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

Leonid Volkov, who had served as the late Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s chief of staff as they tried to challenge Vladimir Putin’s grip on power over more than a decade, is accusing the Russian President of masterminding a violent assault that occurred outside his home in exile in Lithuania.

Volkov was left with a broken arm and gashes on his face and leg after he was attacked with tear gas and hit 15 times with a meat hammer as he sat in his car on Tuesday night. Lithuania’s State Security Department quickly assessed the attack was likely organized in Moscow, aimed at stopping Volkov’s efforts to organize actions – based on plans communicated by Navalny before his death – to disrupt this weekend’s presidential election in Russia.

Meanwhile, Putin says Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty or independence is threatened, issuing another blunt warning to the West just days before an election in which he’s all but certain to secure another six-year term.

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Leonid Volkov, the top aide of Alexei Navalny, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Vilnius, Lithuania, March 12, 2024.Gerhard Mey/Reuters

Auditor-General fires two employees for failing to disclose government contracts

The Auditor-General’s office has fired two employees for failing to disclose they had contracts with the federal government. A third case is under investigation.

In one case, the office said it became aware of the issue after being informed by Public Services and Procurement Canada that it was undertaking a review of a contractor’s security status and had asked whether the person was still employed with the Auditor-General’s office.

The cases have been referred to the RCMP and the Ottawa Police, but the issue is under heightened scrutiny on Parliament Hill after concerns over a report last month by Auditor-General Karen Hogan into spending and management decisions related to the ArriveCan app. Hogan’s report raised several concerns about the government’s interactions with GCStrategies, which has won millions of dollars in federal contracts across several departments since 2015.

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The Peace Tower in Parliament Hill is pictured in morning light in Ottawa on March 7, 2024.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Israel says it plans to direct Palestinians out of Rafah ahead of anticipated offensive

Israel says it’s military plans to direct a significant portion of the 1.4 million displaced Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip’s southernmost town of Rafah toward “humanitarian islands” in the centre of the territory ahead of its planned offensive in the area.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said a Rafah offensive is crucial to achieve Israel’s stated aim of destroying Hamas after the militants’ unprecedented Oct. 7 attack in which about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and around 250 taken hostage and brought into Gaza. Israel’s invasion of Gaza has killed more than 31,000, according to Gaza health officials, left much of the enclave in ruins and displaced some 80 per cent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people.

Meanwhile, a United Nations investigation has found that an Israeli tank killed Reuters reporter Issam Abdallah in Lebanon last year by firing two 120-millimetre rounds at a group of “clearly identifiable journalists.” The organization is calling it a violation of international law.

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Palestinians break their fast amid the rubble of their destroyed home during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 13, 2024.Mohammed Salem/Reuters

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Canadians’ wealth is bolstered by stock rally amid housing slump, Statscan says: Canadians are riding the recent stock market rally to bolster their wealth, more than offsetting a slump in real estate.

French citizen living in China believes husband was jailed because of his sexuality: In 2022, Wu Xianle, an official with the Communist Party, was jailed after a secret trial that Francois Dupouy believes was connected to his sexuality.

Are your hearts prepared for the total eclipse?: When the sun blacks out on April 8, more Canadians will be able to see it than any eclipse in history – and there won’t be another opportunity like it till 2044.

Judge dismisses three of 10 charges against Trump in Georgia 2020 election interference case: The judge overseeing the Georgia 2020 election interference case on Wednesday dismissed some of the charges against former president Donald Trump and others, but the rest of the sweeping racketeering indictment remains intact.

U.S. House passes bill to force TikTok owner ByteDance to divest American assets or face ban: The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill on Wednesday that would give TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance about six months to divest the U.S. assets of the short-video app, or face a ban, in the greatest threat to the app since the Trump administration.


Strength in the energy sector helped lead Canada’s main stock index higher on Wednesday, while U.S. stock markets were mixed.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 139.09 points at 21,970.11.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 37.83 points at 39,043.32. The S&P 500 index was down 9.96 points at 5,165.31 after setting another all-time high on Tuesday, while the Nasdaq composite was down 87.87 points at 16,177.77.

The Canadian dollar traded for 74.23 cents US, compared with 74.08 cents US on Tuesday.

The April crude oil contract was up US$2.16 cents at US$79.72 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was down six cents at US$1.66 per mmBTU.

The April gold contract was up US$14.70 at US$2,180.80 an ounce and the May copper contract was up 13 cents at US$4.06 a pound.

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Say hi to the new weak, stagnant economy. It’ll be here for a while

“Make no mistake, the Bank of Canada will win the war against inflation, and this is a good thing. High inflation deeply erodes the standard of living of Canadians. Inflation is also highly regressive, hurting low-income Canadians the most. The brutal inflation shock we have just lived through demonstrates why price stability is so important.” – Craig Alexander

A federal budget two weeks after fiscal year begins – what’s the excuse?

“Budgets presented and passed after the fiscal year has started mean that the government is already spending money before Canadians and their elected representatives have seen the plan. Parliamentarians have seen departmental spending plans in the main estimates, but the late budget means those spending plans will not align with the bigger picture.” – Don Drummond and William Robson

Expectations, discovery and shame: the news model that Donald Trump cracked

“It is true that the media have served, from the start, as Mr. Trump’s involuntary enablers. And the worse his behaviour has become, the more this has proved to be the case. Mr. Trump once said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue without losing any votes. By now it’s not even clear it would make it above the fold.” – Andrew Coyne


Granola is the perfect ready-to-eat snack. Plus: A granola recipe that’s easy to customize

Even in a trend-driven global snack food market worth billions, granola needs no flashy packaging or marketing. We know it already, what qualities we like in it and that, whether over yogurt or eaten by the handful, the balance of fat, protein and fibre will keep our energy level on an even keel. Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E and antioxidants, it’s a great way to feed our brains, and it’s easy to make – granola doesn’t require specific ingredients or precise measurements. Julie Van Rosendaal walks us through her recipe.


A Colombian adventure for those who like a bit of grit in their getaway

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Bahia Solano, in Colombia.The Globe and Mail

Doug Wallace is the type of traveller who likes a few creature comforts – air-conditioning, food tours, wine-tastings, turndown service while at dinner.

And yet, there’s none of that in Bahia Solano on the Pacific coast of Colombia in the province of Choco. The region is a new adventure destination for people who like a bit of grit in their getaways. Now that rural Colombia is safer since the end of crime-related instability eight years ago, the once-overlooked Choco is opening up to ecoadventure and cultural tourism. While beach accommodations still cater mostly to the homestay crowd, boat-accessible coastal lodges offer a more private experience.

Afloat Adventure is one such option, a tour operator taking groups or families whale-watching, fishing and snorkelling, and out on such land excursions as birding, baby-turtle releasing and rain forest treks. Wallace writes about his experience.

Evening Update is written by Emerald Bensadoun. 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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