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Good morning, iPolitics readers.
— Ottawa makes U-turn on truckers: The federal government is changing course on its vaccine mandate for truckers, just days before it was set to take effect, the Canadian Press reports. A border services spokeswoman said not-fully-vaccinated truckers will not have to quarantine. In November, Ottawa had said they would need to be fully vaccinated by this Saturday in order to avoid a quarantine.
— Kady O’Malley looks ahead to the rest of the day in politics with iPolitics AM: “A day after the House FINANCE committee unanimously agreed to launch a wide-ranging investigation into the root causes — and consequences — of inflation, their colleagues on the ACCESS TO INFORMATION, PRIVACY AND ETHICS committee are set to assemble via webcam to discuss whether to proceed with a Conservative-initiated bid to probe the Public Health Agency of Canada’s use of mobile location data as part of its pandemic tracking protocols.”
— Canada needs more electricity to meet net-zero targets: A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds that Canada will need more electricity capacity in order to meet its climate commitments. It said hydro, wind, solar, and nuclear power must be maximized in order to meet net-zero emissions targets, warning that Canada would need to double or triple the power generated from non-emitting sources to meet Ottawa’s pledges. That will require federal regulation, it said.
— More than 7,000 people in Quebec registered for their first COVID-19 vaccine dose this week after Premier François Legault announced a “significant” financial penalty on the unvaccinated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said provinces are “right” to explore vaccination incentives, but said he needed to know more about Quebec’s specific plan before deciding whether or not to support it.
Meanwhile, civil rights advocates interviewed by The Globe criticized the plan and said it faces serious legal hurdles. And an analysis by CBC News’ Aaron Wherry concludes that a tax on the unvaxxed would be unwise and ethically questionable.
— RCMP union supporting unvaxxed members: The RCMP’s union says it is currently representing a “very small” number of employees fighting Ottawa’s vaccine mandate. The RCMP won’t say how many Mounties are on leave due to the vaccine mandate and the union wouldn’t specify how many cases it is representing. CBC News has more.
— ‘Isolation within isolation’ for prisoners: The Hill Times spoke to experts who say that inmates, who are vulnerable to COVID outbreaks, are being kept in prison for longer, because the pandemic has prevented them from progressing on correctional plans. They are also facing up to 23.5 hours per day in a cell, according to one criminology expert interviewed.
— U.S. campaigner calls for Kazakh sanctions: The American-British financier Bill Browder, who was behind the global Magnitsky sanctions campaign, is now calling on Canada and other Western nations to sanction Kazakh leaders including President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, over alleged human rights abuses.
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AROUND THE WORLD
— Landmark Syria torture trial in Germany: Former Syrian intelligence officer Anwar Raslan, who was tracked down in Germany after entering as an asylum-seeker, has been convicted for crimes against humanity and will serve a life sentence. In the world’s first criminal case brought over state-led torture in Syria, the German court was expected to declare the Assad regime itself guilty of crimes against humanity.
Read more about Raslan, and the thrilling story of the (actual) Syrian refugee who tracked him down after spotting him in a refugee camp, here.
— Russia and NATO remain at an impasse: Despite four hours of talks yesterday, officials said they were still far from agreement, with “a great amount of divergence on fundamental questions,” per the Russian deputy foreign minister.
Also yesterday, U.S. Senate Democrats unveiled a bill to impose sanctions on senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, if Moscow does invade Ukraine. And the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) accused Russia of orchestrating Europe’s gas crisis.
Prime Minister Trudeau yesterday said that Russia may face further Western sanctions as a consequence of its troop buildup on the Ukraine border, and appeared to confirm the renewal of Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine.
— Elsewhere: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized for the lockdown party at his house. British Olympic athletes offered temporary phones over China spying fears. A senator and a soldier were killed in separate attacks in the restive anglophone regions of Cameroon, which is currently hosting the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament. Anti-vax protesters tried to storm Bulgaria’s parliament. Prince Andrew sexual abuse lawsuit to go ahead after bid to dismiss it rejected by judge. Top U.S. Republican slams Biden speech as unpresidential. Australia equals hottest day on record at 50.7°C.
IN OTHER HEADLINES
WHAT WE’RE READING
ICYMI FROM IPOLITICS
CARTOON OF THE DAY
Strong winds left otherworldly sculptures in the frozen sand along the shores of Lake Michigan last weekend.