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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is raising the prospect of new measures to deal with the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Mr. Trudeau spoke to the issue on Tuesday as he went to chair a cabinet meeting.

In remarks to the media, the Prime Minister said Canada has “very strong border measures now,” and rules around vaccination for access to the country. “There may be more we need to do and we’ll be looking at it very carefully,” he added.

Five cases of the new variant have been confirmed in Canada – four in Ontario and one in Quebec. Other potential cases are also being investigated. Parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup reports here on the situation.

Mr. Trudeau did not elaborate on measures being considered.

However, the government announced a 4 p.m. EST news conference Tuesday at which ministers and officials were to provide an update on COVID-19 and measures to address the Omicron variant.

Check The Globe’s website later today for coverage of the news conference.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. 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

BILL ON VICTIMS RIGHTS IN MILITARY - More than two years (and two elections) after the Liberal government passed a bill guaranteeing the rights of victims with cases in the military justice system, the law has not been fully enacted – leaving people without basic guarantees and supports during a complex and traumatic process. Story here.

NEW ARMS RACE UNDERWAY - An Austrian diplomat who was one of the architects of a new UN treaty aimed at banning nuclear weapons says the world is in the midst of a new arms race which includes a dramatic expansion of China’s arsenal.

NEW CONVERSION THERAPY BILL TABLED - The Liberal government has reintroduced a bill that effectively bans forcing anyone to undergo conversion therapy, a widely condemned practice aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Story here. The proposed legislation is here.

NEW HEALTH DATA AGENCY NEEDED - The federal and provincial governments must create a national agency to set standards for the collection and sharing of health data to respond more quickly to threats such as pandemics and to improve patient care, a new report says.

B.C. MLA VS. DICAPRIO - In a series of tweets, Skeena, B.C. Liberal MLA Ellis Ross called out Hollywood heavyweight Leonardo DiCaprio for his allegedly “misinformed” comment in support of the Wet’sutwet’en Coastal GasLink pipeline opposition. “You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Ross told DiCaprio on Twitter. “Give me a call. I’ll tell you the other side of the story as an Aboriginal leader who was on the front of this project from day one.” Story from Global News here.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS - Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Nov. 30, accessible here.

FRASER IN GUATEMALA - Immigration Minister Sean Fraser is in Guatemala to meet with Filippo Gradi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and high-level representatives for Central American countries and the United States. Mr. Fraser is also attending the annual ministerial meeting of the Central America and Mexico Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework.

NG HEADED TO WASHINGTON - International Trade Minister Mary Ng, joined by members of the opposition, will be visiting Washington, D.C. from Wednesday to Friday to meet with congressional leaders and stakeholders to advocate for Canadian workers and industry in light of harmful Buy America and electric-vehicle provisions. According to an advisory, unfair softwood lumber duties and trade challenges facing potato exports are also on the agenda.

COMMITTEES BEFORE CHRISTMAS - Government House Leader Mark Holland says he is in talks with his counterparts in other parties to launch committees required to review legislation. I think I have every expectation that we’re going to be able to have committees up and running before the Christmas break. I think that’s reasonable, but there are details that we still have to get together,” Mr. Holland told journalists monitoring Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

BICYCLE POLITICS - When is a bicycle more than just a bicycle? The issue arose in the House of Commons on Monday when Conservative MP Ed Fast took issue with a bike hanging on the wall behind Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault as the minister participated virtually in Question Period. Mr. Fast, the member for Abbotsford, told House Speaker Anthony Rota that he felt Mr. Guilbeault was contravening the rule against the use of props by those speaking in the House. “Presumably, he was trying to make a statement about his environmental cred. What the minister has done is blatantly use a prop, because he is now doing it from the safety of some other room,” Mr. Fast said, asking Mr. Rota to rule on the issue. Meanwhile, Manitoba New Democrat Daniel Blaikie piped up: “I stand in the House dumbfounded. Only a Conservative could see a bicycle as a partisan symbol.” Mr. Rota, in response, said he was asking all members, whether in the House or appearing virtually, to make their background as neutral as possible.

THE DECIBEL - Today’s edition of The Globe’s daily podcast features The Globe’s science correspondent Ivan Semeniuk discussing what is currently known about the new Omicron variant and what it could mean about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available. Listen here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister chaired the cabinet meeting. The Prime Minister also attended Question Period, and participated in the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Also, the Prime Minister was scheduled to speak with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

The Deputy Prime Minister spoke virtually with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, and also attended the cabinet meeting and Question Period.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet replies, in the House of Commons, to the Speech from the Throne.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole replies, in the House of Commons, to the Speech from the Throne.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, held a news conference, attended Question Period and was to meet with the Fédération des Communautés Francophones et Acadienne du Canada.

PUBLIC OPINION

CANADIANS AND THE QUEEN - A new study from the Angus Reid Institute finds a full majority (55 per cent) of respondents in a survey say they support Canada’s place in the monarchy with the current Queen – who next year is expected to mark 70 years as Canada’s head of state. This drops to just 34 per cent with her assumed successor Prince Charles as the hypothetical king. Detailed results here.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on what Canada has to do at the border, and elsewhere, to beat Omicron:Most preliminary information suggests that Omicron may be closer to the best-case scenario. But that’s not a settled fact, and won’t be until well into December. And even the best-case scenario could be somewhat worse than the status quo. A variant that is more contagious is most dangerous for the more than three million Canadian adults and teenagers without even one shot. If Omicron is more contagious, then Canada’s pandemic of the unvaccinated could be amped up by its arrival. That’s why Canada has to once again put the pedal to the metal on the most basic pandemic-fighting measures: Universal masking in indoor public places, pumping lots of fresh air into those spaces, and doing everything possible to get first shots into the unvaccinated and booster shots into most everyone else.”

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on why we need to be ready for Omicron, but not assume the worst: “Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, patience and calm are in short supply. But a stoic, nuanced response is exactly what we need as we digest the unwelcome news that yet another variant – B.1.1.529, or Omicron – has been unleashed on the world. The World Health Organization has warned that Omicron poses a “very high risk” of fuelling the perilous and precarious pandemic, but its actual effect remains to be seen. In other words, we need to prepare for the worst, but not assume the worst.”

Chris Alexander (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Russian President Vladimir Putin is poised to strike in Ukraine and that war could spill out onto the world stage: “Indeed, analysts now believe Mr. Putin is poised to strike. The stakes are high. Invasions of Belgium and Poland triggered world wars only after earlier opportunities to prevent them were missed. We cannot afford to repeat those mistakes. Only credible security guarantees, backed by NATO or similarly robust groups of allies, can deter wider conflicts in places such as Ukraine and Taiwan, just as sanctions against Pakistan could have prevented the return of the Taliban and other terrorists to power in Afghanistan.”

Kathryn May (Policy Options) on mental-health struggles as a growing share of disability claims in the public service: “The public service has conspicuously stood apart for years for having a higher proportion of mental-health claims than other employers. Mental health, led by depression and anxiety, is by far the biggest driver of claims, followed by cancer as a distant second at 11.5 per cent of claims. All employers, however, are bracing for an increase in mental-health issues as the pandemic eases and they shift to a hybrid workforce.”

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