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U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has a big to-do list of executive orders when he takes office on Wednesday – and high on the list is blocking expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Cancelling the pipeline – which brings Canadian crude down to U.S. refineries – became a major goal of environmental proponents early in the last decade. It was blocked by then-president Barack Obama in 2015, then cleared by President Donald Trump in 2017. Now, it appears, it is back off the table under a Biden administration.

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The federal and Alberta governments have expressed disappointment in the decision, saying the pipeline will create jobs in the energy sector. Alberta made a $1.5-billion investment in the pipeline last year, along with a multimillion-dollar debt guarantee, despite Mr. Biden’s campaign pledge to block construction if elected.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


Canada is condemning the arrest of Alexey Navalny, a Russian opposition leader who has been a persistent thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin. Mr. Navalny was arrested upon returning to Russian soil yesterday, after recovering for five months in Germany for an attempted assassination. Russian authorities had shut down the airport at which Mr. Navalny arrived so that crowds could not come to welcome him home.

The Liberal government is making final revisions to its planned crackdown on hate speech on social media. The plan, to be presented to cabinet soon, could see the creation of a new regulator to police online content.

A hospital scheduled to open just north of Toronto next month is being directed to focus exclusively on COVID-19 patients as other Ontario hospitals struggle with mounting cases.

The Conservatives and the NDP say they would like the Liberal government and Pfizer to explain at the health committee why drug-pricing regulations have been delayed – and why the drug maker suggests access to COVID-19 vaccines might have been part of the delay discussions.

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Canada will see worse delays than Europe of COVID-19 vaccine shipments due to Pfizer’s production-plant changes.

With the Biden administration expected to try to bring allies into its conflict with China, observers say Canada may have to take more forceful action against the Asian country.

At least three publicly traded Canadian resources companies operate in China’s Xinjiang region, where there is increasing concern about the imprisonment and forced labour of the area’s Uyghur population.

The Boeing 737 Max airliner is cleared to once again fly in Canada as of Wednesday.

A former FBI official said it took Canada far too long to stop former naval intelligence Jeffrey Delisle from selling secrets to Russia, and pinned the blame on a lack of co-operation between Canada’s spy agency and the Mounties.

The FBI is investigating whether a participant of the U.S. Capitol riot stole a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in order to sell it to Russia.

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And while many Canadians now know about the time that U.S.-vice-president-elect Kamala Harris spent living in Montreal as a teenager, less well known is how she rescued a high-school friend from an abusive ste father.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (The Globe and Mail) on how to dismantle anti-Indigenous racism: “Due to generations of colonialism, racism and intergenerational trauma, Indigenous people unfairly experience a higher burden of chronic disease, which increases their risk of dying from COVID-19. Indigenous people require urgent access to the vaccines because of these circumstances. These are truths grounded in evidence.”

Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on the federal Liberals and the West: “The tension between the wealth that oil has created for the country, and the fact many Liberals don’t like to think of their Canada being an oil producer in the leagues of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia or Iraq, is unresolved. Economic unrest and high unemployment have contributed to Western autonomy and separation movements that to now have limited reach – but could some day present a challenge to mainstream political leaders.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the world waiting for Joe Biden’s leadership: “Outside the United States, four years of Donald Trump created a thirst for American leadership that many countries probably never expected to feel. Mr. Trump threatened South Korea that he’d withdraw a missile-defence system that defends the country against North Korean attacks. He threatened Canada he’d destroy its economy if it didn’t renegotiate NAFTA.”

Debra Thompson (The Globe and Mail) on Trump’s legacy: “As the sun finally sets on 45th presidency of the United States, we can safely say that what has transpired over the past four years has been a full-scale assault, using the extensive arsenal of tools at the state’s disposal, on racialized and vulnerable populations in American society. It has been a political agenda of relentless and catastrophic cruelty.”

Rupa Subramanya (National Post) on the persistence of Canada’s class divides: “The progressive left loses the plot when it forgets issues of class, perhaps because, ironically, its greatest proponents are the Laurentian elites themselves, who are blind to their own class privilege. The right, which espouses equality of opportunity rather than equalizing outcomes, must do better in acknowledging the persistence of class bias in Canada, while acknowledging that much progress has been made elsewhere in our society.”

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