Tag Archives: rule

Garneau won’t rule out invoking Emergencies Act to limit pandemic travel

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau says the federal government won’t rule out invoking the federal Emergencies Act to limit travel as parts of the country continue to experience high infection rates of COVID-19.

“We are looking at all potential actions to make sure that we can achieve our aims. The Emergencies Act is something you don’t consider lightly,” Garneau said in a Sunday interview on Rosemary Barton Live. “But we are first and foremost concerned about the health and safety of Canadians. And if we can do that in a way that we have the regulatory power to do it, we will do it.”

The Emergencies Act would give cabinet the power to regulate or prohibit travel “to, from or within any specified area, where necessary for the protection of the health or safety of individuals.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to rethink all travel plans inside and outside Canada’s borders, particularly as March break approaches.

“People should not be planning non-essential travel or vacation travel outside of the country, particularly because, as I said a few days ago, we could be bringing in new measures that significantly impede your ability to return to Canada at any given moment without warning,” Trudeau cautioned. 

“Last night I had a long conversation with the premiers about a number of different options that we could possibly exercise to further limit travel and to keep Canadians safe, and we will have more to say on those in the coming days.”

When asked by CBC’s Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton when such plans would be announced, Garneau said the measures are “in very active discussion.”

“I’m not going to predict when or what, but I can tell you that we are very seized with it in our government.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau says all options are on the table when it comes to implementing stronger measures to restrict travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

U.S. moves to strengthen land border measures

The minister also said Canada is looking at implementing COVID-19 testing along the Canada-U.S. land border as the United States moves to strengthen safety measures at land ports of entry.

“It would be easier to do … if we have quick tests that can be done because it’s a little bit more challenging to do testing at the border. But it’s something that we’re looking at very seriously,” Garneau said.

“As quick tests come along, that makes a big difference because there are challenges with respect to … certain land border points being very congested. And meanwhile, there’s a huge amount of traffic flow that has to keep going.”

U.S. President Joe Biden signs a series of orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., after his inauguration on Wednesday. One executive order in the country’s national pandemic response strategy includes potential COVID-19 safety measures imposed along the Canada-U.S. border. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

According to an executive order within the U.S. government’s national pandemic response strategy, top officials have been ordered to “commence diplomatic outreach to the governments of Canada and Mexico regarding public health protocols for land ports of entry.”

Within 14 days of the date of the order, officials must submit a plan to President Joe Biden to put appropriate public health measures in place.

“We will engage in a very serious way with the U.S. administration on how best to deal with land borders,” Garneau said.

The Canada-U.S. border remains closed to non-essential travel until Feb. 21.

Currently, travellers over the age of five returning to Canada by air must produce proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no longer than 72 hours before boarding a flight.

Biden open to Canadian input on ‘Buy American’ concerns

Aside from implementing a new approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, an executive order is expected Monday on Biden’s “Buy American” plans, fulfilling his campaign promise to purchase, produce and develop made-in-America goods.

“Obviously, if we see that there can be cases where there is damage done to our trade because of Buy America policy, we will speak up,” Garneau said. “President Biden has indicated that he is open to hearing from us whenever we feel concerned.”

Trudeau has already expressed his disappointment in Biden’s decision to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, with many now turning to Buy American provisions as another potential obstacle in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

“Less than an hour after the end of the inauguration ceremony, we were in touch with top-level advisers in the White House and discussed many things,” Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, told CBC Radio’s The House this week. “Among them was Buy America.”

Garneau also said that he plans to speak with Antony Blinken — Biden’s nominee for secretary of state and Garneau’s U.S. counterpart — very soon.

“I’m really looking forward to talking to Secretary Blinken and carrying on the messages … between our prime minister and the president,” he said.

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CBC | Health News

Alberta approves NHL games for Edmonton and Calgary, feds waive 14-day quarantine rule for players, staff

Alberta is the first province to officially say the NHL can play games in its arenas for the upcoming season, while at least two of its counterparts say they are working on the issue.

In a statement to The Canadian Press on Thursday, the Alberta government said it approved Edmonton and Calgary for competition on Dec. 25 following the review of protocols outlined in the league’s return-to-play plan, along with some additional enhancements.

Later Thursday, a spokesperson for the Manitoba government said discussions concerning the NHL and hosting games in Winnipeg are ongoing.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief provincial public health officer in Manitoba, said the province was a joint signatory on a letter sent to the NHL by the five Canadian jurisdictions with teams last week and is working toward the resumption of the season.

“There is still some paperwork and procedural steps that need to take place but, from a public health perspective, it’s a solid plan.”

Atwal said there are a couple of small steps that still need to be finished.

“I believe one is that the orders have to change to allow them to play,” he said.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday that his province is still discussing whether games can be hosted there.

“We haven’t given a final answer but we will soon,” he said at a news conference.

Health officials in Quebec and Ontario did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether NHL games can be held in those provinces.

The confirmation from Alberta is the first from any of the five provinces with NHL teams since deputy commissioner Bill Daly stated on Dec. 24 that the league believes it can play games in all seven Canadian markets.

Those franchises will only play each other during the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs as part of a newly-formed North Division, and won’t be crossing the border with the United States, which remains closed to non-essential travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal government waives 14-day quarantine

Daly’s Dec. 24 statement came after TSN and Sportsnet reported Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, sent a note to the league on behalf of the provinces asking for increased testing or a return to a scenario in which all teams would be in a secure zone in one city, like this summer in Edmonton and Toronto.

In a separate statement Thursday, the federal government said it has issued an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for NHL players and team staff returning to Canada for training camps under “national interest grounds.”

Daly said in an email to The Canadian Press that modified quarantine procedures for players and team staff entering the country are determined by provincial health authorities.

“Modified quarantine means different things in different markets,” Daly’s email read.

However, the provinces with NHL franchises must give their approval for games to be played between Canadian teams during the regular season, which is scheduled to start Jan. 13.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said the league’s plan for training camps offers “robust measures to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.” It added all provinces with NHL clubs have provided written support for the plan.

The PHAC statement said all teams must operate within provincial rules for regular-season play.

The Ottawa Senators were one of seven clubs across the 31-team league to begin training camp Thursday after not qualifying for the summer post-season as part of the resumption of the pandemic-halted 2019-20 campaign. The other six Canadian teams are slated to open training camp Sunday or Monday.

The federal government also cleared the Toronto Blue Jays to hold training camp at Rogers Centre under “national interest grounds” this summer, but rejected a proposal for home games against teams from the U.S. The Blue Jays eventually settled on Buffalo, N.Y., as their 2020 base.

The only Canadian professional sports teams to play on home soil during the pandemic have been the six NHL clubs to qualify for the 2019-20 post-season in Toronto and Edmonton, along with Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer.

The soccer teams were cleared to take part a series of games against each other in August and September before relocating to the U.S. to face American opposition.

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CBC | Sports News

Kate Middleton Reveals the Major Social Distancing Rule Prince Louis Always Wants to Break

Kate Middleton Reveals the Major Social Distancing Rule Prince Louis Always Wants to Break | Entertainment Tonight

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One Standard to (Maybe) Rule Them All: Intel Debuts Thunderbolt 4

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About five years ago, the computer industry brought forth a new USB cable standard, conceived with the best of intentions and dedicated to the proposition that all ports should be equal. Then, all hell broke loose.

In perhaps the most perfect example of getting exactly what one asked for (which wasn’t at all what anybody wanted), the USB-IF working group created USB-C, a truly universal cable standard, with a dizzying number of internal implementation options and a very real problem: Plugging the wrong cable into your USB-C device can literally fry it.

Five years later, Intel is cleaning up the implementation mess of USB-C, at least in part. The latest edition of Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 4, will exist as a superset of Thunderbolt 3 and USB4. Importantly, here’s what this means for cable compatibility: If a cable is Thunderbolt 4 compatible, it can interface with every other cable standard.

While this doesn’t get us back to the happy era of knowing a micro-USB cable was a micro-USB cable, it at least offers a version of it. Of course, this does depend on USB4 / TB4 devices becoming available, which is going to take a little while.

Intel is launching TB4 with Tiger Lake, its upcoming refresh to the 10nm Ice Lake platform. Tiger Lake has been generating some positive buzz about its expected performance, both on CPU and GPU, but we don’t have firm details on the platform yet.

The new JHL8340 and JHL8540 are codenamed Maple Ridge, while the device controller is Goshen Ridge. Power and size requirements are apparently largely identical to TB3, and the first Tiger Lake devices to carry the standard are expected to also be part of the Project Athena program.

Unfortunately, at least for now, TB4 looks like it might be an Intel-only technology. While you can buy AMD motherboards with Thunderbolt support — it’s rare, but it exists — TB4 is going to require DMA protection and Intel achieves this using its own Intel VT-d (Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O). VT-d is not an open standard and Intel’s own slide states that the technology is required to enable TB4.

TB4 offers a respite from the cable conundrums of USB-C and the so-bad-it-feels-deliberate branding of the USB-IF. “USB 3.2 Gen 2×2” is the kind of branding only a motherboard OEM could love. What we’re less-than-excited about, however, is the apparent lack of support for AMD implementations.

Thunderbolt is an Intel technology and Intel has the right to build standards that are only available for its own chips. Thunderbolt availability on AMD hardware has always been the exception, not the rule. At the same time, however, the USB-C ecosystem is something of a trainwreck and connectivity standards always do better when supported by multiple companies and hardware platforms. Nvidia has shipped ray tracing-capable GPUs since 2018, but it’s no accident that the feature is being talked up far more in 2020, now that AMD will be bringing its own compatible hardware to the console and PC GPU markets.

If Intel wants TB4 to become a universal standard, at some point, it’s going to have to share enough of the tech to allow other companies to create compatible implementations.

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Why abolishing Olympics anti-protest rule could do more harm than good

This column is an opinion by Jasmine Mian, a 2016 Canadian Olympian and a graduate student at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

Anti-racism demonstrations and the Black Lives Matter movement have revived concerns about Rule 50 of the International Olympic Committee’s Charter. While those calling to abolish the anti-protest rule have their hearts in the right place, doing away with it may create more harm than good.

The Olympics is meant to be a neutral space where we set aside the issues that divide us.

If you’re an athlete who wants to protest or demonstrate against something, there are a handful of places you can’t do it under Rule 50 — the Olympic podium, during Olympic ceremonies, in the village or on the field of play. Athletes can still state their views or protest in post-game press conferences and on social media, and outside the venues of the Games.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s Athletes Advisory Council have asked for an amendment to the rule, citing its incongruity with the International Declaration of Human Rights and a litany of other international and domestic laws.

On the surface, it’s hard to understand why you wouldn’t want athletes to have more rights. However, good policy recognizes that ideals are not reality, and just because something is progressive doesn’t make it productive.

Firstly, Rule 50 does not prevent protest because athletes who have true conviction in their views will do it on the field or the podium anyway, no matter what disciplinary action follows — and they should be commended for that bravery. When John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists to protest racial injustice at the 1968 Olympic Games, it was heroic because it wasn’t convenient or welcomed.

Americans Tommie Smith, centre, and John Carlos raise their gloved fists in a human rights protest at the 1968 Olympics. (The Associated Press)

However, there is no shortage of other places to protest, and Rule 50 along with its repercussions for athletes keeps the bar high.

And while Rule 50 is out of step with the laws of many western democracies, it’s also those in the West who stand to benefit most from abolishing it.

If you want to talk about privilege, we have to recognize that a Canadian can stand on the Olympic podium and give the middle finger to the entire world and not be murdered when they get home. This same privilege does not exist for athletes like Feyisa Lilesa, a marathoner from Ethiopia who could not return home after he protested the Ethiopian government as he crossed the finish line in Rio 2016. 

Athletes living in countries with the worst human rights records face a real threat of violence or even death for demonstrating. Abolishing Rule 50 gives privilege to the already privileged, but really changes little for everyone else.

If the neutral space of the Olympics is broken, it also could exacerbate existing geopolitical tensions or create new ones, which is the antithesis of Olympic movement.

An Iranian wrestler covertly protested Israel’s nation status by feigning injury at a world championship in order to not wrestle an Israeli athlete, for example. If we routinely allow more overt forms of protest at the Olympics in the name of freedom of expression, it won’t be long until competitors are refusing to stand on the podium with other athletes.

We must do everything we can to prevent the Olympics from further contributing to real-world fighting and animosity.

Another reason to keep the bar high around acts of protests on the podium and the field of play is that the fate and spirit of the Olympic Games depends on it. Greater freedom for some at the Games could lead to censorship for others.

There is a danger that oppressive regimes will stop airing the Olympics for their citizens, or even sending athletes, if the risk of protest is too high. The kids who are supposed to be inspired by the Olympic movement and its values of inclusion and fair competition might not even get to experience it.

Perhaps there is some amendment to Rule 50 that can overcome all these challenges. Until then, let’s shelve the idea of abolishing Rule 50, because the Olympics doesn’t need another ideal it can’t live up to.

If you’ve got real solutions for human rights issues, get off the podium and discuss them in the press conference — or better yet, get out and vote, run for office, volunteer or donate.

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CBC | Sports News

Some countries reconsider 2-metre rule for physical distancing, but not here

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, continues to recommend people stay two metres apart from others to curb COVID-19 as the economy reopens and countries like Britain relax their distancing rule.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced pubs, restaurants and hotels could reopen in England from July 4 with relaxed distancing from two metres to “one metre plus,” as long as there is mitigation, such as wearing face coverings or using protective screens.

Britain’s hospitality industry pushed for the rule change. Johnson said local flare ups are expected, just as other countries experienced after loosening restrictions, and that his government will not hesitate to re-apply the brakes nationally if needed.

Switzerland reduced its distancing recommendation from two metres to 1.5 metres this week. China and France already use the 1-metre rule for physical distancing. Germany and Australia have adopted 1.5 metres. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends six feet, or 1.8 metres.

But Canada is sticking to its two-metre guidance.

Epidemics can be reignited anywhere, anytime, Tam said.

A man sips his beer while sitting in physical distancing circles introduced at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic after crowding issues. Some countries are relaxing their two-metre physical distancing rules, but not Canada. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press )

“With COVID-19 around us, we can’t have a reopening that doesn’t include all of us working together to keep our guard up and keep the curve down,” Tam said at a briefing in Ottawa.

“Now that spaces are reopening, we need to avoid or strictly limit our time in settings and situations that increase our risk of exposure to the virus, like close spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places with large numbers of people gathered and close contacts where you can’t keep the two metres apart from others.”

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital, said transmission has declined “to an impressive extent,” and lockdowns can’t remain in place forever. But he also warned against complacency.

“My concern is people will just get a little bit too relaxed,” he said. “We can hit a patio, we can get a haircut, we can hit the beach. Should we? I honestly think we should. I just think we should do so carefully.”

Overcoming a Catch-22 

Dr. Derek Chu of McMaster University co-authored a review and meta-analysis in Lancet earlier this month of studies looking at how physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection affect the spread of COVID-19 and two other coronavirus infections, SARS and MERS.

The dozens of observational studies included were mostly conducted in health-care settings across 16 countries.

“The main benefit of physical distancing measures is to prevent onward transmission and, thereby, reduce the adverse outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the reviewers wrote. “Hence, the results of our current review support the implementation of a policy of physical distancing of at least one metre and, if feasible, two metres or more.”

WATCH | Masks protect but can impede communication:

CBC News asked two experts what’s lost from the human experience when one of our biggest tools of communication is eclipsed and muffled by cloth. 5:30

The review was funded by the World Health Organization, which has advised people to “keep a distance of at least one metre from each other” as part of its COVID-19 advice for months.

Chu, a clinician scientist at McMaster, said the review was based on the best observations available, but people will not perfectly recall distances. Unlike laboratory studies measuring how far aerosols and droplets transmit, the meta-analysis focused on what transmission actually happened at zero to two metres.

“The Catch-22 is the available information is less than ideal. So what to do?”

There won’t be certainty in the evidence, he said.

A city of Vancouver parks sign promoting physical distancing is pictured at Kisilano Beach on April 6. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam reminded people they must remain on guard to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 in Canada. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“What is actually most effective for individuals is not necessarily always what’s better for individuals.”

Factors such as acceptability, feasibility, and resources all come into play in considering the evidence and setting policy, Chu said.

Other considerations include how long you’re in close proximity, the number of people and whether people speak softly or shout.

Across the country, 66 per cent of respondents to a poll conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said two metres should remain the safe distance kept between people.

The web survey was conducted from June 19 to June 21 with 1,521 Canadian adults.

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CBC | Health News

U.S. Soccer repeals rule banning players from taking a knee during anthem

U.S. Soccer’s board of directors has voted to repeal a 2017 policy that required national team players to stand during the national anthem, a rule adopted after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in support of Colin Kaepernick.

The board made the decision during a conference call, U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday.

Policy 604-1 states: “All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.” The board passed the rule on Feb. 9, 2017.

A person with knowledge of the discussions regarding the policy said new President Cindy Parlow Cone first broached repealing the rule last week, calling for the special meeting of the board. The person asked to remain anonymous because the process was not made public. Three players were invited on the call to share their opinions.

The U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, which includes current national team players Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger, as well as former players like Landon Donovan, called on U.S. Soccer to also apologize for the policy to foster a “positive relationship to exist going forward.”

“Then and only then do we feel a new chapter between the USSF and its athletes can begin. Additionally, we urge US Soccer to develop a plan with action items focused on anti-racism that will be shared publicly with its athletes, key stakeholders, and fans,” the council said in a statement earlier this week.

USWNT planning to substantively address racial inequality

The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association also called for an apology from U.S. Soccer and a plan to substantively address racial inequality.

“Until USSF does so, the mere existence of the policy will continue to perpetuate the misconceptions and fear that clouded the true meaning and significance of Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe and other athletes taking a knee — that Black people in America have not been and continue to not be afforded the same liberties and freedoms as white people and that police brutality and systemic racism exist in this country,” the players said in a statement.

Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem at a pair of national team matches in 2016. She said she wanted to express solidarity with Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who silently took a knee during the national anthem before NFL games to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice.

Kaepernick and Rapinoe faced sharp criticism for the protest for years. But sentiment among the public has changed since George Floyd’s death last month and the subsequent protests.

Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed and saying that he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the country, some of which became violent.

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CBC | Soccer News

Priyanka Chopra Reveals Her and Nick Jonas’ One Big Rule

Priyanka Chopra Reveals Her and Nick Jonas’ One Big Rule | Entertainment Tonight

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Putin’s political gambit suggests plan to rule Russia forever

Russians awoke this morning to a new prime minister and much confusion about a new constitutional process that appears designed to entrench Vladimir Putin’s status at the top of Russia’s political pyramid for the rest of his life.

“His goal is to remain the number-one, most important decision maker in Russia, to keep Russia stable, to keep the elites loyal and to keep the public acquiescent to the Kremlin’s policies,” said Maria Lipman, an independent political analyst affiliated with Moscow’s Carnegie Centre.  

Wednesday was an unprecedented day of political surprises in Moscow, as Putin unveiled his proposals to change Russia’s constitution, thereby allowing him several avenues to extend his 20-year reign indefinitely.

Then, a few hours later, the second most powerful man in the country, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, resigned, taking the entire Russian cabinet with him.   

In the final act last night, Putin appointed a little known bureaucrat, tax commissioner Mikhail Mishustin, as the new PM,  a position that confirmed by Russia’s parliament today. Western reporters have noted that Mishustin was so obscure, he didn’t even have his own Wikipedia entry before yesterday’s surprise appointment. 

‘Striking’ measures

The question of what Putin will do after his presidential term expires in 2024 has loomed over the country since he won re-election in 2018.

Putin nominated little-known bureaucrat Mikhail Mishustin for the post of prime minister. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)

He is currently barred under the constitution from seeking a third consecutive term, but rather than changing that specific clause, Putin put forward a series of dramatic overhauls that could eventually change the very nature of how power is wielded in the country.

The measures are “striking,” said Sam Greene, director of the Russia Institute at King’s College in London. “This is a risk-averse system that likes to avoid sudden moves.”

Putin is more than simply the president — it often seems that no other political figure in Russia matters.   

Virtually every significant political appointment or decision flows through his Kremlin office. And once a year, he holds a nationwide phone-in show where Russians call and plead with him to fix their problems, from medical care to potholes on their street.

As part of his proposed package of constitutional reforms, Putin is suggesting to devolve some presidential powers to other branches of the government, notably the Duma, or parliament, as well as a fairly obscure institution known as the State Council.

Lipman said it appears Putin is taking the first steps to ensuring that when he leaves the presidency, he has a new position to move into — and that whoever succeeds him will have his wings clipped.  

In 2024, “someone else will be president of Russia, and that person will not be … as powerful,” said Lipman.

No peaceful retirement

Precisely what job Putin has in mind for himself is unclear although liberal-leaning critics believe whatever it is, Putin will ensure he maintains some control of either the police or judiciary.

Strongmen rarely get peaceful retirements, said Abbas Gallyanov, a Moscow-based political consultant. “With so many powerful people hating [Putin], he cannot rule out that revenge will come.”

Once a Kremlin speech writer, Gallyanov said he became disillusioned with Putin once he put Russia on a path toward authoritarianism.

This electronic screen, installed on the facade of a hotel, shows an image of Putin and a quote from his state of the union address on Jan. 15. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)

“He made so many enemies inside and outside of Russia, he wouldn’t feel secure. So he needs political power to protect himself.” 

Kazakhstan’s long-time ruler, Nursultan Nazarbayev, opted for a similar arrangement when he stepped down from the presidency in 2018. He appointed a successor but moved into a new position on the country’s security council, a job that he can keep until he dies and helps him to maintain control of the security services.

While it was expected that Putin would eventually give some indication of his post-2024 plans, Medvedev’s resignation caught the country by surprise.

Russian state TV, which often echoes the Kremlin’s narratives and messaging, was surprisingly silent on his fate and how it should be interpreted.

Medvedev told Russian media that he was resigning to give Putin leeway to make the changes he felt are needed. There was no explanation about why his departure was necessary to do that.

Medvedev slid into the president’s job in 2008, when Putin left after two terms. Once Putin decided he wanted the position back in 2012, he appointed Medvedev as prime minister and there has been speculation that Medvedev might move back into the job once Putin leaves.

As Russia’s economy has stagnated and issues such as pension reforms have taken a bite out of people’s real incomes, it was Medvedev — not Putin — who bore the brunt of the backlash. Opinion polls routinely rank Medvedev as one of the country’s most unpopular politicians.

“Medvedev’s role in Russian politics ever since he was president has been to be the guy who gets screwed,” said Greene. “It’s his job and he does it well.” 

Greater plan?

This is why Greene believes Medvedev’s resignation is part of a larger Putin plan that will ultimately end with Medvedev returning to a key role.

“I wouldn’t expect a radical change overnight. People who are in power will continue to hold power.”

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, right, resigned his post on Wednesday. (Sputnik/Dmitry Astakhov/Pool via Reuters)

There have been signs that the uncertainty over Putin’s long-term plans were beginning to cause friction within the cliques that sit atop Russia’s power structure and dominate its major bureaucracies and industries.

The government’s response to last summer’s street protests over election rigging in the country’s capital appeared especially dysfunctional.

After thousands of protesters took to the streets in Moscow, authorities initially took a hands-off approach. But then security services quickly changed tack, making hundreds of arrests, with some protesters getting multi-year jail sentences. Then, the government did an about-face, as protesters were released and many had their sentences commuted or dismissed altogether.   

At the time, commentators suggested the response was indicative of different cabals within the government trying to assert their influence and jockey for future positions in a post-Putin Russia.

“At the moment, [Putin’s] focus seems to be on dealing with challenges he has with the elite,” said Greene.

A stagnant economy and declining incomes have put the Kremlin on the defensive. Even in Russia’s system of “managed democracy,” where opposition parties are restricted and state television dominates the political discussion, Greene said it is essential for Putin’s future to remain personally popular. 

“He has to keep the system legitimate by keeping people happy and maintaining his popularity, given that the rest of the political elite are not popular. And he has to maintain the trust of the elite so that he protects their interest and keeps enough money flowing around to keep everyone happy.”

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CBC | World News

Trump proposes rule for importing prescription drugs from Canada

The Trump administration proposed a rule Wednesday to allow states to import prescription drugs from Canada, moving forward a plan announced this summer that the president has said will bring cheaper prescription drugs to Americans.

Importation of drugs from Canada as a way to lower costs for U.S. consumers has been considered for years. Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), called the move “a historic step forward in efforts to bring down drug prices and out-of-pocket costs.”

Industry trade groups in both countries opposed the plan, saying it will not lower costs and could hurt Canadian drug supplies.

Azar said HHS would also offer guidance to drugmakers that wish to voluntarily bring drugs they sell more cheaply in other countries into the United States for sale here.

The pathways for importation were announced in July, when Azar unveiled a “Safe Import Action Plan.”

Many prescription medicines would be excluded from importation from Canada. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Azar could not provide an estimate of how soon Americans could start seeing cheaper drugs from Canada. The proposed rule would need to pass through a 75-day comment period before being finalized, he said.

“We’re moving as quickly as we possibly can,” he added.

Governors of states including Florida, Maine, Colorado, Vermont and New Hampshire have already expressed an interest in importing drugs from Canada once the pathway to do so is fully in place, Azar said. States would be required to explain how any proposed drug imports would reduce drug prices for consumers.

The proposal faces opposition from large U.S. pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Jim Greenwood, current head of biotech industry group BIO and a former Republican congressman, said that importation would not result in lower prices for consumers, citing nonpartisan budget experts and past U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioners.

“Today’s announcement is the latest empty gesture from our elected lawmakers who want us to believe they’re serious about lowering patients’ prescription drug costs,” Greenwood said.

Ottawa also has criticized the plan. Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. said last month that importing medicines from north of the border would not significantly lower U.S. prices. Reuters previously reported that Canada had warned U.S. officials it would oppose any import plan that might threaten the Canadian drug supply or raise costs for Canadians.

The federal government has suggested it could step in and block exports in the event that any such plans threaten Canada’s drug supply. In fact a previous government already introduced a bill in the House of Commons that would have allowed a block on exports.

The Paul Martin government introduced Bill C-83 in 2005 when American politics was previously awash in talk of importing from Canada. But it never became law, as the Martin government was defeated soon thereafter and the issue died down in the U.S.

Canada drug supply ‘insufficient’

“The drug supply is insufficient for the Canadian market, let alone trying to divert it to a much larger market like the U.S.,” said Daniel Chiasson, president of the Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management, a trade group that represents drug distributors.

“We’re not supportive of any policy initiative or policy proposal that has the capacity to threaten the stability of medications available to Canadians.”

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPHA) was still analyzing the announcement Wednesday afternoon to assess whether it might have a practical impact.

“With an average of five new drug shortages reported each day in Canada, we are not in a position to supply a country 10 times our size. These proposals could significantly restrict the availability of medications for our patients,” CPHA chair Christine Hrudka said in a statement to CBC News. 

Speaking to reporters in Florida on Wednesday, Azar said Canadians’ cheaper drug prices were the result of a free ride off of American investment and innovation.

“Obviously the Canadians are going to be looking out for Canadians,” he said. “We’re here to put American patients first.”

Many prescription medicines would be excluded from importation from Canada, such as biologic drugs, including insulin, controlled substances and intravenous drugs.

Tip-toeing around big pharma

U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, has struggled to deliver on a pledge to lower drug prices before the November 2020 election. Health-care costs are expected to be a major focus of the campaign by Trump and Democratic rivals vying to run against him.

The Trump administration in July scrapped an ambitious policy that would have required health insurers to pass billions of dollars in rebates they receive from drugmakers to Medicare patients.

Also in July, a federal judge struck down a Trump administration rule that would have forced pharmaceutical companies to include the wholesale prices of their drugs in television advertising.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are proposing drug pricing bills that contain some of the proposals Trump has advocated, such as indexing public drug reimbursements to foreign drug costs.

But Trump has said he will veto the Democrat-led House bill if it comes to his desk on the grounds that it would slow down innovation.

“Once again, the Trump White House is tiptoeing around big pharma with a spectacularly pinched and convoluted proposal that excludes insulin and has no actual implementation date,” said Henry Connelly, a spokesman for U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat.

“If President Trump actually wants to lower drug prices, he should pick up the phone and tell Senator McConnell to send him the House-passed Lower Drug Costs Now Act.” 

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CBC | Health News