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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Istanbul. (Reuters)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Istanbul. (Reuters)

MORNING UPDATE

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Erdogan tightens grip on Turkey with narrow referendum win

From the moment he was first elected to Turkish high office in 2003, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opponents have painted him as a Trojan-horse candidate hiding a darker agenda – specifically, a potential Islamic overthrow of Turkey’s nine-decade-old secular democracy. On Sunday, Mr. Erdogan’s apparent narrow victory in a constitutional-change referendum turned at least some of those fears into reality. The result cements Mr. Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies into permanent rules that allow the Turkish President to remain in power for another decade, to eliminate key checks and balances, and to wield formidable personal control over legislation and appointments of military and justice officials.

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Judges call to reduce court delays in child-protection cases

An Ontario judge is urging a reduction in court delays in child-protection cases after a baby born with opiates in his bloodstream lived in legal limbo for 22 months, and now will be taken from his foster mother and put up for adoption. The call from Justice Kevin Phillips of the Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa comes as Manitoba’s Glenn Joyal, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench, moves to cut court delays by instituting strict time limits for child-protection cases. The case in Ontario and the new time limits in Manitoba are signs that judges frustrated by delays in other legal areas are unwilling simply to put up with them, and are crying out against complacency.

North Korea’s missile failure provides brief relief

The attempted launch of a missile by North Korea early Sunday morning came amid tensions so heightened that senior Chinese leaders have warned that war could break out at any moment. But a temporary reprieve to the rising hostilities came as the missile exploded shortly after launch, with the U.S. administration backing off some of its militaristic rhetoric and praising Beijing for pushing North Korea away from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that China is “working with us on the North Korean problem,” while H.R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s top national security adviser, said: “It’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”

Advocate’s death renews assisted-dying debate for those with mental illness

The suicide of Adam Maier-Clayton, a 27-year-old advocate for extending the right to a medically assisted death to those suffering from severe psychological distress, likely will intensify one of the most difficult parts of the assisted-death debate. Mr. Maier-Clayton suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety and somatic symptom disorder and pain from which he could find no relief, he said in a Globe and Mail piece published a year ago. On his Facebook page and YouTube, he frequently wrote and posted videos about trying medication, counselling and behaviour-modification therapy without success for years. His mother confirmed his death on Facebook on the weekend.

In Alberta, a rush to renewables amid bet on new energy

A renewables rush is in high gear in Alberta as the province, better known for oil and natural-gas, formally pushes to boost its wind, solar and hydro power capacity. By the end of 2017, the province will have completed the first in a series of annual competitions that will see companies bid to provide renewable electricity into the power market. The agency overseeing the contest says it has already had formal expressions of interests for dozens of projects to supply the first 400 megawatts – enough to power about 170,000 homes. Premier Rachel Notley’s government hopes the push to phase out coal-fired power in the next 13 years will help Alberta’s environmental image across Canada and abroad, and diversify the province’s energy-focused economy. (for subscribers)

NHL PLAYOFF ROUNDUP

Canadiens, Oilers take lead in series; Penguins, Blues take command

The Montreal Canadiens took a 2-1 lead in their series against the New York Rangers with a 3-1 win at Madison Square Garden, while the Edmonton Oilers also went up 2-1 in their series by defeating the San Jose Sharks 1-0 in Sunday night NHL playoff action. The Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues grabbed strangleholds over the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild, respectively, on Sunday. The Penguins edged the Blue Jackets in overtime to go up three games to none, while the Blues topped the Wild 3-1 to also take a 3-0 lead in their series.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

“For the first time since Germany in the 1930s, homosexuals in a European country are being systematically rounded up, tortured and killed, according to Russian journalists and human-rights organizations. Now Canada and other nations are demanding that Russian President Vladimir Putin investigate and end this purge in Chechnya, an autonomous republic within the Russian federation. Moscow, however, seems indifferent, even as religious leaders in Chechnya declare a jihad against the journalists who broke the story, forcing at least one of them to flee the country. The question is whether the Trudeau government will offer protection to persecuted sexual minorities fleeing the republic.” – John Ibbitson

“Here’s a political trivia question: Which prime minister, Stephen Harper or Justin Trudeau, ran on the open-government promise to strengthen the Access to Information Act, but then delayed and made lame excuses and failed to deliver? It’s a trick question, unfortunately. The answer is both. The difference between the two, however, is that Mr. Trudeau is still in power, and his Liberal government still insists, despite repeated delays and excuses, that they are going to do something about it, eventually. … So it’s time to call out the Liberals on their soft, slippery, sliding commitment to access-to-information reform. This is a pattern this country has seen before.” – Campbell Clark

“Proponents of universal child care take it as an article of faith that subsidized daycare ‘more than pays for itself’ in higher labour-market participation rates among women, and kids who are better equipped for learning when they reach school age. ... [While] the universal-daycare lobby has largely succeeded in depicting the absence of a government-sponsored universal daycare system in Canada (with the exception of Quebec) as a great national shame. … As Ottawa prepares to lay down the conditions for provinces to access the $7.5-billion in new child-care funding promised in last month’s federal budget, and as British Columbia’s NDP vow to introduce a Quebec-style $10-a-day daycare system if it wins the May 9 provincial election, it’s worth having an honest debate about how best to spend scarce child-care dollars.” – Konrad Yakabuski

“Canadian officials are breathing a sigh of relief that New York has backed off putting Buy American restrictions on most state purchases. But this isn’t the end of the story for Canadian companies that sell to federal, state and local governments in the United States. Not by a long shot. Emboldened by Donald Trump’s America First rhetoric and widespread anti-trade sentiment, protectionist purchasing rules are spreading rapidly in the United States – the main market for Canadian exports. … This raises a vital policy question for federal and provincial governments: Is ‘Buy Canadian’ the answer to the Buy American problem?” – Barrie McKenna (for subscribers)

“The Bank of Canada announced on Wednesday, in a familiar refrain, that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate. However, the announcement and accompanying news conference signalled a definite change of tone. Barring major negative surprises, it took the possibility of a rate cut off the table. With inflation at target, should the positive economic news continue, a rate hike before 2018 is a real possibility. Two questions arise: first, what might cause this earlier rate hike, and second, is it necessarily a good thing?” – Steve Ambler and Jeremy Kronick

“Last Thursday, the federal government unveiled its long-anticipated legislation to legalize cannabis. We heard that cannabis will be strictly regulated and kept away from children and criminals. But we didn’t hear how the government will address Canada’s international legal obligations under the UN drug control treaties that specifically require cannabis’s prohibition. … The treaties’ flexibilities are rather limited. Unless we change our Constitution, Canada cannot legally legalize cannabis without either renegotiating the UN treaties, obtaining special exceptions, finding creative workarounds, or withdrawing from them.” – Steven Hoffman

MORNING MARKETS

Treasuries extended their rally Monday as soft inflation data from the U.S. fed into markets after the long weekend, and the dollar fell. Lingering geopolitical concerns in Asia offset upbeat economic data from China, ensuring haven assets gained. Trading was light, with many key markets still shut for Easter. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.1 per cent, though Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.2 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.7 per cent. New York futures are down, and the Canadian dollar is above 75 cents (U.S.). Oil slid lower on signs the U.S. is continuing to add output, largely counteracting the strong economic growth in China and OPEC efforts to cut production.

THE LOOKAHEAD

As Canadian stocks tread water, investors await profit rebound

Key Canadian companies are set to roll out their quarterly financial results over the next couple of weeks amid upbeat economic expectations and near-record-high stock prices. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and Rogers Communications Inc. are two highlights for this week. Barrick Gold Corp., Canadian National Railway Co., Metro Inc., Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and Bombardier Inc. follow next week. These companies are among more than a dozen corporate heavyweights that should provide a clearer picture of where profits – and share prices – are headed. Analysts are optimistic. They estimate that Canadian profits are set to rise 28.1 per cent over the same period in 2016, according to David Aurelio, an analyst at Thomson Reuters. (for subscribers)

HEALTH PRIMER

Patients resort to paying consultants to help navigate Canada’s Byzantine health-care system

Jana Bartley, founder of Toronto-based Integrity Healthcare Consultants, is part of a small but growing new field of private advocates or navigators who will – for a fee – help patients and their families find their way through Canada’s labyrinthine health-care system. Private patient navigators review medical files, attend doctors’ appointments, book tests, chase down specialists and co-ordinate in-home care, often for elderly clients with chronic illnesses whose grown children live far away. For those who can afford to pay, the service can be a godsend. But the advent of a private patient advocacy profession in Canada also raises questions about how impenetrable the public health-care system has become, and how appropriate it is for those with the means to buy their own squeaky wheel.

MOMENT IN TIME

Stirrings of dissent in the Red River Colony

April 17, 1867:
It would be two years before the Red River Rebellion broke out in what is now Manitoba, but in the spring of 1867 there were already stirrings of dissent in the colony. The Globe, in a reprint of an article from the Nor’Wester newspaper, noted that citizens were considering taking over the local government from the Hudson’s Bay Co., which was still in charge and heartily disliked. Indeed, the report said “that a fur-trading monopoly can have any interest in common with a farming, grazing and mining community is felt to be impossible. … The political condition of the country is simply this: 10,000 people are ruled by the committee of a fur-trading company; they are allowed no voice whatever in the government.” The situation boiled over in 1869, when the Métis under Louis Riel declared a provisional government to negotiate Manitoba’s entry into Confederation. – Richard Blackwell

Morning Update is written by Steven Proceviat.

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