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The approvals of two COVID-19 vaccines last month were a bright spot in a difficult time. They showed there could be light at the end of the tunnel for the nearly year-long public-health emergency we find ourselves in.

But the truth is that the fight against the virus is going badly and it looks like, at least in the short term, things will only get worse.

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Ontario’s associate medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, said the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases is “scary.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the current lockdown could be extended further. Alberta, which has among the highest per-capita cases, and B.C., which is a bit better, are both extending restrictions. Premiers jointly say the federal government needs to do better at providing a reliable supply of vaccines.

Among the most worrying news is that conditions at long-term care homes, which were the sites of horror last spring, are still very vulnerable to outbreaks.

With new variants of the virus possibly hastening its spread, the message from public-health officials to Canadians continues: keep our distances, wear masks and not let the virus find new hosts.

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 says the arrest this week of Hong Kong political leaders by pro-Beijing authorities is an “assault on representative democracy.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau similarly condemned the actions of U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday and said he incited the mob to violence.

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Mr. Trudeau also said in a radio interview this morning that there could well be an election this year.

Statistics Canada’s monthly jobs report shows employment is trending down again, after months of recovery from the early pandemic-fuelled crash.

A dozen foreign-owned airlines have received money through Canada’s wage subsidy, despite also receiving bailouts in their home countries.

Another analysis shows some recipients of the wage subsidy are deep-pocketed companies that could possibly survive without the funds.

Some Canadians vacationing in sunny spots have already been denied flights home due to new rules that they have to show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding.

And Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are gearing up for a possible second impeachment of Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, says he will not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration in two weeks.

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Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the lies that fuelled the violence in Washington: “American political polarization, and its mistrust, helped Mr. Trump promote his unreality. But it could never have succeeded without disinformation propagated by others. Not just political differences, but the embrace of lies and conspiracy theories, which he took up with the birthers, fed against opponents, and fuelled in office. He pushed the notion of a Deep State inside government conspiring against him and winked at messianic QAnon crackpottery. The believers came to the Capitol.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the U.S. President: “[Trump] is, indeed, unbound by constraints of any kind: neither of laws, nor civility, nor even a rational sense of his own interest, but slave only to his desire to consume and destroy whatever frustrates his appetites or wounds his vanity. He has the mental age of an 11-year-old and the emotional age of a five-year-old, and for the past four years he has been President of the United States.”

Omar El Akkad (The Globe and Mail) on the trajectory of America: “But what is more likely than outright war is simply that the occasional frenzy of political violence, the occasional storming of a legislature or attempt to kidnap a governor, will join mass shootings and preventable virus deaths as something this country just learns to shrug off.”

James Hohmann (Washington Post) on the Trump cabinet secretaries resigning this week: “Resigning now feels a little like eating all but the last bite of a piece of cake at a restaurant and then asking for a refund.”

Aaron Wherry (CBC) on politics of providing COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable prisoners: “The simple politics of the issue are still obvious. Most Canadians are eager to receive the vaccine, current supplies are limited and those who commit crimes tend to be viewed as unsympathetic. But the idea that we’re all in this together can’t coexist with the notion that some people are more or less worthy of protection than others.”

Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on Air Canada promoting leisure travel in the pandemic: “Those marvelling over Air Canada’s inability to do the right thing during this spiralling crisis are forgetting that our flag carrier, which was built with public money, has long had a malfunctioning moral compass.”

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