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Evening Brief: COVID cases in Canada on downward trend


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Good evening to you.

We begin with good news on the COVID-19 front: For the first time in months, cases are on a downward trend. That was the word today from Canada’s chief public health officer, who said the virus’ reproductive number (Rt) has dropped below one — something that hasn’t happened since mid-July.

“However, Rt has only just fallen below one nationally, and still may be at or above one in some areas,” Dr. Theresa Tam told a technical briefing. “To bring the epidemic under control, Rt needs to be maintained consistently below one.”

(Andrew Meade/iPolitics)

However, it’s a sign that vaccinations and public health restrictions are working. “The efforts we’ve made give us reason for optimism,” Tam said. “But we must remain mindful for the need for continued caution in the months ahead.”

She cautioned that COVID is “unlikely to disappear entirely, and there could continue to be bumps along the way,” particularly as we enter the winter months.

In the Northwest Territories, however, the COVID crisis continues, as it leads the country in per capita cases. Today, Saskatchewan also saw another big spike in cases.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole listens to a question during a campaign stop in Jonquière, Que., on Sept. 15. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

A review of the Conservatives’ election campaign is underway, and how Leader Erin O’Toole responds could determine whether he keeps his position, strategists say. After the Conservative Party of Canada’s first caucus meeting on Tuesday, O’Toole announced that defeated Edmonton Centre MP James Cumming will conduct a “360 review” of the Tory campaign. Former Harper-era cabinet minister Christian Paradis will help on the French-speaking side.

The review will likely examine the party’s ground game and organization, its messaging and digital campaign, and the effectiveness of the leader’s tour, said Kate Harrison, vice-chair of Summa Strategies and a former Conservative party staffer. As Rachel Emmanuel reports, some say the review should consider that the Conservative party became “more Liberal” to win seats in the GTA and Quebec, but lost votes and seats.

Canada’s employment numbers are back to pre-pandemic levels after the country added 157,000 jobs in September. The boost to the labour market last month builds on the 90,000 jobs gained in August, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey released this morning. The unemployment rate fell to 6.9 per cent from 7.1, and the participating rate, which refers to people who are working or seeking work, rose slightly from 65.1 per cent to 65.5 per cent. That story from Jeff Labine.

Amid criticism from high-ranking veterans that Canada is not acting fast enough to help at-risk Afghans leave their country, there is word that Canadian officials, along with diplomats from other western countries, met with representatives of the Taliban in Qatar yesterday to talk about humanitarian aid as the country teeters on the brink. In an interview that will air Sunday on CTV, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Canada is willing to give aid money to the UN and other NGOs to help Afghans, but will not be handing it over to the Taliban.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford pictured getting his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Toronto on June 24 (Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

In Ontario, the provincial government wants to make permanent the rules that were loosened for businesses because of the pandemic — meaning cannabis delivery, extended patios, and more government services provided remotely could be here to stay. The proposal is part of Bill 13, the Supporting People and Businesses Act, which Nina Tangri, associate minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, tabled yesterday. Charlie Pinkerton has the details.

Another day, another story of military missteps where sexual misconduct is concerned: The latest is that Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan has ordered a probe after an ex-officer who was accused of sexual misconduct landed a job at the naval base in Halfax. CBC News has that story.

Net Zero: Climate change exacerbates resource depletion, conflict

In Other Headlines:

No decision yet on whether Chelsea Manning can visit Canada (CBC)
Canada-wide vaccine passport: TBD (Politico)
British Royal Navy, Canadian Coast Guard sign deal on Arctic co-operation, training (CP)
Elections Canada confirms Bloc win over Tories in Trois-Rivières after recount (CP)
A joint naval exercise in the Pacific sent a stark warning to China (CBC)
RCMP union warns Mounties of consequences if they don’t get vaccinated (CBC)
External review finds ‘toxic’ workplace environment persists at Mint (CBC)
Quebec professional orders should get tough with members as jab deadline nears: Dubé (CP)
CRA says it’s ‘exploring’ new data leak in wake of Pandora Papers (CTV)
B.C. MLA says ‘Alberta influence’ a factor in lower COVID vaccination rates in the north (CP)

Internationally:

The White House has shut down an attempt by former president Donald Trump to withhold documents from Congress related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden has informed the National Archives that he is not asserting executive privilege on an initial batch of documents related to the insurrection. That authorizes the Archives, the government agency that holds records from Trump’s time in office, to turn over an initial batch of documents requested by the House committee investigating the riot.

“As we’ve said previously, this will be an ongoing process and this is just the first set of documents,” Psaki said. “And we will evaluate questions of privilege on a case-by-case basis, but the President has also been clear that he believes it to be of the utmost importance for both Congress and the American people to have a complete understanding of the events of that day to prevent them from happening again.”

Still south of the border, Biden became the first U.S. president to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day, signing a proclamation recommitting to respecting Indigenous sovereignty and human rights. The day will fall on October 11 – the same date Columbus Day is observed.

In Other International Headlines:

Journalists from Philippines, Russia given Nobel Peace Prize (AP)
ISIS bomber kills 46 inside Afghan mosque, challenges Taliban (AP)
Report finds Trump’s DC hotel lost $70m during his presidency (BBC)
China orders immediate jump in coal output (Reuters)
Finland follows other Nordic countries by suspending Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (AP)
Facebook to act on illegal sale of Amazon rainforest (BBC)
Over 130 countries clinch a deal on minimum corporate tax rate (NPR)

In Opinion:

Stephen Van Dine: To retain talent, Ottawa must manage the changing workplace

The Kicker:

As anyone who has seen it can probably painfully relate, iconic composer Andrew Lloyd Webber says he hated the Cats movie so much and was so distraught after watching it, he went out and bought a therapy dog.

Still with things that are uncomfortable: it’s Thanksgiving this weekend, and in addition to the regular political tensions around the table, we also have COVID to crank it up a notch. But if you’re looking to avoid that — any chance of catching the ‘rona — the answer is yes: you should ask family members if they’re vaccinated before letting them through the door.

On that note, we wish you a wonderful feast. We’ll be back here Tuesday.

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