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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is holding off on giving his stamp of approval to the domestic use of documents that confirm COVID-19 vaccination, drawing a distinction between that idea and international passports.

At a news conference, Mr. Trudeau said there is already a “well-established practice” internationally of proof of vaccination for some diseases.

But he said he is concerned about the domestic use of documents to confirm someone has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“When it comes to distinguishing people who have been vaccinated and others who have not within our own country, there are questions of fairness and justice that come into play,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau said, that despite hopes that everyone is vaccinated, he was concerned about discrimination against those who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated.

“The idea of certificates of vaccination for domestic use to decide who can go to a concert or who can go to a particular restaurant or engage in certain activities does bring in questions of equity, questions of fairness,” he said.

Marieke Walsh reports here on the federal government’s chief science adviser releasing a report with recommendations on whether and how Canada should implement COVID-19 vaccine passports.

Mr. Trudeau also spoke to election speculation – comments worth keeping in mind depending how things play out in coming weeks or months. With a slightly exasperated tone, the Prime Minister said, “I understand that the opposition parties and parliamentary journalists have elections on their mind. I am not thinking of elections right now. My priority is COVID-19. It’s this pandemic. It’s rebuilding the economy as quickly as possible.”

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Canada’s job market snapped back in February, undoing close to all the damage inflicted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a Thursday appearance before the House of Commons finance committee, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland urged the opposition parties to wrap up debate on legislation to approve emergency support measures announced in the fall economic update, but faced pushback from the Conservatives over plans to raise the debt ceiling to $1.8-trillion.

The acting chief of the defence staff is vowing to focus on changing the culture in the Canadian military during his time as top commander, as two military police investigations are under way into now-retired general Jonathan Vance and Admiral Art McDonald, who initially replaced the former defence chief.

WE Charity is raising a roadblock to their co-founders testifying before a parliamentary committee looking into last summer’s controversial proposed federal student volunteer program.

Policy-makers in Canada need to keep supportive measures in place as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic before turning to debt management, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said Thursday.

Opioid-related overdose deaths increased by nearly 60 per cent in Ontario in the first 11 months of 2020, bringing renewed calls for a provincial overdose strategy. B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan also had their worst years on record for drug deaths in the period since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

A woman who was incarcerated at a federal correctional institution has launched a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of herself and other women, citing a systemic failure to protect them from sexual abuse.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says for the first time Canada is to have a pool of money dedicated specifically to “active transportation” – upgrading bike paths, pedestrian walkways and bridges, and nature trails.

OTTAWA ROUNDUP

  • Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan appears before the standing committee on National Defence on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.
  • Former prime minister Stephen Harper speaks to the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence.
  • The pandemic put a dent in the number of free trips accepted by MPs in 2020. Only seven, all in January or February, down from over 40 in 2019, according to a report out on Thursday from Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion: https://t.co/tT1SzlcuiP

POLLS

A new Angus Reid Institute poll on Alberta suggests the opposition NDP under Rachel Notley are slightly ahead of the United Conservative Party under Premier Jason Kenney, 41 per cent to 38 per cent. The next provincial election is scheduled for March 1, 2023. CBC reports on the poll here.

The You Gov international research data and analytics group has a new poll of Britons out that suggests public opinion of Harry and Meghan has fallen to a new low after the Oprah interview.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Remarks on COVID-19 and a news conference.

OPINION

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on challenges facing Erin O’Toole: “The Conservatives are starting to act like a party comfortable in opposition, happier beating ideological drums than in doing the hard work needed to win a plurality of ridings. This makes Mr. O’Toole look weak, which in politics is fatal.”

Jane Philpott and David Walker (The Ottawa Citizen) on a proper COVID-19 recovery plan for all citizens: “We need care plans for society in all its manifest complexity, plans specific to sectors, particularly for those vulnerable populations that suffered disproportionately in the pandemic. Their plight predated COVID-19 and has been magnified. Recovery will be more difficult.”

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on how the urban-Northern divide has produced a tale of two vaccination efforts for Indigenous people: “We know this virus has further exposed the strong inequities that had already existed in our society; in different ways, the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, the homeless, people of colour and precarious workers. Now, we know that the 80,000 Indigenous peoples living in Toronto are not being equally served with a robust parallel vaccine rollout here or in Thunder Bay, which so many First Nations, Métis and Inuit call home, having left their home communities.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Celina Caesar-Chavannes and seven other eminent Canadians (The Globe and Mail) on how we’ll live differently once the world returns to normal: “I will live differently by stubbornly ensuring that we learn all the lessons we need so that we are never caught so unprepared again in the event of another pandemic. I have more than 2.5 million reasons worldwide – more than 22,000 reasons in Canada – fuelling this compulsion. These tragic death tolls brought back terrible memories of people dying alone during the Ebola crisis, and these lost lives will drive me to fight fiercely for dignity in death.” – Joanne Liu, a physician and the former international president of Médecins sans frontières.

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