When governments in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and elsewhere instituted mandatory hotel quarantines for travellers arriving in their countries as a way of monitoring the spread of COVID-19, they received both praise and criticism. Some citizens questioned why their rights of mobility were being curtailed in their own countries. Would-be travellers factored additional costs into their budgets or deferred travel. And others sought to evade the measures. Exploring the history of quarantine hotels reveals ambivalences and inequities that continue to fuel debates over their effectiveness in the era of COVID-19. There is a logic behind choosing hotels for mandatory quarantine and for other COVID-19-era public-health measures such as re-housing people experiencing homelessness. The latter was done at the former Roehampton Hotel in Toronto, where it was met with controversy from affluent community members. Hotels supply space. Their capacity and interior organization means that individuals and households can be separated and monitored. Meals can be supplied with minimal contact and movements can be tracked.
To quote SCTV’s Count Floyd, the latest news about the much anticipated SCTV reunion set for Netflix isn’t so “scary” after all. The internet was abuzz after SCTV’s Joe Flaherty, who played Count Floyd, said in a Facebook posting that, after a discussion he had with SCTV developer-co-producer Andrew Alexander, the reunion special had been “shelved” and he was feeling “deflated” by the news. A fan in the U.S. even started an online petition to save the show. But now a spokesperson for Toronto’s Insight Productions, who shot the reunion with director Martin Scorsese, says that was “a bit of a misunderstanding; the project has not been shelved; just delayed due to Mr. Scorsese’s other production commitments.” Shot three years ago at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre, the reunion, which was also supposed to air on CTV in Canada, saw the entire cast (except for the dearly departed Harold Ramis and John Candy, the latter whose character’s name Johnny LaRue was emblazoned on one of the camera cranes) including Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Dave Thomas and last minute addition Rick Moranis, together for the first time in over 40 years.
Risk of blood clots tied to AstraZeneca shot now estimated at 1 in 55,000 in Canada The future use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in Canada is now in question due to concerns over the increased risk of rare but severe blood clots connected to the shot, an unpredictable future supply and a significant amount of other vaccines. Alberta was the first province to confirm it would stop administering first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, citing a scarcity of supply. The province will instead prioritize mRNA vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna while reserving existing AstraZeneca for second doses. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams announced in an impromptu news conference late Tuesday afternoon the vaccine would also no longer be offered to Ontarians as a first dose and future supply would instead be reserved for optional second shots. But unlike Alberta, Ontario’s decision was made largely due to the rising rate of the rare but serious blood-clotting condition connected to the shot known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).
A bridge to the future of Toronto’s revitalized waterfront has floated into view. Half of the new Commissioners Street bridge glided into Toronto Harbour’s shipping channel, south of Polson Pier, early Tuesday afternoon. The western half of the bridge, all 83 metres and 650 tonnes of steel, started its journey May 5 at a manufacturing plant in Dartmouth, N.S. It rode the St. Lawrence Seaway past Montreal, the Thousand Islands and into Lake Ontario. It will sit in the channel for a few days and then be hauled overland into place as an eventual connector between Villiers Island, being created along with a “renaturalized” Don River mouth, to the east downtown shoreline. The section will then wait for the eastern half, slated to float its way to Toronto this summer. When completed the Commissioners Street bridge will be 152 metres long, the biggest of four stylish bridges being built for the massive project. The first bridge, installed at Cherry Street, floated into the harbour with great fanfare last November, heralded by officials as a “future iconic landmark of the city’s skyline.”
Parliament voted 176-155 in favour of cutting debate on a bill that would greatly expand Canada’s mail-in voting system for any future election, according to Blacklock’s Reporter. The legislation, titled Bill C-19, would change the one-day format to a three-day polling period from Saturday to Monday, giving voters eight hours per-day on the weekend to submit their ballots, and a 12-hour window on the final day of voting. The bill aims to decrease queues at polling stations that would put people in close contact with one another. Conservative, Green, and Bloc MPs all voiced their concerns over debate on the bill being shut down. Conservative MP Warren Steinley asked, “If the government does not want a pandemic election, what is the big desire to rush this bill through now?” “I am very disappointed,” said Green MP Elizabeth May. “Clearly all parties in this place have said publicly we do not want a federal election in a pandemic, but we want the best possible legislation in case that happens by accident,” said MP May. “Pushing this through with such limited time for debate does not meet the standards I expect of the Liberal government.”
A new poll has the Conservatives at 30%, the Liberals at 33% and the NDP below 20%. Federal Conservatives saw some hopeful numbers in Leger’s weekly survey for May 10. Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives sit at 30%, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals at 33%, and the NDP of Jagmeet Singh at 19%. The more minor party’s support remains unwavering, with 6% for the Bloc Quebecois and 6% for the Greens. This is welcome news to the Conservatives who have struggled to surpass the 30% threshold under O’Toole’s leadership. Although 338Canada still lists a 98% chance that the Liberals will win the most seats, every small step in the right direction is a win for Federal Conservatives. There is other good news in this poll for Conservatives, O’Toole’s party polls at 29% with women compared to 31% for the Liberals, a significant improvement compared to other polls. However, the conservatives perform poorly with men at only 32%, with the Liberals at 35%. Conservatives are also slightly ahead with voters 35+ but only have 20% support with those 34 and below.