Canada's vaccination divide and Germany's election: In The News for Sept. 27

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 Sept. 27 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

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UNDATED — A new poll suggests tensions over COVID-19 vaccines in Canada are high as frictions grow between those who are vaccinated against the virus and those who are not.

The Leger survey, conducted for the Association of Canadian Studies, found that more than three in four respondents hold negative views of those who are not immunized.

Association president Jack Jedwab says the relationships between vaccinated and unvaccinated Canadians are also viewed negatively by two out of three survey participants.

The online poll surveyed 1,549 Canadians between September 10 and 12.A margin of error cannot be assigned to online polls, as the y are not considered truly random samples of the population.

The survey found vaccinated people consider the unvaccinated as irresponsible and selfish, a view contested by those who are not immunized.

Some members of the latter group have been staging demonstrations outside hospitals and schools in recent weeks to protest vaccine passports and other public health measures.

"There's a high level of I would say antipathy or animosity toward people who are unvaccinated at this time," Jedwab said. "What you are seeing is the tension played out among family members and friends, co-workers, where there are relationships between people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated."

The survey results, he noted, also suggest the tensions between vaccinated and unvaccinated Canadians are on par with some of the other social, racial and cultural issues that divide the population.

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Also this ...

OTTAWA —The return of two detained Canadians may have ended the most contentious dispute in Canada’s relationship with China, but experts say Ottawa faces a number of other extremely difficult challenges and choices in its dealings with Beijing.

Those include immediate issues such as whether to let Chinese telecom giant Huawei participate in Canada’s 5G wireless network, as well as broader questions of whether the emergent Asian superpower should be treated as a partner, competitor or adversary.

Global Affairs Minister Marc Garneau acknowledged Sunday the degree to which the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou — had impeded ties between the two countries.

"There was no path to a relationship with China as long as the two Michaels were being detained," Garneau said during an appearance on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live, referencing the colloquial term adopted around the world when discussing the former detainees.

Kovrig and Spavor were released Friday after more than 1,000 days in Chinese detention, the same day Meng was released from Canadian custody after reaching a plea deal with authorities from the U.S., where she had faced fraud charges.

With that situation resolved, University of British Columbia professor and leading expert on China and Asia Paul Evans says the newly re-elected Liberal government has a number of immediate issues to address and decisions to make.

Those include finally delivering a verdict on whether Huawei can participate in Canada’s 5G network. Canada is the only member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, which includes the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand, to have not already banned the company.

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And this ...

UNDATED —As the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation approaches, Alana Hogstead has decided as a small-business owner to close up her shop in honour of the day.

Hogstead co-owns Martha's Music in Camrose, Alta., with her husband. The store will be closed on Thursday.

"We're just a small business and a small voice in the grand scheme of things, but we're going to make our opinion known," Hogstead said in a phone interview.

"We think there needs to be more reconciliation and honesty."

Hogstead is not alone in her decision. Businesses, cities and schools across Canada are preparing to follow the federal government's decision to observe the day, in some cases stepping up because provinces won't.

The House of Commons unanimously supported legislation in June to make Sept. 30, also known as Orange Shirt Day, a federally recognized holiday to mark the history of and intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools. The statutory holiday applies to all federal employees and workers in federally regulated workplaces.

The day is a direct response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.

But only a handful of provincial and territorial governments are having public servants and schools observe the day.

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

WASHINGTON — It’s a consequential week for U.S. President Joe Biden’s agenda as Democratic leaders work to delicately trim back his $3.5 trillion "Build Back Better" package and pass legislation to avoid a federal shutdown.

The Senate has a test vote set today to keep the government running and avert a federal debt default.

But that package stands to run into a blockade by Republican senators.

Funding runs out after Thursday’s fiscal year-end deadline.

Behind the scenes, Biden and Democratic leaders are working to round up votes for his bigger package.

An expected House vote Monday on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill was postponed to Thursday.

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

BERLIN — Germany's center-left Social Democrats won the biggest share of the vote in a national election Sunday, narrowly beating outgoing Chancellor Angela Markel's center-right Union bloc in a closely fought race that will determine who succeeds the long-time leader at the helm of Europe's biggest economy.

The Social Democrats’ candidate Olaf Scholz, the outgoing vice chancellor and finance minister who pulled his party out of a years-long slump, said the outcome was "a very clear mandate to ensure now that we put together a good, pragmatic government for Germany."

Despite getting its worst-ever result in a federal contest, the Union bloc said it too would reach out to smaller parties to discuss forming a government, while Merkel stays on in a caretaker role until a successor is sworn in.

Election officials said early Monday that a count of all 299 constituencies showed the Social Democrats received 25.9 per cent of the vote, ahead of 24.1 per cent for the Union bloc. No winning party in a German national election had previously taken less than 31 per cent of the vote.

Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state who outmaneuvered a more popular rival to secure the nomination of Merkel’s Union bloc, had struggled to motivate the party’s base and suffered a series of missteps.

"Of course, this is a loss of votes that isn't pretty," Laschet said of results that looked set to undercut by some measure the Union's previous worst showing of 31 per cent in 1949. But he added that with Merkel departing after 16 years in power, "no one had an incumbent bonus in this election."

Merkel, who has won plaudits for steering Germany through several major crises, won’t be an easy leader to follow. Her successor will have to oversee the country's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which Germany so far has weathered relatively well thanks to large rescue programs.

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In entertainment ...

TORONTO — The winner of the Polaris Music Prize is being revealed tonight in a shortened edition of the usual festivities.

Organizers of the $50,000 award celebrating the best Canadian album of the year say they're planning a show that runs about half an hour and features two performances by last year's winner, Backxwash.

The event will be hosted by Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe of CBC Music and stream on CBC Gem and CBC Music's Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages at 8 p.m. ET.

It's a significant change from other years when all 10 shortlisted Polaris contenders had the opportunity to showcase their nominated albums, usually with a live performance.

Polaris representatives say "continued uncertainty" around public gatherings led to the decision to forgo an in-person event.

Albums vying for the prize this year include Quebec singer Dominique Fils-Aime's "Three Little Words" and Toronto rapper Tobi's "Elements Vol. 1."

Among the other Polaris-nominated albums are two efforts from Toronto rappers — Cadence Weapon's "Parallel World'' and DijahSB's "Head Above the Waters'' — as well as the debut album of Mustafa, "When Smoke Rises."

The Polaris Music Prize awards the artist or group that created the best Canadian album of the previous year — irrespective of genre or sales — as chosen by a team of journalists, broadcasters and bloggers.

Each shortlisted contender receives a $3,000 prize and the winner is narrowed down by an 11-member jury.

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ICYMI ...

NEW YORK — "Moulin Rouge! The Musical," a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie, won the best new musical crown at the Tony Awards on a Sunday night when Broadway looked back to honor shows shuttered by COVID-19, mourn its fallen and also look forward to welcoming audiences again.

The show about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, updated with tunes like "Single Ladies" and "Firework" alongside the big hit "Lady Marmalade," won 10 Tonys. The record is 12, won by "The Producers."

"The Inheritance" by Matthew Lopez was named the best new play and won three other awards, and Charles Fuller’s "A Soldier’s Play" won best play revival and an acting award.

The sobering musical "Jagged Little Pill," which plumbs Alanis Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album to tell a story of an American family spiraling out of control, came into the night with a leading 15 Tony nominations. It left with wins for best book, and Lauren Patten won the award for best featured actress in a musical.

"Slave Play," Jeremy O. Harris’ ground-breaking, bracing work that mixes race, sex, taboo desires and class, earned a dozen nominations, making it the most nominated play in Tony history. But it won nothing.

The last Tony Awards ceremony was held in 2019. The virus forced Broadway theaters to abruptly close on March 12, 2020, knocking out all shows and scrambling the spring season. Several have restarted, including the so-called big three of "Wicked," "Hamilton" and "The Lion King."

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2021

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