We have been slacking kittens, but we’re here now. It’s Christmas Eve, also known as Justin Trudeau Eve, traditionally celebrated throughout the nation by doing shots of Sortilège maple whisky. He’s a Christmas baby, you see. The story is that Christmas Eve 1971 Margaret Trudeau, who was and probably still is a bit of a Christmas nut, and was additionally nine months pregnant, wanted to go to Midnight Mass. Her husband was all “meh, nope”, so he called John Turner and asked him and his wife to take her, which they did. And had to make an abrupt exit when Justin Trudeau began to make his entrance.
If the story isn’t true, please don’t tell me. It’s a great story.
Speaking of completely real and spontaneous traditions, our briefing bingo today is named after the Bela Lugosi film Mark of the Vampire, a definite non-classic that even Lugosi didn’t like. But it did have some snazzy still photos, as you can see.
Our video is here:
- First Generation
- Second Generation
- Third Generation
- Fourth Generation
- Fifth Generation
- Sixth Generation
- and the long awaited Seventh Generation Card.
- and all of our other Covid Briefing Bingos are on the category page.
One day I’ll make a new card (with an entire column of “Every step of the way”) but that day? Is not this day. It’s Christmas Eve. I’ve got fruitcake to buy! And eat!
Fun fact: last night at midnight I was on Twitter bitching about being down to my last four dollars and having a craving for fruitcake, which I lurve, but which is always, always more than four dollars. And someone I’ve never met in my life sent me fifty bucks to my Paypal for the best goddamn fruitcake Ottawa can provide. Except now we’re in lockdown and I can’t go fruitcake browsing.
We’re going to attempt another transcript, kittens: looks like CPAC only provides a French transcript, so we’ll take it from Trudeau’s own upload of the video, which offers an English transcript. The layout makes everything look like it’s delivered in CBC cadence, which it is not. And obviously it doesn’t include the media Q&A, which can sometimes be the most interesting part.
Oh wait, why did I do that? The whole speech is up on the PM’s website. Duh. I blame the eggnog, kittens.
This eggnog. The middle one. And it’s fabulous.
And now, for the Justin Trudeau show:
We begin with “Back at Rideau Cottage” and “Facial hair” and “New porchscaping” and “Outerwear” and “scarf” and by the way, I love that tie. I’m a sucker for a maroon tie, or one of those vintage Ferragamo ones with the tiny animals. Oh, and “Outdoors”. And “Holiday decorations”. We’re halfway done already!
This morning, we got the news that Health Canada has completed their review of the Moderna vaccine, and found it to be safe and effective.
“Begins in English” mark that one. And “Vaccine”.
Canada has an internationally recognized process of independent review, and I know that our best experts have upheld this highest standard.
Now that Health Canada has approved the Moderna vaccine, we have the green light to start rolling it out across the country.
The first doses of our guaranteed 40 million-dose order from Moderna will arrive in the coming days.
Later today, I will be talking to Moderna’s Dr. Afeyan—a McGill graduate—about the deliveries and efforts to vaccinate Canadians as quickly as possible.
On the Pfizer vaccine, today, I also have some more good news to share.
I can announce that we will be receiving an additional quarter of a million doses from Pfizer next month.
Mark your “CBC cadence” square.
That takes us up to a total of almost 751,000 Pfizer vaccine doses for January.
Between the early doses we’ve already received, and the shipments now scheduled, we’re on track to have at least 1.2 million doses from both Pfizer and Moderna delivered by January 31.
We have started to vaccinate those who are most vulnerable and front line workers.
Already, these vaccines will help us save lives.
And while our workers are distributing the vaccines as quickly as possible, we are continuing to do everything we can to keep people safe.
Our government has agreed to keep providing federal support to the Canadian Red Cross in Quebec.
So the 500 people working in long-term care facilities will stay there until at least March 31.
At that time, Quebec should be able to assume full management of those facilities and regain control of the situation.
Our government’s top priority is keeping Canadians safe.
As cases keep rising, we will continue to be there for communities that need additional, targeted support.
We’ve now extended the Canadian Red Cross deployment for long term care homes in Quebec. Just last week, our government also committed to additional civilian support for Red Sucker Lake in Manitoba, and a Canadian Armed Forces deployment to Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario to support elders and vulnerable community members.
This is in addition to the requests we approved for the Red Cross in long-term care homes in Ontario, and for isolation sites in Windsor-Essex.
The Red Cross has done outstanding work over the last year to keep people safe.
As we deal with this second wave, we need their expertise more than ever.
There’s your “Second Wave” square.
That’s why today, I can announce that we are investing an additional $70 million to support their work. Half of this funding will go toward the Red Cross COVID-19 Testing Assistance Response teams, which support communities on testing capacity.
The other half of the funding is for the Red Cross Outbreak Crisis Management teams, which help with everything from isolation sites to mental health services.
To everyone helping on the ground, whether you’re with the Canadian Red Cross or you serve in the Canadian Armed Forces:
You’re doing remarkable work.
Whenever we need you, you’re there to help.
During floods, wildfires, and now COVID-19, you consistently step up. Step towards trouble. Step toward danger to keep your fellow Canadians safe. Thank you for everything you are doing.
Mark your “Thanks the Armed Forces” square.
I know many members of the Canadian Armed Forces are apart from family right now, serving at home and around the world to protect us.
So thank you for everything you do. And a special thank you to your families and kids who might miss you an awful lot this Christmas. We’re thinking of you.
“Christmas specifically mentioned.” Mark it. And also “Can see your breath” despite the unseasonably warm weather lately. It’s raining right now, actually.
To all our men and women in uniform: thank you.
On that note, today, I can announce that we will be appointing a new Chief of Defence Staff.
Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, who is currently the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, will take on this role as General Jonathan Vance retires from the Armed Forces.
Vice-Admiral McDonald brings decades of experience and service.
He has played leadership roles in many areas, including leading humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and has commanded a multinational task group in the High Arctic, among other things.
I know that he will continue to be a strong leader for the Canadian Armed Forces as they work to protect Canadians at home and defend our values around the world.
I want to thank General Vance for his service, including as the longest-serving Chief of Defence Staff.
General Vance has led the Canadian Armed Forces as they defended our country against military threats, deployed overseas, and protected Canadians at home from everything from floods to now COVID-19.
Thank you, General Vance, for your leadership.
In his new role as Chief, Vice-Admiral McDonald will oversee the work of the Canadian Armed Forces, including on vaccine rollout through Operation VECTOR.
Oooh, cool nomenclature! It would be immeasurably lame if it had randomly been assigned a name like “Operation Galoshes” or “Project Logistics”. One must have standards, even if one is at least nominally relying on a random name generator. See what I did there?
The Canadian Armed Forces have been part of the national response to this pandemic since the spring, whether deployed to long-term care homes or helping with contact tracing.
I know that Vice-Admiral McDonald’s leadership and expertise will be invaluable as the Armed Forces continue to work around the clock to keep Canadians safe.
This afternoon, I also want to say a few words about travelling and the holidays.
Let’s be clear: this is not the time for a vacation abroad.
“Stern teacher voice” is active now.
Even if you travel every winter—please rethink your plans.
Justin Trudeau, I will remind you, travels every winter and this year he’s not even travelling as far as the Harrington Lake house afaik. Boy, if that were my house that’s where I’d be, with a fire in every fireplace and snowshoes by the door and lazy dogs snoring on the rug and garland hanging from everything. Hell, if you stood still too long, I’d put some on you! A country house Christmas is the best Christmas of all, and I don’t just say that because I’m officially a year late with a book about country houses at Christmas and more particularly the ghosts therein. Like, seriously, country houses are jam-packed with ghosts. More ghosts than buffalo plaid in some of these places, I’m not even kidding. But where was I? Oh yes, interrupting the Prime Minister. As one does.
But anyway, I would have been up at the lake house for a week already with a trailer full of groceries and tinsel and and twice as much booze and cheese as any logical person would ever need. Pull up the drawbridge behind me and wait out the pandemic in the mountains with the dogs and the wolves at night, and the fire in the fireplace and the fresh, un-tainted mountain air.
Look, the Gatineau mountains are really just earth pimples, but work with me. I’m trying to be fucking festive over here, okay?
In many parts of the country, hospitals are already struggling to cope with new cases.
There are new strains of the disease in places like the United Kingdom.
The situation is very serious.
By staying home, by following public health rules, you can be part of the solution.
Canada continues to have significant travel and border measures in place for anyone entering the country.
There’s your “Reiterates the border will stay closed” square, mark it.
Unlike most of our allies, we have a mandatory two-week quarantine, including for Canadians returning to the country.
In March, we brought in these measures—which continue to be some of the strongest in the world—to keep people safe and save lives.
Today, just like on day one, protecting you and your family is our top priority.
That’s why, in addition to the significant measures we already have in place, we acted quickly on additional travel restrictions in response to the situation in the United Kingdom.
On Sunday, I convened the Incident Response Group to discuss the new variant of COVID-19 that has been identified in the U.K.
Our government temporarily suspended all commercial and private passenger flights from the U.K. to Canada.
Today, I can announce that we will extend this temporary suspension of passenger flights from the U.K. to Canada for another two weeks—until January 6—so we can prevent this new variant of COVID-19 from spreading in Canada.
Just like I said he would do. I bet he extends it till at least the middle of January, or at least until we can tell whether or not the existing vaccines are effective against them (theory says it should be but theory and practice are two very different things.) Thanks, Boris. You asshole.
If you have arrived from the U.K. recently, the Government of Canada has been in the process of reaching out with more directions.
Airports should not be crowded.
Even if you travel abroad every year, the circumstances are very different right now.
And if you decide to travel anyway, when you return, you must quarantine for 14 days.
There could be serious consequences for anyone not following this rule.
Our priority is to keep everyone safe.
These holidays will be tough for a lot of people.
I think of everyone who can’t be with family, or lost someone they loved.
It’s been less than a year since Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 was shot down killing all those on board, and less than two years since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
To the families and friends who will be spending the holidays without a loved one: you will be in our thoughts.
In honour of the victims, we are working to establish January 8 of every year as the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters.
Their memories and their stories will not be forgotten.
And to everyone who’s lost someone this year to this terrible virus:
I want to extend to you my deepest condolences.
We are standing with you. We are grieving with you.
You are not alone.
We have faced far too many tragedies in 2020.
This was not how we wanted to spend the year, let alone Christmas.
The days are short, there isn’t much sun.
And as Canadians, we know that it’s about sticking together so we can get through a winter that’s too long and too cold.
So, do the right thing. Stay home.
Protect your loved ones, our front line workers, our doctors, our nurses, and our seniors.
As Canadians, we stick together when times get tough. It’s just what we do.
Mark your “Who we are” square, that’s the equivalent.
We can’t afford to let up now, so keep doing your part.
This is not the time for Christmas or New Year’s parties.
This is the time to continue wearing a mask, to keep your distance, to avoid gatherings, and to download and use the COVID Alert app.
Yup, I knew he’d get there. Mark your “app” square.
In other words—please, continue to protect those around you.
Our country has been through difficult Christmases before.
There have been times when our grandparents and parents couldn’t be with family, or had to put traditions on hold.
Mark your “Feels parents’ pain” square.
They had faith that better days would come around.
Well, this Christmas, it’s our turn.
It’s up to us to protect each other.
It’s up to us to pull together, to hold on, and to know, however dark the winter may be, spring is coming and better days will be back.
Well, there you go: mark your “Unequivocal statement of optimism” square on the Seventh Generation card. I didn’t think we’d get there for months.
Merry Christmas everyone and happy holidays.
Stay safe, stay well, and together we will get through this.
Thank you very much.
Now we’ll try DIYCaptions for the question period: UPDATE: no we won’t, that was a complete fail. We’re gonna roll old-skool and do it by hand, although it may drive The Roommate insane with boredom.
First Q is from Kait Bolongaro the Bloomberg reporter. I remember early on in these briefings she sounded nervous, but she doesn’t now. She always has good questions.
Hello Prime Minister, good afternoon. Happy early Birthday to you as well [this gets a smile, as it would. Imagine being born on Christmas: upstaged on your birthday your whole life. Mark the “Twinkleface” square on the Fifth Generation card] and thanks for taking our questions today. I have a question for you about Prime Minsti– President Biden. Since he’s trying to make the US a leader on climate change. Does this pose any challenges for lumber, mineral, and fossil fuel-producing country like Canada?
Oh, you KNOW Trudeau loves this one. It lets him do his Concerned Friend of Greta routine, and no one doubts that he really is committed to fighting climate change (although he has an unseemly fondness for pipelines, one notes dryly). Mark your “Biden mentioned by name” square.
He responds: I think it is great news that President-Elect Biden is focused on fighting climate change. over the past five years [gee, how long has Trudeau been in office? No reason I ask] Canada has taken significant steps on fighting against climate change, whether it’s putting a price on pollution right across the country, which we’ve announced will be continuing to increase,
And this, kittens, this was the point at which I gave up on my dreams of pretty nails and ran upstairs to cut the motherfuckers down to nubs, so I could type faster. I give up. The industry has broken me. Yes, the highly competitive Covid-19 briefing bingo industry. It has destroyed my dreams of sugarplum manicures.
Where were we? Oh right, about twelve seconds into the answer to the first question.
…whether it’s supporting families by returning money to hardworking families who deserve extra support [and I’m over here with my $4 in the bank, no CRB coming in, and $50 fruitcake money in Paypal trying hard not to resent these families who, after all, are hardworking BUT I’M OVER THAT and it was their money in the first place: taxation is, after all, not theft but a fee for service deal. Get your money’s worth, and that includes the entertainment value inherent in, say, firing squads] or by protecting our coastlines or our natural territories at the same time as we move forward to reduce the carbon emissions in our energy-producing sectors. We will work closely with the American government on moving forward in ways that both protect jobs and, create new ones, and fight climate change. I’m looking forward to having alignment in North America [mark your “Shades Trump” square] on that particular challenge the world is facing.
Followup: Your government recently rejected a Chinese takeover of an Arctic gold mine company this weekend. Can you explain to us why that was the case and are you worried about retaliation from Beijing?
Answer: We make decisions about investments in Canada based on recommendations by our security experts. There are many factors that are taken into account on that, but I won’t be going in to that publically.
New Question from Marieke Walsh of the Globe and Mail: Hi Prime Minister, thank you so much for taking our questions today [I wonder what they think his job is?] Canadians woke up to yet more news of another crisis in a long term care home in the the Greater Toronto area. I’m wondering how you explain to them that these same crises that happened in the first wave of Covid-19 is happening again in the second?
Mark your “Second Wave” square.
Answer: Our job as a federal government is to be there to support Canadians right across the country and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve had people’s backs with with extra supports, but we’ve also had our people’s backs by giving provinces extra support so they can take care of the things within their jurisdictions, whether it has been directly with the Canadian Armed Forces or with the Red Cross. Whether it has been indirectly by transfers of billions of dollars to the provinces including with money directed towards protecting the most vulnerable like those in long term care homes with our Safe Restart Agreement. We will continue to work with the provinces to support them in the work that they need to do. We will always respect provincial jurisdictions but we are also always there to lend a hand whenever anyone asks.
Mark your “Got your back” and “Pushes responsibility to provinces” squares.
Followup: It seems though that the help that has been offered has not been enough. There’s one home now where 26 residents have died. 75% of them are positive for Covid-19. Is the Canadian governent looking at deploying the Armed Forces again to these long term care homes and if not, why not?
Answer: Deployments of the Canadian Armed Forces or the Red Cross is always done at the request of the provinces in question. We have worked extremely closely with provincial health authorities, public health, and everyone right across the country, continually offered our support, offered whatever resources are necessary. This is what we’ve done since the very beginning [mark your “from the very beginning” square]. Like I said, we respect provincial jurisdictions over long term care homes, but we will always be there to help on whatever requests are made of us.
Now a question from Le Devoir, and I’m sorry but no way is my French good enough for live transcription, let alone simultaneous translation. NOPE. Sorry, Le Devoir. Sorry to this reporter.
Oh, and mark your “Fails to translate into the other language” because he’s only answered in English so far. And “Donc.” Yes, she said it. I owe that reporter a beer. And Trudeau gives you the “Touches face” square too.
Answer in English and thank you, Justin Trudeau, for making my job easier. The moderator must have brandished the whip or something.
We have been over the past many months working with the province of Alberta on a testing pilot, on the arrivals at Calgary International Airport where there is rapid testing immediately of arrivals there [mark “Rapid test” square]. We have worked with the province of Ontario over the past many weeks towards a similar program in Ontario and have been talking over the past days with the Quebec government as well on looking at bringing in rapid testing protocols for arrivals at major international airports in Canada.
New question from Stephanie Levitz of the Canadian Press. Why are all the reporters thanking him for taking their questions? He does this at least twice a week; are we especially grateful today for some reason?
Trudeau sure is. Look at that grin: he knows he’s nailing these responses.
The question is: Transmission of the virus has always been highest in workplaces that can’t close. [“Throat malfunction” square still counts even if it’s the reporter and not the PM. Reporters are people too. Strange, often desperate people, but people nonetheless.] And it seems as though, although the government has provided numerous benefits to encourage people to stay home when they’re sick, they’re not. They’re afraid of losing their jobs. I wonder at what point can the federal government do more to ensure corporations are doing their part to actively protect their employees.
Dang, that is one kickass, take no prisoners question! I like this reporter!
Answer: The federal government made the decision early on to send supports to businesses, to workers, to families, to make sure that people could do the right thing and we’ve seen [I think he knocked over the mic there, so mark your “Touches mic” square and also “audio difficulties”] for the millions of Canadians across this country make those right choices as we crushed that first wave in June and as we’re trying to stabilize the second wave as it’s hitting us through this winter. We know all Canadians are trying to do their part and we salute the efforts of businesses, corporations, and others who have reflected on, in their daily practices on allowing people to work from home, on adjusting ways. As we’ve said, when provinces mandate shutdowns or extra public health measures, the federal government has stepped up with more support directly for workers, for employees, for businesses so that we can get through this thing. Safely. That will continue to be our approach as we continue to implore Canadians to continue to do the right thing to keep each other safe.
Next question is from Olivia Stefanovich from CBC. Given the severity of the pandemic and the military’s role in supporting other government departments, is it wise to be changing the military commander during the second wave of Covid-19?
Answer: The Canadian Armed Forces is an extraordinary institution that has demonstrated its ability to be there to protect Canadians and to save Canadians in difficulty over decades and indeed generations. I am extremely pleased of the work that the military has done throughout this pandemic whether it’s been in long term care homes, or acting now in distributing the vaccines. And throughout the leadership of the military has demonstrated its sufficiency and ability to serve Canadians. I thank General Vance, who is now the longest-serving Chief of Defence Staff in Canadian history, and welcome the extraordinary leadership of Vice-Admiral Art MacDonald who will be an extraordinary asset to Canada as we continue to move forward in ensuring we are keeping Canadians safe.
French question from Radio Canada, so I’m sitting this one out. And the CTV reporter asked him to translate that into English and got told “I included it in the speech. It was in the speech.” At last, a reporter whose French is worse than mine! Anyhoodle, the next question is in English, from what sounds like “Mackenzie Davis” at CTV. But afaik Mackenzie Davis doesn’t work at CTV. Oh well, Mackenzie Whoever you are, sorry.
The question is: Today the US announced they’re buying 100 million additional dozes of Pfizer vaccine, but previously the company had said that they were looking to sell those same doses to other countries. So why did the Canadian government not step in and buy those extra doses of vaccine before the US?
Answer: We’ve been working since since this summer on procuring vaccines for Canadians. We knew that the best way through and out of this pandemic was gonna be with vaccines, so we set out and built one of the best range of potential vaccines of any country in the world with seven solid contracts with potential vaccine makers for more potential doses per Canadian than just about any other country in the world. On top of that, we’ve already seen vaccinations start, as Canada was among the first handful of countries in the world to deliver vaccines to its citizens. And we will continue, as I’ve announced today, to look to increase the number of doses delivered to Canadians. We know that this pandemic doesn’t start to end until we have vaccination of millions and millions of people. We try to work continuing to ensure that everything is being done safely. and responsibly to make those vaccines available as quickly as possible and we all look forward to things being much better in the spring.
New question from Mike Le Couteur from Global National. I wanted to ask you what your message is to people who have gone through this entire lockdown and feel like they’ve done their part. and just before lockdown is happening in Ontario and Quebec and maybe they deserve a break, and maybe they deserve to have a good time over Christmas with family, especially in Ontario, but the numbers continue go up, so what do you say to them that they think they can get together with family especially because “Hey, I know where they’ve been?” What do you say to them?
Answer: All the sacrifices that Canadians have been making over the past many months: birthdays and anniversaries have gone uncelebrated. Funerals over Zoom as people have lost loved ones. Weddings postponed. Sacrifices people have made in terms of friends and gatherings that we haven’t been able to do. Canadians have been good about that the vast majority of people have been doing their part , following the rules. This virus means that if we loosen up before time, all of those sacrifices could have been for nothing. We held on through what has been a very difficult year. And we now see the end in sight with vaccines coming, vaccines being there for the most vulnerable and increasingly over the coming months, for all Canadians. That means we’re almost there. But we’re not there yet. And if people don’t follow public health rules now we could be in for an even more difficult winter than we’re already going to have. As always, we are asking people to do the right thing. Take time for your closest loved ones. Christmas is a holiday of celebration for so many Canadians where it’s classic that we go to office Christmas parties and [oh, now he’s gesticulating. Mark that square. Christmas hit a nerve in Christmas Baby] neighbor’s Christmas parties, and we go caroling [really? do people still do that?] and we go to crowded shopping malls, and we’re seeing all sorts of friends at different moments throughout the holidays .
But that’s not what this Christmas is going to be.
Just like this year, we will be drawn back to a small group of those closest to us that we’ve been in lockdown with over the past many months. For many people, like my family, we’re going to be focusing on those people closest to us. A lot of times with those small handful of loved ones that we are most there for and most keen on protecting. That’s what Christmas is going to look like for all of us and we’re certainly leaning in on being with each other. And I know most Canadians are going to do that as well. Because we know that’s the right thing to do, that’s the right way to get through this. So, as difficult as it will be, let us find the joy, let us find the celebration. And let’s make sure we’re reaching out to friends, and far off family through the miracles of technology that allow us to do that. Reach out over Zoom, reach out over the phone, and make sure that people know we’re thinking of them and part of our love for them and thinking of them is not showing up to give them a hug this Christmas.
The moderator must have signaled, because he just did it again in French. And why not? It’s a damn good speech.
Also, mark your “Sign language interpreters swap out” square.
And that’s a wrap.
Here’s some bonus content: an excerpt from the eulogy Justin Trudeau gave for his father, Pierre. You’ll see why it’s relevant pretty quickly.
I was about 6 years old when I went on my first official trip. I was going with my father and my Grandpa Sinclair to the North Pole. It was a very glamorous destination.
But the best thing about it, was I was going to be spending lots of time with my dad. Because in Ottawa he just worked so hard.
One day, we were in Alert, Canada’s northernmost point. [A] Scientific, military installation that seemed to consist entirely of low, shed-like buildings and warehouses.
Let’s be honest: I was 6. There were no brothers around to play with. And I was getting a little bored because Dad still somehow, had a lot of work to do.
I remember a frozen, windswept Arctic afternoon. And I was bundled up into a jeep and hustled out on a special, top-secret mission.
I figured I was finally going to be let into the reason for the existence of this high-security Arctic base.
I was exactly right.
We drove slowly through and past the buildings, all of them very gray and windy. And we rounded a corner, and came upon a red one.
We stopped. I got out of the jeep and started to crunch across toward the front door, but I was told — no, to the window.
So I clambered over the snowbank, boosted up to the window, rubbed my sleeve across the frosty glass to see inside, and as my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I saw a figure, hunched over one of many worktables that seemed very cluttered.
He was wearing a red suit with a furry white trim. And that’s when I understood just how powerful and wonderful my father was.
Meanwhile, in the US:
And in Manitoba,