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

The announcement of a cap on international student visas has been causing havoc, according to Ontario colleges. The association representing two dozen colleges in Ontario is warning that the year-round intake of students means many of them are well into the application process, ready to start programs in May.

“The entire system for Ontario is frozen. Students who had already been accepted into programs – and had paid their fees for those programs – are now having their applications for study permits returned to them. This is often without any explanation or way forward. This situation was entirely avoidable and is entirely arbitrary,” Colleges Ontario said in a statement today.

Earlier this week, the federal government announce a 35-per-cent reduction in the number of study permits this year. But since the total cap is divided between provinces, Ontario’s allotment of new visas will be cut in half.

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Auditor-General’s report on ArriveCan to be released Feb. 12

Two government watchdogs will soon release reports into the events and issues surrounding the ArriveCan app. Auditor-General Karen Hogan is set to release one on Feb. 12 and Procurement Ombudsman Alexander Jeglic will be releasing a report next week. Parliament is scheduled to resume sitting on Monday.

The House of Commons requested the Auditor-General’s ArriveCan audit in a vote back in November, 2022, just weeks after The Globe and Mail first reported that spending on the app for international travellers was on track to exceed $54-million.

U.K. suspends trade negotiations with Canada, as each accuse the other of not budging

Trade talks between the United Kingdom and Canada are on ice after the Canadian government decided to not extend two temporary measures put in place after Brexit. Today’s announcement came less than a month before the next round of talks toward a permanent trade deal was expected to take place. Both countries have said they want a fair deal for businesses, farmers and workers on both sides of the Atlantic.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

BMO: Late last week, Bank of Montreal terminated four mining bankers in Toronto while two others resigned. This came after allegations of bullying and harassment of a colleague, four sources told The Globe and Mail, behaviour the bank is calling “completely unacceptable.”

Donald Trump: The former U.S. president was on and off the witness stand today in less than three minutes during the E. Jean Carroll defamation suit.

Pakistan-India: Pakistan says it has credible evidence linking Indian agents to the killings of two of its citizens on its soil, raising tensions between the two neighbouring arch-rivals.

Advertising merger: The world’s biggest advertising group, WPP, said it would merge its two largest communications agencies Hill & Knowlton and BCW.

WestJet woes: Alberta’s extreme cold snap last month left thousands of WestJet customers with flight cancellations. Now, many say the airline wouldn’t reschedule them within the required window.

Netflix price hike: Some Netflix subscribers in Canada face an increase in price as the streaming service gets rid of its $9.99 plan. “Basic” subscribers can downgrade to a $5.99 plan that includes ads, or pay more for no ads starting at $16.49 per month.

Britain returns artifacts to Ghana: Britain is set to return looted royal regalia to Ghana under a historic loan deal laid out today. The gold regalia was looted from an Asante king in the 19th century. Repatriation of priceless objects taken during colonial times has been the subject of much debate, with some museums saying they legally can’t permanently return contested artifacts.

MARKET WATCH

The S&P 500 notched its fifth straight record high close today after news of strong U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter boosted sentiment, while Tesla tumbled following a disappointing sales forecast.

Canada’s main stock index post a modest gain today. The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 75.76 points at 21,101.54. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 242.74 points at 38,049.13. The S&P 500 index was up 25.61 points at 4,894.16, while the Nasdaq composite was up 28.58 points at 15,510.50.

The Canadian dollar traded for 74.22 cents US.

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TALKING POINTS

A reckoning is coming with the junior hockey sexual-assault scandal

“We don’t know how this case will ultimately resolve itself – whether people will end up in jail or walk away without penalty. But we do know that this case, this story, has had a profound impact on not just the world of junior hockey, but amateur sports in general.” - Gary Mason

Benjamin Netanyahu’s hubris is a risk to U.S. leadership

“America’s unconditional support for Israel after Hamas’s barbarous attacks on civilians has led to a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza, fighting between the U.S. and the Houthis, and the increased likelihood of conflict with Iran, all while the war in Ukraine rages on and Taiwan remains a hotspot, amid a U.S. presidential election.” - R. David Harden

Putin uses Stalin’s playbook to prepare Russia for a permanent state of war

“As in any dictatorship, the more problems Mr. Putin’s regime has, the louder the propaganda.” - Nina L. Khrushcheva

Canada should open telecom and airlines to foreign competition from friendly countries

“Without foreign competition, telecom and airline incumbents consistently fail to offer sufficient choice and competitive pricing, while innovation and long-term growth potential in such essential infrastructure are undermined. Canadians ultimately suffer, paying among the highest prices in the world for cellphone service, data per gigabyte and airfare.” - Calvin Goldman and Thomas Mathews

LIVING BETTER

Why it’s important to turn on Apple’s new Stolen Device Protection

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Apple rolled out an update to its iOS operating system this week with a feature called Stolen Device Protection that makes it a lot harder for phone thieves to access key functions and settings. Users are being urged to turn it on immediately.Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press

Many of us might be familiar with the sinking feeling of realizing our phone has been stolen, along with thousands of photos, videos, contacts and memories. Now, Apple has introduced an update to its operating system to help in case that happens to you. Stolen Device Protection makes it a lot harder for phone thieves to access key functions and settings, and iPhone users are being urged to switch it on right away.

TODAY’S LONG READ

Quebec’s hit immigration drama Ru is ‘the story of Canada’

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Chloé Djandji in a scene from Ru. The largely French-language film earned more than $1.75-million at the box office since its theatrical release in Quebec this past November.Handout

Call it the warm-and-fuzzy Québécois hit of 2023. The largely French-language Ru earned more than $1.75-million at the box office since its theatrical release in the province last fall, a strong figure for any Canadian film. But even more impressively, starting this weekend, the film will become one of the few Québécois movies to cross provincial borders and enjoy a healthy run in cinemas across the rest of Canada. Read more from Barry Hertz here.

Evening Update is written by Maryam Shah. 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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