Starting Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will scale back his daily press conferences that Canadians have become used to since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in March. The briefings have already been dwindling in recent weeks, but Mr. Trudeau confirmed Monday that his daily updates - as well as those from Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, and her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo - will also be scaled back. Updates will now be provided a few times a week as Canadians head into their pandemic versions of summer vacation.
The COVID-19 lockdowns across the country choked off 11.6 per cent of Canadian real gross domestic product in April, the biggest one-month economic downturn on record, Statistics Canada said Tuesday. But Statscan said its preliminary data suggest that the economy grew by about 3 per cent in May, as virus containment measures began to ease and some businesses reopened. The data confirms economists’ view that the worst of the economic damage is behind us.
The European Union announced Tuesday that it will reopen its borders to travellers from 14 countries, including Canada, but most Americans and travellers from Russia, Brazil and India will continue to be refused entry. In addition to Canadians, citizens from the following countries will be allowed into the EU’s 27 members and four other nations in Europe’s visa-free Schengen travel zone: Algeria, Australia, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
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Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is urging Canadian political leaders to prepare for a post COVID-19 world by adopting bold economic and social policies including a dramatic increase in immigration, a serious productivity agenda and concrete action to address systemic racism and the injustices faced by Indigenous people. Speaking to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Mulroney said Canadians need fresh new thinking from Mr. Trudeau and provincial premiers to confront the economic damage caused by the pandemic and the treatment of Canada’s Indigenous people – which he called the country’s most pressing social issue.
Pro-democracy groups are calling on Canada to modify immigration and refugee rules to accommodate a possible exodus of Hong Kongers as China’s parliament passed national-security legislation Tuesday. Hong Kong Watch, a Britain-based watchdog group, is pressing Canada and other Western countries to provide safe harbour elsewhere in the world for residents of the Asian financial centre. The proposals include modifying work and study visa programs to make it easier for Hong Kong residents to work and study abroad – and offer a pathway to citizenship – if needed.
Mr. Trudeau is refusing to commit to repatriating dozens of Canadian citizens detained in dire conditions in Syria. At least 47 Canadians including eight men, 13 women and 26 children are detained in Kurdish-run camps and prisons in northeast Syria because of their alleged ties to the Islamic State terrorist group, according a new report from Human Rights Watch. Speaking in Ottawa on Monday, Mr. Trudeau said that while Canada is trying to provide consular services to its citizens, the government’s priority is the safety of Canadian diplomats, who would likely need to enter northeast Syria to help with any repatriation efforts.
Federal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc said democracies around the world must unite in a collective, global effort to fight online disinformation. Speaking to a panel discussion hosted by the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University, Mr. Leblanc said the Liberal government learned a lot from defensive measures against so-called “fake news” in advance of last year’s federal election. He said Canada’s experience would be of help to the U.S., which is no stranger to election interference from domestic and foreign bad actors both domestic and foreign.
WE Charity has received a series of exclusively sole-source contracts from the federal government over the last three years, according to government records obtained by The National Post. The charity, which has close ties to Mr. Trudeau and his family, made headlines in recent days after the federal government announced it had outsourced a $900-million federal student volunteer grant program for WE to administer. The charity will receive at least $19.5 million in fees for the work.
Frank Ching (The Globe and Mail) on how China’s ‘wolf warrior’ diplomats are not winning Beijing any friends: “From Canada in the far north to Australia in the southern hemisphere, China is stoking the flames with its assertive and ruthless diplomacy – a surefire formula for alienating friends and losing influence. It is time for China to change tactics and adopt new policy goals. The thuggish behaviour associated with its diplomacy is repulsive to traditional diplomats – and should be an embarrassment to such a major power.”
Don Martin (CTV News) on a leadership report card in a time when leadership is needed the most:: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Now numbering almost 90 pandemic news conferences and counting, you can’t deride the Prime Minister for a failure to communicate. It would’ve taken Stephen Harper 90 years to match that level of media availability. But it’s become a very expensive list of daily announcements and there’s scant attention on paying off a tab the next two generations might not be able to afford.”
John Ivison (The National Post) on Mr. Trudeau’s latest feel-good message about the COVID-19 mission: “But nobody should be under any illusion that the mission has been accomplished. In the Public Health Agency’s early models, it suggested the death toll could be 22,000 people, if the infection rate was 5 per cent over the course of the pandemic. Canada’s infection rate is currently around 4 per cent (103,250 cases from 2.6-million tested). That suggests that we will have a period of respite before second and third waves claim more lives.”