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

A judge has told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Justice Minister Arif Virani and the federal cabinet to fill judicial vacancies in a reasonable time period, citing a letter from Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner to the Prime Minister calling the large number of vacancies “untenable.”

The unprecedented declaration by Federal Court Justice Henry Brown on Tuesday does not specify what he would accept as reasonable. Government lawyers presented no evidence as to why there were so many vacancies. There are currently 75 vacancies on federally appointed courts such as the superior courts of provinces, Federal Court and Tax Court of Canada. In the spring of 2016, not long after Justin Trudeau first came to power, there were 46 vacancies.

South Africa seeks new action against Israel by world court ahead of Rafah ground assault

South Africa has sent an urgent request to the International Court of Justice to seek a new emergency order against Israel’s military offensive in the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. The planned ground assault is where about half of Gaza’s population has been seeking refuge from bombings in the north. Several countries, including Canada, have voiced concern about the planned attack.

“What the Netanyahu government is asking them to do – which is to leave again – is unacceptable, because they have nowhere to go, and so that’s why we need right now for the violence to stop,” Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly told journalists on Monday.

The world court ordered Israel to take steps to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and to ensure a supply of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory. Israel has repeatedly denied the genocide allegations and says it is respecting international law in its Gaza bombing campaign.

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Palestinians with children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food supplies, as the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, February 13, 2024.IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/Reuters

Polar bears who come ashore when sea ice is absent are increasingly hard-pressed to sustain themselves

After poring through hours of video footage taken from the bears’ own perspective, scientists discovered eating on land is rarely enough to satisfy their appetite.

The results of the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest that polar bears who live along the western Hudson Bay coast and come ashore when sea ice is absent, are increasingly hard-pressed to sustain themselves. Only when the ice reforms can the bears resume hunting for seals, their primary food source. Video collars transmitted footage in five-second bursts every two minutes, providing ample views of what the bears were eating. You can read more about the study and watch some video footage.

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Anthony Pagano and his colleagues conceived an elaborate scheme for tracking the movements of 20 individual bears together with their calorie intake.Anthony Pagano/Supplied

Human-rights groups decry rising trend of corporate SLAPP lawsuits

There is a growing number of lawsuits by corporations against human-rights activists and other critics – often categorized as “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPPs. Mining companies and other resource corporations, including Canadian companies, have been among the most likely to file such lawsuits. The trend is sparking worldwide concern. One study, by London-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, identified 437 lawsuits between 2015 and last year that have the characteristics of a SLAPP. Read the full story.

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Immigration: Most people living in Canada who have been sent deportation letters in the past eight years are still in the country, according to official figures disclosed by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Transportation: The leasing companies that seized four Flair Airlines planes over missed payments a year ago are seeking to have Flair’s lawsuit against them declared “frivolous” and have asked a judge to strike out most of the claims.

Climate policy: Ontario plans to introduce a law requiring any future government to put a new provincial carbon pricing program to a referendum.

U.S. politics: President Joe Biden called for House Republicans to urgently bring a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan to a vote, saying that refusing to do so would be “playing into Putin’s hands.”

Telecom: Rogers Communications Inc. president of residential operations Zoran Stakic has left the company, triggering a series of changes in the telecom giant’s leadership ranks.

Crime: It is one of the U.S.’s most unsettling crime epidemics. Carjacking and its far more common cousin, auto theft, have spiked in recent years and car thefts have continued to rise even as pandemic-era increases in homicides and other offences have abated.


TSX posts biggest decline in 17 months on hot U.S. CPI data

North American stocks tumbled on Tuesday after a hotter-than-expected U.S. consumer inflation reading pushed back market expectations of imminent interest rate cuts, driving Treasury yields higher. The S&P/TSX Composite Index suffered its worst day in 17 months and the Canadian dollar, caught up in the shifting bets on where monetary policy is heading, fell by the most in almost a year.

The S&P 500 lost 68.14 points to end at 4,953.70 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 282.64 points to 15,659.91. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 522.05 points to 38,275.33.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.77 cents US compared with 74.35 cents US on Monday.

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We need to create a culture of life savers to address cardiac arrest

“It is a very urgent, yet highly treatable condition. Cardiac arrest is sudden and often unexpected and can happen to anyone, at any age, at any time and anywhere.” – Doug Roth

To use Joe Biden’s age as an insult is simply ageism in disguise

“Someone like [U.S. President Joe] Biden may walk and talk a little slower than at the start of their career, but you can’t discount the wisdom that has accumulated over decades. An older brain is often a wiser brain.” André Picard

Canada led the world in producing hockey players. But the game changed, and we didn’t keep up

“At the top levels of Canadian hockey, a fair bit of cement-head outlook remains. And for that, hate the game, not the players. They don’t make the rules. They don’t run the agoge. They are its product.” Tony Keller


You have until Feb. 29 to contribute to a registered retirement savings plan for the 2023 tax year. But should you? Here are seven reasons to reconsider contributing to an RRSP this tax season. In particular, younger or lower-income investors likely have alternatives they should consider first.


On this Belleville, Ont., street, the city’s overdose crisis is a part of everyday life

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People who are living outside or in shelters sit near the Bridge Street United Church in Belleville, Ont., on Feb 12, on a stretch of sidewalk that has become a gathering spot for the city’s street population.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Sunday dawned grey and damp in Belleville, the “friendly city.” Congregants hunched their shoulders as they filed into the historic Bridge Street United Church.

The long sidewalk in front of the church has become a gathering spot for the city’s street population, a place to hang out, chat with friends, warm up with a coffee, have a smoke, or buy, sell and consume drugs.

Authorities had reported a rash of drug overdoses that week, 13 of them within the space of two hours one afternoon. Mayor Neil Ellis made national headlines by declaring a state of emergency over the community’s triple-headed crisis of mental illness, addiction and homelessness.

Canada’s overdose epidemic has moved beyond the big cities to hit even small, quiet places like Belleville. With far fewer resources than larger centres, they are struggling to cope. Read the full story by Marcus Gee.

Evening Update is written by Sierra Bein and S.R. Slobodian. 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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