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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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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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