Ukraine could not be defused. Russian Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich told reporters that talks appear to be hitting a dead end as Moscow tried to persuade the West to bar Ukraine from joining NATO, a demand that’s a non-starter for Washington.


MORNING MARKETS

European markets struggle: European stocks dropped in early trading on Friday after more Fed policymakers signalled they will start to raise U.S. interest rates in March to combat inflation. Around 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was off 0.09 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.66 per cent and 0.70 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.28 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.19 per cent. New York futures were positive. The Canadian dollar was trading at 80.06 US cents.


WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

The Pope’s criticism of childless couples demonstrates a gross ignorance of our times

“There are more existential reasons for not wanting children as well, such as the state of the world. The future young adults face today as a result of climate change is scary enough, let alone what it might be like 30 or 40 years from now for any children they might have.” - Gary Mason

No, Mr. Putin, Russia doesn’t have a ‘sphere of influence’ that gives it Ukraine and Kazakhstan

“... Russian leaders before Mr. Putin did not see the geographic expansion of NATO as a threat, but as an encouraging promise. It was widely assumed by Russian officials in the 1990s that their country would eventually become a member of NATO.” - Doug Saunders


TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


LIVING BETTER

The most underrated, overlooked, and under-promoted movies on Canadian streaming services, for every kind of viewer

For every buzzy release from streaming giants, such as Netflix and Disney+, there are countless more hidden gems to consider adding to your watchlist. The Globe’s Barry Hertz shares some picks.


MOMENT IN TIME: Jan 14, 2011

Tunisian dictator flees his country

An employee of a Tunisian government ministry holds a portrait of former Tunisian president Ben Ali after removing it from offices in Tunis on Jan. 17, 2011.FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images

It was the first victory of the Arab Spring. The long-ruling Tunisian dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled into exile on this day in 2011 after weeks of massive demonstrations. His sudden departure after 23 years of often brutal rule was a historic moment for the entire region, sparking street revolts against the autocratic leaders of many Middle Eastern states and ultimately leading to the ouster of powerful rulers in Egypt and Libya. Ben Ali, a military official who had held several top security posts in Tunisia, had seized power in a bloodless coup in 1987. He was seen as a reformer, but soon became authoritarian. By 2010, there was widespread discontent at his family’s lavish lifestyle and corruption at a time of high unemployment and inflation. In December, street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi doused himself with fuel and set himself on fire, in a protest against police who seized goods from him and demanded bribes. The incident led to 28 days of street protests in Tunisia, known as the Jasmine Revolution. Police with tear gas and riot gear were unable to crush the protests, and Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia. He died there in 2019 at the age of 83. Geoffrey York

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