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

Putin accused of seeking to become Russia’s leader-for-life through constitutional changes

Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed changes to the constitution that critics say clear the way for him to remain the country’s leader-for-life.

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Hours later, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that he and his entire cabinet would resign to “provide the president of our country with the ability to make all necessary decisions for this.”

Later in the day, Putin named Mikhail Mishustin – a 53-year-old political unknown who had previously headed Russia’s tax service – as the country’s new prime minister.

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Canadian government may offer interim compensation to families of Flight 752 victims

Ottawa says it’s considering paying out interim compensation to families of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 victims who died last week in Iran after Tehran’s military shot down their aircraft.

The Canadian government says it ultimately expects Iran to pay compensation to the families, but has acknowledged a full investigation could be take time to determine what happened. At least 57 Canadians were among the 176 people killed.

Meanwhile, officials from five countries, other than Iran, whose citizens died in the disaster – Canada, Ukraine, Britain, Sweden and Afghanistan – are meeting in London tomorrow over how to deal with Iran.

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Peter MacKay: “I’m in” for federal Conservative leadership race

Ending months of speculation, former federal cabinet minister Peter MacKay entered the Conservative leadership race with a tweet this afternoon: “I’m in. Stay tuned.” The new leader – replacing Andrew Scheer, who stepped down after a disappointing election loss and as it was revealed he was using party money to pay for his children’s private school – will be chosen June 27.

During the fall election campaign, The Globe and Mail reported that MacKay’s supporters were laying the groundwork for a possible leadership bid in the event that Scheer was unable to defeat the Liberals.

U.S. politics: Trump impeachment case advances; U.S.-China sign Phase 1 trade deal

The U.S. House today voted to send two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate and approve House prosecutors for only the third impeachment trial in American history.

The seven-member prosecution team will be led by the chairmen of the House impeachment proceedings, representatives Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler. The Senate trial is set to start tomorrow.

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Opinion: “Impeachment has risen to a level beyond confidence in a particular official; it is about confidence in an office.” - Geoffrey Vaughan, professor, Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.

Separately, Trump signed the Phase 1 trade deal with China, capping more than two years of tense negotiations and escalating threats. It’s intended to open Chinese markets to more U.S. companies, but keeps in place many of the tariffs that Trump has placed on US$360-billion worth of Chinese goods.

The latest on Prince Harry and Meghan

The controversy swirling around Prince Harry and Meghan has intensified amid reports that the Duchess’s father is prepared to testify against her as part of a legal battle with a British tabloid.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in a long-running battle with the British press. This past October, she launched a lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday that largely centres on a letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, shortly after the couple’s wedding.

The Queen this week agreed to a transition period for the couple after their bombshell announcement that they planned to step back from Royal Family duties, seek greater financial independence and split their time between Canada and Britain.

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The Duchess is currently in British Columbia with the couple’s son, Archie, and paid a visit to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre yesterday, which shared a photo on Facebook.

Meghan Markle, centre, poses with a group at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre. (Photo via Facebook)

Downtown Eastside Women's Centre/Downtown Eastside Women's Centre

Opinion: “Their presence will be awkward. They would be more or less permanent embodiments of a British monarchy that remains attached to our independent Canadian Crown, reminding us of what we were – not what we’ve become.” - Philippe Lagassé, associate professor, Carleton University.

Read more: Meghan and Harry’s Canadian solution: The plan so far, and the questions it raises.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

5G network rollout: Rogers Communications is beginning to roll out fifth-generation wireless networks in the downtown cores of several major Canadian cities as the country’s telecom sector gears up for the global race to deploy 5G networks.

Ontario teachers strike: The Ontario government says it will reimburse parents for child-care costs if public elementary school teachers and education workers in Toronto, York and Ottawa stage a one-day strike on Monday. Also today, the Ontario Secondary School Federation announced its latest rotating strikes for next Tuesday.

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Rare B.C. blizzard warning: A powerful snowstorm that has closed part of Highway 1 east of Vancouver and shuttered every public school and university across southern Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver today has led to a rare blizzard warning for a region just north of the city.

Meningitis acquittal appeal: The Alberta Crown’s appeal of the acquittal of David and Collet Stephan in the death of their son – 19-month-old Ezekiel is reported to have died from meningitis – is set to be heard in June.

Rock HOF inductees: Posthumous inductees Whitney Houston and The Notorious B.I.G. are joining the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, joined by Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails and T-Rex.

Golden Knights fire coach: Gerard Gallant was abruptly fired by the Vegas Golden Knights today, less than two years after leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season. Peter DeBoer, fired last month by the San Jose Sharks, takes over immediately.

Jeopardy! GOAT: Ken Jennings won his third match in the Jeopardy! Greatest of all Time contest televised on yesterday, and pocketed $1-million by dispatching James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter.

MARKET WATCH

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Key world stock market indexes climbed to new records today on hopes a U.S.-China trade deal will reduce tensions, but oil prices slid on doubts the pact will spur world growth and boost crude demand.

Wall Street stocks ended higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 90.55 points to 29,030.22, while the S&P 500 gained 6.14 points to end at 3,289.29 and the Nasdaq Composite closed at 9,258.70, 7.37 points higher.

In Toronto, S&P/TSX Composite index rose 62.27 points to 17,415.17 as marijuana producers’ shares surged.

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TALKING POINTS

Aeroplan, it’s time to stop grabbing back the miles of your inactive customers

“Memo to Air Canada: As you head toward the introduction of a new version of Aeroplan this year, please give some consideration to not having points expire. Really, isn’t it on you if your members aren’t motivated enough to stay active?” - Rob Carrick

Tim Hortons’ identity crisis could erode chain’s long-established brand

“Most of the iconic chain’s decisions have left Canadians scratching their heads. Many of its choices in recent months have been simply inexplicable.” - Sylvain Charlebois, professor at Dalhousie University

LIVING BETTER

Is there such a thing as too niche? When it comes to cruising, the industry is constantly coming up with new ideas for themed trips, trying to show travellers that there is something for everyone. But knitting cruises or heavy metal cruises might not be quite your taste. If you like the concept of a theme cruise – but crave tasteful over tacky – here are seven choices to keep in mind. They include options for vegans, beer lovers and Jewish heritage enthusiasts.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

What kind of data is my new car collecting about me? Nearly everything it can, apparently

Your car knows all about you – your habits, where you like to go and when, and maybe even what sort of temperament you have. Cameras inside cars even track your eyes to see whether you’re watching the road.

If you spent as much time one-on-one with a friend as you do with your car, your friend would know an awful lot about you, too. The difference is that car companies, unlike friends, have a financial incentive for knowing things about you.

As cars become like two-tonne rolling smartphones – always online, anticipating your needs, listening to your voice, tracking your movements and loaded with apps that have access to your credit card information – what your car knows about you and who has access to that data for what purpose could become an increasingly contentious issue. Read Matt Bubbers full story here.

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