Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t ruling out sending some of its Leopard-2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, saying Ottawa would consider such a request from Kyiv. Trudeau had been asked by reporters if he would donate Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in the event Germany dropped its objections to the re-export of goods it manufactured.
Ukraine had previously indicated that it is planning to ask Canada for the tanks, as soon as Germany drops its opposition. Germany has resisted such a move so far, saying Western tanks should only be supplied to Ukraine if there is agreement among Kyiv’s main allies, particularly the United States.
Meanwhile, Dnipro was in mourning today as the death toll from a Russian missile strike rose to 40. Dozens more are missing, making it the deadliest civilian incident of Moscow’s three-month campaign of firing missiles at Ukrainian cities far from the front.
Ukraine says the mass civilian deaths, which it describes as terrorism, demonstrate why it needs more weapons to defeat Russian forces 11 months after they invaded. Russia denies intentionally targeting civilians.
- Also: German defence minister resigns amid criticism, pressure over Ukraine arms
- Editorial: A shooting war concentrates the mind. Ottawa needs to end military procurement paralysis
Italian Mafia boss arrested after 30 years on the lam
Sicilian Mafia godfather Matteo Messina Denaro was arrested earlier today in Palermo, ending one of the longest manhunts in Europe. He was apprehended by the Carabinieri, Italy’s paramilitary police, during a visit to a private health clinic for what the police said was cancer.
Messina Denaro, Italy’s No. 1 fugitive, had been on the lam for 30 years. He has been accused of dozens of murders, including complicity in two of the highest-profile killings in postwar Italian history.
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Business and consumer sentiment sours, while inflationary pressures ease, BoC surveys find
Canadian business and consumer sentiment continues to sour in the face of rising interest rates. A pair of surveys released by the Bank of Canada earlier today show consumers are cutting back on spending while many companies expect a slowdown in sales. Most respondents believe the Canadian economy will enter a mild to moderate recession in the coming year.
While the surveys paint a downbeat picture of the Canadian economy at the end of 2022, they suggest the Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes are having their intended effect.
- Also: What Bank of Canada’s ‘data dependence’ means for the coming interest-rate decision
Former union leaders transferred funds to enrich themselves, OPSEU suit claims
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is accusing three former executives of improperly using millions of dollars in cash and assets for personal enrichment. The union alleges that Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who served as president of OPSEU for 15 years before retiring from the union last April, along with Eduardo Almeida, the former vice-president and treasurer of OPSEU paid themselves “significant compensation” they were not entitled to, and transferred union-owned assets like vehicles to themselves and family members for free.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Champion of Canadian film community dies: Ravi Srinivasan, a senior manager of festival programming for the Toronto International Film Festival and champion of the Canadian film community, has died at age 37. He was known for his passion and generosity in his work, which included programming for Hot Docs and Reel Canada and starting his own film festival in Sarnia.
Ontario private surgeries: Ontario is boosting the number of surgeries at private health care clinics, starting with cataract procedures, in order to reduce wait times that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The province will provide $18-million to existing private clinics to increase hours of MRI and CT scans, and plans to introduce legislation in February allowing for more types of surgeries to be offered in private facilities.
Housing market decline to continue: The Canadian Real Estate Association is forecasting another year of housing market declines, after home prices sank for the tenth straight month in December. As well, households continue to struggle with higher borrowing costs. The home price index plunged 13 per cent from February’s peak, marking the largest downward swing since the financial crisis.
Migrants left in limbo: Tens of thousands of migrants wait along the U.S. border with Mexico, unsure if or when they will be allowed in, after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the extension of Title 42, a policy ostensibly meant to keep COVID-19 out of the U.S. but used to swiftly deport migrants. Some have filed U.S. refugee applications from Mexico. Others are looking further northward, hoping a country with a more immigrant-friendly reputation might be an option.
Canada’s main stock index edged higher today, extending its recent streak of gains, as technology shares rose and investors awaited Canadian consumer price data that could offer additional evidence of slowing inflation.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 30.23 points, or 0.15%, at 20,390.33, its highest closing level since Dec. 2.
The loonie was trading at 74.60 cents (U.S.), up 0.02 cents.
U.S markets were closed for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.
Sports gambling is strangling the beauty of sports
Ever since the Ontario government fully legalized sports betting last year, watching sports on TV has felt like being in a casino. It’s not just the wall-to-wall ads; it’s also the sense that the entire sports media complex has become an enabler. -- Bruce Kidd
Crimea is part of Ukraine and cannot be traded for false peace
Russian President Vladimir Putin has effectively declared that losing [Crimea] would be unacceptable. Ukraine, it is suggested, should retreat in exchange for a restoration of the status quo, as things were before February, 2022. But this position does not stand up to scrutiny. Despite Russia’s propaganda to the contrary, Crimea is not different from any other part of Ukraine. -- Anastasiya Ringis
Service cuts to public transit are a recipe for disaster
Good, reliable service is the key to bringing back transit riders; instead, with public-transit systems in a fragile state, many Canadian cities are choosing to launch a vicious death spiral, in which diminished service and higher costs chase riders and revenue away, leading to further cuts. -- Nate Wallace
Focusing on your overall diet is the key to living longer
A new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that following four different dietary patterns can help you live a longer and healthy life. The four dietary patterns include the Healthy Eating Index 2015, Alternate Mediterranean Diet, Healthful Plant-based Diet, and Alternate Healthy Eating Index. Each was associated with a lower risk of early death from chronic disease. Adherence to each pattern was associated with a 20-per-cent reduction in early death from chronic disease. The data also reveal a lower risk of early death as people improved their diets over time.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Is Ron DeSantis just Trump 2.0, or something else entirely?
Ron DeSantis has built a national profile by rejecting social distancing, masking, and vaccination mandates during the pandemic, leading a culture war in his state, and using the power of his office to punish those who defy him. He has leveraged an endorsement from Donald Trump to become Florida’s governor, and is now positioning himself as a hybrid between Trumpism and a more disciplined political style for a possible 2024 presidential run. His policies have made him popular with the MAGA base, but are controversial due to their wedge-issue nature and their tendency to punish those who oppose him. His popularity has allowed Republicans to gain a structural advantage in the state, but it remains to be seen if his approach will work on a larger stage.