TODAY’S TOP STORIES
Ottawa weighs risks of fighting Islamist rebels using child soldiers in Mali
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is holding back approval of sending up to 600 Canadian troops on a United Nations peacekeeping mission to Mali, a move that was green-lighted by the Trump administration, to assess the risks of taking on Islamist insurgents using child soldiers. A recent Canadian Forces directive warns that troops could face “human wave attacks” by child soldiers – frontal assaults where the targets are overrun. Mali is on the front line of the fight against terrorism, and has become the deadliest ongoing UN peace operation today, with more than 110 peacekeepers killed over the last four years.
Mulroney, Liberals seek billionaire’s release in China
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney and the federal Liberals are seeking the release from China of Chinese-Canadian billionaire Xiao Jianhua, who was reportedly taken by plainclothes policemen from Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel on Jan. 27. The former computer-parts reseller has built a reputation for handling the finances of Beijing’s princelings and potentates, amassing an empire that made him worth at least $6-billion (U.S.). A memo obtained by The Globe and Mail indicates that Mr. Mulroney is acting to win Mr. Xiao’s release, but the question is what political and diplomatic measures Ottawa would be willing to take with China to demand favourable treatment for Mr. Xiao.
Elections B.C. investigating governing Liberal Party
After a Globe and Mail investigation that revealed lobbyists are illegally funnelling cash to the party on behalf of corporate and special interests, Elections B.C., the independent body enforcing the province’s election laws, will probe the governing Liberal Party for its fundraising practices. Elections B.C. said its probe will look into tens of thousands of dollars in multiple donations made by registered lobbyists, reimbursed after paying with personal credit cards. “I can tell you these are potentially contraventions of the Elections Act,” said deputy chief electoral officer Nola Western.
First study of Zika patients in Canada shows need for closer tracking
Researchers say the conclusions of the first study of Zika-infected patients in Canada underscore the need for the country to more closely track what happens to those afflicted by the virus. The study found a higher-than-expected rate of serious complications caused by the virus, including two cases in which mothers transmitted Zika-related defects to their unborn babies, and two cases of partial paralysis. The virus, which has spread to more than 70 countries, has yielded worldwide fear over its link to brain defects in newborns.
Offshore real-estate buyers flock to Victoria – from Vancouver
Surging home prices are familiar to British Columbians, with Victoria a red-hot market due to offshore buyers – from Vancouver. Buyers making the trip across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island have pushed housing prices to record highs in B.C.’s capital region, with strong demand and shrinking listings leading to frequent sales well above asking prices due to bidding wars. “We’ve experienced the overflow from Vancouver,” says Victoria Real Estate Board president Ara Balabanian.
European stocks and U.S. futures fell on Monday as geopolitical tensions in Asia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s accusation that his predecessor Barack Obama wiretapped him overshadowed a flurry of M&A activity in Europe. Deutsche Bank shares fell more than 5 per cent after Germany’s biggest lender said it needs to issue more shares to raise €8-billion ($8.48-billion U.S.) of capital. That decline hit both the FTSEuroFirst index of 300 leading shares and Germany’s DAX, which were trading lower early on. U.S. stock futures pointed to a fall of around 0.5 per cent at the open on Wall Street. Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.5 per cent.
Fragility remains, despite signs of economic momentum
Jobs and trade data this week will offer clues on Canada’s economic recovery from the energy-bust doldrums. Recent numbers – surging employment, trade surpluses and strong economic output – suggest Canada is on the mend, but employers have preferred to add part-time jobs, business investment dropped 2.1 per cent in the last quarter and trade volume dropped 1.4 per cent in December, signs that the Canadian economy is still fragile. (for subscribers)
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
“In the coming week, relations between Russia and the United States will receive fresh scrutiny, with the highest possible stakes for both Presidents Donald J. Trump and Vladimir Putin. But the nature of the ties between Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and Mr. Putin’s government – an issue forbidding and formidable enough to dominate any ordinary week – aren’t the only items on the Washington agenda beginning Monday. The six frantic weeks of the Trump era have provided enormous – perhaps unprecedented – upheaval, to be sure, but even barring the sorts of surprises that have been customary in Washington this year, this week begins with exceptional portent.” – David Shribman
“This weekend’s startling political drama of Twitter accusations of wiretaps, then denials, all following on swirling questions about the contacts between Trump associates and Russia, are setting off fireworks inside domestic U.S. politics. But don’t doubt that the events that Republican Senator Ben Sasse labelled a “civilization-warping crisis of public trust” will shake capitals around the world.” – Campbell Clark
“It was more than 20 years ago that the B.C. Liberal Party, then in opposition, attacked the NDP government of the day for bestowing special favour upon its “friends and insiders.” After 16 years in power, however, the Liberals are entrenched in defending a political fundraising system that sells access and influence to its own friends and insiders. As early as this week, the B.C. Liberal government will acknowledge demands for campaign finance reform with legislation to improve disclosure of those contributions. Unless they divert wildly from the script laid down by Premier Christy Clark, the bill will not curb the lucrative business of trading cash for access.” – Justine Hunter
“In a speech to Congress last week, Mr. Trump laid out his plans for an immigration overhaul, arguing that keeping more people out and deporting those in the country illegally will boost wages and create millions of jobs for Americans. Even as he praised Canada’s point system for rating prospective immigrants, Mr. Trump ripped apart its economic logic. Opening the borders to large numbers of immigrants, he said, ‘depresses wages for our poorest workers and puts great pressure on taxpayers.’ " – Barrie McKenna (for subscribers)
You may not have heard of fatty liver disease. But chances are, you know someone who has it. If your doctor has told you that you have a fatty liver, take action to reverse it. If left untreated, the condition can be more harmful than you think. Lifestyle modification is the cornerstone to treating – and preventing – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Gradual weight loss, dietary modification and exercise are required to effectively remove fat deposits in the liver.
MOMENT IN TIME
Proposed ship canal gets bad reviews
March 6, 1867: In early March, 1867, Toronto’s city council was asked to make an investment in a scheme that, even today, sounds audacious. The proposal was to build a $40-million ship canal connecting Lake Huron through Lake Simcoe to Lake Ontario, terminating in Toronto. The project would generate revenue of $4-million a year, its promoters vowed. Shipments of grain, timber and other goods from the west would take a much shorter route than going through Lake Erie and the Welland Canal. The Globe vehemently dismissed the plan in an editorial, declaring that “it is amazing that any intelligent man should think of recommending anything of the kind” based on the “wild calculations” from the proponents. The idea was eventually abandoned, along with another to build a canal connecting Georgian Bay to the Ottawa River along the old French River voyageur route. – Richard Blackwell
Morning Update was written by Steven Proceviat.
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