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

It’s the day before federal-budget day, and a key question on many curious minds is how the Liberal government will prioritize its spending decisions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday the budget will feature a declining debt-to-GDP ratio, but competition for federal money is fierce as the Canadian economy looks to emerge from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland clearly values priorities outlined in the Liberals’ 2021 election platform, meaning Canadians should expect billions of dollars to be devoted to housing, health care and the fight against global warming. But defence spending has become a hot topic since the election, and there will also be nods to NDP priorities since that party has agreed to support the government in exchange for progress on areas it values.

In any event, a lingering topic in light of criticism this week from Bay Street will be how the government intends to promote long-term economic growth.

Why Canada hasn’t expelled Russian diplomats, Ukraine’s south and east braces for new attacks

Calls are increasing for the Canadian government to expel Russian diplomats, but Justin Trudeau says doing so would jeopardize the continuing work of Canadian diplomats in Moscow.

“I am just not sure the symbolic gesture of excluding Russian diplomats from what they are doing in Canada is worth the cost of losing our diplomats in Moscow,” the Prime Minister said Tuesday.

On the ground in Ukraine, the mayor of Mariupol said 5,000 civilians have been killed by Russian forces, including more than 200 children, and 160,000 residents remain trapped in the port city. The Red Cross has been able to lead more than 1,000 residents out, though, in a convoy that arrived today in Zaporizhzhia.

In other parts of the south and east, people were asked to evacuate for fear of impending Russian attacks.

Also, the U.S. expanded sanctions against Russia, including measure aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adult daughters.

  • Live: Updated news from the war in Ukraine
  • Mariupol: Relief House in Warsaw giving refugees from Mariupol shelter, and a place to start over
  • Opinion: To its great shame, the West has failed to draw a line on Russia’s invasion

Ontario, Manitoba join growing list of provinces expanding eligibility for fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine

The sixth coronavirus wave has emerged in many parts of Canada, but some experts say the false impression that the pandemic is ending may hamper Canadians’ willingness to get a second COVID-19 booster shot.

Today Ontario and Manitoba announced that more segments of their populations would be able to access a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose starting tomorrow. B.C. made a similar announcement yesterday, acting on advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

See our explainer on the recommendations on fourth doses, listed by province.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Offshore oil project approved: Ottawa has approved the Bay du Nord oil project off the coast of Newfoundland, even as it told the oil and gas sector this week to reduce its emissions by nearly half.

Flair Airlines to be grounded? The federal transportation regulator has determined that Flair Airlines may be in violation of the law that requires it to be controlled by Canadians, and it may lose its operating licence as a result.

Classical music community mourns hit-and-run victim: Boris Brott, a renowned composer, symphony conductor and mentor, was struck and killed by a vehicle in Hamilton Tuesday.

MARKET WATCH

All the main indexes fell today, with Wall Street weighed down by the Fed’s inflation-fighting plans and Canada’s tech sector souring the mood among Bay Street investors.

Tech stocks tumbled in the U.S. as well, with the promise of rising interest rates dampening enthusiasm for cash flows that typically result from high-growth sectors.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended down 142.23 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 21,788.60. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 144.67 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 34,496.51, the S&P 500 lost 43.97 points, or 0.97 per cent, to 4,481.15 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 315.35 points, or 2.22 per cent, to 13,888.82.

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TALKING POINTS

The era of big government is over. The era of even bigger government has begun

Andrew Coyne: “This headlong plunge into a new and expanded role for the state is the more curious for the absence of examples of its efficacy in its existing responsibilities. Public health, for example, is generally considered one of the core responsibilities of government. Yet the performance of government in the pandemic has been mostly disastrous ... to say nothing of the comedy of errors the provinces made of their own responsibilities.”

Tackling climate change will require a big bet on clean technology

Alan Bernstein: “Like the development of mRNA vaccines, a cleantech moonshot would launch an enormous economic boom for Canada that would ease the pain of weaning off our dependency on oil and gas.”

Ottawa’s proposed single-use plastics ban is a step forward, but falls short

Lucas Harris, Calvin Sandborn, Adele Desbrisay and Edith Barabash: “The good news is that governments worldwide, including Canada, are starting to address the problem. However, this is just the opening act for a future that requires broader and stricter regulation of plastics. As currently written, Ottawa’s proposed ban, while helpful, can do better.”

LIVING BETTER

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Stephen Poloz short-listed for Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

Books by trailblazing former cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Flora MacDonald, former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz, journalist Mike Blanchfield and academic Fen Osler Hampson, and journalist Joanna Chiu comprise the short list for this year’s Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.

APTN premiere of Michelle Latimer’s long-delayed Inconvenient Indian is required viewing

Resorting to the “separate the art from the artist” line of thinking can be exhausting and sometimes arbitrary, writes Barry Hertz. But there is a reason why APTN is finally airing Michelle Latimer’s Inconvenient Indian, even after widespread doubt about the director’s claims to Indigenous ancestry: it is an excellent documentary, adventurous and bold.

TODAY’S LONG READ

Spring thaw will test B.C. flood barriers that the ‘atmospheric river’ ruined and covered in debris

A property affected by November flooding of the Nicola River is seen northwest of Merritt, B.C., on March 24, 2022.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

To put it plainly, B.C. is not ready.

The provincial government tacitly acknowledged the failure to protect communities from floods, promising in this year’s budget to spend tens of millions of dollars to improve forecasting and help local communities better prepare for the growing threats created by climate change.

Bill Blair, the federal Minister for Emergency Preparedness, has also accepted Ottawa’s role in this, but warned that recovery will take time. Municipalities, the provincial government, the federal government and First Nations must work closely to “make sure we do the right things. That’s going to require engineering and environmental assessments,” he said in an interview.

Similarly, the race is on to clean up debris that washed into rivers like the Tulameen during November’s storms: shipping containers, telephone poles, household appliances, roof trusses, tires. Even without hazards like these, the heavy rains and warm temperatures of spring can bring destructive flooding to the area.

Read the feature by Justine Hunter.

Evening Update is compiled and written weekdays by an editor in The Globe’s live news department. 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.