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Jody Wilson-Raybould can speak about SNC-Lavalin affair at committee, Trudeau says

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould will be permitted to speak publicly about some of the details of the SNC-Lavalin affair (for subscribers). He told the House of Commons that the government will waive some of the solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidences that have so far kept Ms. Wilson-Raybould silent.

She sent a letter to the chair of the Commons justice committee today saying she is anxious to appear, but wants to hold off until clarity has been reached about what she is legally allowed to share.

For the full background on the SNC-Lavalin affair, what happened to Ms. Wilson-Raybould and how the Prime Minister’s Office was involved, check out our explainer here.

Opinion: “The real question is whether the Prime Minister or the people around him did something wrong," Campbell Clark writes (for subscribers). "Not criminal – there’s a high bar for willful obstruction of justice – but wrong. Did they meddle in a prosecution?”

Canada’s Barrick Gold makes $18-billion hostile bid for U.S. rival Newmont

Barrick Gold is offering to buy Newmont Mining in an unsolicited, all-share, no-premium transaction, claiming it is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to create an "unrivalled leader” in the global gold sector, Niall McGee writes (for subscribers). Toronto-based Barrick said it is offering 2.5694 shares for each Newmont share in a deal worth approximately US$17.8-billion.

Barrick says its proposal is far superior to Newmont’s US$10-billion offer to buy Vancouver-based Goldcorp, which was announced last month but hasn’t yet closed. Newmont today reiterated its commitment to closing that acquisition.

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Opinion: “Barrick Gold just traipsed into a potentially nasty battle short of ammunition,” Eric Reguly writes (for subscribers).

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the OPP

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is being threatened with a lawsuit from Ontario Provincial Police Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, who is challenging the government’s appointment of the Premier’s friend as the province’s next police chief.

The notice of intent to sue for defamation obtained by The Globe and Mail takes issue with televised remarks made by Mr. Ford in December, when the Premier suggested Deputy Commissioner Blair – who was also a front-runner for the position – was breaking the Police Services Act by going public with concerns over the hiring of Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner.

In his bid to get the courts to order the province’s Ombudsman to review the hiring of Supt. Taverner, Deputy Commissioner Blair has submitted internal e-mails to bolster his claim that Mr. Ford and his office have interfered in police operations. The court filings outline demands by Mr. Ford to change his OPP security detail and interest by his office in a $50,00 retrofitting of a van for his travels.

As blowing snow causes highway chaos in Ontario, Canadians are told to expect an abrupt transition to spring

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A blast of winter weather that included damaging winds and blowing snow caused chaos on highways in Southern Ontario and left thousands of residents in several communities without power (for subscribers). A major crash on Highway 400 near Barrie involved more than 70 vehicles, with several people treated for minor injuries. More than 156,000 people lost electricity in the nearly 24 hours since the storm hit, Hydro One says.

So it will come as welcome news to many that The Weather Network is saying that while winter will continue to grip the country heading into March, Canadians can expect an abrupt transition to spring. “The crack in the armour of winter is showing and it’s really going to break down almost all at once through to the middle to the latter half of March,” forecasts chief meteorologist Chris Scott.

The Canadian Press

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Canada’s main stock index rose today amid renewed hopes that the United States and China would soon resolve their trade dispute (for subscriber), after President Donald Trump said he would delay raising tariffs on Chinese imports.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index rose 44.02 points to 16,057.03, assisted by financials including Manulife (up 2 per cent) and Sun Life (up 1.5 per cent).

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On Wall Street, stocks ended up but off the day’s highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 69.04 points to close at 26,100.85, the S&P 500 rose 4.06 points to 2,796.73 and the Nasdaq Composite added 27.91 points to end at 7,555.45.

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Jeremy Clarkson says autonomous cars 'will never happen’ and has ‘no idea’ why The Grand Tour is such a hit

Since his first stint on BBC’s long-running program Top Gear, and more recently on Amazon Prime Video’s The Grand Tour, Jeremy Clarkson has made a name for himself as a car critic and a mouthpiece for boorish man-children everywhere. Never one to let political correctness get in the way of a punchline, he saves his most ruthless one-liners for bad cars that deserved to be taken down.

Try to watch an old clip of Top Gear on YouTube and not laugh out loud. At one point, the show was watched by an estimated audience of 350 million viewers worldwide. Whatever you think of Mr. Clarkson, he and his co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond have done more to make cars entertaining and exciting than anyone else. Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno have nothing on this British trio. Read Matt Bubbers’s interview with Jeremy Clarkson here.

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Richard Hammond, left, Jeremy Clarkson and James May, right, attend a screening of The Grand Tour season 3 in London. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images


Will the coming days bring Trump a Peace Prize or impeachment?

“In the remaining days of February, Mr. Trump’s outreach with nuclear-armed North Korea and his economic combat with China could be resolved, even as the fate of his border wall and the Russia investigation – the latter holding the possibility of the fourth effort in American history to remove a president – hang in the balance.” - David Shribman

Why some Chinese immigrants living in Canada live in silent fear

“The news media give the impression that Chinese people living in Canada wave the Chinese national flag at demonstrations and parrot Chinese Communist Party propaganda. But one should keep in mind that many live in silent fear, struggling with guilt for failing to speak up for the sufferings of those inside China.” - Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch

Robert Kraft prostitution scandal offers cautionary tale on the pursuit of fame

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“Kraft may have the number to Tom Brady’s batphone, but he was never going to get up to the same plane as him. Being adjacent to stardom does not make you a star. What Kraft did manage to do was make himself just as big a target as Brady. Now he’s reaping the whirlwind on that score.” - Cathal Kelly

Oscars 2019: How Green Book pulled off a shocking – and depressing – best-picture win

“There is pleasing the crowd, and there is patronizing them. Green Book was conceived by a trio of white guys – surely all sympathetic to the realities of the film’s Jim Crow era and America today. Yet they decided to engineer a story not around the racist reality that African American men and women face, but on one white man’s slow-step journey away from casual racism toward a slightly more tolerant frame of mind.” - Barry Hertz (for subscribers)


Saving money without pain or effort is possible, Rob Carrick writes. You can save more than $600 a year by paying for a $2.50 coffee every workday with a $5 bill and then tossing the change in a jar. But in an increasingly cashless society, a few apps can help you save. An app called Koho offers what it calls “RoundUps,” where purchases on your Koho prepaid Visa card are rounded up to the nearest $1, $2, $5 or $10 and deposited into your savings. Bank of Nova Scotia has an electronic change jar for savers called Bank The Rest. You can choose to have purchases made on your Scotiabank client card rounded up to the nearest $1 or $5 and deposited into a Money Master savings account.


Even doctors are feeling squeezed by soaring lease rates in the Vancouver area

As commercial property values and lease rates across Greater Vancouver continue to soar, mom-and-pop restaurants and small boutiques aren’t the only ones feeling squeezed, Amy O’Kruk writes. Family doctors say they are struggling to keep their offices open, with some already pushed out.

When Maryam Zeineddin, a family physician who co-owns the Ambleside Medical Centre in West Vancouver, renegotiated her lease a few months ago, her base rent increased by 30 per cent to more than $3,700 a month. On top of that, many commercial tenants have “triple net” leases, which means they’re responsible for other costs, such as unit maintenance and property taxes. For Dr. Zeineddin, that adds up to another $10 to $12 dollars annually a square foot on her 1,300-square-foot medical centre.

“In any other small business, if your rent goes up, you increase your fee. But we don’t set our fees,” Dr. Zeineddin said. “You have to survive on that $30 per patient ... In the next five years, unless something drastic changes, we’re definitely going to be closing shop.”

Maryam Zeineddin. (Photo by Alana Paterson for The Globe and Mail)

alana paterson/The Globe and Mail

In Brantford’s opioid nightmare, a community sees more hopeful days ahead

Canada’s opioids epidemic rolled over this historic Southwestern Ontario city like the wave from a burst dam, Marcus Gee writes. Twenty-five people died of overdoses in Brantford and surrounding Brant County in 2017, more than triple the number (eight) for 2016. Brantford had the highest rate of emergency department visits for overdose – 144 per 100,000 – of any city in Ontario.

City leaders knew they had to act. Police Chief Geoff Nelson led the response. A respected, 30-year veteran of the force, he huddled with other local officials and put together a plan. Start treating users as sick people rather than criminals; make it easier for them to get addiction treatment; spread the word about the dangers of fentanyl, the drug that kills most overdose victims; hand out lots of free naloxone, the drug that reverses overdoses. To make sure it all happens, involve every city agency in the fight, from the hospital to the police force to charitable groups.

Brantford’s campaign may hold lessons for other communities beset by the opioids crisis, which is killing 11 people a day across the country.

Photo by Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Fred Lum

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