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The federal government says it will do more to help provinces test for and trace cases of the novel coronavirus.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at his daily news conference that Ottawa will fund those test-and-trace efforts and will commit more of its own resources to the case. For instance, some 1,700 Statistics Canada employees are to make phone calls to help with contact tracing.

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Mr. Trudeau admitted the country has been testing far fewer people than it needs to to contain the spread of the virus. Canadian labs have the capacity to test about 60,000 people a day, he said, but are only testing less than half of that.

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 said he is concerned about China’s plan to impose national-security legislation in Hong Kong that could further curb free speech and human rights in the city. The U.S. criticized the bill, as did Britain and Australia in a joint statement with Canada.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service is warning academic and corporate researchers to be wary of foreign states stealing their intellectual property as they work to fight COVID-19. CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, did not name which foreign state it was worried about. However, the same day that notice was released, U.S. authorities made a similar warning about China.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he wants the House of Commons declared an essential service so it will resume the regular in-person sittings.

And Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz made the case for optimism yesterday in his exit interview with reporters. He said that he thought Canada’s economic recovery would be faster than many observers are expecting. “Where we are today suggests we’re still tracking to our best-case scenario … not the ‘dire’ scenario. I know a lot of people don’t want to subscribe to it, because they fear a worse scenario," he said.

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Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on arguments for a basic income: “The possibility that today’s pandemic-induced mass unemployment may continue for longer than anticipated makes reform of income support both more likely and more urgent. And the general idea of a basic income – a single, unconditional transfer, without the intrusive and bewildering eligibility requirements that demean its recipients and leave many others without – remains as valid as ever. If the CERB isn’t it, a broader version of it might be.”

The Globe and Mail editorial board on testing and tracing: “To safely reopen, Canada needs to give itself better, cheaper and more precise virus-control tools than a society-wide lockdown. Those tools are testing, contact tracing and isolation for cases within Canada, and testing and monitored quarantine for those crossing our borders.”

Hallie Lieberman (The Globe and Mail) on what we can learn about testing and tracing from the porn industry: “Having witnessed the devastation of earlier HIV/AIDS outbreaks in major U.S. cities, the L.A. porn industry took immediate, decisive action, shutting down production and choosing workers’ lives over profit. They turned to experts at top universities to determine the best tests. They conducted contact tracing to ensure that they tested everyone who was exposed.”

John Ivison (National Post) on why Trudeau’s morning news conferences should end and the House should resume: “What we have seen in the last eight weeks is the executive eclipsing the legislative branch of government. Parliament is the umbilical link between the government and the governed. There are many Liberal MPs who grumble privately that their voices are not heard by the small cabal of ministers, advisers and bureaucrats who decide government policy. Parliament gives all its members a platform to voice their concerns and enthusiasms.”

Andrew MacDougall (Ottawa Citizen) on Erin O’Toole, Peter MacKay, and the state of the Conservative leadership race: “A good way to show their mettle in the first task, i.e. being the best Conservative leader, would be to push for the immediate dismissal of Andrew Scheer, the current interim leader. Scheer’s latest stumble over his American citizenship is a timely reminder of how he will only ever receive blame from the press, never any credit for any of the good work being done by the opposition. The sooner he is swapped out for someone with no baggage, the better it will be for the Conservative movement and for the new leader’s prospects.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) with a tongue-in-cheek taking on taking unproven drugs to ward off COVID-19: “And let me tell you, compared to injecting myself with a household cleaner to disinfect my body from the inside – which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t the best thing to do, particularly because I’m now low on cleaner – this medication is extremely easy to take. I just hide it in a piece of cheese or coat it in peanut butter, and I don’t even notice I’ve taken it. And I haven’t suffered any of the side effects they warn you about, including cracked paws or dry snout. The vomiting has been pretty violent, though.”

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