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FIRST READING: Mild variant, meet draconian lockdown


Did Justin Trudeau say that the unvaccinated are all racists?

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First Reading is a daily newsletter keeping you posted on the travails of Canadian politicos, all curated by the National Post’s own Tristin Hopper. To get an early version sent direct to your inbox every Monday to Thursday at 6 p.m. ET (and 9 a.m. on Sundays), sign up here.

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TOP STORY

Happy New Year, First Reading readers! We’re afraid the leading Canadian political story for the first week of 2022 is a fresh wave of new COVID-19 lockdowns

  • The most notable Canadian lockdown of the Omicron wave is Quebec’s reintroduction of a curfew. Starting on New Year’s Eve, anyone found outside their home after 10 p.m. without a reasonable explanation faces fines of up to $6,000.
  • Quebec also appears to be set to shut off government liquor stores to the unvaccinated. Under a proposed policy, anyone without a vaccine card will be barred entry to locations of Société des Alcools du Québec – the Quebec equivalent of B.C. Liquor Stores or Ontario’s LCBO.
  • On Tuesday, Ontario announced that it is once again closing indoor dining, and closing schools for at least the next two weeks. This is in addition to blanket closures on theatres and gyms.

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While prior Canadian lockdowns were relatively uncontroversial measures opposed mostly by the anti-vaxxer fringe, these latest ones are spawning some pretty mainstream public anger …

  • All three Quebec opposition parties have opposed the province’s most recent curfew. The policy has also attracted an open letter signed by public health experts deeming it “a punishment on individuals to mask the negligence and systemic inaction in managing the pandemic.”
  • Dan Kelly of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently told The Evan Solomon Show that Ontario’s new lockdowns would lead to the “financial ruin of thousands and thousands of people.” “At this point, I’m more afraid of the government than Omicron,” Johnny Bonney, a restaurant manager in Ottawa’s ByWard Market, told CTV.
  • Ontario’s decision to close schools, in particular, has attracted criticism by everyone from parent’s groups to teachers unions to social justice organizations to public health experts. “It is almost impossible to enumerate the harms associated with closing schools, and many will only be discovered years from now in economic and social harms that will take generations to recover,” infectious diseases physician Jennifer Grant wrote in an op-ed for the Ottawa Citizen.

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CULTURE WARS

The CBC is a hotbed of elitist race-obsessives largely cranking out leftist propaganda , according to former CBC producer and books columnist Tara Henley. In a scathing National Post column penned after her resignation, Henley described the CBC’s descent from “a trusted source of news to churning out clickbait that reads like a parody of the student press.” Lots of National Post columns bash the CBC, of course, but Henley’s take was unique in saying that the broadcaster’s obsession with “woke” ideology has made it an uncritical pawn of the corporate and political establishment. CBC’s approach to journalism, she wrote, “is to endlessly document microaggressions but pay little attention to evictions; to spotlight company’s political platitudes but have little interest in wages or working conditions … And to watch the most vulnerable among us die of drug overdoses — with little comment.”

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If your phone looks like this, we’re afraid that it permanently stopped working today. BlackBerry will forever remain the symbol of a brief, shining moment in telecommunications history when a Canadian company dominated the smartphone sector. But starting Jan 4., the company has suspended service to all of its most iconic early models. The phones can’t even be used to make a 911 call.
If your phone looks like this, we’re afraid that it permanently stopped working today. BlackBerry will forever remain the symbol of a brief, shining moment in telecommunications history when a Canadian company dominated the smartphone sector. But starting Jan 4., the company has suspended service to all of its most iconic early models. The phones can’t even be used to make a 911 call. Photo by Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP

The Globe and Mail kicked off 2022 with the not-at-all alarmist take that the United States is on the brink of civil war and that Canada’s top priority should be to prepare itself to live alongside an anarchistic, MAGA hellscape. This included the very serious suggestion that Ottawa should convene a standing parliamentary committee whose only job would be to predict when the Americans will finally reach full “democratic failure.”

Over the holidays, a September video clip of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau purporting to refer to the unvaccinated as “racists” suddenly began to make the rounds of the more right-wing corners of the internet. Largely unnoticed during the federal election campaign, the Sep. 16 clip is from Trudeau’s French-language appearance on the Quebec talk show La semaine des 4 Julie. The controversial part starts at 3:00 in the embedded video below, but here’s the transcript from the part where he defends his government’s decision to pursue a federal vaccine mandate …

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“We all know people who are a little hesitant (about vaccination), and we’re going to try and convince them, but there are also people who are fiercely opposed to vaccination; who don’t believe in science, who are often misogynists, who are often racist as well … There, one must make a choice as a national leader, do we tolerate these people?”

ECONOMIX

Dan McTeague, the go-to expert on Canadian gas prices, has predicted that the price of fuel is only going to get much worse throughout 2022 . By the end of the summer, McTeague forecasts an average Canadian price per litre of $1.65 (that’s already the price in Vancouver , so they’ll probably be approaching $1.80).

Meanwhile, BMO’s chief economist Douglas Porter thinks that inflation is going to remain “uncomfortably high” throughout the coming year . It may not stay at the current peak of 4.7 per cent, but Porter told the Toronto Star to expect an entire calendar year in which inflation stays north of three per cent. It would be the first time it’s happened since 1991.

Saskatoon-based author Yann Martel holds up a copy of his bestselling novel Life of Pi in this 2002 photo. Martel was one of the most notable new inductees into the Order of Canada last week. Other new appointments included former Senator Murray Sinclair and former B.C. Deputy Premier Joy McPhail. Click here for the full list.
Saskatoon-based author Yann Martel holds up a copy of his bestselling novel Life of Pi in this 2002 photo. Martel was one of the most notable new inductees into the Order of Canada last week. Other new appointments included former Senator Murray Sinclair and former B.C. Deputy Premier Joy McPhail. Click here for the full list. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP – Alastair Grant

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