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

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa fired back Friday at criticism from Canadian officials over the secret trial of Michael Spavor.

A Chinese court in Dandong conducted the proceedings in two hours Friday morning, concluded without the issuance of a verdict or sentencing, which in the Chinese system can be delayed for years.

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Jim Nickel, Canada’s charge d’affaires in China, expressed frustration outside the courthouse that Chinese authorities had kept out Canadian representatives. “We have no idea. We were not present in the courtroom so we have no idea what transpired,” he said.

“There is an obligation on the Chinese authorities’ part to admit consular officials to attend hearings of our citizens,” he added.

In Ottawa on Friday, the Chinese embassy called criticism of its conduct on Mr. Spavor and Michael Kovrig – who faces a trial on Monday – “unwarranted comments” that are “fact distorting.”

“China is a country of the rule of law,” it said, adding that “China’s judicial authorities have been dealing with the cases independently and ensuring their lawful rights.”

The embassy linked the Canadians’ cases to that of Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested at the Vancouver airport in December, 2018, on a U.S. extradition request.

“When it comes to arbitrary detention, Ms.Meng Wanzhou has been arbitrarily detained for over two years despite the fact that she hasn’t violated any Canadian law. This is arbitrary detention in every sense of the term.”

This is the daily Evening Update newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was sent to you as a forward, you can sign up for Evening Update and more than 20 more Globe newsletters here. If you like what you see, please share it with your friends.

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A truck nearly killed him, but venture capitalist John Ruffolo has kept moving forward

John Ruffolo, photographed on Bay Street in Toronto near the offices for his new private equity firm Maverix, March 12, 2021

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

Six months ago, a cycling trip in Toronto went badly wrong for one of Bay Street’s leading investors. Now, after fighting for his survival and adapting to life in a wheelchair, he’s about to launch a new private equity firm.

His friends and family credit his fight – not just for survival, but for squeezing all he can from his renewed chance at life – to the physical strength he accumulated from cycling, and the attitude and drive that made him a key architect of Canada’s innovation ecosystem.

Six months after the accident, many of the top names on Bay Street have rallied to ensure his recovery and see his latest vision through.

Tanzania’s new president shows no sign of shifting from predecessor’s COVID-19-denying policies

Samia Suluhu Hassan called for patience and unity on Friday as she took office, signalling no early changes of policy by a government that has denied the COVID-19 threat and imposed authoritarian controls on its people.

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Ms. Hassan, the former vice-president who was elevated to the highest post after the mystery-cloaked death of former president John Magufuli on Wednesday, becomes the only female head of government in Africa today and the first in her country’s history.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Ontario to open COVID-19 vaccine bookings for those aged 75 and older on Monday

The province’s centralized booking system, launched this week for adults 80 and over, will start taking appointments for those 75 and up on Monday at 8 a.m., Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday. This includes people who are turning 75 in 2021.

As decades-long selection of a nuclear waste site nears end, communities face tough decision

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization has been searching for a decade for a “willing host” for an underground disposal site for Canada’s nuclear waste. It will choose between two final candidates – South Bruce and Ignace, in Northwestern Ontario – in 2023. What’s not clear, however, is whether either community wants it.

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MARKET WATCH

The consumer discretionary sector responded positively to retail sales numbers and prompted Canada’s main stock index to inch higher to conclude a relatively flat week.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 17.53 points to 18,854.00.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 234.33 points at 32,627.97. The S&P 500 index was down 2.36 points at 3,913.10, while the Nasdaq composite was up 99.07 points at 13,215.24.

The Canadian dollar traded for 79.96 cents US compared with 80.27 cents US on Thursday.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

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TALKING POINTS

When Kenney’s done criticizing ‘Bigfoot Family,’ he should get to Sesame Street

“There are so many things that parents – particularly Albertan parents – have to worry about these days, so it is reassuring Mr. Kenney’s fiscally conservative government has put its resources toward a children’s movie that is surely topping the list.” – Robyn Urback

The WE Charity scandal was 25 years in the making

“Rather than losing several billions of tax dollars a year to a poorly regulated spray of credits to a collection of 85,000 organizations of various merits, we should consider funding charities from government directly, through a process that’s public, transparent and arm’s-length. It would make legitimate charities stronger, and less vulnerable to scandal.” Doug Saunders

Migrant surge threatens to bring an abrupt end to Biden’s honeymoon

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“Mr. Biden has virtually no hope of making good on his promise to pass immigration reform as long as the filibuster remains intact and only mixed odds of doing so if it is abolished.” Konrad Yakabuski

LIVING BETTER

2021 garden trends: year-round covered gardens and whimsical tiny plants

Sandra Banfield/Handout

As the snow piled up this winter, Niki Jabbour was busy harvesting 30 different types of vegetables on an acre of land near Halifax. The reason Jabbour has been able to reap a bounty that includes spinach, scallions, carrots and beets is because she’s an “under-cover” gardener – a cloak-and-dagger term that means she uses a variety of covered structures to protect her plants from inclement weather and pests so that she can grow food year-round.

Jabbour has written several bestselling gardening books, including her most recent, Growing Under Cover: Techniques for a More Productive, Weather-Resistant, Pest-Free Vegetable Garden.

Simple and relatively inexpensive structures include row covers (lightweight fabrics that allow light, air and water to pass through to the plants while protecting them from weather and pests); cloches (plastic, glass or willow covers that keep plants warm); cold frames (a simple box with a clear top, usually plastic); and mini-hoop tunnels (pint-sized tunnels with hoops made from PVC conduit, metal, wire or even an old hula-hoop cut in half and covered with plastic or lightweight fabrics). All of these options are readily available at gardening stores.

TODAY’S LONG READ

Quebec snowbirds shrug off criticism and enjoy Florida’s sunshine – and vaccines

In a normal winter at Breezy Hill Resort in Florida – a mix of RVs and trailer homes – the park is about 98-per-cent full of Quebeckers. This year, only about one-tenth of the regulars showed up. But those who did are happy with their decision. On top of the usual attractions of sun, sand and sea, they were also vaccinated against COVID-19 months before they would have been inoculated in Canada.

Édine and Michel Rivest of Trois-Rivières shrug off detractors in Canada who say it is irresponsible to travel abroad during a global pandemic. “We think that they are jealous,” said Mr. Rivest, 69. The couple are among the small flock of Canadian snowbirds who made the trek this year – despite repeated urging from government officials not to leave the country.

Read the full story from Adrian Morrow here.

Evening Update is presented by Rob Gilroy. If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

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