Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Several European countries report their first coronavirus cases as outbreak in Italy intensifies
Several European countries have reported their first cases of the coronavirus, all of them linked to Italy.
Switzerland and Austria, which share a border with Italy, and Croatia, which shares a maritime boundary with it, have reported their first cases, later joined by Greece and Georgia. Other cases linked to the Italian outbreak had surfaced in Germany, Spain and Algeria, the World Health Organization said today.
Italy is one of three coronavirus hot spots outside China, where the outbreak started in December. The others are South Korea and Iran, where the number of confirmed cases is thought to be under-reported.
In Canada: A woman in her 60s who recently travelled to Iran has become the fifth person in Ontario to contract the coronavirus, the 12th case in Canada. She is at home in self-isolation.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Patty Hajdu is encouraging Canadians to stockpile food and medication in their homes in case they or a loved one falls ill with the novel coronavirus.
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Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs hope to meet with federal officials as fresh protest flares up in Ontario
A spokesman for Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who oppose to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in their northern B.C. traditional lands, said talks to ensure the RCMP leave their territory are going well and they hope to meet with federal officials there tomorrow.
But in Ontario, a protest in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory flared up as Canadian National Railway attempted to resume train service on a critical rail route to Eastern Canada. A freight train was briefly halted near Belleville, Ont. Tires had earlier been burned on the tracks and protesters later attempted to stoke another fire with wood pallets.
Protests linked to the Wet’suwet’en dispute have snarled commuter traffic and stalled shipments of fuel, food and other cargo at ports and railways in several provinces.
Peter Nygard stepping down as chairman, divesting ownership of fashion company
Peter Nygard is stepping down as chairman and divesting ownership of his fashion company, Nygard International, a spokesman said, after raids on the company’s Manhattan headquarters and his Los Angeles home.
The raids are part of an investigation that has been under way for at least five months into allegations of sexual assault. Ten women filed a class-action lawsuit in New York earlier this month, claiming that Nygard raped them in the Bahamas as teenagers.
The announcement that Nygard is distancing himself from the company was made after a major client, Dillard’s department stores, said it would no longer carry Nygard’s fashion line.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
CIBC hikes dividend, shuffles executive ranks: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce increased quarterly profit by 3 per cent and raised its dividend, but also shuffled its executive ranks and took a $339-million restructuring charge.
Toronto city workers extend strike deadline: The union representing 5,000 Toronto city workers says it has agreed to extend a strike deadline by 48 hours as talks continue. The members – whose work affects garbage collection, snow removal, skating rinks and more – originally were in a strike or lockout position as of 12:01 a.m. tomorrow.
Global Affairs warns on ties with China: Canada’s foreign affairs department has warned the Trudeau government about the perils of deepening ties with China, saying the authoritarian state represents a “strategic challenge” to Canadian values and interests.
Starbucks launching Beyond Meat sandwich in Canada: Starbucks will start selling a Beyond Meat-based breakfast sandwich, with egg and cheddar cheese, in Canada next Tuesday. This is the first market in the world for the coffee chain to launch a breakfast sandwich incorporating imitation meat.
Sharapova ends tennis career: Maria Sharapova, the Russian five-time Grand Slam champion tennis player who became one of the highest paid sportswomen in the world, has announced she’s retiring from the sport at age 32.
Just call him Harry: The Duke of Sussex, who is preparing to step back from royal duties, would normally be referred to as sir or his royal highness. But as he was introduced at an event in Scotland today, he said the formality was no longer necessary.
Greta Thunberg meets Malala Yousafzai: Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg met with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai at the University of Oxford in Britain, where Yousafzai studies. The two have gained worldwide fame after standing up for major global issues: climate change and women’s education.
North American stock markets mostly fell today on concerns over spread of the coronavirus, because of its potential impact on the global economy.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 122.21 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 26,959.15, the S&P 500 lost 11.69 points, or 0.37 per cent, to end at 3,116.52 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 15.16 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 8,980.78.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 135.45 points, or 0.79 per cent, at 17,041.92, with drops in the energy, financial and industrial sectors.
With moderate Democrats’ vote fractured, Bernie Sanders prepares to wrap up the race
Sanders has moved to the front of the Democratic pack mostly because support has collapsed for his main rival on the left, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, while moderate Democrats are still dividing their votes among a quartet of candidates. – Konrad Yakabuski
In Alberta’s Throne Speech, Jason Kenney fails to walk the talk on the energy transition
The longer he waits to signal an investment in renewable energy and the economic growth it will spark, the harder it will be for him to adjust the direction of this province not to mention his nascent party: electoral pressure will only force him to continue to appease his base. - Stephen Legault, political and communications strategist
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LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE
Journey to the centre of your throat: The Canadians in a billion-dollar race to cure coughing
Roberto Bellini grew up idolizing his father, Francesco, an Italian immigrant who built BioChem Pharma into one of Canada’s most successful biotechnology ventures. BioChem developed the 3TC molecule, a vital ingredient in the drug cocktail that transformed the fight against HIV/AIDS in the 1990s. It also made “Dr. B,” as his son calls him, wealthy; the Quebec company sold out to Shire Pharmaceuticals Group for $5.9-billion in 2001.
Now Bellini is trying to finish what his father started. For 18 years, the pair have tried to repeat the success of BioChem with their publicly traded biotechnology developer, originally named Neurochem and now called Bellus Health. And they could finally be on the verge of that long-sought repeat success. Bellus’s latest drug candidate isn’t targeted at a life-or-death disease but a nagging ailment that affects the lives of millions of people: chronic coughing.
The Canadian firm is in a race with Big Pharma heavyweights to be the first to get to market with its treatment. Regulators haven’t green-lit a drug for cough therapy since 1958. Analysts believe the market for the new class of drugs will be worth billions of dollars annually and that Bellus’s version could be the best one. There’s just one thing: Bellini, now Bellus’s CEO, still has to prove that his molecule, BLU-5937, actually works. Read Sean Silcoff’s full story here.