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The Brand Trudeau international PR machine does it again

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There is “extreme concern” among allies about what China is up to,  Canada’s top soldier, Jonathan Vance, tells Paul Wells. “Is it antagonizing? Is it painful for this country? Yes.” (Maclean’s)

Don’t kid yourself, Canada isn’t immune from populism, write Frank Graves and Michael Valpy:

We’ve learned more and more about the populism that has fuelled this complicated moment as the fracture in America races like wildfire throughout Western democracies. It is the biggest force reshaping democracy, our economies and public institutions. It is the product of economic despair, inequality, and yes, racism and xenophobia. It is an institutional blind spot, largely denied or ridiculed by the media, and by the more comfortable and educated portions of society.

It is very much alive in Canada. In fact, our populist explosion has already had its first bangs and is likely to have a major impact on next year’s federal election. (Maclean’s)

The security review of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s controversial trip to India landed in Parliament Monday, and as expected it delivered some surprises. For one, the RCMP knew that would-be political assassin Jaspal Atwal planned to independently join Trudeau during the trip, but didn’t bother to tell Trudeau’s security minders. From the report: “The RCMP had information that Mr. Atwal had a serious criminal record and a history of involvement in violent acts, issues which should have been identified as security risks to the Prime Minister and his delegation. The RCMP recognizes that it erred in not providing that information to the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail.” (CBC News)

It’s almost like the RCMP and Trudeau have a communication problem.

Statistics Canada has delayed its plan to compel banks to hand over private financial records of 500,000 Canadians. It has also suspended its searches of personal credit files from rating agency TransUnion. Both practices have drawn heavy criticism from privacy experts, not to mention opposition MPs. (Globe and Mail)

Speaking of stats, it’s #ChartWeek at Maclean’s. Each year we ask economists, academics, analysts and investors to pick one chart they think will be important in the year ahead, and explain why. There are charts on rising interest rates, fiscal policy, slowing household credit, China-U.S. trade tensions, Alberta’s oil price crisis, business competitiveness and more—more than 70 charts in all. (Maclean’s)

After Trudeau’s seemingly offhand tweet to Daily Show host Trevor Noah on Sunday offering $50 million for a charity, critics pounced that this was another example of the Liberals’ flippant attitude toward spending. Turns out it was just another example of the Brand Trudeau’s international PR machine in action. The government’s decision to give $50 million to Education Cannot Wait, a charity that supports education for children impacted by conflict and natural disasters, was actually made several weeks ago as part of an earlier-announced $400-million initiative. But the big reveal  was carefully timed to coincide with Noah’s appearance at a poverty-fighting event in South Africa.  “We always look for hooks to release the funds,” a spokesperson for International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said. Noah graciously obliged, displaying Trudeau’s tweet on a screen at the event. (Global News, Twitter)

This next item isn’t a political story. That doesn’t matter. It’s the final chapter in a wrenching tale that Maclean’s writer Shannon Proudfoot, along with countless thousands of readers, has followed for the past three years: the all-too-rapid decline of Jo Aubin, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at  just 37. Aubin passed away at age 42 on Nov. 29:

For the last days of his life, there was a pack of people around Jo at all times. They listened to music, they talked, they made highly inappropriate jokes. They were loud. It was beautiful and exactly right for Jo. “I loved it, even though I hated it,” one of them said later. To another, it seemed like Jo gathered them all together and kept them like that long enough to make sure they would be okay.

Early one morning, a week and a half after Jo stopped eating, he peacefully exited the world with the people who loved him most by his side. He had not spent a single day in a hospital or long-term care facility.

Two days after he died, those same people gathered with dozens upon dozens of others to celebrate Jo. They did it exactly as he wanted.  (Maclean’s)

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Ottawa unveils funding for poultry and egg farmers hurt by free-trade deals

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Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share due to two recent free-trade agreements will soon have access to $691 million in federal cash, Canada’s agriculture minister announced Saturday.

Marie-Claude Bibeau shared details of the long-awaited funds in a virtual news conference.

“Today we position our young farmers for growth and success tomorrow,” she said.

The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free-trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, one that came into effect in 2017 and the other in 2018.

The dairy sector funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.

But on Saturday, Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money flow over three years — beginning with $468 million in 2020-21, $469 million in 2021-22 and $468 million in 2022-23.

Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year.

Payments based on formulas

David Wiens, vice-president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the money will help farms make investments for the future.

“I think particularly for the younger farmers who have really struggled since these agreements have been ratified, they can actually now see opportunities, how they can continue to make those investments on the farm so that they can continue on,” he said.

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Employee of Ottawa Metro store tests positive for COVID-19

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Metro says an employee of its grocery store on Beechwood Avenue in Ottawa has tested positive for COVID-19.

The company says the employee’s positive test result was reported on Nov. 25. The employee had last been at work at the Metro at 50 Beechwood Ave. on Nov. 19.

Earlier this month, Metro reported several cases of COVID-19 at its warehouse on Old Innes Road.

Positive test results were reported on Nov. 2, Nov. 6, Nov. 11, and Nov. 19. The first two employees worked at the produce warehouse at 1184 Old Innes Rd. The other two worked at the distribution centre at the same address.

Metro lists cases of COVID-19 in employees of its stores and warehouses on its website

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Tinseltown: Where 50-year-old ‘tough guys’ become youngsters again

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Audy Czigler wears glitter like a Pennsylvania miner wears coal dust. It’s on his face and hands, in his hair and on his clothing. It’s an occupational hazard that he says he just can’t get rid of.

And when he’s sifting through job applications from people wanting to work at his Tinseltown Christmas Emporium on Somerset Street W. in Hintonburg, the glitter is a consideration. For he’s not looking for people who can simply endure it; no, he’s screening for people who revel and carouse in glitter, for those for whom the 10,000th playing of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is as refreshing as the first, for those who believe that the 12 days of Christmas last 365 days a year. The believers.

Sure, he has heard the voices of skeptical passersby on the sidewalk outside his shop, especially in the summer months when visions of sugarplums have receded from many people’s minds.

“I hear them out there a few times a day,” he says, “wondering how a Christmas store can possibly survive year-round.

“I want to go out and tell them,” he adds, but his voice trails off as a customer approaches and asks about an ornament she saw there recently, of a red cardinal in a white heart. Where is it?

There’s scant room for sidewalk skeptics now, crowded out by the dozens of shoppers who, since October, have regularly lined up outside the store, patiently biding their time (and flocks) as pandemic-induced regulations limit the shop to 18 customers at a time.

Once inside, visitors will be forgiven for not first noticing the glitter, or even the rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside playing on the speakers. For there’s no specific “first thing” you notice. The first thing you notice is EVERYTHING — a floor-to-ceiling cornucopia of festivity, reminiscent perhaps of how the blind man in the Gospel of John may have felt when Jesus rubbed spit and mud in his eyes and gave him sight for the first time.

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/tinseltown-where-50-year-old-tough-guys-become-youngsters-again

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