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.
Follow The Feed on Instagram to get a little more #cdnpoli on the side.
We’re looking ahead to two provincial elections (so far) this year: Ontario, on June 2, and Quebec, on October 3 AND municipal elections in Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia. Want to help us get the word out? Sign up to volunteer here!
WHAT'S THE SCOOP?
New year, same old problems. COVID-19 is sweeping across the country and causing surging cases, and it’s feeling a bit like 2020 all over again. Thanks to the omicron variant, virtual classrooms are back, hospitalizations are up, there’s a newly expanded lockdown benefit, and businesses big and small are closing their doors, as all those COVID-19 cases cause major staff shortages. Unlike 2020, though, there is a bright spot: we have vaccines! They’re “the only way we know to get through COVID-19, this variant and any future variant,” says federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. He says provinces and territories could soon implement mandatory vaccination policies, but some premiers are already saying no way. PM Trudeau, meanwhile, recently spoke about Canada’s unvaccinated people. While Canada is near the top of the list of countries with the highest vaccination rates, Trudeau says the unvaccinated remain a problem and fellow Canadians are growing angry and frustrated with unvaccinated people.
Now to a story we’ve been talking about for a while: discrimination in the Indigenous child welfare system and calls for compensation. The federal government and First Nations leaders have just struck a $40 billion agreement-in-principle. If approved, it would be the largest financial settlement of its kind in Canadian history, and it would settle years of court battles, including a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case and class-action lawsuits. The agreement involves $20 billion to compensate young people harmed by Canada’s child welfare system and $20 billion for reforming the system that took First Nations children from their communities for decades. Listen to this pod to hear from Dr. Cindy Blackstock, a First Nations advocate who led the fight for change. She details the long fight to treat Indigenous children as equals, and explains why she’s not celebrating just yet.
Got any 2022 goals? PM Trudeau does. In a statement to mark the New Year, he outlined his gov’s priorities for the year. He wants to continue working together to put this pandemic behind us (yes please!), to move “faster than ever” to fight the climate crisis, and to make further progress toward addressing the impacts of residential schools and of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. In his own words, PM Trudeau says: “Drawing on the hard lessons of the past two years, we will finish the fight against this pandemic and rebuild a Canada that is stronger, fairer, and more equitable.” On the opposition side, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is focused on inflation and the rising cost of living. The NDP celebrated some small wins with tweaking the Liberals’ pandemic response and look to do more of the same in 2022.
So rewind to last May, when the U.S. complained that Canada is interpreting trade rules around dairy imports to unfairly favour Canadian processors. A dispute settlement panel that looked into the allegations just issued its report, and says Canada’s practices are inconsistent with the commitments in the Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade deal. So what? According to the Cheese Council of Canada, it could mean more American cheese on Canadian shelves.
Compensation for Canadians
The families of six people who died in Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 — intentionally shot down by Iran’s military — have been awarded $107 million by a court in Ontario. While lawyers say the decision is “unprecedented in Canadian law,” it’s not known how the legal team plans to collect compensation from the Iranian government. And on the recent two-year anniversary of the downing of Flight 752, families renewed their calls for justice.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and his wife Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu welcomed a baby girl on January 3, a day after Singh’s birthday. “Momma bear and baby are healthy and our hearts are filled with gratitude,” he posted on Insta. Singh, who has previously campaigned for new parents to have better benefits, says he is planning to take some paternity leave.
Gov. Gen. Mary Simon recently announced 135 new appointees to the Order of Canada. It’s one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, recognizing people who make “extraordinary contributions to the nation.” Read about the new appointees here, from former senator and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Murray Sinclair, to the first Canadian woman hired as a pilot by a national airline, Judy Cameron.
WHAT ELSE WE'RE NIBBLING ON
A private chartered party flight from Montreal to Cancun. Lost? Videos on social media showed the passengers — described as Quebec influencers and reality show stars — flouting COVID-19 rules aboard a Sunwing Airlines plane, not wearing masks, drinking, vaping, and even crowd-surfing. People were pissed, and PM Trudeau called the party “a slap in the face” to Canadians. A few of them have already been fired from their jobs and the departments of Transport, Public Safety and Health are all investigating, with the federal government saying it’s sent files about the travellers to Quebec's public prosecutions office. Officially a fiasco.