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A panel put together by the World Health Organization is urging countries around the world to develop and invest in pandemic early warning systems, similar to the one Canada shuttered a year before COVID-19 hit, saying such systems are crucial to support the world against future crises.

The panel’s findings echo concerns about Canada’s handling of its own operation, known as the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, or GPHIN. A Globe and Mail investigation found that Ottawa curtailed its pandemic early warning unit prior to COVID-19, which federal scientists have said hurt the country’s ability to respond to the outbreak.

Read more: ‘Without early warning you can’t have early response’: How Canada’s world-class pandemic alert system failed

More pandemic coverage:

China points finger at U.S. as WHO experts offer vindication to Wuhan lab

Public-health officials urge caution as more cases of COVID-19 variants detected across Canada

New COVID-19 vaccine-tracking system from Deloitte has launched, Ottawa says

Health Canada approves Pfizer vaccine label change, recognizing six doses per vial

John Ibbitson: More than a century later, Canada misses the mark with another shot

A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) during an executive board meeting on update on the coronavirus outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File PhotoDenis Balibouse/Reuters

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U.S. Senate votes to allow Trump impeachment trial to begin

Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial opened with a video of the then-U.S. president whipping up a crowd at a rally, followed by images of his supporters beating up police officers, smashing windows and ransacking the Senate chamber in their deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building.

Senators voted 56 to 44 yesterday to proceed with the trial for incitement of insurrection, rejecting an effort by Trump’s lawyers to argue that a former president cannot be subject to impeachment. Six Republicans joined all Democrats in the vote.

David Shribman: “In their drive to convict Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, the Democrats are ripping a page from Margaret Atwood, another from Ernest Hemingway and a third from Anton Chekhov. Their strategy to punish the 45th president for his role in the January rampage at the Capitol is to employ a venerable literary technique: Show, don’t tell.”

RCMP under scrutiny for officers using knee to neck in arrests

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki is facing calls to issue a clear directive on officers using a knee to the neck technique to subdue people after an Indigenous woman said Mounties in Saskatchewan caused her physical harm by placing a knee on her neck during her arrest.

In a statement, the RCMP said it does not teach or endorse any technique in which officers place a knee on a person’s head or neck.

The incident along with others is shining a spotlight on police use of excessive force against Indigenous people and whether systemic racism exists within the police force.

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Trudeau asks ministers to ensure visa application system secure: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’s asked his immigration and procurement ministers to ensure the Canadian government can guarantee the safety of its visa application system after The Globe and Mail reported that in Beijing, Chinese police own a company that collects details of people applying for visas to Canada.

Also: Canadian spy chief calls China strategic threat

Cannabis comeback: Why pot sector is booming despite no news: Cannabis producers were shut out of capital markets in 2019, reeling from writedowns sometimes worth hundreds of millions of dollars and struggling to forecast any profits for the foreseeable future. Yet, after all of that, cannabis companies are roaring back. In some cases, they are worth more than ever.

Alberta, First Nation reach land preservation deal in heart of oil sands country: The Fort McKay First Nation and the Alberta government have reached an agreement to protect about 103,000 hectares of land that is crucial for the community and is its last pristine refuge in a region surrounded by oil sands development.

Head of B.C. museum steps down: The chief executive officer of the Royal British Columbia Museum is stepping down as the museum is under investigation over allegations of systemic racism.

TSN shuts down all-sports radio in three cities amid rolling Bell Media cuts: TSN Radio axed its all-sports radio stations in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton on Tuesday, telling listeners in an online posting that it “was a difficult decision, but the realities of the quickly evolving broadcast media landscape in Canada have made this change unavoidable.”


Global shares gain: World shares rose to new highs overnight with market sentiment generally upbeat on the prospect of fiscal stimulus and vaccine rollouts and ahead of a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Around 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.17 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.09 per cent and 0.05 per cent, respectively. Japan’s Nikkei ended up 0.19 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.91 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.75 US cents.


Editorial Board: “[M]any employees don’t have access to paid sick leave. If they take a couple of days off to get a COVID-19 test and isolate while awaiting the result, they could be docked a couple of days’ pay, or worse. Their choice is stark: go to work while sick so as to collect a vital paycheque, or stay home and suffer a financial penalty for the sake of the greater good ... So how are Ottawa and Ontario responding to this obvious driver of the pandemic? The feds and the province are dickering over who should do something about it.”

Eric Reguly: “ESG investing is getting bigger by the day but hardly rules the market. Shedding dirty assets is the right strategy. But don’t for a second think a cleaner mining company means a cleaner planet.”

Cathal Kelly: “With people’s attention elsewhere, the Leafs have enjoyed an unprecedented period of underobservation. They are free to do their jobs without several million volunteer general managers hanging off their hips like clingy boyfriends. What we are seeing right now is what the Leafs look like in their natural hockey habitat, undisturbed by outside civilization.”


Brian GableBrian Gable/The Globe and Mail


When the timing is right, these woodsy winter getaways are ideal for pandemic-friendly down time

During these stressful times, there are isolated year-round spots across Canada where, when local travel restrictions allow, you can get away from it all for a weekend and find some true peace and quiet. Here, ideas to inspire that next getaway, whenever it may be.


Eaton Centre in Toronto on opening day, February 10, 1977. Photo by Dennis Robinson / The Globe and Mail.Dennis Robinson/The Globe and Mail

Toronto’s Eaton Centre opens

Throngs of looky-loos turned up for the ribbon-cutting. They cheered the bagpipers who marched down the immobilized escalators. They cheered Eaton’s board chairman John Craig Eaton. “Few applauded the bankers,” the next day’s Globe and Mail noted. Any applause was a change of pace for the Toronto Eaton Centre: The developers caused an outcry with an earlier proposal to knock down the old City Hall building. The glassy $250-million project – just up the street from the spot where Timothy Eaton opened his dry-goods store in 1869 – was an attraction in itself. The Art Gallery of Ontario loaned paintings to hang in the mall. Newspaper ads promoted it as a “place to go downtowning.” The retailer’s operations took up 19 of the 26 storeys in the adjoining office tower, and 1.1 million square feet in the mall itself. Just before the opening, Eaton promised the new flagship would be “the model for all department stores that will be built in the next 20 years.” Those two decades were not kind to the department-store business – these days, the name on the mall remains, but Eaton’s is history. – Susan Krashinsky Robertson

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