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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

The Bank of Canada went above expectations with its benchmark interest rate announcement today, opting for a 50-basis-point hike to 4.25 per cent, instead of the more modest 25-basis-point increase some analysts and investors were predicting. (There are 100 basis points in a percentage point.)

But the move, which represented the seventh rate hike of 2022 as central banks worldwide attempt to control inflation, was accompanied by softer language in its decision statement than previously.

“Looking ahead, Governing Council will be considering whether the policy interest rate needs to rise further to bring supply and demand back into balance,” the bank said.

Deputy governor Sharon Kozicki will deliver a speech tomorrow explaining the bank’s decision. The next rate decision is on Jan. 25.

More coverage:

  • Rob Carrick: Mortgage-holders, savers and GIC investors, it’s time to change your thinking on interest rates
  • Konrad Yakabuski: What the new era of tight money means for governments everywhere
  • Stress Test podcast: Rising interest rates brought pain for new homeowners – and opportunity for house hunters

Belarus, Russian ally and Ukrainian neighbour, signals greater role in Putin’s war

Over the past few days, Belarus has gone from useful staging ground for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to a potential new front in the war.

On Saturday, Russia’s Defence Minister flew unannounced to the country’s capital Minsk, where he and his Belarusian counterpart amended a security co-operation agreement. Today, the Belarus Security Council said soldiers and hardware would be moving within the country over the next two days for training purposes.

All of this has happened under ongoing warnings from authorities about so-called terrorist activities across the border in Ukraine.

Food fury: Egypt’s soaring bread prices are chewing a hole in the unsubsidized lower middle class

Anyone who remembers the bread intifada of 1977 knows that Egypt’s bread subsidies for the poor are sacrosanct. But the lower middle class, some 40 million Egyptians who don’t qualify for the subsidies, are feeling the pain of inflation as non-subsidized bread skyrockets in price. Eric Reguly reports.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

China relaxes anti-COVID-19 measures: Beijing rolled back rules on isolating people with COVID-19 and dropped virus test requirements for some public places today in a dramatic policy change.

Winnipeg police criticized: Kimberly Murray, a former executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says the police force’s refusal to search for the remains of missing Indigenous women presumed murdered is “a breach of human dignity.”

Realtor reality check: Ontario’s real estate watchdog has found that “large-scale, deliberate and organized misconduct” in 2021 accounted for 315 individuals caught cheating in the Humber College Real Estate Education Program, a figure six times greater than has previously been admitted.

Poulin the Northern Star: Marie-Philip Poulin, who captained Team Canada to both Olympic and world championship gold this year, is the first female hockey player to be named Canada’s athlete of the year.

MARKET WATCH

Bay Street ended lower for a fourth straight day with energy shares hit by low oil prices, while stock indexes south of the border didn’t fare much better.

The S&P/TSX composite index ended down 16.95 points, or 0.1%, at 19,973.22, on the same day the Bank of Canada hiked interest rates but also signalled its unprecedented tightening campaign may be near an end.

The S&P 500 lost 7.34 points, or 0.19%, to close at 3,933.92 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 56.34 points, or 0.51%, to finish at 10,958.55. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat, ending on 33,597.92.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.24 cents US.

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TALKING POINTS

Genocide is not in Canada’s past. It is still happening, to this day

“There always seems to be an excuse for not acting on the 231 Calls for Justice released by the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls three years ago. This apathy is appalling.” – Tanya Talaga

With his Twitter takeover, Elon Musk fires up the culture wars

“Musk believes there is too much censorship and that the country needs even stricter adherence to First Amendment speech freedoms. The counterargument is that since the advent of the internet, free speech has expanded exponentially.” – Lawrence Martin

Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are at a fork in the road in Qatar

“Ronaldo has gotten cranky. Lionel Messi is losing interest. That they are doing so together at the same time in the same place should suggest a vital bond. But rarely in sports history have two athletes so twinned by history, circumstance and ability seemed as disconnected personally.” – Cathal Kelly

LIVING BETTER

The 10 most remarkable and memorable artworks at Canadian galleries in 2022

AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal are the artists who called themselves General Idea.Courtesy the artist

Arts critic Kate Taylor takes the pulse of the visual-arts scene across Canada, in a year when home-grown exhibitions stood out as pandemic inconveniences continued to put a drag on international blockbusters.

TODAY’S LONG READ

Snowbirds take note: Colombia is now on my retirement radar

Pro Colombia

Deciding where to spend the winter months is not as easy as it may sound, especially when you have a lengthy wish list that includes safety, balmy weather, reliable internet, gay-friendliness, decent health care, a stimulating café society, proper gastronomy and, of course, good value.

But a visit to Colombia shows just how appealing it can be, with diverse urban centres both coastal (Cartagena) and bustling (Bogota). Recent political stability – a violent 50-year conflict ended in 2016 – and a promised remote-worker visa make the country of 49 million a real option for those seeking a winter home.

Writer Doug Wallace has more on the charms of Colombia, including its natural beauty and support for arts and culture.


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