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Good evening to you.
We give the first word to Canada’s top doctor, who today said there are indications the Omicron wave may have peaked. Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said that’s based on a drop in positive tests and daily infections across Canada. On average, there were 28 per cent fewer cases this week than last, she said at a briefing.
And while modelling has predicted that infections will peak this month, admissions to hospitals and intensive-care-units remain high and could keep increasing for a while. “I really hope that, by the end of next month, we’re in a better position,” Tam said.
Good lord — don’t we all?
As Russian aggression amps up — which is evident in new satellite photos — there was word from Defence Minister Anita Anand today that Canada will be offering “further support” to Ukraine. Canada has already committed to extending its training mission in Ukraine, known as Operation Unifier, which was set to expire in March. Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada would be loaning Ukraine $120 million.
“Russia is aiming to destabilize Ukraine, including economically. This loan will help support Ukraine’s economic resilience,” he said. “We’re also exploring other options to provide financial and other supports.”
Trudeau said it’s “extremely disconcerting” to see the buildup of Russian troops, aggression and cyberattacks.
“This is something that nobody in Europe, or around the world, wants to see right now, and we’re using all tools to try to encourage Russia to de-escalate, to solve this diplomatically, to not proceed (in) a further invasion of Ukraine’s territory,” he added.
After he spoke, Anand confirmed in an interview with Global News that there is more support to come and that those details will be unveiled before long. “I can say that I’m working with my cabinet colleagues on ways to further support Ukraine, and I will have more to say on those options very shortly,” Anand said.
Still with Trudeau, he was asked today about 24 Sussex. He said it is being assessed and options are being looked at. Once its fate is known and a decision has been made, “we will share it.” In the meantime, it’s in “terrible condition” now and he said he has no plans to live there, “regardless of how long my mandate or mandates may be as prime minister.”
Still with homes: In the middle of an acute shortage of housing, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is conducting an in-depth study to figure out how much more the country will need over the next eight years. Today the House of Commons’ Finance committee held its second meeting to study Canada’s high inflation rate, which rose to a 30-year high of 4.8 per cent in December. There’s a “mismatch” between buyers and available homes, said Romy Bowers, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s president and CEO, testifying to the committee on Friday. The agency is therefore starting a study of the long-term causes of housing demand, such as population and income growth. Its report is expected by June. Jeff Labine has the details.
Looking further afield, Cong Peiwu, China’s ambassador to Canada, made a case for improving economic relations between the two countries, with a distinct focus on Western Canada, in a webinar organized by the Canada West Foundation today. Cong has been making similar remarks for months since Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor returned to Canada and Meng Wanzhou returned to China in September 2021 following a years-long diplomatic dispute.
His remarks largely revolved around agricultural and energy exports, and the potential for Western Canada to play a big part in supplying China with goods and services as it embarks on its latest five-year plan that guides the economy. The foundations of the bilateral relationship are strong and the two countries are “natural partners,” he said. More on his talk from Aidan Chamandy.
And for a housing triple header: Little in concrete news came after a week that local, provincial and federal governments dedicated their attention to Canada’s historic housing challenge — with promised solutions planned for later days. Housing affordability issues have also been amplified by scorching hot markets in some of Canada’s biggest cities, including Toronto, its suburbs, and its nearby cities, which — known collectively as the Golden Horseshoe — is home to more than a fifth of the country’s entire population. Charlie Pinkerton has that story.
The Rebel to Rabble Review: Rebel scores an apology
The Sprout: Canada’s food supply is in trouble
In Other Headlines:
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has left Geneva following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today to talk about Ukraine. There was no agreement reached to avoid a military conflict — only an agreement to keep talking to try and resolve the crisis. Blinken called the talks “frank and substantive,” and said at this point, Russia has a clear choice. “It can choose the path of diplomacy that can lead to peace and security, or the path that will lead only to conflict, severe consequences and international condemnation,” he told reporters.
Lavrov saw things differently and said the ball is in Washington’s court. Moscow will know if things are on the right track if the United States responds to its demands, including barring Ukraine from NATO, as well as any further eastern expansion of the alliance.
Blinken drove home the point that any Russian forces that move across Ukraine’s border will be deemed to be a “renewed invasion,” which will be met with “swift, severe and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies.” Reuters reports.
In Other International Headlines:
Finally, when you’re the premier and you see fit to head out during a snowstorm with a tiny shovel and cameras in tow, you can be sure someone is gonna do a parody.
Have a great weekend!