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Construction equipment is parked at the bottom of a pit on the site of a new condominium complex off Redpath Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 1, 2017. (CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS)
Construction equipment is parked at the bottom of a pit on the site of a new condominium complex off Redpath Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 1, 2017. (CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS)

Morning Update

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TODAY’S TOP STORIES

Record housing starts fuel debate over need to cool Toronto market

Data released Monday show new home construction in Canada reached its highest levels in almost a decade as builders scramble to keep up with the housing demand. The story in Toronto was more mixed: Single family home starts fell 4 per cent in March over February while other types of housing – including townhouses and condominiums – rose 82 per cent. This uneven trend continues to fuel debate over whether the government should step in to cool the market, with some analysts pointing to the data as evidence market forces are working to address demand, and others saying there is still too much speculation. (for subscribers)

B.C. parties roll out platforms ahead of campaign

British Columbia’s provincial election campaign officially kicks off today, but both main parties issued substantial platform promises Monday evening. The governing BC Liberals released their full platform on Monday, offering to keep the province on its current path of encouraging resource development and embracing fiscal restraint. In contrast, the rival New Democratic Party is running on a platform that includes Quebec-style daycare subsidies and a collection of tax and fee reductions.

Liberals set to table marijuana legislation, but key details need to be resolved

The Trudeau government will table a bill to legalize recreational marijuana on Thursday, federal sources say. While the bill is expected to tightly control how producers can market the substance to the public, key issues have yet to be resolved, such as how to deal with drug-impaired driving. Although the bill is scheduled to be tabled in the House of Commons this week, the government won’t commit publicly to a specific date when adults will be able to consume the product legally for recreational purposes for the first time.

Canadians wary of deeper economic ties with China: poll

A new public-opinion poll suggests that almost 90 per cent of Canadians do not want the Trudeau government to grant China’s state-owned enterprises unfettered access to the country’s economy and a majority want the federal government to link human rights to talks on a free-trade deal with China. Pollster Nik Nanos said the survey, conducted April 1 to 4, is a “significant cautionary note for the Liberal government as to how Canadians feel about engaging China on a new free-trade agreement.” (for subscribers)

MORNING MARKETS

Nervous investors turned to the safety of gold, government bonds and the yen on Tuesday as concerns mounted about possible U.S. military strikes in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. Signals from Washington that it was prepared to take further action against the Syrian government if it thought it was using chemical weapons was the main driver, with uncertainty about forthcoming elections in France also simmering. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.3 per cent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.8 per cent, while the Shanghai composite gained 0.6 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.1 and 0.5 per cent by just past 4 a.m. (ET), though Germany’s DAX was down 0.1 per cent. New York futures were little changed, and the Canadian dollar was above 75 cents (U.S.). Oil retreated from five-week highs hit early in the session.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

“If you want to lessen the harms caused by drug use, why is possession ever a crime? Wouldn’t the money and effort that goes into prosecuting drug use be better spent on providing better health care for drug users who are experiencing harm?”- André Picard

"The tragedy is that all this tinkering isn’t working. Canada has been slipping behind other advanced countries on many of the key metrics of innovation. While we’ve been writing reports, the best-performing countries have been putting real dollars into priority projects, and producing concrete results." - Barrie McKenna

"A lot of people who don’t much like Mr. Trump are suddenly cheering him on. In the long run, they are going to be sorely disappointed. In a world craving stability, it is sadly self-evident that the White House can’t be counted on for that precious commodity. Not when Donald Trump has cruise missiles at his disposal." - Globe Editorial

HEALTH PRIMER

Why drugs for ‘orphan’ diseases are a booming business with colossal costs for patients

Powerful new pharmaceuticals are promising to change the lives of those who suffer from rare diseases. But with some governments balking at covering the sky-high cost of those drugs, writes Kelly Grant, patients are insisting they shouldn’t be asked to keep suffering – or find a way to pay.

MOMENT IN TIME

Napoleon exiled to Elba

April 11, 1814:
As the ship carrying Napoleon off to exile set to sea, all of Europe must have imagined that, after more than a decade of war, peace was finally at hand. Alas, all of Europe was wrong. The site of Napoleon’s exile was Elba, an island lying a mere 10 kilometres from the Italian coast– making escape all too easy and, sure enough, within a year, the former French emperor had fled. Quickly, he returned to Paris, reclaimed his imperial title, rallied his army and plunged the continent back into war. This unexpected continuation of his military exploits was ended only in the massive, bloody battle of Waterloo, in June, 1815. This time, all of Europe had learned from their mistake and dispatched Napoleon to the island of Saint Helena, more than 6,000 kilometres away, where he remained for the rest of his life. - Ken Carriere

Morning update is written by Kiran Rana.

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