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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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is in “the final stretch” of the pandemic crisis with increased vaccine supplies on the way, but variants are complicating the path ahead.

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“Even if the end of the pandemic is in sight, the variants mean the situation is even more serious. We’re entering the final stretch of this crisis. We just need to stay strong a little longer,” the Prime Minister told a news conference Tuesday.

“As we’ve been saying for months, and as we’ve been planning with provinces and territories since last year - the end of March will be followed by an increase in vaccine supply.”

Mr. Trudeau said Pfizer has confirmed they will be moving up shipments of five million doses of their vaccine from later in the summer into June.

He said that will bring Canada’s total of Pfizer vaccines from 4.6 million to 9.6 million doses for that month alone. That’s in addition to other expected doses of the Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

During the same news conference, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said by the end of June, Canada will receive 44 million doses of vaccine.

Mr. Trudeau was also asked about his past support for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine given concerns about possible risks of blood clots. Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending provinces pause the use of the AstraZeneca on those under age of 55 because of safety concerns.

“Health Canada continues to ensure the safety and effectiveness of any vaccine administered in Canada,” Mr. Trudeau said.

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“Our work as politicians is to think about citizens and reassure them on messages we get from experts and the findings from experts and what we have been saying for a long time remains the truth, the reality, the best vaccine for you is the very first one you are offered.”

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, noted the advice on any vaccine or medication can evolve over time. “Canadians should be reassured we have systems in place to detect safety signals, and then analyze them.”

Overall, she also said COVID-19-related hospitalizations are up 6 per cent in the last week and the number of patients needing critical care is up 14 per cent.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

ISIS fight continues: Canada is staying in the fight against the Islamic State group for another year. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced Tuesday that Canada will keep up to 850 troops in Iraq and the surrounding region until next March. The extension comes only one day before the mission, which began in October, 2014, was set to end.

Not political interference: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was wrong to say ordering an independent investigation into a sexual misconduct complaint about the country’s top military commander would have been political interference, an analysis done for the military ombudsman says.

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MPs criticize Facebook execs: Members of Parliament chastised Facebook’s senior Canadian officials Monday after chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg ignored a summons to appear before the House of Commons committee on Canadian Heritage.

Concerns linger over Newfoundland election: Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey now has the majority government he says he needs to tackle the worst fiscal crisis his province has seen since it faced bankruptcy in the 1930s. But the troubled, prolonged provincial campaign that gave him that mandate also created another crisis – this one on democratic legitimacy – that raises questions about whether voters’ rights were met in the unprecedented election.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister also speaks with United Kingdom PM Boris Johnson. Mr. Trudeau tours a City of Ottawa vaccination clinic with the Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson. He also addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 situation and holds a news conference.

Correspondent’s Comment Paul Waldie: “Prime Minister Boris Johnson will likely press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday to join a group of world leaders in calling for a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response. Mr. Johnson and 23 other leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, issued a joint statement about the treaty idea on Tuesday and no doubt they would like to see Canada sign up. The statement said they were “committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines.” That came as surprise to some given that Mr. Johnson and many of the same leaders have been locked in a bitter fight over vaccine supplies lately and that the European Union has threatened to ban vaccine exports. Mr. Trudeau has also had problems accessing vaccine from the U.S. and notably, President Joe Biden, was not among the signatories of the statement.”

LEADERS

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Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole delivers remarks to a Burnaby, B.C. Board of Trade event.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul makes an announcement and holds a news conference on postsecondary education at the Madison Pub in the riding of University-Rosedale.

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the federal government moving to stop opposition MPs from calling Liberal political aides to testify before parliamentary committees: “The battle over aides comes up in minority Parliaments because opposition parties can use their collective majority in committees to summon political advisers and grill them. For the government, that can be distracting. Or embarrassing. Or worse.”

Éric Grenier (CBC) on the political relevance of the “new friendliness” between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault: “A wink and a smile from Legault is not going to win the federal Liberals an election — but a better relationship could make it easier for them to win some of the Quebec seats on their target list for the next campaign.”

John Michael McGrath (TVO) on the proper venue for a fight against the carbon tax: “It wasn’t the federal government or the Liberal Party of Canada that put this matter before judges. It was three provincial premiers, who thought it made for good politics to be seen to be trying to fight a carbon tax even as every expert warned their chances were slim to non-existent. For their trouble, they’ve now helped constitutionally entrench more federal power, not less.”

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André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on parallels between the elder-care systems of Australia and Canada: “You can bet that Canada will soon have more public inquiries than you can shake a stick at examining the pandemic response, and the disaster in long-term care in particular. But before we go too far down that bureaucratic road, we should turn our attention to the findings of the Australian Royal Commission Into Aged Care Quality and Safety.”

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