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Ottawa’s offer of financial aid for Alberta’s oil industry falls flat

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Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign-up at the bottom of the page to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

A day after 1,000 Albertans turned out for a pro-pipeline rally—and, apparently, to boo the use of French—the Trudeau government came bearing handouts. Ottawa offered $1.6 billion in loans and other financial aid to energy companies. (Twitter, Globe and Mail)

Most of the support comes in the form of loan guarantees from Export Development Canada, which miffed Alberta NDP Rachel Notley. “We don’t need help finding more markets,” she said. “We need help moving our product, and I don’t know that we could have been much more clear about that. Offering Alberta business owners and industry the opportunity to go further in debt is not any kind of long-term solution.” Still, she said, the aid was “a start.” (Canadian Press)

Even as Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi was announcing the aid package on Tuesday, global oil prices were in free fall and markets fear overcapacity and a slowing global economy. U.S. oil prices fell seven per cent while the price of Canadian crude tumbled 18 per cent. (Reuters)

Canada is reviving its pitch for the Trump administration to scrap the steel and aluminium tariffs it imposed on Canada last year, arguing they go against Donald Trump‘s own USMCA trade deal. A key component of the deal raised North American content requirements for auto production.  “There is an internal contradiction in having tariffs on Canadian steel even as there is a built-in requirement for North American steel,” said Canada’s foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland. “So I do feel the Canadian case, which has always been very strong, is only getting stronger.” (CTV News)

Showing he’s got the best interests of Canadian tokers at heart, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien offered advise to anyone buying legal weed in Canada: use cash, not plastic. “Cannabis is illegal in most jurisdictions outside of Canada. The personal information of cannabis users is therefore very sensitive. Some countries may deny entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis, even lawfully.” Pay with cash and no one ever needs to know you were there. (Canadian Press)

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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