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Trudeau offers no apology as he acknowledges role in SNC-Lavalin affair

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the SNC-Lavalin affair at a press conference this morning, saying there was an “erosion of trust” between his office and former attorney-general and justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould over the fall of 2018 and that he should have realized this was happening.

While he expressed regret, he didn’t say he was sorry. The PM acknowledged no wrongdoing in what has unfolded since The Globe and Mail reported on Feb. 7 that officials in the Prime Minister’s Office pressed Ms. Wilson-Raybould to reach a negotiated settlement with SNC-Lavalin (for subscribers).

She testified to the Commons justice committee last week that she faced “consistent and sustained” political pressure from Mr. Trudeau and top officials, including “veiled threats” to shelve the criminal prosecution of the Montreal construction and engineering giant.

While Mr. Trudeau characterized the situation as “conversations that were experienced differently,” Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer countered: “The truth cannot be experienced differently.”

Check out our guides on what was said today and the story so far.

Separately, SNC-Lavalin said today has won the contract for a $660-million light-rail extension project in Ottawa (for subscribers).

And the apology that Mr. Trudeau did plan to make today to Inuit has been delayed by a winter storm that is keeping his plane from landing in Iqaluit.


John Ibbitson on why Mr. Trudeau’s response wasn’t a failure to communicate, it was a failure to lead: “A good leader would be appalled that he had created a work environment so dysfunctional that a critical situation spun completely out of control without his even being aware of it.” (for subscribers)

Gary Mason on why Mr. Trudeau’s story on SNC-Lavalin and Ms. Wilson-Raybould defies belief: “He wants us to believe he was oblivious to any angst on her part until the cabinet shuffle in January. And not until then did he grasp the full extent of her enmity toward him and his coterie of advisers Not a chance.” (for subscribers)

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The latest on the OPP, Taverner and Blair

Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner has declined his appointment as the next OPP commissioner after months of controversy over the selection of a friend of Ontario Premier Doug Ford to the top policing job in the province.

Former OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair says he will be legally challenging the circumstances of his firing this week. He has said it was reprisal for his legal battle over the hiring of Mr. Taverner as the next provincial police commissioner.

A lawyer acting for Mr. Blair said in a statement his client considers Mr. Taverner’s withdrawal a vindication, adding that the Progressive Conservative government must now pick a new police chief in an untainted process.

Globe editorial: “Ontarians are owed a full investigation into this whole affair. People need to know if the government manipulated the hiring process to choose the Premier’s friend as top cop, and whether it fired another senior cop for blowing the whistle.”

ECB joins BoC, other central banks in pausing rate hikes

The European Central Bank today changed tack on its tightening plan, pushing out the timing of its first post-crisis rate hike until next year at the earliest. The bolder-than-expected move came as the Bank of Canada, the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world are also holding back on rate hikes (for subscribers).

In a speech today, deputy governor Lynn Patterson acknowledged the BoC is “surprised” by how abruptly the economy is decelerating, particularly the cutback by Canadians in spending on such things as cars, home renovations and vacations.


Eric Reguly: “Just as the ECB guessed wrong on its 2019 growth forecast, it could be wrong on its guess that the euro zone economy is not going to get far worse.”

David Parkinson: “The Bank of Canada will need to continue to adjust its message; it may need a clear path to strike quickly with a rate cut, if and when it gets the scent of further deterioration.”


Huawei Technologies has opened up a new front in its battle with the U.S. government by filing a lawsuit challenging a congressional ban on federal agencies’ use of the Chinese technology company’s product

Facebook say it’s making a series of changes to stop the spread of anti-vaccine information on its social-media sites, but has stopped short of removing anti-vaccine groups and pages.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen filed a lawsuit, claiming the Trump Organization broke a promise to pay his legal bills and owes at least $1.9-million to cover the cost of his defence.

The number of veterans waiting to find out whether they qualify for disability benefits has continued to balloon to almost 40,000 at the end of November, despite repeated promises to fix the mess.

Queen Elizabeth has posted her first Instagram picture today from the Science Museum to help promote the museum’s summer exhibition.


A gauge of global stock markets retreated today as the European Central Bank postponed interest rate hikes and launched a fresh round of cheap loans to banks in an effort to rejuvenate the euro zone economy.

The growth concerns weighed on banking shares in the United States, which helped push the benchmark S&P 500 index to its lowest level since Feb. 14. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 200.23 points to 25,473.23, the S&P 500 lost 22.52 points to end at 2,748.93 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 84.46 points to 7,421.46.

Canada’s main stock index also fell, led by health care and material shares. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 35.56 points at 16,056.51

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Wilson-Raybould and Philpott aren’t principled because they’re women. They’re just principled

“There are plenty of men and women who get into politics to make change, to improve society, who will stand on principle. We just need a lot more of them – regardless of gender.” - Martha Hall Findlay, CEO of the Canada West Foundation and a former Liberal MP

Toronto will raise property taxes or it will keep crumbling, and that’s the truth

“In order not to raise property taxes past inflation, the mayor will be reducing or reneging on – sorry, delaying – a slew of commitments made in last year’s budget. That includes millions promised to libraries; crucial climate-change strategies and 17,500 new recreation spaces. Obsessing over his property-tax promise means breaking a bunch of others.” - Denise Balkissoon (for subscribers)

We need to talk about seniors getting into trouble with home equity lines of credit

“People in the work force, if they’re fortunate, get promotions, raises and bonuses that can help them cope with rising interest rates. Seniors on a fixed income can only cut other expenses so far to adjust to higher minimum HELOC payments each month. The rising delinquency rate suggests a growing number of seniors are hitting the wall.” - Rob Carrick


If you’re heading out for a holiday soon, avoid coming back with with hefty medical bills by first reading the fine print on your travel insurance policy. One key element that can lead to your insurance claim being denied is an existing medical issue, or what’s known as a pre-existing condition. When signing up for insurance, be truthful about your medical status. Call the insurer to ask about your specific situation, then get things in writing. And if your condition changes before you leave, update your insurer.


Proposed B.C. seal hunt will come with consequences for ecosystem, scientists warn

A British Columbia group wants to revive the seal and sea lion hunt on the west coast, provoking a debate about the controversial practice and prompting scientists to warn of consequences for the ecosystem.

Thomas Sewid of the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society says seal and sea lion populations have risen in recent decades and the animals have become dangerous pests to commercial fishermen while also contributing to the decline of salmon stocks.

Mr. Sewid, who lives in Campbell River and belongs to the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, said Indigenous rights to harvest pinnipeds for food, social and ceremonial reasons are not enough to control their numbers.

But Dr. Peter Ross of the Vancouver Aquarium says there’s no data to suggest a cull would help salmon species.

Open this photo in gallery:

Seals on the rocks of a small island in Chatham Sound near Prince Rupert, B.C. (Photo by Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

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