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Rich Coleman speaks to media during a press conference in the Legislative Library on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rich Coleman speaks to media during a press conference in the Legislative Library on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Morning update

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TODAY’S TOP STORIES

B.C. Liberals have ‘nothing to hide’ on fundraising

“We have done nothing wrong, we have nothing to hide,” B.C.’s Deputy Premier Rich Coleman said yesterday. He was responding to The Globe and Mail’s investigation that found lobbyists are donating money to the B.C. Liberals under their own names but then getting reimbursed by corporations. The tactic obscures who is behind political contributions. Elections B.C. has launched an investigation into the practice, which breaks one of the province’s few political donation rules. The B.C. Liberals have resisted calls to set contribution limits and ban corporate and union donations. The party raised more than $12-million last year, nearly two-thirds of what the federal Liberals raised.

Trump signs order for revised immigration ban

Donald Trump signed a new executive order on immigration yesterday. Here are the details: Citizens of Muslim-majority six countries – Iran, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and Libya – won’t be able to apply for visas for 90 days. (Iraq was on the banned list in Trump’s previous immigration order but was dropped this time around after the country promised to work with U.S. officials more closely to vet travellers.) Also, all refugee claimants will be blocked from entering the United States for four months. The ban makes clear that permanent residents, dual citizens and those with refugee status are exempt from the order. It is set to take effect on March 16.

Trump’s original executive order was implemented immediately after its Jan. 27 signing and left many stuck in limbo at airports after arriving in the country, while others were taken off planes destined for the U.S. Then, a week later, the ban hit a roadblock when a judge temporarily suspended the order. An appeals court upheld that decision. Trump had originally vowed to fight the suspension in court, but with this new order that plan has been ditched.

New rules coming to limit opioid overprescribing

Amid an overdose crisis, Alberta and B.C. are going to require physicians to check a patient’s medication history before prescribing opioids. The new rules, coming next month in Alberta and likely being phased in over the next year in B.C., are part of an effort to curb overprescribing. Canadian doctors wrote one opioid prescription for every two people, according to one analysis. The measure also hopes to cut down on doctor-shopping, where patients go from doctor to doctor, receiving write-ups for opioids from each. In Alberta last year, a quarter of the 343 people who died from overdoses linked to fentanyl had received a prescription for an opioid in the month leading up to their death.

The rule changes also show a need for similar measures elsewhere: In Ontario, a doctor continued to prescribe opioids to a patient despite her previously documented dependency. She died of an overdose. “Unfortunately, so many doctors don’t know what they’re doing with respect to opiates,” said a Toronto doctor who specializes in substance use.

Marijuana producers hit with proposed lawsuits

First came the product recalls. Now, proposed class-action lawsuits. Mettrum and OrganiGram, both licensed medical marijuana companies, sold cannabis that contained a banned pesticide. Each company is facing possible suits from patients who used those products without knowing what was in them. The pesticide, myclobutanil, is used to get rid of mildew and produces a chemical that can lead to health problems. A former Mettrum employee said he once saw a staff member hide the banned pesticide in the ceiling when inspectors came to the office. Health Canada doesn’t proactively force companies to test their products, instead relying on producers to self-police.

MORNING MARKETS

European stocks were lower for the third straight day on Tuesday as shares of Deutsche Bank continued to slide amid concern about its health. Weak corporate earnings and a big drop in German industrial orders added to the negative sentiment. Europe’s leading index of the top 300 shares fell as much as 0.5 per cent. Asian stocks were mixed with the Nikkei closing down 0.2 per cent, while the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.4 per cent. On Wall Street, U.S. futures pointed to a slightly lower open, taking a break from last week’s record highs as investors await for an expected interest rate increase next week from the Federal Reserve.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

The B.C. Liberals have managed to break B.C.’s lax fundraising rules

“It apparently isn’t enough that the B.C. Liberals get to operate in a system that allowed them to collect $12-million in donations last year alone – a mindboggling amount that far exceeds the logical needs of a provincial political party. No, they also have to ignore a simple rule – a common courtesy, really – that requires that individuals who donate to a party use their own money. … The Liberal Party is feigning shock about what it describes as “confusion” over a rule that could not be more straightforward. Elections B.C. says it will investigate, and it should. But that’s not enough. B.C.’s fundraising rules are absurdly loose and weak. Only a complete reform will erase the impression that government is for sale to the highest bidders.” – Globe editorial

Trump’s immigration ban will make America less safe

“The greatest folly is the Trump administration’s thorough misunderstanding of the threat, based on two erroneous assumptions. First, that terrorism comes from outside the United States, and second that it is solely from Islamic State or al-Qaeda inspired extremism. In the first instance, it has been well-documented that terrorism is increasingly less likely to come from abroad and even less likely to come from refugees. … [Second], according to the Extremist Crime Database, between 1990-2015 the United States experienced 39 attacks from Islamist-inspired extremism, but 178 incidents motivated by far-right extremism.” – Stephanie Carvin, assistant professor of international affairs at Carleton University

Tory anti-immigrant rhetoric is an act of self-destruction

“On Sunday, [Tory leadership candidate Maxime] Bernier tweeted this sentence from the immigration plank of his platform: ‘Our immigration policy should not aim to change the cultural character and social fabric of Canada, as radical proponents of multiculturalism want.’ … Canada’s cultural character and social fabric, whatever that means, are under no threat. … And who are these ‘radical proponents of multiculturalism?’ What are they proposing? With one Canadian in five an immigrant, mostly from Asian or Pacific countries, and with immigrants and the children of immigrants dominating the suburban ridings that determine the outcome of federal elections, any perception of being anti-immigrant is an act of political self-immolation. If Mr. Bernier wins the leadership, be assured the Liberals will use that sentence against him.” – John Ibbitson

HEALTH PRIMER

It’s time to start planking

It’s no secret that sitting at a desk all day is bad for your back. One way to avoid any nagging issues is with planking exercises, which can build spine strength and improve your posture. Here’s how it’s done: Get in a push up position and then with your forearms on the ground bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Now hold that position for at least 10 seconds, and try and build up to two minutes every day.

MOMENT IN TIME

SARS admitted to health-care system

March 7, 2003: When Tse Chi-kwai arrived by ambulance at Toronto’s Scarborough Grace Hospital, the nurses and doctors who cared for him as he struggled for breath had no idea of the threat he harboured in his lungs. Two days earlier, the 43-year-old patient’s mother, Kwan Sui-chu, had died at home of a respiratory illness she contracted at a Hong Kong hotel, making her Canada’s patient zero in the outbreak of a baffling new infectious disease. The World Health Organization later christened it severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. It was Mr. Tse who, on this day, unwittingly introduced SARS to the city’s hospitals, revealing a health-care system woefully unprepared for the new virus, and prompting the WHO to briefly issue a travel advisory that cost Toronto hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tourism and retail sales. Mr. Tse died six days after entering Scarborough Grace. He was one of 44 Canadians who lost their lives to SARS. – Kelly Grant

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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Ottawa examining details of new Trump immigration ban: Goodale (The Canadian Press)

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