Welcome to The Feed! Your bi-weekly resource to Canadian politics and policies broken down into itty bitty (super witty) bite-sized knowledge by Apathy is Boring.
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Explore the Art of Change with us at the PWR UP virtual festival on April 15!! Art is used to build community, instigate dialogue, share lived experiences and connect people: all fundamental building blocks of democracy! Click here for deets and tix.
WHAT'S THE SCOOP?
We recently reached a grim pandemic milestone: Canada surpassed one million COVID-19 cases. It comes amid a concerning third wave of new infections in several of our most populous provinces (looking at you Ontario, Quebec and B.C.). The numbers are driven in part by new virus variants that are causing young people to get sicker, faster. In response, some premiers are imposing new restrictions, from a month-long emergency shutdown in Ontario to a three-week circuit breaker in B.C. Check out who’s doing what here. Meanwhile, the vaccination rollout continues across the country — nearly 15 per cent of the Canadian adult population has received at least one dose. But should we be rethinking who gets priority for pokes, given the current situation? Some experts say it’s time to start vaccinating younger Canadians.
Now, to the ongoing troubled relationship between China and Canada, where there’s an awful lot going on. We told you last time how Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig finally had trials, but they weren’t exactly transparent affairs. What else is up? Well, PM Trudeau announced Canada is hitting Chinese officials with sanctions, alongside the U.S. and U.K., because of mistreatment and abuse of China’s minority Uyghur population. After that, one Chinese government official headed to social media to call Trudeau a “boy”, among other insults. Also, Beijing responded by imposing sanctions on Conservative MP Michael Chong. He’s the one who started the House of Commons motion to declare the treatment of Uyghurs a genocide. Listen here for an interview with Chong on what’s going on, and read here about why Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau compares dealing with China to standing up to a schoolyard bully.
Let’s end with the Supreme Court of Canada and its ruling on the federal government’s carbon tax. Well... what happened?! In a 6-3 decision, the country’s highest court said the federal price on carbon is entirely constitutional and does not violate the rights of individual provinces. "The undisputed existence of a threat to the future of humanity cannot be ignored," wrote Chief Justice Richard Wagner. Whoa. Quick refresh: the case involved Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta arguing the Liberal government’s price on pollution was a federal overreach. So now what? Check out this carbon tax explainer, covering everything you need to know about how carbon pricing works and what it means for you. And on this pod, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson discusses how the gov will make the policy work, considering it still doesn’t have a national consensus.
Finally — finally! — we have results in Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial election. The Liberals, with leader Andrew Furey, were re-elected with a slim majority. Wait… wasn’t election day February 13? Yep, but COVID-19 caused a chaotic campaign, cancelled in-person voting and forced a sudden shift to mail-in ballots. Fun fact: Furey's government is the fourth incumbent government to secure re-election during the pandemic.
So the federal gov recently got a report card on its pandemic preparedness, surveillance and border-control measures, and the grades aren’t exactly glowing. Auditor general Karen Hogan’s findings include that the Public Health Agency of Canada “underestimated” the potential impact of COVID-19, plus there were shortcomings with the pandemic early-warning system and how border restrictions were applied.
Looking to Lead
A Canadian millennial is running to lead the United Nations. Srsly! Meet Arora Akanksha, a 34-year-old UN auditor who will challenge incumbent UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. She told CBC’s Power & Politics she’s running because she believes the UN isn’t living up to its full potential.
The pandemic has been good for at least one sector… housing. National average home prices are jumping, making housing further out of reach for first-time buyers (like youth) in certain markets. So should the government step in to help cool our hot housing market? That’s the focus of this Party Lines podcast on the massive generational divide in the housing market.
WHAT ELSE WE'RE NIBBLING ON
While Newfoundland and Labrador’s election experience may have turned off others eyeing spring elections, it’s a different story for our national statistics agency. The 2021 census is still a go starting next month, says StatsCan, even as several provinces tighten public health restrictions. Speaking of looking ahead, the gov is making plans to strengthen our vaccine manufacturing capacity. After all, our ability to manufacture vaccines here at home has been an issue this whole pandemic. But this move will take some time, like several years. The feds are spending $415 million, in partnership with Sanofi Pasteur Ltd. and the Ontario government, to build a vaccine facility in Toronto, expected to be running in 2027.
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