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. Pun intended.
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WHAT'S THE SCOOP?
Hello 2021! The new year may have just started, but there’s sure a lot going on already. Let’s jump in. While you were abiding by COVID-19 restrictions and (trying to) enjoy Christmas alone in your apartment, some provincial and federal politicians were travelling to tropical locales, despite widespread travel restrictions. This story started with Ontario’s finance minister — who resigned after returning from a Caribbean vacation. More out-of-country trips soon emerged (find a full list here)… so many, in fact, that shaming politicians on vacation has been described as “Canada’s newest spectator sport.” Travellers included Senate Opposition Leader Don Plett, NDP MP Niki Ashton (she lost her cabinet critic positions because of the trip), and six UCP MLAs in Alberta. For more on the anger around all this, listen to 🎧this episode of Front Burner. And in related news: anyone applying for federal sickness benefits to cover COVID-19 quarantine now needs to say if they are in quarantine because they travelled outside the country.
Let’s rewind now, to a month ago, when the first Canadians received doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Since then, more than 328,797 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada, meaning 0.846% of the Canadian population has received at least one dose (follow these numbers with this detailed vaccination tracker). The vaccine rollout has been slower than other countries, with experts saying vulnerable populations are being left at risk. Plus, with the rollout of vaccinations up to individual provinces and territories, the situation is fragmented (as many predicted it would be). Check out 🎧this pod detailing the current challenges and what can be done about them. On a brighter vaccine note, we love 📷this photo of nurses carrying in Moderna vaccines to the remote Indigenous community of Ahousat, where the community honoured them with a ceremony before vaccinating several members.
To the United States now, where there’s A LOT going on. A violent mob recently stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. at President Donald Trump’s encouragement, trying to stop Congress from affirming president-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Five people died. PM Trudeau has weighed in on all this, saying that the “shocking, deeply disturbing, and frankly saddening” event was “incited” by Trump. And Twitter has permanently suspended U.S. President Donald Trump's account, citing the risk of "incitement of violence." What happened in the U.S. has raised questions in Canada about the potential threat of far-right groups, with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calling for the Proud Boys (an extremist organization founded by a Canadian) to be declared a terrorist organization. Members of the group were present at the attack on the Capital. In response, public safety minister Bill Blair has said Canada could soon be adding more groups like the Proud Boys to Canada’s list of recognized terrorist organizations.
Immunizing Inmates: One more note on vaccines: 600 federal inmates with underlying health conditions or who are seniors have begun receiving vaccines. While that’s left Conservatives outraged, public safety minister Bill Blair says the decision isn’t a political one, but is based on guidance from public health professionals.
Somber Situation: A grim anniversary was recently marked. It’s been one year since Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down in Iran, killing 176 people, including 138 with ties to Canada. The PM’s special adviser on the crash, Ralph Goodale, says Canada is skeptical about Iran’s version of events and is pursuing the facts on its own.
Program Problems: Sixty-one people got to celebrate New Year’s with appointments to the Order of Canada, including rock singer Art Bergmann, public health researcher Dr. Vivek Goel, engineer Gina Cody and Indigenous legal scholar John Borrows. In total, 175 people were picked for the prestigious civilian honour last year. But despite diversity-boosting efforts, most of the new appointees were white men.
Language Longevity: The federal government is hiring one commissioner and up to three directors for the country’s first Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages. It’s a move national organizations representing Inuit and Métis people are welcoming. The office was established through the Indigenous Languages Act, which has the goal of preventing further erosion of Indigenous languages in Canada.
WHAT ELSE WE'RE NIBBLING ON
New year, new us! We’re taking some time to dive deep into longer stories, including this one about conspiracy theory QAnon coming to Canada. We’re also into this feature and photos detailing how, amid Nova Scotia’s lobster wars, an Indigenous fishery is charting a new path forward. And on a lighter note… remember all that politician pandemic travel we told you about at the beginning? An Alberta couple who won more than $8.7 million in a 50/50 draw (!) for the World Juniors told CTV News: "I wish we could be going on a hot vacation, but we’re not politicians so we’ll do that when the time’s right."🔥