Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Trudeau’s top adviser to testify on Beijing election interference
Katie Telford, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, will testify at a House of Commons committee on foreign election interference after the Liberals conceded to opposition pressure and ended their attempts to block her testimony.
The Liberals’ decision to drop their opposition made moot a vote planned for this afternoon on a Conservative motion asking the entire House of Commons to demand her appearance. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had issued an ultimatum: end the committee filibuster and let her testify or his party would vote with the opposition.
Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said today his office was briefed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service about Toronto MPP Vincent Ke, who has since left the Progressive Conservative caucus following allegations of foreign interference, but that the information was sparse and “very secretive.”
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Canada’s inflation rate eases more than expected, but grocery costs still rising
Canada’s annual inflation rate fell by the most since the early stages of the pandemic, although food prices are still rising by more than 10 per cent, a strain on household finances.
The consumer price index rose 5.2 per cent in February from a year earlier, slowing from a 5.9-per-cent pace in January, Statistics Canada said. It was the largest drop in CPI since April, 2020. Financial analysts had been expecting an inflation rate of 5.4 per cent.
The Bank of Canada projects annual inflation to cool to about 3 per cent by the middle of this year. It held its key interest rate steady at 4.5 per cent this month, and is expected to keep rates unchanged next month.
Read more: Central banks are in a bind over burgeoning financial crisis and inflation.
Opinion: Inflation, banking crisis – economic uncertainty abounds, but there is a way out - Stephen Poloz, former Bank of Canada governor
Putin, Xi discuss Chinese peace proposal for Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin is hailing a vague Chinese plan as a potential template for peace in Ukraine, but he says Kyiv and its allies in the West aren’t yet ready to end the war along the lines of Beijing’s 12-point proposal.
Putin made the remarks today at the conclusion of a second day of intensive talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first foreign leader to visit Moscow since the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest in connection with alleged war crimes.
Xi is reportedly planning to speak with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky after his visit to Moscow. Zelensky said that his government had proposed that China join a Ukrainian-led peace initiative – which calls for a complete Russian withdrawal, among other actions – but had yet to receive a response.
Separately, Russia has summoned a senior Canadian diplomat in Moscow over Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly’s musings about “regime change.” According to state media, Moscow told Canadian chargé d’affaires Brian Ebel the comments were unacceptable.
Opinion: An arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin will have consequences for China - Michael Byers, University of British Columbia
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Scathing report on London police: The future of London’s Metropolitan Police Force has been thrown into question after a report found widespread bullying, discrimination, homophobia and misogyny, and concluded that unless the force was completely overhauled, it should be disbanded. The report was commissioned by the Met after the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of Sarah Everard in 2021 by a serving police officer.
Rare seven-judge Supreme Court hearing begins: The Supreme Court of Canada is sitting with seven judges, rather than eight, for a major federalism case that began this morning. Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin was designated to sit out the case to avoid the possiblility of a tie vote in the absence of Justice Russell Brown, who tangled with a U.S. Marine in Arizona.
Back to the office, RBC says: Royal Bank of Canada has instructed employees to return to the office three to four days a week, starting May 1. The move comes after CEO said earlier this month that productivity and innovation have taken a hit as employees continue to work from home.
Saunders, Matlow join Toronto mayoral race: Former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders is putting the focus on public safety and a plan to view “developers as partners” to build affordable housing. Veteran city councillor Josh Matlow is pledging to add a special fund to the property tax bill to help fix struggling city services.
Latest on Montreal fire: Police say the families of the presumed victims of a deadly fire in Old Montreal could be facing a long wait for answers, as investigators are working to enter a building where where one body has been found and six people remain missing.
Wall Street closed higher as widespread fears over liquidity in the banking sector abated and markets eyed the Federal Reserve, which is expected to announce tomorrow a quarter-percentage-point hike to its policy rate. Canada’s main stock index also rose, buoyed by gains in energy and financial shares following favourable inflation readings.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 316.02 points or 0.98 per cent to 32,560.60, the S&P 500 gained 51.30 points or 1.3 per cent to 4,002.87, and the Nasdaq Composite added 184.57 points or 1.58 per cent to end at 11,860.11.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 135.49 points or 0.69 per cent to 19,654.92. The loonie traded at 72.93 U.S. cents.
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The rescue of Credit Suisse and failure of three U.S. lenders may not mean the worst is over in the banking industry
“The end of the era of rock-bottom interest rates and easy money will also increase the odds that more banks will fail, even if a repeat of the devastation seen in the 2007-2008 financial crisis seems highly unlikely.” - Eric Reguly
Quebec owes Newfoundland nothing for the Churchill Falls power contract
“More than 85 per cent of the project had to be funded through debt, the terms of which did not favour Hydro-Québec. Essentially, the lenders required Hydro-Québec to bear the risks inherent in ownership, yet not fully own the plant.” - Daniel Larouche, economist and author
Good news for travellers: The Nexus trusted-traveller program will fully ramp back up within five weeks, allowing frequent border crossers to complete their applications and speed up trips. Also, Families Minister Karina Gould says that Ottawa has “completely eliminated” the backlog of passport applications that caused major delays last year. She also said the government is launching a new digital tool that will allow Canadians to check the status of their Service Canada application online.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Health Minister’s behaviour on drug-price reforms led to resignations, ex-board member says
A former board member of Canada’s drug price regulator is challenging Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos’s assertion that it failed to consult with him on price reforms, saying the behaviour of the minister’s office led to division and caused several resignations.
“It felt like we have been in a tunnel for a long time,” Matthew Herder said of the work on new rules designed to cap the prices of medications. After the minister requested that the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board suspend the review process, “We just felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel any more,” he told The Globe and Mail in an interview.
The PMPRB, an independent, quasi-judicial body responsible for protecting Canadians from excessive drug costs, had been preparing new, long-awaited guidelines when Mr. Duclos asked for the suspension last November – a move that policy experts say may have permanently derailed the process. Read Carly Weeks’s full story.
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