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

Canada joins in sanctions against China over treatment of Uyghurs; Kovrig trial held today

Canada has joined the United States, Britain and the European Union to impose sanctions against China for its brutal treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

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They are imposing sanctions on four Chinese officials and one Chinese state entity for what they called “their participation in gross and systemic human rights violations” against Uyghurs in China’s northwest Xinjiang region.

Separately today, authorities in Beijing held a closed-door hearing for Canadian Michael Kovrig, who like his compatriot Michael Spavor was detained in China in December, 2018, in apparent retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S. As was the case with Spavor’s trial this past Friday, the whole process was shrouded in secrecy, no diplomats were allowed to observe, and the verdict will be announced at a later date

Proceedings in Meng’s extradition hearing continued in B.C. Supreme Court today, with a defence lawyer saying a retired Mountie’s refusal to testify adds weight to an argument that the officer shared information about her devices with U.S. investigators.

Opinion: Canada must sanction Chinese officials for their gross human-rights abuse of the Michaels Colin Robertson

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The latest COVID-19 developments: AstraZeneca trial results, variants on the rise in Canada and more

Interim results in a major late-stage trial indicate that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is 79-per-cent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and poses no increased risk of blood clots. The report potentially paves the way for its emergency authorization in the United States and could bolster confidence after setbacks in Europe.

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Meanwhile, the European Commission has revived threats to block the export of AstraZeneca vaccines, a move that has intensified the vaccine war between Britain and the European Union and divided EU countries.

In Canada, the number of cases of variants of concern in the country is rising, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam says, as provinces ramped up vaccination programs amid an expected surge in supply in the hopes of heading off a possible third wave of COVID-19. In Ontario, Health Minister Christine Elliott, 65, says she will take a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine on camera in bid to ease public hesitancy.

While vaccination offers hope, a year after Canada went into lockdown, there’s no denying the toll the pandemic has taken on people who lost their jobs, or companies such as airlines, which has seen the devastation of regional routes.

Opinion: The third wave of the pandemic is here. Now what? André Picard

Read more:

Former Conservative government considered delaying Vance’s change of command ceremony to investigate rumours

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The former Conservative government considered delaying the 2015 change of command ceremony that would usher in Jonathan Vance as the new chief of the defence staff to allow time for officials to investigate a rumour about him, a parliamentary committee heard.

Ray Novak, who was former prime minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, testified before the committee as part of a probe into sexual misconduct in the military. He said there were two incidents brought to the prime minister’s attention regarding Vance when he was the leading candidate for the position of chief of the defence staff.

Ultimately, the ceremony proceeded on July 17, 2015, after a review was closed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing criticism for approving a bonus for Vance after his office was made aware of sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Colten Boushie’s mother says RCMP watchdog report shows injustice

The mother of Colten Boushie, the Cree man shot and killed on a Saskatchewan farm, says a watchdog’s review shows the injustice she faced when she was racially discriminated against by RCMP after her son’s death.

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“Our family was never going to give up. We were not going to be swept away and treated such as less than human beings,” Debbie Baptiste told a news conference today.

Boushie, died in August, 2016, when the SUV he was riding in went onto farmer Gerald Stanley’s property near Biggar, Sask.

As The Globe reported earlier, the RCMP destroyed records of police communications from the night he died and conducted a parallel internal probe into the handling of the case without notifying the civilian watchdog, according to a report from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.


Australian flooding forces evacuation: Australia was set to evacuate thousands more people today from suburbs in Sydney’s west, battered by the worst flooding in 60 years, with torrential rains expected to continue for another day or two.

“Proud to be Asian”: Canadian actor and Killing Eve star Sandra Oh gave a powerful speech at a Stop Asian Hate protest in Pittsburgh over the weekend, following last week’s Atlanta spa shootings that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.

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Wall Street rallied today as technology stocks rebounded from a recent selloff sparked by surging bond yields. But Canada’s main index ended in the red, weighed down by a chilly reception to Canadian Pacific Railway’s US$25.2-billion proposal to take over Kansas City Southern.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 103.23 points or 0.32 per cent to 32,731.20, the S&P 500 gained 27.49 points or 0.70 per cent to 3,940.59 and the Nasdaq Composite added 162.30 points or 1.23 per cent to end at 13,377.54.

The S&P/TSX Composite index closed down 38.87 points or 0.21 at 18,815.13, as CP Rail lost 5.41 per cent.

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Real estate frenzy hits small cities in Ontario

Stephanie Hunter near her new home in Niagara Falls on March 21, 2021.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

When Stephanie Hunter and Braden Bonwick were searching for a house in the Niagara region, they were given a brief opportunity to view the properties and were advised to provide a cover letter and photo of themselves as they competed with dozens of buyers for homes that were selling for $100,000 over the asking price.

“It felt like we were playing a game of chance,” Hunter said. “You have 15 minutes to look at a place while a line of agents and their clients is forming outside the front door asking if you’re almost done. Then finding out the home you just had 15 minutes to look at had 65 viewings that day and all offers have to be in by 5 p.m. tomorrow.”

Welcome to the small city housing frenzy, where Toronto and Vancouver real estate tactics have become the norm. There are no home inspections and no conditional offers – and bids are routinely well over asking. Read Rachelle Younglai’s full story here.

Opinion: The great Canadian real estate fallacy - Marcus Gee

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