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Canada and the United States have extended joint restrictions on non-essential travel between their two countries and internationally for another month until July 21, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced Friday.

He also said Canada is still planning to soon significantly ease post-travel quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents and other eligible individuals – a loosening of rules that Ottawa has already said is planned for early July.

Mr. Blair said further details on loosened restrictions for fully vaccinated people will come on Monday.

Senior Parliamentary Reporter Steve Chase reports here.

During a news conference on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked why he had extended the border provisions for a full extra month, and fully vaccinated travellers would not be able to cross the land border more simply.

“We are looking forward to getting back to normal as quickly as possible, but we’re not out of this pandemic yet. We’re still seeing cases across the country and we want to get them down,” he said.

At the same time, he said there is still a drive to hit targets of 75 per cent of Canadians vaccinated with a first dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with a second dose “before we can start loosening things up.”

DEFENDING DEFENCE MINISTER - On another subject, Mr. Trudeau made it clear that he fully supports embattled Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who has been censured in the House of Commons through a symbolic motion supported by the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP.

Mr. Trudeau accused the Conservatives of launching a “crass political attack” on a police officer and decorated soldier who has served three tours in Afghanistan. “Harj is one of the most honest, hard-working people I’ve ever met. His entire career, and now as Minister, he’s been dedicated to transforming the culture of our military.”

The Conservatives say Mr. Sajjan has failed to effectively lead the military on files that include dealing with sexual misconduct in the ranks.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

PAY FOR INVESTIGATORS IN RESIDENTIAL-SCHOLS CASES: SINCLAIR - The federal government should pay for investigators to find out what happened to Indigenous children who died or went missing at residential schools to determine whether crimes occurred and if “cover-ups” took place, former Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair Murray Sinclair says. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Sinclair said a team of experienced investigators would need the power to subpoena records from governments and the churches that ran the schools, and access to the locations.

LIBERALS HELD IN CONTEMPT - Opposition parties voted Thursday to declare the Liberal government in contempt of Parliament for refusing to provide unredacted documents to the House of Commons that could explain the firing of two scientists from Canada’s top infectious disease lab in Winnipeg, amid concerns over their ties with Chinese military research.

NEW SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINATED - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has chosen Mahmud Jamal, a member of Ontario’s highest court and a frequently cited author on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as the newest justice on the Supreme Court of Canada.

OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS REVIEW BODY - The Official Opposition has told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau it will boycott a review body he established to give a select group of MPs and senators access to top-secret information because, they allege, he is using this committee to duck a request for documents from the House of Commons.

URGENT ACTION NEEDED ON SYSTEMIC POLICING RACISM - Systemic racism in policing in Canada is a real and pressing problem to be urgently addressed, the House of Commons public safety committee says in a report released on Thursday.

GOVERNMENT ACTION NEEDED ON PORNHUB AND ONLINE PLATFORMS - Online platforms such as Pornhub have failed to protect people’s privacy and reputation and the government needs to step in, says a new report from the House of Commons ethics committee.

FEDS ACCUSED OF SIDING WITH AIR CANADA The federal government is facing accusations of favouring Air Canada over consumers, as Ottawa lends the airline money to provide customer refunds while Washington seeks to punish the carrier for refusing to give U.S. passengers their money back more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

PARLIAMENT RENO TO CONTINUE UNTIL AT LEAST 2030 - The massive restoration project under way at Parliament’s Centre Block will cost up to $5-billion and continue at least until 2030, federal officials say. The iconic sandstone edifice that sits atop Parliament Hill has seen no major upgrades since its completion in 1927 and is “showing its age both inside and out,” said Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 situation, and holds a media availability. He also meets virtually with students from Nelson Mandela High School in Calgary, and participates in a fireside chat during the 2021 Chinese Canadian Leaders’ Summit.

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on whether a mogul asked a prime minister to change the gambling law: Any day now, a bill that has been the subject of especially heavy lobbying will become law, legalizing betting on a sports game. Sports leagues pushed politicians for it, because they think it means big money for professional teams. Last fall, in the midst of the pandemic, the Liberal government decided to back it, too. But do we know everyone who lobbied the government to get it done? Did Larry Tanenbaum, the individual with the biggest interest in Canada’s biggest teams – including the Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Toronto FC – speak to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, or his aides, to advocate for the bill? We don’t know. They won’t say.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the Green Party airing its grass-stained laundry: This is not over by any means. Ms. Paul could still face a non-confidence vote at the next meeting of the federal council, on July 21. Ms. May was last seen talking up an attempt to persuade Ms. Atwin to return to the party, even as other party members were talking about recruiting her to replace Ms. Paul. Canada’s nicest party is looking nastier all the time.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on the twisted logic behind vaccine lotteries:Count me as cynical when it comes to these bribes, enticements, whatever you want to call them. Why are governments using taxpayers’ money to get people to do something that could save their life and prevent them from possibly passing on a deadly virus to another human being? Handing someone a million dollars to do the right thing seems morally reprehensible.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on the Israel headache Jenica Atwin’s defection earned the Liberals and the podium it gifted Annamie Paul a podium: For many Canadians, this was likely their first time hearing directly from the new Green Leader, who showed she could land blows on Mr. Trudeau’s feminist and progressive credentials with more credibility than the suited men leading the other parties. Indeed, Ms. Paul – who speaks French far better than her predecessor Elizabeth May, doesn’t appear prone to the same gaffes and mishaps, and whose prepolitics résumé arguably outshines those of all of her federal counterparts – speaks from personal and professional experience, which makes her sound like a person, not a political-catchphrase machine. Ironically, Ms. Atwin’s floor-crossing presented Ms. Paul an opportunity to showcase that.”

Mohammed Adam (The Ottawa Citizen) on Doug Ford turns his back on Muslims in the Ontario legislature: At a London vigil for the four Canadian Muslims killed by Nathaniel Veltman, Premier Doug Ford drew cheers when he delivered a moving speech condemning the atrocity, and vowed to stand with Muslims. “We are all shaken by this act, where we are left trying to understand how this could happen in a beautiful country and beautiful province like Ontario,” Ford said. “We know his awful crime was motivated purely by hatred and racism. This type of terrorism cannot and will not be tolerated. We must stand united against it.” Two days later, however, when he had the chance to make his words count, Ford turned his back on Muslims. In the Ontario legislature, the Progressive Conservative government blocked a motion to condemn Islamophobia, revealing the hollowness of Ford’s words, and exposing the hypocrisy of many Conservative politicians on anti-Muslim hate.”

David Staples (The Edmonton Journal) on sparing us from politicians pushing ambitious change during COVID crisis: “Sharks are still circling, our boat is still taking on water, we’re bailing as fast as we can while desperately trying to grasp the instructions on how to start the electric pump, but our politicians keep telling us, “Hey, how about that climate change?” or “How about that equalization mess?”

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