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Good morning, and happy Friday.
— More Liberal MPs back Lightbound: Toronto Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith told Global News he agrees with his colleague Joel Lightbound’s comments on the “divisive” rhetoric around vaccines, in a fresh sign of divisions within the Liberal caucus. He said he didn’t agree with everything Lightbound said, however. Meanwhile, Toronto Liberal MP John McKay and Thunder Bay Liberal MP Marcus Powlowski also said they agreed with some of that reasoning.
— U.S. offers to help end blockades: The White House says that American officials had multiple conversations yesterday with their Canadian counterparts about the blockade on the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit. The Homeland Security secretary also urged his Canadian counterparts to use their own federal powers to end the border blockade. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also reportedly spoke with his Canadian counterpart.
It comes as Ford, Toyota, and General Motors have all been forced to cancel or scale back production at North American plants due to parts shortages. That’s begun to stoke the flames of economic nationalism in the U.S., giving “ammunition” to Buy America advocates.
Oh, and now a Manitoba border crossing has been blocked as well.
— Meanwhile in Ottawa, police say they have been flooded by fake 911 calls that nearly jammed the phone system — most of which came in from the U.S.
Also in Ottawa, the Conservatives appear to have changed tack, calling for the blockades to end — but also urging the government to end COVID mandates. Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen urged protesters to now “take down the barricades, stop the disruptive action, and come together,” adding, “To the protesters here in Ottawa, you came bringing a message, that message has been heard.”
— A progressive take on convoy protests: “As the sprawling protest against vaccine mandates ensnarling the streets around Parliament Hill heads into its second week, the Press Progress research team has compiled a comprehensive field guide to the ‘extremists … at the centre of the far-right siege of Ottawa,’ as well as the ‘social media influencers … helping to amplify their message’ from the front lines.” More on that in this week’s Rebel to Rabble Review.
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AROUND THE WORLD
— Russian invasion could come ‘at any time’: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated today that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could come “at any time,” adding, “to be clear, that includes during the Olympics.” Some reports had earlier suggested that Russia had agreed with China to wait until after the Beijing Winter Games.
Blinken was speaking from Australia, where he’s meeting with that country’s foreign minister. He told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia leads world on standing up to China.
Meanwhile, Blinken’s boss, Joe Biden, has called on all remaining U.S. citizens in Ukraine to leave immediately. The U.S. president warned that “things could go crazy quickly” and that troops would not be sent in to rescue Americans if Moscow invades.
— Macron refused a Russian COVID test: It’s emerged that ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s meeting with his Russian counterpart earlier this week, he refused to take a Russian COVID test. The official word is that it “required an unacceptable health protocol” but some reports suggest he was worried about Russia getting hold of his DNA. Instead, the two leaders opted to sit at opposite ends of a four-metre table.
— Elsewhere: France to build up to 14 new nuclear reactors by 2050. BoJo visits Poland and Brussels. WHO says pandemic moving into a different phase in Africa. Pfizer COVID pill approved in Japan. China halts Lithuania beef, dairy and beer imports amid Taiwan row. U.S. inflation hits highest level in 40 years. Australia says koalas are now endangered.
IN OTHER HEADLINES
WHAT WE’RE READING
The latest episode of No Talking Points is live. You can guess what we’re talking about this week. Have a listen here.
ICYMI FROM IPOLITICS
CARTOON OF THE DAY
A British tourist has been reunited with his false teeth after losing them in Spain 11 years ago.