Morning Update: Ottawa passed over private sector plans to produce a COVID-19 vaccine …

Good morning,

The federal government passed over a private option for its plans to produce COVID-19 vaccine domestically by the end of 2020, instead investing in its own production facility that is now almost a year behind schedule.

The decision to pitch money into a delayed and still-under-construction government lab was made after Ottawa vowed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to develop the country’s anemic biomanufacturing sector. With uncertainty emerging around whether Canada will be able to produce its own doses of the life-saving vaccine, those familiar with Canada’s pharmaceutical industry say Ottawa has charted the wrong course.

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Canada has agreement with Pfizer to begin delivering early doses of vaccine, Trudeau says

André Picard: Why we can ignore anti-vaxxers, at least for now

Prime Minister delivers his opening statement during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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‘V-Day’ in Britain: 90-year-old woman gets first injection of vaccine for COVID-19

Margaret Keenan became the answer to a British trivia question on Tuesday, becoming the first person in the U.K. to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19.

Broadcast live on national television, the 90-year-old got the first jab as the country began a massive vaccination program on what the government has dubbed “V-Day”.

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“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19 – it’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year,” Ms. Keenan told reporters afterward. “My advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too.”

Britain became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week, and the U.K. has ordered 40 million doses, enough to vaccinate 20 million people as it requires two doses.

Ontario police ill-equipped to tackle rising hate crimes, report says

Police in Ontario are ill-equipped to combat the dramatic increase in hate crimes reported over the past decade, according to a new report from the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

The study looked at eight municipal police services in the southern and eastern parts of the province and found an “unevenness” across agencies because some do a particularly good job with their internal training and reaching out to the targeted communities, while others do not.

The widespread lack of a clear focus and the huge knowledge gap about these offences among officers is a major problem because hate-motivated incidents are a destructive force to many Canadians, the report’s author writes.

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Police across Canada report 7-per-cent rise in hate crimes in 2019

Refugees abducted from Tigray camps and returned to Eritrea, families say

As armed clashes between Ethiopia and Tigrayan forces continue, troops from neighbouring Eritrea have crossed the border to capture and take back refugees who fled Eritrea years ago, often to escape the country’s military conscription rules.

Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean refugee activist, said she has talked to Eritrean refugees in a camp in Tigray who described military clashes, chaos, injuries and abductions by Eritrean soldiers who raided the camp. Some of the wounded refugees woke up in hospital to discover that they had been taken back to Eritrea, she said.

The reports of forced returns are “deeply troubling if they are confirmed,” said Juliette Stevenson, senior external relations officer for the Ethiopia office of UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.

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Ethiopia scorns guerrilla war fears, United Nations team shot at in Tigray

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Michael Sabia named next deputy minister of Finance Canada: Prime Minister announced yesterday that Michael Sabia, the former Quebec pension fund CEO and current chair of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, will be the next deputy minister of Finance in Canada.

John Ibbitson: Justin Trudeau puts hopes in Michael Sabia to cement his legacy with generation-defining infrastructure

Andrew Willis: Under Michael Sabia, the Canada Infrastructure Bank got busy. Now it needs to get shovels in the ground

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Alberta teenager wins prestigious international science competition: Fort McMurray high schooler Maryam Tsegaye has become the first Canadian to win the Breakthrough Junior Challenge award for a video explaining the university-level physics concept of quantum tunnelling to fellow teenagers. The award includes a $320,000 college scholarship, a $64,000 prize for her science teacher and a new state-of-the-art lab for her school.

Banning Huawei no panacea for securing 5G wireless networks, watchdog says: The federal government will almost certainly have to ban 5G equipment from Huawei given cybersecurity and geopolitical concerns, but that is not enough to protect Canada’s telecommunication networks and Ottawa should test equipment from all suppliers, regardless of country of origin, a digital-rights watchdog says.

Ottawa urged to act against Montreal-based MindGeek, owner of Pornhub, over child exploitation allegations: Advocates and a cross-partisan group of MPs and senators are urging the government to hold Montreal-based MindGeek and its website Pornhub accountable, amid allegations it is abetting sex trafficking and exploitation.

Developers building more small condos, despite people clamouring for more space: As most people continue to work from home, demand for bigger living spaces and backyards has surged during the pandemic. But developers in the Toronto region are still building studios and one-bedroom condos.


World stocks slide: World stocks sagged on Tuesday as investors struggled to keep the rally of recent weeks going with COVID-19 infections still surging and London and Brussels in a standoff. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.42 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.16 per cent and 0.57 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 0.30 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.76 per cent. New York futures were modestly lower. The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.21 US cents.


Barrie McKenna: “But the talent war isn’t over. The key is to continue to create – and promote – opportunities and incentives for the best and brightest here in Canada. If we’ve learned anything from the past few years, it’s that narratives matter. And Canada has a good story to tell.”

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Vijay Sappani: “This is a great opportunity for the Canadian agricultural and food sector. Canada can help India adopt and form practices that will lead to mutual benefit, both private and public. This makes Prime Minister ’s recent remarks on the farm reforms perplexing. By appearing to voice support for the protesters, Mr. Trudeau risks further damaging already strained ties with India and losing out on trade opportunities that Canada has aggressively advocated for at the World Trade Organization.”

Brad Wheeler: “Dylan’s latest music reveals an artist consumed with his own mortality. And now this tune tycoon is settling up his business affairs. Some will say that he’s selling out, which is a naive criticism. He’s a songwriter – he sells songs, always has.”


Brian Gable

brian gable/The Globe and Mail


24 Treats of Christmas: Seasonal goodies to warm up cold nights

Between Dec. 1 and 24, we’re publishing recipes for cookies and squares, chocolate desserts and holiday favourites along with last-minute sweets for when there are more cravings than time. Visit this link for details on how to receive the recipe links one a day by text message.


On December 7, 1837, approximately 400 rebels gathered at Montgomery’s Tavern, Yonge Street, Toronto, to protest the domination of the colonial government by a privileged few.

Canadian Military History Gateway

The Mackenzie Rebellion ends

Led by former Toronto mayor William Lyon Mackenzie, the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 was a small and brief conflict, which collapsed after a quick battle outside a tavern in what was then north Toronto. There, a ragtag group of rebels, numbering about 1,000, faced off against a similar number of regular troops and volunteers. (The loyalists included 120 Black soldiers, who, as in the War of 1812, had once again rallied to their country’s defence.) The “Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern” was more of a skirmish, and even by those standards it ended quickly. Within a matter of hours the government troops had sent the rebels scattering into the nearby woods, while Mackenzie himself high-tailed to safety in the United States. Nevertheless, despite the rebellion’s complete lack of military success, its primary goal was to break the grip of the oligarchic “Family Compact” on the reins of political, financial and religious power in the colony. And that did come to pass within the next decade. Attention to the issue led to a series of reforms, which in turn led to Canada’s creation as a democratic and independent nation in 1867. Ken Carriere

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