Evening Update: Ottawa supports CPPIB for accepting resignation of CEO over Dubai vaccine controversy

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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

The chief executive officer of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has resigned, just hours after it was reported that he received a COVID-19 vaccine while in the United Arab Emirates.

On Thursday, it was revealed that Mark Machin received his vaccine in Dubai, and is still there with his partner.

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“After discussions last evening with the board, Mr. Machin tendered his resignation and it has been accepted,” CPPIB said in a statement.

“While the CPPIB is an independent organization, we are very disappointed by this troubling situation and we support the swift action taken by the board of directors,” Katherine Cuplinskas, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s press secretary, said in a statement Friday. “[Ms. Freeland] spoke to the chair of the board of directors today and made clear that Canadians place their trust in the CPPIB and expect it to be held to a higher standard,” she added.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is the country’s largest pension fund and manages $476-billion on behalf of Canadians.

While it is not illegal for Canadian residents to travel out of the country, the federal government has issued a global advisory to avoid all non-essential travel.

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Health Canada approves two more COVID-19 vaccines

Health Canada approved two more COVID-19 vaccines on Friday, setting the stage for shots from four companies to be delivered into the arms of Canadians in the coming months.

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The Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and a comparable one made in India were both given the green light. Canada has purchased 20 million doses directly from AstraZeneca but the contract only allowed for deliveries after March. Ottawa will also buy two million doses of the CoviShield vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India. Canada will receive 500,000 shots from the institute in March and the remaining 1.5 million doses will arrive by May.

It’s expected that the approval of the shots will speed up Canada’s timeline for inoculations. Canada has also authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. All are administered in two shots.

Read more:

U.S. intelligence: Saudi Crown Prince approved operation to capture or kill Jamal Khashoggi

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved of an operation to capture or kill dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in 2018, according to a declassified U.S. intelligence assessment released on Friday.

Khashoggi, who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post critical of the Crown Prince’s policies, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives linked to the Crown Prince in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. Riyadh has denied any involvement by the Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. In declassifying the report, U.S. President Joe Biden reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s refusal to release it in defiance of a 2019 law, reflecting a new U.S. willingness to challenge the kingdom on issues from human rights to the war in Yemen.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Prince Harry says he stepped back from royal duties to escape ‘toxic’ press

Prince Harry has said he stepped back from his royal duties because the “toxic” British press had been destroying his mental health, adding he had not walked away from public service. Harry, 36, and his wife, Meghan, 39, sent shock waves through the monarchy in January, 2020, when they announced their intention to step back from royal duties and embark on a new life across the Atlantic.

UN human rights chief decries arrests in China, abuses in Xinjiang

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Friday that China is restricting basic civil and political freedoms in the name of national security and COVID-19 measures, adding to a wave of criticism of the country’s rights record.

WestJet to lay off 415 pilots as COVID-19 pandemic weighs on outlook for summer travel

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WestJet Airlines Ltd. has issued layoff notices to 415 pilots, underlining the dim outlook for air travel heading into the summer. WestJet has 1,250 pilots in its work force of 5,600. About 5,100 workers have been laid off since the pandemic caused passenger capacity to be slashed by about 90 per cent, including 450 pilots. Before the pandemic, WestJet employed about 2,000 pilots.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index slumped Friday as shares of miners, energy companies and financial firms flagged, while investors eyed bonds and interest rate trends.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 163.28 points at 18,060.26.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 469.64 points at 30,932.37, the S&P 500 index was down 18.19 points at 3,811.15, while the Nasdaq composite was up 72.91 points at 13,192.34.

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.83 cents US compared with 79.81 cents US on Thursday, when it briefly topped 80 cents US.

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TALKING POINTS

To see the true picture of the First Nations housing crisis, look to Sioux Lookout

“There is a direct line from the housing crisis in First Nations communities to what you see on city streets. Subpar homes house multiple generations, lack proper heat or are full of mould, without running water or working toilets. People sleep in shifts because there aren’t enough beds. Deaths on the streets happen when hundreds wait for housing in First Nations communities already lacking in foundational infrastructure.” – Tanya Talaga

As Jon Stewart returns to TV, The Daily Show’s legacy of exploiting the news for laughs casts a long shadow

“After more than a decade on top, Stewart’s show had become a particle accelerator for political and social decline on the horizon. It wasn’t what Stewart did – it’s what the people who watched him became. While they were engaged in ‘news’ and getting vaguely informed, they were also becoming less curious, less inclined to see things another way, and meaner.” – Cathal Kelly

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How Canada learned what’s wrong with its immigration system – by slamming its borders shut

“If Canada wants to reach a level of population density that provides the most ecological, economic and cultural benefits – especially in a world whose borders and markets are becoming less open – it doesn’t have much time.” – Doug Saunders

The Olympics’ outdated host-city model should be revisited in favour of a truly global Games

“The IOC can go further by unbundling the events within the Games and spreading some of those events around the world. It is entirely possible today to simultaneously hold an Olympic alpine ski race in St. Moritz, an Olympic biathlon in Whistler, and an Olympic ski jump event in Pyeongchang.” – Graeme Menzies

LIVING BETTER

The pandemic is worsening negative thought patterns, but with mindfulness we can help the mind help itself

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Have you developed a dependency on connected devices during the pandemic? For some who have, it’s because they’re afraid to be alone with their thoughts. Using external sources to escape negative thoughts isn’t uncommon.

“Sometimes that feeling of, ‘anything but this’ can be the mind’s way of trying to bring something in that’s less distressing,” says Vancouver-based psychiatrist Andrea Grabovac, an expert in mindfulness-integrated cognitive behavioural therapy. She says becoming aware of the process of our own thinking is the first stage of developing a healthier relationship with our thoughts. “It’s kind of like paying attention to our posture. Sometimes we can get away with not doing that, but if we have an achy back, it’s useful to keep posture in mind.” In the same way, she adds, it can be helpful to develop a skill called metacognitive awareness – staying aware of the flow of thoughts as just thoughts, one after the other, without getting caught in their content, because when we do, that fuels the stress cycle.

TODAY’S LONG READ

Millennials take their place powering the property market

Berkeley Loh, 29, and Tom Holmes, 35, have been together a few years and living in their 800-square-foot Olympic Village rental in Vancouver, but they always had a plan to buy.

In the past year, during a global pandemic, Ms. Loh and Mr. Holmes became part a trend: millennial-age people driving the property market. They put a deposit on a 1,136-sq.-ft., two-bedroom condo in Port Moody, with a price tag of $819,000. Among the building amenities is an office space shared among the owners, which has become a bit of a must in the new pandemic world.

It turns out that millennials may not be quite so shut out of the property market as has been reported. The cohort, whose age range is somewhere between late 20s to early 40s, is entering a phase of life where they are settling down and thinking about kids.

Like generations before them, millennials appear to believe in home ownership. In April, 2020, Zolo, a B.C.-based digital real estate company and brokerage that collects data on the market, surveyed 2,128 respondents. It found that 16 per cent of people aged 25 to 39 planned on buying a home in 2020, and 26 per cent planned on buying in the next two to three years. Only 15 per cent of that age group said they never plan on buying property. The survey also showed that 59 per cent of millennials had been saving for a home before the pandemic, while 51 per cent of the older Gen-X demographic had been saving for a property purchase.

Read Kerry Gold’s full story here.

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