Morning Brief: Tam and Trudeau to address Canadians

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Good morning,

Tam and Trudeau to give year’s first COVID update: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chief public health officer Theresa Tam will hold a hybrid briefing to update Canadians on the COVID-19 situation. They will be joined by Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Tam’s deputy, Howard Njoo. The prime minister is also set to hold a call with premiers next week to discuss pandemic measures.

Kady O’Malley writes in iPolitics AM: “Given the renewed restrictions on indoor dining, retail capacity limits and other commercial activities, as well as the temporary pause in in-school learning, indoor dining and other measures across the country, Freeland should be prepared to outline exactly how her government intends to support businesses and workers affected by the latest measures.”

Canada loses first dispute under ‘new NAFTA’ pact: The U.S. defeated Canada in the first dispute under the new North American trade pact, known as CUSMA or USMCA. The U.S. had said Canada was not fairly implementing changes it promised related to dairy quotas. A panel made up of a Canadian trade lawyer, a U.S. trade layer, and a Uruguayan diplomat sided with the U.S. in the dispute. Canada could face trade tariffs if it does not comply within a few weeks.

Meanwhile, Trade Minister Mary Ng and Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau framed the ruling as a win for Canada, saying it was “overwhelmingly in favour of Canada and its dairy industry,” because it “expressly recognizes” Canada’s right to regulate its dairy market.

Antisemitism special envoy calls out Bill 21: Canada’s special envoy on combating antisemitism, Prof. Irwin Cotler, has called Quebec’s secularism law banning teachers and other public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols at work “discriminatory” and said it authorizes state interference in religion. Cotler, a former justice minister and attorney general, said the province’s law breaches both Canada’s and Quebec’s charters of rights and freedoms.


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COVID curfews in India: As India’s third wave of the pandemic arrives, Delhi and Mumbai — its two largest cities — have both brought back curfews and other restrictions. Nearly a third of India’s 58,000 cases reported on Wednesday came from those two cities. Quartz India reports: “Much like India’s second wave of covid, the ongoing third wave coincides with a hectic election season.”

Beijing seals Olympic bubble: China sealed off Beijing’s Winter Olympics “bubble” yesterday, where thousands of staff and volunteers will stay for weeks with no direct access to the outside world. Some 3,000 athletes, as well as the international media, will head straight to the bubble when they arrive and remain there until they leave the country.

In other COVID/sports news, Australians are furious about the vaccine exemption that tennis player Novak Djokovic obtained to enter the country for the Australian Open.

Gas prices spike in Europe, Kazakhstan government resigns: Gas prices shot up more than 30 per cent across Europe yesterday as supply from Russia tightened.

Meanwhile, in Kazakhstan, a state of emergency was declared after demonstrators protesting rising fuel prices broke into a mayor’s office and flames were seen coming from inside. Nearly 100 police were reportedly injured in the protests and this morning the entire government resigned.

Elsewhere: North Korea launches ballistic missile into sea. Carrie Lam says Hong Kong media closures are unrelated to press freedom. Emmanuel Macron warns he will “hassle” France’s unvaccinated. Boris Johnson plans to “ride out” Omicron wave with no more curbs. Petition to rescind Tony Blair’s knighthood gets hundreds of thousands of signatures. U.S. Democratic Sen. Manchin is still opposed to Biden’s $2 trillion spending package. Colombian charged over Haitian president‘s murder. South African inquiry finds that corruption was rampant under former president Zuma.






After a swan miscalculated its river landing and found itself trapped on a bridge in Berlin, it was dramatically rescued by an elderly woman.

In the words of a bystander who relayed the story on social media: “As onlookers gathered, confused & worried, the lady got up and just did what had to be done.”

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