The Quebec government imposed a snap shutdown yesterday, closing schools, bars, theatres, gyms and other gathering places with only a few hours’ notice, and people across the country clamoured for more booster shots and rapid tests to help shield them from the Omicron variant.
There are signs that the new variant causes milder disease than its predecessors, but Canadian public-health leaders have said it is too early – and too risky – to behave as though Omicron will carve the same gentle path here.
While Quebec opted for a near-lockdown, Ontario is focused on ramping up delivery of third doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which substantially increase protection against Omicron infection, according to early studies. Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have opened booster bookings to all adults.
- Provinces working to meet demand for COVID-19 testing as cases surge
- U.K. says COVID-19 situation ‘extremely difficult’ as Omicron variant sweeps Europe
- Opinion: A ‘test-to-stay’ strategy can keep our kids in school
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Dominic Barton met Rio Tinto brass months before firm named him chair
Dominic Barton, Canada’s outgoing ambassador to Beijing, met with Rio Tinto executives in October, two months before it was announced he would take over as chair of the giant Australian mining company, which does half its business with China.
Federal conflict-of-interest guidelines restrict the ability of a former official to take jobs with companies they dealt with during their final 12 months of government work.
Rio Tinto spokesperson Matthew Klar said the the Oct. 8 meeting did not involve a job offer to Barton and “was in his capacity as ambassador.”
Fifty-five female Afghan judges and prosecutors wait on ‘lily pad’ in Greece for visas to come to Canada
As judges and prosecutors, they put some of Afghanistan’s most infamous criminals and terrorists behind bars. But in August, when Kabul fell to the Taliban, they had to flee the country to save their lives.
Now in Greece, 55 women and their families (about 200 people in total) have been assured by their sponsors that Canada will take them, but like thousands of other Afghans stuck in third countries – or worse, in hiding back home – they must wait for their resettlement applications to be approved.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Cities look to join fight against Bill 21: Calgary is poised to join a growing list of Canadian cities supporting the legal challenge to Quebec’s controversial religious symbols law, part of a tide of outrage released by a school board’s recent decision to remove a hijab-wearing teacher from her classroom in the province. Toronto has backed the effort, while Winnipeg’s mayor hopes his city will follow suit.
BMO unveils major U.S. expansion: Bank of Montreal is making a major splash in the United States with a cash deal to buy Bank of the West for a total purchase price of $20.9-billion, an acquisition that will boost BMO’s American assets by 63 per cent and shift its U.S. geographic base away from the Midwest and toward California.
- Andrew Willis: Why BMO boss Darryl White is buying what the French are selling
- Bank of the West CEO Nandita Bakhshi wins praise and draws criticism for approach to environmental, diversity issues
Retailers cope with seasonal rush amid labour shortage: Many retailers are competing for talent ahead of the holiday rush – a period during which retailers make the bulk of their sales, and which hits a fever pitch this week. September through December is always a high-demand period for seasonal hiring in the industry, but after months of pandemic-related uncertainty – including layoffs when stores were forced to shut down – the labour crunch was especially pronounced this year.
Ukraine investigating former president: Ukrainian authorities have placed former president Petro Poroshenko under formal investigation for high treason, accusing him of financial links to the Russian-backed militia that controls the country’s breakaway Donbas region.
NHL puts season on pause through Christmas: Late yesterday night the NHL put the season on pause from Wednesday until at least Christmas. This is what happens when hockey and a more contagious new strand of COVID-19 intersect. No pro sports league has been spared, but hockey has been hit particularly hard.
World shares gain: World shares gained on Tuesday as investors weighed up the extent to which the Omicron coronavirus variant would hit economies around the world, with the U.S. dollar softening as appetite for riskier assets made a cautious return. Around 5 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 1.03 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.85 per cent and 0.51 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei gained 2.08 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 1 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 77.29 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
John Ibbitson: “In politics and in culture, Canada often imitates the United States, though less dramatically. But lately the opposite has been true. Newly released polling data show that as Americans become ever-more polarized, Canadian attitudes are converging toward the centre. A bit of good news in a year that has had precious little of it.”
Marcus Kolga: “Like any schoolyard bully, if we give Mr. Putin an inch, he will take miles. He will only stop once he’s confronted with significant and painful consequences for his actions.”
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
With rules constantly changing due to COVID-19, travel is as stressful as ever. Here’s how to cope
Many Canadians travelling over the holidays are feeling anxious about COVID-19 and about all the unknowns of flying in the midst of a pandemic. For those who must travel over the holidays (or simply want to), here are a few tips to help manage your anxiety.
MOMENT IN TIME: DECEMBER 21, 2012
Gangnam Style first video to get one billion views on YouTube
On this day, the music video for Gangnam Style by South Korean artist PSY became the first YouTube video to reach one billion views. The song was released in July and described by PSY as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the lifestyle and expectations of people living in Seoul’s Gangnam District – one of the wealthier areas in the city. The video’s zaniness and unorthodox dance moves turned it into a viral hit. By September, it was generating more than five million daily views on YouTube and it continued to reign as the most viewed video on YouTube until it was overtaken by Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again in July, 2017. The impact of Gangnam Style had reverberations that were felt not only in South Korea but in the Western music industry as well. Because of the song’s success, Billboard started including YouTube video plays in its chart formula in 2013. Many record executives began to see the potential of music that spread through non-conventional means while also looking toward more international artists. Some music journalists and critics have credited Gangnam Style with paving the way for Western interest in K-pop. Daniel Reech