Parliament resumes and a COVID anniversary: In The News for Jan. 25 News Staff

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 25 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA – The federal government’s handling of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign is set to dominate the agenda when Parliament resumes today.

Members of Parliament are expected to work together to allow virtual attendance in the House of Commons once again as many provinces remain in lockdown during the second wave of the pandemic.

Yet that show of unity will be the exception, as opposition parties say they plan to press the minority Liberal government on several fronts.

That starts with grilling the government on delays in the delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer’s decision to deliver only a fraction of the shots it promised over the next few weeks.

The government has also pledged to close a loophole that currently allows people who leave the country on non-essential trips to collect a sick-leave benefit while they quarantine.

Opposition parties, meanwhile, want to see more support for families and businesses.

Looming in the background will be the ever-present threat of a snap spring election.

Also this …

It’s still too soon to know whether the recent downward trend in new COVID-19 cases will continue, Canada’s chief public health officer said Sunday as several provinces grappled with outbreaks that threatened to derail their fragile progress.

Dr. Theresa Tam said there’s been an improvement in the COVID-19 numbers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, but the disease is regaining steam elsewhere.

“While community-based measures may be starting to take effect in some areas, it is too soon to be sure that current measures are strong enough and broad enough to maintain a steady downward trend across the country,” she wrote in a statement.

Some long-standing virus hot spots have made headway in lowering the number of new cases in recent weeks, but are still fighting outbreaks and flare-ups as they race to vaccinate vulnerable communities.

The federal public safety minister announced Sunday that the Canadian Armed Forces will support vaccine efforts in a large swath of northern Ontario.

Bill Blair said on Twitter that armed forces personnel will support vaccine efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a collection of 49 First Nations spanning about two thirds of the province. 

The military has previously been asked to help with the vaccine rollout in First Nations communities in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba.

Health officials in Ontario were also investigating whether a long-term care home could become the second in the province to be linked to a U.K. variant of COVID-19, after a first home in Barrie, Ont., made headlines when it became infected with the more contagious strain.

And this …

It’s been exactly a year now since COVID-19 arrived in Canada.

Beyond the physical, mental and economic devastation that was to follow, the virus prompted a social upheaval that would fundamentally alter the lives of millions of Canadians.

By March, with COVID cases spiking, mask wearing became the norm, schools and businesses started closing, lockdowns and travel restrictions were imposed, while major sporting and other events were cancelled.

There was also a seismic shift of employees working from home as people were asked to physically distance — even from loved ones.

Jack Jedwab, the president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says the biggest change to Canadians’ daily lives has been the isolation from friends, family and co-workers.

An online survey done for Jedwab’s group in September found over 90 per cent of the 15-hundred people polled said COVID-19 had changed their lives, with most citing the inability to see family and friends as the biggest factors.

Jedwab notes that women, newcomers to Canada and people who were already economically and socially vulnerable appear to have been among the most deeply affected, particularly by job losses.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — Top aides to U.S. President Joe Biden have begun talks with a group of moderate Senate Republicans and Democrats on Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. 

The talks come as Biden faces increasing headwinds in his effort to win bipartisan backing for the initial legislative effort of his presidency. 

Lawmakers on the right question the wisdom of racking up bigger deficits while those on the left are urging Biden not to spend too much time on bipartisanship when the pandemic is killing thousands each day and costing more jobs. 

One key Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said afterward she would reconvene a bipartisan group to focus on “a more targeted package.” 

Also this …

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is set to issue an executive order to reverse a Pentagon policy that largely bars transgender individuals from joining the military. 

Doing so would dump a ban ordered by his predecessor, Donald Trump, in a tweet during his first year in office. 

A person briefed on the decision tells The Associated Press that the White House could announce the move as early as today. 

Biden’s newly confirmed defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, announced his support for overturning the ban during his confirmation hearing last week.  

Meanwhile, federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of Trump nears. 

That’s according to a U.S. official briefed on the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday. 

Part of the concern is ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol.

Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection is set to begin the week of Feb. 8.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he has tested positive for COVID-19, making the announcement as his country registers the highest levels of infections and deaths to date. 

López Obrador, who has been criticized for his handling of Mexico’s pandemic and for not setting an example of prevention in public, said Sunday on his official Twitter account that his symptoms are mild and he is under medical treatment. 

“I regret to inform you that I am infected with COVID-19,” he tweeted. 

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, said the 67-year-old had a “light” case of COVID-19 and was “isolating at home.”  

In Sports …

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns as the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs rolled to a 38-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC championship game. 

The Chiefs advanced to face a familiar foe in Tom Brady and the NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida. 

The Buccaneers knocked off the Green Bay Packers 31-26 to get to the big game on Feb.7.

ICYMI …

TORONTO – George Armstrong, who captained the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the ’60s and wore the blue and white his entire career, has died at the age of 90.  

The Maple Leafs confirmed the death Sunday on Twitter.  

Armstrong played a record 1,187 games with 296 goals and 417 assists over 21 seasons for the Leafs, including 13 seasons as team captain. 

The right-winger added another 26 goals and 34 assists in 110 playoff games.  

Known as the Chief, Armstrong was one of the first players of Indigenous descent to play professional hockey.  

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975 and some 41 years later, Armstrong was voted No. 12 on the franchise’s list of 100 greatest Maple Leafs in its centennial season.  

“George is part of the very fabric of the Toronto Maple Leaf organization and will be deeply missed,” Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement. 

“A proud yet humble man, he loved being a Maple Leaf but never sought the spotlight even though no player played more games for Toronto or captained the team longer. Always one to celebrate his teammates rather than himself, George couldn’t even bring himself to deliver his speech the day he was immortalized on Legends Row.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021

The Canadian Press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *