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Travellers arriving in Canada from countries other than the United States can expect to isolate for as many as three days while they wait for their COVID-19 test results, part of Ottawa’s evolving strategy to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

The new on-arrival testing rule for air travellers was first announced Tuesday in a suite of new measures. However, the details of its implementation were still foggy Wednesday, with the country’s major airports waiting for more information and the government not saying when the rule will be fully in place.

Travellers arrive at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, February 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan DenetteNathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Surprise Tory motion sends anti-conversion-therapy bill through Commons

The House of Commons unanimously approved yesterday a Conservative Party motion to fast track legislation banning conversion therapy.

The unexpected move, which resulted in cheers and applause among MPs, means that the legislation introduced by the government for a third time earlier this week goes, without being examined by committee, to the Senate for approval.

It also heads off the prospect of a divisive debate on Bill C-4 among Conservatives about how to deal with the legislation around the widely discredited therapy intended to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

Bulk of college tuition in Ontario comes from international students, Auditor-General says

Ontario’s reliance on international students to finance its colleges poses serious financial risks to the postsecondary system, the province’s Auditor-General says.

International students, who make up about 30 per cent of the student body at Ontario’s 24 colleges, provide 68 per cent of all tuition revenue. Their fees alone were worth $1.7-billion last year, more than the colleges received in provincial grants. The majority of international students, 62 per cent, came from one country: India.

The number of international students admitted to Canadian postsecondary institutions has soared in recent years, partly as a response to stagnating government funding. International tuition fees are typically four times higher than those for Canadian students.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Surge of snowmelt from record warmth adds to B.C. floodwaters: British Columbia set several heat records yesterday as the warm temperatures contributed to localized flooding in the province’s Central and South Coast caused by a series of rainstorms. Local leaders expressed cautious optimism that extensive repair and preparation efforts would effectively protect already flood-ravaged areas from more worst-case scenarios as the province navigated its way through the third in a series of atmospheric rivers.

Liberals yet to account for $600-billion in public spending: The Liberal government is asking Parliament to approve billions in new spending during a brief four-week sitting in Ottawa, but is facing questions because it has not released a full accounting of how it spent more than $600-billion last year during the peak of Canada’s pandemic response.

Canadian delegates to fight made-in-U.S. vehicle credits, softwood duties: International Trade Minister Mary Ng flew to Washington yesterday and will join some Canadian consuls-general across the United States to try to head off a slew of protectionist American measures, including looming tax credits for U.S.-made electric vehicles that could devastate auto assembly in Canada, as well as a doubling of softwood lumber duties announced last month.

Where did all the self-employed workers go?: As the Canadian labour market heals from the pandemic, a key segment of workers is disappearing rapidly by the month: the self-employed. Around 280,000 fewer people are self-employed than when the pandemic started, a decline of 9.7 per cent, according to Statistics Canada figures through October.

Tensions keep rising in Ukraine over coup-plot claims: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned his country yesterday that it could face a Russian-backed coup d’état as tensions continued to rise along the Ukraine-Russia border. Instead, thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets of Kyiv to peacefully demand their President either fire his controversial chief of staff or resign. On Thursday, the U.S. issued fresh warnings to Russia over Ukraine.

China says it opposes the ‘politicization’ of sports after WTA suspends tournaments in China: When asked about the matter at a regular briefing Thursday, a foreign ministry spokesman did not directly comment on the WTA’s move but said China “opposes the politicisation of sports.


MORNING MARKETS

European markets struggle: European stock indexes opened lower on Thursday, reversing gains from the previous session as a lack of information about the Omicron variant left markets volatile, and as investors also bet on faster Fed tapering. Just after 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.78 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 slid 1.25 per cent and 0.94 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 0.65 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.55 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.13 US cents.


WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

David Parkinson: “But the reality is that the government’s economic policies in the pandemic have done remarkably little to stimulate business investment, while delivering a great deal indeed to protect the labour market and support household incomes. As the economy has recovered, that significantly tilted the scales in favour of hiring rather than capital spending. That may have contributed to the labour crunch many businesses and sectors are now experiencing.”

Rachel Pulfer: “The need for more evacuations is extremely urgent. But with political leadership and private support, Canadians can seize this moment and work together to ensure a better life for those Afghans we worked alongside. Canada owes it to those left behind to guarantee their safety in a situation where Canadian actions put them in danger. It’s also, quite simply, the right thing to do.”


TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

Brian GableBrian Gable/The Globe and Mail


LIVING BETTER

Christmas concerts across the country offer Hawksley Workman, Andy Kim and all the Messiahs you can handle

Given that most holiday concerts a year ago were virtual-only presentations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a return to in-person shows this year merits all the hark, hallelujahs and holly jollies that can be mustered. This list of select concerts across the country reveals a breadth of seasonal styles and settings.


MOMENT IN TIME: DECEMBER 2, 1697

St. Paul's Cathedral, 1754 oil on canvas painting by Canaletto, (Giovanni Antonio Canal).Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection / Bridgeman Images

St. Paul’s Cathedral is consecrated

While today St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is considered an icon of national pride, when it was built onlookers rejected it. To a staunchly Protestant England, the building’s “unfamiliar, un-English” classical character – derived from Italian fashions – was seen as a nod to Catholicism. Indeed, it was a diversion from the former gothic building, which had been destroyed by the combined pressures of civil war, lightning, plague and the city’s Great Fire of 1666. Architect Christopher Wren faced troubles from the start: His first design, deemed too simple, was rejected; later versions, drawn under the watchful eye of the clergy, failed to impress. Nonetheless, on Dec. 2, 1697, St. Paul’s was consecrated for use, just 22 years after construction began – lightspeed at a time when cathedral construction often spanned centuries. Despite initial reactions, public opinion eventually swayed. During the Second World War, St. Paul’s famously survived the Blitz and became a focus for the city’s morale. The site attracts nearly two million visitors a year and is the final resting place for some of England’s most prominent figures, including artist J. M. W. Turner, Admiral Horatio Nelson and Wren himself. Irene Galea


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