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Finally some good news in the fight against COVID-19: Pfizer says its experimental vaccine has tested as 90 per cent effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put it in his morning news conference, however, this is a light at the end of the tunnel – but we’re not at this light yet.

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More testing will be required before the vaccine is deemed safe, including approval by Health Canada. And then enough of the vaccine will need to be manufactured, distributed and delivered into the arms of Canadians for the spread of the virus to really slow.

That process will take many months yet, Mr. Trudeau said. And in the meantime, COVID-19 cases are spiking dramatically. Across Western and Central Canada, provinces and cities are seeing record numbers of cases, a situation that is likely only to get worse due to the exponential spread of the virus.

“The vaccine won’t help you or your family if you catch COVID now," he told reporters. "We need to hang on. The next months are critical.”

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.


Mr. Trudeau also congratulated Joe Biden on winning the U.S. presidential election, and said Canada could work with the incoming administration on files such as climate change and pressing China to release the two detained Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who today marked 700 days in prison. The Liberal government is hoping, however, that Mr. Biden will reverse his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Mr. Trudeau also gave a special shout-out to Kamala Harris, the vice-president-elect. “For so many people in Canada and around the world, seeing a woman – and a Black and South Asian-American woman – elected as the next vice-president of the United States is an inspiration and a reminder that everyone’s voice belongs in politics," he said. (Ms. Harris is also, of course, the first vice-president-elect to have gone to high school in Montreal.)

Airlines will only get a federal bailout when they refund customers for flights cancelled due to COVID, Transport Minister Marc Garneau says.

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Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is hoping that the Senate will fix the Liberal bill to extend the rent subsidy for small businesses, which currently requires business owners to come up with the money for their rent before they can get federal aid. The Liberals tried to change that, but a late-stage amendment was ruled out of order as the bill sailed through the House.

Canadian Pension Plan premiums are going up because of a Liberal plan to expand CPP payments in retirement.

As the federal government works to bring the online streaming services under regulation, Corus CEO Doug Murphy says domestic producers should get their Canadian-content obligations relaxed. “No one’s telling Netflix where to spend their money,” Mr. Murphy said. “Why are we being told where to spend our money?”

And although major TV networks, world leaders and figures such as former president George W. Bush have declared Mr. Biden the president-elect, Donald Trump continues to not take his loss well. Mr. Trump has not given a concession speech, and is reportedly scheduling rallies to fight against the illegitimacy of the results. Some Republicans have urged him to accept the results of the election, while many more told him on TV to keep fighting.

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on why governments need to double-down on public-health lockdowns: “Canada is now recording more than 4,000 new coronavirus cases daily, double the peak we saw in the spring. It will be 5,000 daily by the end of the week. And next week, 10,000? At some point, there has to be a realization that, if you want to halt the spread of a pandemic illness, half-measures are not sufficient.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Trump’s next steps: “The most important question is about the next days, or weeks, and whether Mr. Trump will try to obstruct the transition of power, or gee up his supporters to contest the legitimacy of Mr. Biden’s election.”

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Zeynep Tufekci (The Atlantic) on the next Trump: “The attempt to harness Trumpism – without Trump, but with calculated, refined, and smarter political talent – is coming. And it won’t be easy to make the next Trumpist a one-term president. He will not be so clumsy or vulnerable. He will get into office less by luck than by skill.”

Andrew McCarthy (National Review) on supporting Trump’s policies more than the man himself: “How maddening that he never recognized the majesty of the presidency, befitting its awesome duties, as something to rise to, as something worth striving to be worthy of. He never seemed to grasp that the great power of the presidency is that when the president speaks, it means something — and that forfeiting this power is ruinous. He never seemed to understand that, in a country where we like to like our president, when your policies are more popular than you are, you’ve got a problem.”

Debra Thompson (The Globe and Mail) on what Kamala Harris’s win means for Black women: “For those who have always seen themselves reflected in the many and varied halls of power – teacher, manager, executive, professor, prime minister, president – I don’t know if I can convey to you what it’s like to have a life largely devoid of that experience. What it does to your psyche to constantly hear that you can be anything you set your mind to but to never actually witness it come to pass for people who share your identity. To never see anyone who looks like you reach those occupations that we like to tell our children are available to all people, regardless of race or gender.”

Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on Harris’s challenges ahead: “Still, her historic election as vice-president is only significant to the extent that America’s ruling class respects her authority in that role. If she’s undermined at every turn because of her race or gender, then she could very well find herself swallowed up by Washington’s swamp.”

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