One-dose summer, two-dose fall and an old Macdonald makeover: In The News for May 12

·6 min read

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 12 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A summer of backyard barbecues and picnics in the park?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it's possible if people keep rolling up their sleeves and don't ease COVID-19 public-health restrictions until cases are down.

"We can have that summer, we can have a one-dose summer ... And a one-dose summer sets us up for a two-dose fall when we'll be able to talk about going back to school back to work and back to more normality," he says.

"That's what the coming months could look like. That's what I'm excited about."

Canada hit a major milestone on the road to COVID-19 herd immunity Tuesday, with 40 per cent of Canadians — 15.2 million people — now vaccinated with at least their first dose.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said 75 per cent is the target for first doses so lifting restrictions doesn't result in a fourth wave.

The news comes even as Ontario and Alberta announce they will no longer be giving first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Supply of that vaccine has been tight of late and there have been concerns about the risk of blood clots that come with that type of shot.

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Also this ...

Is working from home creating a cyber threat?

A new report estimates nearly two-thirds of businesses globally, including 63 per cent in Canada, have seen an increase in targeted cyberattacks since they switched to widespread remote work.

The report from U.S. -based Proofpoint is based on a first-quarter survey of 1,400 chief information security officers at mid-sized and large businesses in 14 countries, including Canada.

More than half of the Canadian information security officers said that human error is the biggest vulnerability because most cyberattacks involve some type of interaction with people.

Proofpoint spokeswoman Lucia Milica says there are more ways for criminals to target remote workers who are outside the organization's security perimeter.

Email fraud was the biggest problem identified by the Canadian respondents, and one of the top three vulnerabilities in 12 of the countries studied.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

The two players in the most important relationship in Washington finally are ready for a face-to-face meeting.

US President Joe Biden's sit-down on Wednesday with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional leaders comes as the White House accelerates its efforts to reach a bipartisan infrastructure agreement _ or at least aims to show it's trying.

But McConnell is plainly stating he's not interested in the plan as proposed.

The White House meeting will be the centerpiece of a week of legislative outreach as the clock ticks toward a deadline for a bipartisan agreement on Biden's $4 trillion two-part plan for infrastructure and family programs.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

Israel has stepped up attacks on the Gaza Strip, flattening a building used by Hamas and killing at least three militants.

Palestinian rockets rained down almost nonstop on parts of Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to expand the offensive, while Gaza militants unleashed a barrage of rockets that set off air-raid sirens and explosions around Tel Aviv.

The enemies' heaviest fighting since 2014 showed no signs of slowing. Five Israelis were killed by rocket fire. The death toll in Gaza rose to 35, and a Palestinian was killed during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank.

In another sign of widening unrest, demonstrations erupted in Arab communities across Israel.

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On this day in 1921 ...

Author Farley Mowat was born in Belleville, Ont. The son of a librarian, he grew up in Windsor, Ont., and Saskatoon. His novels, including "Lost in the Barrens" which won the Governor General's Award and other non-fiction works, have been translated into more than 20 languages. He died May 6, 2014.

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In education news ...

With kids as young as 12 being vaccinated for COVID-19, there are questions around whether the shots will be mandatory before students can return to in-person learning.

Provinces have not said whether they're considering mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for youth, however, there is precedents.

Ontario and New Brunswick make some immunizations, including measles, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and rubella, compulsory for school-aged children. Other provinces treat those vaccinations as voluntary.

In Ontario, mandatory vaccines are part of the Immunization of School Pupils Act of 1990, which Western University health law expert Jacob Shelley says can theoretically be modified to add a new required vaccine without passing an additional law.

Provinces that don't already have mandatory vaccines for school-aged children could introduce them through new laws, Shelley says, though that usually takes time. He adds, however, that enacting emergency orders could speed up the process.

But having the ability to make vaccines mandatory for teens doesn't mean it will happen.

"The question is going to be a political one more than a legal one, in my mind, whether or not jurisdictions are going to be interested in navigating what may end up proving to be a contentious issue," Shelley said. "But it's certainly possible."

Françoise Baylis, a health ethics researcher at Dalhousie University, says there are plenty of factors for jurisdictions to consider when making that decision.

She expects some to adopt a hybrid learning agreement, where vaccinated students can return in person and those who aren't continue to learn online. But, Baylis says, that's not a perfect fix, since quality of education often suffers in an online environment.

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ICYMI ...

The City of Charlottetown says it will add an Indigenous elder or child next to its Sir John A. Macdonald to serve as a reminder of the darker side of the former prime minister's legacy.

The statue in the P.E.I. capital of Canada's first prime minister, sitting on a bench with his arm outstretched and his top hat beside him, has been vandalized three times in the past year.

It's a national trend as greater attention is focused on Macdonald's role as an architect of the country's residential school system, where thousands of Indigenous children suffered abuse, or even death.

The Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, which represents the Abegweit First Nation and Lennox Island First Nation on P.E.I., wrote to the city in January recommending several changes to the statue, including a new plaque providing a fuller account of Macdonald's story.

The group sought to have the empty space on the bench blocked off to remove the possibility of photo opportunities next to the statue.

Coun. Julie McCabe, who chairs the city's tourism and economic development committee, says the city will consult with the artist and the Indigenous groups to come up with a design.

McCabe said only then will they be able to discuss a budget for the changes. The original art piece cost about $75,000.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021

The Canadian Press

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