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Hello,

The military general in charge of Canada’s vaccination logistics says we are currently in a period of “scarcity” of COVID-19 vaccines, but things will “ramp up” starting in April.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin told reporters at the midday news conference that January-to-March is Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout, in which frontline health-care workers and vulnerable populations are given priority.

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April to June is Phase 2, in which the general population will begin to get inoculations. At that point, Maj.-Gen. Fortin said, Canada will receive one million doses a week of approved vaccines. More supply could come, too, if other vaccine candidates are approved by Health Canada.

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Michael Spavor, one of the two Canadians who was arbitrarily arrested by Chinese authorities in 2018, has been able to speak to family members for the first time since he was detained.

Canada has accepted another 14 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists as refugees, as they flee Beijing’s crackdown on opposition voices.

African countries could face a much longer COVID-19 pandemic because they are having difficulty accessing vaccines that are being bought up by higher-income countries.

The federal government said it will move ahead on complying with a human-rights tribunal order related to the care of Indigenous children even while seeking a judicial review of the ruling, a situation that the minister responsible admitted was “uncomfortable.”

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has kicked MLA Pat Rehn out of the United Conservative Party caucus after complaints from local officials in the riding that Mr. Rehn rarely attended constituent meetings and was poorly briefed whenever he did attend.

Two groups representing Black members of the Conservative Party say they are working to increase the diversity of the federal party and say the strong showing of Leslyn Lewis in last year’s leadership race is a boost to their message.

The head of Radio-Canada spent most of December in Miami, taking care of a property and spending time on vacation.

And Twitter’s CEO says it was the right decision to ban Donald Trump from the platform, but it is not one he “feels pride” about.

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s confusing new lockdown rules: “When asked why he chose not to implement a curfew such as the one recently enacted in Quebec, Mr. Ford said he didn’t support the idea of ‘the police chasing you down the street’ when you pull out of your driveway at 8 p.m. But the new stay-at-home order means that police could theoretically chase you down the street now at 2 p.m., or 7 a.m., or anytime you pull out of your driveway and they suspect you are leaving home for an unsanctioned reason.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s rotating door of foreign affairs ministers: “Someone dealing regularly with Canada’s foreign affairs department throughout the 21st century would have talked to Lloyd Axworthy, John Manley, Bill Graham, Pierre Pettigrew, Peter MacKay, Maxime Bernier, David Emerson, Lawrence Cannon, John Baird – the only one, at four years, who had a decent tenure – Rob Nicholson, Stéphane Dion, Chrystia Freeland, François-Philippe Champagne and, after Tuesday’s cabinet shuffle, Marc Garneau. Most of those ministers were highly capable – and that’s the problem. The title Minister of Foreign Affairs confers great prestige, but little responsibility. Too often they are transferred soon after arriving to a department with more urgent needs.”

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Lori Turnbull (The Globe and Mail) on Navdeep Bains leaving politics to focus on his family: “For many ministers, as well as many Canadians, the goal of a healthy balance between home and office, and the peace of mind that would come with it, has proven elusive.”

Alex Neve (The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s recent moves against companies using forced labour in China’s Xinjiang region: “Among the extensive litany of human-rights violations, concerns about forced labour programs for Uyghurs are prominent. Numerous investigative reports point to cotton production as a notable example. And so it makes sense that Canada’s measures concentrate on forced labour.”

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on the regional development agencies’ activities during the pandemic: “The half-dozen regional development agencies – long dismissed by cynics as bastions for pork-barrel politics – have shown their value in getting money directly into the hands of local small businesses when they desperately needed it. They have also increasingly served as go-betweens to help businesses tap into the bewildering array of supports from other government departments.”

Andrew Potter (Policy for Pandemics) on why Canada has been good at financial supports, and less good at vaccine logistics: “What the pandemic has revealed about the Canadian welfare state is that it is basically little more than a giant insurance scheme. The global geopolitical lottery has made us rich, and we are able to use that wealth to insure ourselves against enormous losses. But what we don’t seem inclined to do is take the steps that would protect Canadians from those losses in the first place.”

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