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Is America ‘unhinged’, or does its case against Meng Wanzhou have merit?

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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.

As the case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou expands into a diplomatic crisis for Canada, which arrested her in Vancouver on Dec. 1, opinion on her arrest remains divided.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs says Canada is being “used and manipulated” by the U.S. which is “unhinged” by the rise of China and is creating “a new Cold War.” (CBC News)

Writing in the South China Morning Post, Ankit Panda argues the case against Meng appears to have merit, but that Washington has jeopardized the rule of law with President Donald Trump’s offer to intervene in her case. “The U.S. should stand with Canada and affirm that Meng’s arrest is legally justifiable and will be handled as any other bank fraud prosecution might be, without being prejudiced by broader geopolitical factors.” (South China Morning Post)

Here’s a question: Can Trump even follow through on his offer to free Meng in return for China agreeing to a trade deal? It turns out, the answer is yes. But the result could prove disastrous for both the U.S. and Canada. (Maclean’s)

To say NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had a heard time being heard in 2018 would be an understatement. Speaking with Maclean’s Ottawa bureau chief John Geddes, Singh sketches out his plan to get heard in 2019:

Singh doesn’t deny that he has struggled. “There were some challenges that I faced this year, absolutely,” he said in an interview. “And they took away from the things that I wanted to focus on.” Beyond media attention to his positions on Indian politics and his handling of the Weir affair, Singh suffered from trying to lead his party from outside the House. He jumped from Ontario politics to win the leadership in 2017 and isn’t an MP. Although Singh announced he will run in the vacant Burnaby South riding, just east of Vancouver, Trudeau has delayed calling that by-election, but it is expected to take place in February.

That will leave Singh, who is from Toronto, spending a lot of time working to build his presence in B.C.—away from the fray in Ottawa. But he told Maclean’s he plans to put distinctive NDP policy positions in front of Canadian voters well before next fall’s campaign. In the past, federal parties have sometimes released their platforms far in advance of elections, sometimes just before or even during the campaign. While he wouldn’t be pinned down on precise timing, Singh said he’s firmly in the “release it in advance, in its entirety, camp.”

Before reconciliation is possible, Canadians must admit the truth about the country’s relationship with Indigenous people, writes Riley Yesno:

 The truth is, there is no Canada without Indigenous people; they are the original, foundational, fundamental parts of this land. Instead of trying to make room for them in colonial systems and institutions that were never meant for Indigenous people to exist within, we need to find the willingness to tear it all down and reimagine what a nation that respects truth might look like—and then build that nation. (Maclean’s)

Forget Liberal talk about Canada’s respect for the rule of law, writes Tom Parkin. Late last month, the Trudeau government tabled a bill ending the charter-protected freedom of postal workers to form and act in association. It’s been tried before and it ended badly. (Maclean’s)

In a year-end sit down with Evan Solomon for CTV’s Question Period, Trudeau said Canada is still looking at whether it can cancel the sale of Canadian-made armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, in the wake of the regime’s killing of a journalist. “We’re  engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” Trudeau said. (CTV News)

In the same interview Trudeau also ruled out an early election, so now we know Canadians are going to the polls on Oct. 21.

Oh, and the Prime Minister’s biggest regret this past year? “The India Trip.

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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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