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Hello,

Only in this pandemic era would the results of a clinic trial be a major news story, but here we are: Moderna, a U.S. pharmaceutical firm, says its latest data show its proposed COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective.

In more good news, the proposed vaccine shows no ill side effects so far and can remain stable at normal refrigeration temperatures for a month – which will greatly help distribution, if the medicine is eventually approved by health regulators.

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It follows news from Pfizer that their vaccine candidate is also progressing through trials successfully.

Both companies are among the drugmakers that Canada has signed deals with to secure millions of doses of supply when the time comes.

Today’s announcement offers hope that we are moving one step closer to eventually finding a way out of the months-long public-health emergency we are in.

That said, the journey to widespread vaccine use will not be easy. Canada is in the middle of a rapidly worsening COVID situation, and new cases and hospitalizations continue to climb. Infectious-disease experts are urging governments to enact new lockdowns to push case counts down to zero.

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.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Bob Rae, the Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, said on the weekend that what the Chinese government has done to Uyghur people would fit the definition of genocide. A Chinese spokesperson, in turn, said no, it’s Canada that is committing genocide.

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The Liberal government says it plans to require broadcasters to include Indigenous programming, as part of the reforms being made to the Broadcasting Act. “One could argue that it is one of the main elements of the reform to correct this historical mistake,” Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault told The Globe.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is asking the federal government to dramatically increase spending on a program that buys out struggling hotels and turns them into affordable housing.

The House of Commons finance committee may soon be able to get back to work, after the Liberals have agreed to end a weeks-long filibuster by providing more unredacted documents related to WE Charity.

Two independent expert reports say that solitary confinement has continued at Canadian prisons, despite a new government policy put in place last year to end the practice.

New documents shed light on how Canada helped rescue the White Helmet volunteer medics from Syria – but raise questions about why 10 people and their families have been left behind.

And former U.S. president Barack Obama has a new book coming out this week: A Promised Land, the first part of his two-part presidential memoirs. In a Q-and-A with The Atlantic, Mr. Obama describes what he sees as a democracy under threat by conspiracy theories spread by a fragmented media landscape and accelerated, though not began, by Donald Trump, whom he at one point refers to as a “carnival barker.” “If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false,” he says, “then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work.”

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Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on attempts to make U.S. president-elect Joe Biden change his mind about Keystone XL: “Both the feds and Alberta government privately think saving the pipeline is a long shot. There are glimmers of hope: The project has significant union backing, and Mr. Biden is closely allied with labour. But the president-elect’s campaign promise was unequivocal. And many Democrats support it.”

Craig Alexander (The Globe and Mail) on planning for an economic recovery: “However, the current crisis also creates an opportunity to fundamentally rethink public policy as a catalyst for long-term prosperity. It is not adequately understood that Canada was not on the path to prosperity before the pandemic. An aging work force, low investment and poor productivity meant the sustainable pace of economic growth over the next decade would be only 1.7 per cent a year. As a result, the improvement in Canadians' standard of living would be slow. But bold policy changes now can create stronger sustained growth.”

Erna Paris (The Globe and Mail) on when freedom has limits: “Like the French, many Americans hold rigid commitments to absolute free speech – and to freedom in general. But it is precisely this foundational ideology of libertarian freedom that is propelling what was the world’s most admired nation into tragedy.”

Jean Teillet (The Globe and Mail) on enduring calls to pardon Louis Riel, her great granduncle: “The Métis Nation has never sought state clemency for Riel because, in their view, Riel doesn’t need exoneration. Canada does. Canada would not be exonerating Riel. It would, like Trump’s pardon, be exonerating itself. Perhaps the better move would be for the Métis Nation, in the spirit of reconciliation, to convene a process to consider exonerating Canada.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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