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Warning: travel to China at your own risk

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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.

Well, now we know part of what China meant with its threat of “grave consequences” for Canada over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant. On Tuesday China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, who worked on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2016 visit to China. The move appears to be in retaliation for Meng’s arrest. (Canadian Press)

As Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, told the Globe: “This is a demonstration of how nasty the Chinese can be, how brutal they can be. There will have to be lessons learned among our political masters about the type of people we are dealing with.” (Globe and Mail)

As of Tuesday the Federal government’s travel advisory website for China remained the same as it has for several years—travellers should “exercise a high degree of caution” due to “isolated acts of violence, including bombings and protests.” Ottawa is considering adding the risk of the government taking arbitrary retaliatory measures against Canadians in the country. Meanwhile, a B.C. Supreme Court judge released Meng on on $10-million bail (CTV News, Global News)

And as if this story needed more twists, President Donald Trump offered to intervene in the case to free Meng if China would agree to a trade deal, thereby affirming China’s assertion that the arrest was politically motivated, even if it wasn’t. In the process, he threw Canada under the bus, again. As Paul Wells noted on Twitter, “If Canada executed this arrest out of respect for the rule of law, now might be a good time to let her go. Because the rule of law just got cancelled by the President.” (ReutersTwitter)

As Trump’s hallucinatory world heaves and crumbles, Americans ponder what kind of country they wish to live in—and what kind of people they want to be. From Allen Abel in Washington:

The great American cavalcade of liars and lawyers slithers into Courtroom 2. Just outside the chamber, high above us as we enter, there are red stains in the plaster, reminiscent of the scene in Tess of the d’Urbervilles in which Mrs. Brooks looks up to see “The oblong white ceiling, with this scarlet blot in the midst”—the oozing blood of the rapist whom the heroine has killed.

It is a Friday morning in the District of Columbia’s federal courthouse, one of those grandiose buildings where the Ten Commandments meet the Seven Deadly Sins. In this case, as in so many others in this town and in these times, the admonition not to bear false witness is grappling the tag-team of Pride and Greed, their latest battle in a rivalry that started east of Eden, long ago.

“Is this the trial of the century?” someone asks out loud as the black-robed judge arrives, and if it isn’t, it certainly is a chapter in the paramount criminal case of the century’s first fifth—the scandal that may, eventually, ensnare a seething president.  (Maclean’s)

Remember the Great Canadian ‘Boycott America’ movement of summer 2018? Now Canadians are boycotting each other. A movement is building in Alberta to boycott goods and services from Quebec, after Quebec Premier François Legault  said there’s “no social acceptability” for reviving the Energy East pipeline. What started with an angry tweet from  former Wildrose leader Brian Jean—”The Premier of Quebec said that ‘there is no social acceptability for oil in Quebec.’ Yet he has no problem taking the transfer payments funded by Alberta oil. Quebec gets around 60% of all equalization. It’s time to start boycotting Quebec products here in Alberta.”—spread on social media with Albertans swapping examples of Quebec brands to boycott. (Global News)

Asking “What if Alberta decided there was no ‘social acceptability’ for cheese curds and Cirque de Soleil?” the National Post looks at what an Alberta-Quebec boycott battle would entail. (National Post)

The Canada Border Services Agency wants to revive its reality TV show Border Security: Canada’s Front Line. You know, the one that was taken off the air in 2016 after Canada’s privacy watchdog found the CBSA violated the rights of a migrant worker during a raid. “They should give up their Hollywood dream and focus on doing their job,” says the head of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.  (CBC News)

Long time no see: Disappearing-Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio popped his head into the House of Commons after staying away for months, acknowledging that actually showing up on Parliament Hill is part of an MPs job, but instead he decided to “do something concrete” in his Montreal-area riding—raise awareness about the dangers of cannabis legalization. Well, that and hold down his other job as a lawyer. Di Iorio also used his wide-ranging return speech to discuss the historical mistreatment of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War. (Canadian Press)

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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