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Canada could delay ratification of new NAFTA until U.S. metals tariffs are lifted: Garneau

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Transport Minister Marc Garneau said today the federal government isn’t ruling out delaying Canada’s ratification of the new North American free trade pact until after the U.S. lifts controversial tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Garneau, who chairs the cabinet committee on Canada-U.S. relations, said holding back on ratifying the Canada-United-States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) would create challenges, but it’s something his government is considering.

The government tabled the text of the treaty in mid December; it can’t introduce implementation legislation before March.

“We will, as you know, look at the implementation after the 18th of March, but what I’m saying to you is that we will be doing some serious thinking about whether we want to proceed forward with it … you know the situation with respect to steel and aluminum is not yet resolved,” he told CBC Radio’s The House from Washington, D.C. Thursday. The full interview will air Saturday.

“I’m not saying that it’s a showstopper, but it certainly is an impediment because we have a good deal with the United States and — without the tariffs in place —  we’re very happy with the deal.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s top man in Washington said today he thinks U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum will be lifted in the next few weeks — but wouldn’t elaborate on what’s motivating that optimism.

David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., would only tell reporters at a gathering in Washington that there is a lot of support in the U.S. among workers and politicians for killing the punitive tariffs.

“We’ll get there in the next few weeks,” he said. “We’re getting there.”

Last May, the U.S. announced tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminum.

Canada retaliated with tariffs of its own, but the government has faced criticism for signing a new North American trade pact with the U.S. and Mexico without securing any guarantees from Washington that it would lift the tariffs.

MacNaughton said he’s met with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and members of Congress over the last few weeks.

“I’m optimistic that we are going to get there,” he said.

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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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