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Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance on what China is doing to Canada

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“This was an interesting forum,” Gen. Jonathan Vance said as I took a seat in the second-floor suite that had been set aside for him as a meeting room at the Westin Nova Scotian hotel. This was a couple of weeks ago, on the last day of the annual Halifax International Security Forum, a global gathering of soldiers, politicians, diplomats and think tankers, who spend a weekend each autumn discussing what ails the world.

As Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, the country’s leading soldier, Vance is a Halifax regular. This was the sixth forum he’s attended. But it wasn’t like the others. Much of the discussion this year was about the grim rise, not of stateless and amorphous groups like Al Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State, but of two very familiar country-sized antagonists: Russia and China.

The “number one” trend at this year’s forum was “the resurgence of great-power dynamics,” Vance said.  “There’s extreme concern about what some nations—you know, particularly Russia and China—are doing. The thwarting of international norms and standards that we’ve lived with for a very long time.”

Here, Vance was echoing the 2018 National Defense Strategy, released early this year by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It announced a return of great-power competition—principally against China and Russia—as the highest U.S. strategic priority, effectively demoting ISIS and Iran to lower levels of concern.

But if the adversaries are familiar, the methods aren’t. “The nature of warfare and conflict is changing. And it’s changing very, very quickly,” Vance said. “Political objectives can be achieved with military force—or with the harmonization of other influencers short of war.”

READ MORE: China is a bigger threat than Russia—but you won’t hear Trudeau say it

As examples, he mentioned the Russian attack on Ukraine—often denied or dissimulated by the Russians—and a range of tactics China is using to destabilize other countries in the Indo-Pacific region. It’s the furthest thing from classical warfare, where armies line up in a field and have at it. It’s… destabilizing. “If you’re fighting below the threshold of war, if you want to punch, where are you going to punch, and with what? That’s the question of our age.”

The Chinese tactics are, if anything, more novel and disturbing than Russia’s. China has spent recent years dumping tonnes of landfill into the South China Sea to build up a string of tiny coral reefs into a network of new and formidable naval military bases. These places used to be meaningless dots in the Indo-Pacific, shipping hazards worst. Now several of them sport two-mile runways, anti-aircraft missiles and other features designed to project the country’s power hundreds of miles further forward. “China is using coercive tactics short of armed conflict,” a 2016 Pentagon report said, “to advance their interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict,”

The challenge for Canada and its allies, Vance said, “is to define with confidence where does competition stop and conflict start in any domain. It’s pretty clear if you draw a line on a map and they cross it and they’re not supposed to, then it could be an act of war. [But] the line is less certain in the information space, in cyberspace, in the cognitive domain, in monetary terms. You know, destroying your economy—is that an act of war?”

This was all getting pretty abstract. I decided to put a concrete case to Vance. A case from close to home. “Let me just ask out loud what I sometimes wonder,” I said to him. “When I look at the opioid crisis, when I look at the housing market in Vancouver, when I look at money laundering—has Canada been, this year, a target of antagonistic state action by China?”

“I would say we have been for some time,” Vance replied. “I mean, I don’t think it’s just this year.”

“Now, is it antagonistic, deliberately vectored and targeted? I don’t know. But the impact on us is antagonizing, and whether or not it’s deliberately intended that way or if it’s a by-product of something else…” he trailed off.

“Interesting you mention the opioid crisis. So here’s—I’m just giving you a sense of how I see the security domain.” Health Canada reports that between 2016 and 2018, 8,000 people died in Canada of apparently opioid overdoses. “If we had that many people being killed by something somewhere else in the world,” Vance said, “and Canadians were dying at that rate, we would be mustering an awful lot of our resources to deal with it. I think Canada’s trying to deal with it as well as we can. But what’s the nature of that threat? Have we determined that threat to be a by-product of something else, or is it a direct threat?”

By now, Vance’s answer to my deliberately provocative question was getting long, and it wasn’t a No. “Deliberate? Not sure,” he said. “Is it antagonizing? Is it painful for this country? Yes. It’s really not my domain to advise upon, but we’re certainly feeling it.”

In a world where threats are mounting but the nature of conflict is morphing perhaps beyond recognition, Vance said, it does no good to staff up the Canadian Forces with people who share similar experience and ways of thinking. This is his pitch for diversity in soldiers’ background, and especially for recruiting more women into active duty.

“You know, people could accuse me of virtue signalling around diversity,” he said. “It’s got nothing to do with virtue signalling. It has everything to do with, if we aren’t tapping our population into our military with creative, critical thinking and a diverse range of thought and skill sets, we’ll be bringing a tactical tool”—that is, old-fashioned equipment—“to a digital fight. That won’t win.”

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Chris Selley: The blinding incoherence of Ottawa’s hotel-quarantine theatre is becoming obvious

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Canada’s new mandatory hotel quarantine system landed over the weekend like a wet, mildewy towel. You have to book by phone. No one answers. There are multiple reports of Canadian citizens being put on hold for three hours, then cut off seemingly automatically.

“Our trained and specialized travel counsellors are providing around-the-clock service to facilitate hotel bookings,” a spokesperson for American Express Global Business Travel told National Post.

The “regular hours of operation” listed are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Ottawa time.

Officials have blamed the call backlog on people calling too far in advance of travel. Would you wait until the recommended 48 hours before your flight? The online advice implies you need “proof of having reserved and pre-paid for (hotel) accommodation” even to get on the plane. In fact, help is available for those disembarking without reservations, a Public Health spokesman said.

That might be useful information to put on the internet. But then, so would a reservation system. All the participating hotels already have one of those.

For now, this all-too-predictable shambles isn’t a problem for the government. On social media, many are revelling in the misery and stress it’s causing, calling it travellers’ just deserts  — never mind if it’s an expat coming home to take a job, or a grieving family returning from a funeral, and not some fully vaccinated cartoon-villain snowbird. Former Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips and Canada’s other gallivanting politicos created a full-on moral panic overnight, and the feds, hitherto scornful of anyone who suggested international travel was worth worrying about, were happy to provide some red meat.

The populist glee will wear off, though, and the blinding incoherence of this policy will eventually dawn on people. There is evidence right here at home that may illustrate the problem.

Since November, travellers arriving at Calgary’s airport on international flights, or overland  into Alberta from Montana, could take a test upon arrival, and another a week later, and upon receipt of two negative results avoid the 14-days quarantine that has otherwise been demanded of “non-essential” humans entering the country for nearly a year. That “pilot project” was unceremoniously cancelled Sunday night.

At first, participants were allowed out and about, with a few restrictions, as soon as the test-on-arrival came back negative — usually within 48 hours. Upon receipt of the second negative result, they were subject to even fewer restrictions for the remainder of the two weeks. Later, travellers from the U.K. and South Africa were excluded; the federal rule requiring a negative test to board a flight to Canada kicked in; and on January 25, the rules changed such that pilot-project participants had to remain in quarantine until the second negative result after a week.

With the U.K. and South Africa excluded and a negative test required to board, the percentage of travellers testing positive on arrival dropped by half, from 1.47 to 0.75 per cent; the number testing positive a week later dropped by one-third, from 0.74 to 0.5 per cent.

It’s a small sample size. It doesn’t prove anything. But it’s intuitive: if you weed out high-risk travellers, and test before departure, you get fewer initial positives. This hints at one approach Canada could have taken but didn’t: focus more stringent measures on certain countries. Do we really need to treat arrivals from famously COVID-free countries like New Zealand (0.7 new daily cases per million population, on a two-week average), or Taiwan (0.03 cases), the same as those disembarking flights from Israel (384), the United Arab Emirates (296) or the United States (202)?

That one in 200 travellers were still testing positive after a week highlights the central flaw in the government’s plan, however. As I noted two weeks ago, research suggests the probability of a “false negative” PCR test only falls below 50 per cent on the fifth day after infection. If your goal is to prevent international travellers from transmitting COVID-19 to anyone in Canada, you can accomplish it vastly more effectively with a five- or seven-day quarantine, followed by another test, than with three days waiting for the result of a test conducted at the airport.

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Carleton Master’s Sociology Student to Receive Royal Ottawa Award for Mental Health Work

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Charlotte Smith, a Carleton University master’s student in Sociology, has faced overwhelming challenges throughout her life: childhood sexual abuse, homelessness, incarceration, drug dependency.

Undaunted, she has channelled these experiences into her academic, advocacy and activist work, developing research projects to address youth homelessness, creating a bursary to help homeless youth attend Carleton, and delivering food, phones and other essential items to homeless and precariously housed youth who are struggling during the pandemic.

For these actions, and for sharing her story of recovery to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness, Smith will be awarded the Personal Leader for Mental Health award at the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health’s 2021 Inspiration Awards.

“It can be re-traumatizing, embarrassing and awkward talking so publicly about your mental health and substance use issues, so it’s comforting when someone tells you that you’re not just oversharing, you’re actually making a small difference in other people’s lives,” says Smith, who will be joined on the Inspiration Awards virtual podium by Carleton President Benoit-Antoine Bacon, winner of the Royal’s Transformational Leader award.

“Getting an award like this is fantastic, but there are so many people doing so much important work on mental health and substance use,” says Smith, who last year won a Community Builder Award from the United Way East Ontario for her volunteer efforts in COVID times.

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Shopify Launches Offering of Class A Subordinate Voting Shares

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OTTAWA, Ontario–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Shopify Inc. (NYSE:SHOP)(TSX:SHOP) (“Shopify”) today announced that it has filed a preliminary prospectus supplement (the “Preliminary Supplement”) to its short form base shelf prospectus dated August 6, 2020 (the “Base Shelf Prospectus”). The Preliminary Supplement was filed in connection with a public offering of Shopify’s Class A subordinate voting shares (the “Offering”). The Preliminary Supplement has been filed with the securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces and territories of Canada, except Québec. The Preliminary Supplement has also been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) as part of Shopify’s registration statement on Form F-10 (the “Registration Statement”) under the U.S./Canada Multijurisdictional Disclosure System.

A total of 1,180,000 Class A subordinate voting shares will be offered by Shopify for sale under the Offering, which will be led by Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC (the “Underwriters”).Shopify will grant the Underwriters an over-allotment option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the Class A subordinate voting shares to be sold pursuant to the Offering (the “Over-Allotment Option”). The Over-Allotment Option will be exercisable for a period of 30 days from the date of the final prospectus supplement relating to the Offering. Allen & Company LLC is acting as special advisor to the Company with respect to the Offering.

Shopify expects to use the net proceeds from the Offering to strengthen its balance sheet, providing flexibility to fund its growth strategies.

Closing of the Offering will be subject to a number of closing conditions, including the listing of the Class A subordinate voting shares to be issued under the Offering on the NYSE and the TSX.

No securities regulatory authority has either approved or disapproved the contents of this news release. This news release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any province, state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such province, state or jurisdiction. The Preliminary Supplement, the Base Shelf Prospectus and the Registration Statement contain important detailed information about the Offering. A copy of the Preliminary Supplement and Base Shelf Prospectus can be found on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and EDGAR at www.sec.gov, and a copy of the Registration Statement can be found on EDGAR at www.sec.gov. Copies of these documents may also be obtained from Citigroup, c/o Broadridge Financial Solutions, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, NY 11717, Telephone: 1-800-831-9146; Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, Attention: Prospectus Department, Eleven Madison Avenue, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010, Telephone: 1-800-221-1037 or e-mail: usa.prospectus@credit-suisse.com; Credit Suisse Securities (Canada), Inc., Attention: Olivier Demet, 1 First Canadian Place, Suite 2900, Toronto, Ontario M5X 1C9, Telephone: 416-352-4749 or e-mail: olivier.demet@credit-suisse.com; or Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, Attn: Prospectus Department, 200 West Street, New York, NY 10282, telephone: 866-471-2526, facsimile: 212-902-9316 or email: prospectusny@ny.email.gs.com. Prospective investors should read the Preliminary Supplement, the Base Shelf Prospectus and the Registration Statement before making an investment decision.

About Shopify

Shopify is a leading global commerce company, providing trusted tools to start, grow, market, and manage a retail business of any size. Shopify makes commerce better for everyone with a platform and services that are engineered for reliability, while delivering a better shopping experience for consumers everywhere. Shopify powers over 1.7 million businesses in more than 175 countries and is trusted by brands such as Allbirds, Gymshark, Heinz, Staples Canada and many more.

We were proudly founded in Ottawa, Canada, but prefer to think of the company location as Internet, Everywhere. Shopify is a company of and by the internet, and we have physical outposts around the world. The archaic newswire system doesn’t allow us to acknowledge this fact, so we will henceforth keep this paragraph in our press releases until technology improves.

Forward-looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking information and forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities laws (“forward-looking statements”) including statements regarding the proposed Offering, the terms of the Offering and the proposed use of proceeds. Words such as “expects”, “continue”, “will”, “plans”, “anticipates” and “intends” or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.

These forward-looking statements are based on Shopify’s current expectations about future events and financial trends that management believes might affect its financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs, and on certain assumptions and analysis made by Shopify in light of the experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments and other factors management believes are appropriate. These projections, expectations, assumptions and analyses are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors that could cause actual results, performance, events and achievements to differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Although Shopify believes that the assumptions underlying these forward-looking statements are reasonable, they may prove to be incorrect, and readers cannot be assured that the Offering discussed above will be completed on the terms described above. Completion of the proposed Offering is subject to numerous factors, many of which are beyond Shopify’s control, including but not limited to, the failure of customary closing conditions and other important factors disclosed previously and from time to time in Shopify’s filings with the SEC and the securities commissions or similar securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces or territories of Canada. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release represent Shopify’s expectations as of the date of this news release, or as of the date they are otherwise stated to be made, and subsequent events may cause these expectations to change. Shopify undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law.

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