These are the top stories:
Notley vs. Kenney: Alberta’s election is less than a week away
Can Rachel Notley pull off a second upset? Or will Jason Kenney’s unified right come out on top? The Globe’s Justin Giovannetti and James Keller spoke with the NDP and UCP leaders and other key figures to get a sense of where things stand ahead of the April 16 vote.
The key factors for Notley: The NDP Leader has emerged as a highly likeable, smart and hard-working figure over her four years in office. But the NDP is still widely disliked, which has led to campaign signs featuring the slogan “Team Rachel Notley” prominently. And despite Notley’s actions to push Alberta crude, she’s still dismissed as insufficiently pro-oil by opponents amid worries about the province’s economy.
The key factors for Kenney: The former federal minister has pushed a message that “Albertans feel like they’re under siege” from Ottawa and provincial governments. But he’s faced controversies over statements by UCP candidates as well his alleged role in enlisting a candidate in the party’s leadership race to attack a rival. There’s also the question of whether voters will be turned off by his past stands on social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion.
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Liberal caucus expulsions violated federal law, Jane Philpott says
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removed the former Treasury Board president and Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus last week – but “expulsion should not be his decision to take unilaterally,” Philpott says.
At the heart of the matter are rules put in place in 2015 that say 20 per cent of caucus members need to give written notice to review an MP’s membership, and that a majority of caucus must vote to eject the MP in a secret ballot. But the Liberals, in 2015, neglected to vote on the adoption of those rules.
Now Philpott has asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to rule on whether her rights and those of Wilson-Raybould were violated. Trudeau says that while caucus didn’t vote to expel the two MPs, “the will of caucus was very, very clear.”
Israel’s Netanyahu appears headed toward fifth term as PM
Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be headed toward a historic fifth term as Israel’s prime minister on Wednesday, with close-to-complete unofficial election results giving his right-wing Likud and other nationalist and religious parties a solid majority in parliament.
The outcome affirmed Israel’s continued tilt to the right and further dimmed hopes of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Re-election will also give Netanyahu an important boost as he braces for the likelihood of criminal charges in a series of corruption scandals.
With 97.4 per cent of the vote counted, Likud and its traditional political allies were in command of a 65-55 majority in parliament.
Even if Netanyahu forms a government, he still faces the prospect of criminal charges being filed against him in a bribery and corruption case.
In Sudan, protesters are defying bullets and threatening to topple the authoritarian regime
It’s the photo that has captured a growing, female-led movement: University student Alaa Salah is seen standing on top of a car singing revolutionary songs, her finger pointing to the sky. Women who have been targeted by Islamist hard-liners in President Omar al-Bashir’s government are playing a central role in protests that aren’t letting up despite a crackdown that has killed least 22 people.
Coupled with a growing economic crisis, the pressure is building for the resignation of al-Bashir, who came to power in a military coup in 1989. Some parts of the Sudanese military have publicly joined the protests, which have also drawn support internationally. Canada praised the “display of unity” while the U.S., Britain and Norway are calling for a “political transition.”
Baby Powder was marketed to minority and overweight women as concerns mounted about health risks
In 2006, the World Health Organization started classifying cosmetic talc as “possibly carcinogenic” when used as antiperspirant and deodorant. But a Reuters investigation reveals that in the same year, Johnson & Johnson looked at marketing the product to “under developed geographical areas with hot weather, and higher AA population,” referring to African-Americans.
Now, those women make up a large number of plaintiffs who allege one of J&J’s Baby Powder products caused their ovarian cancer. J&J knew some of its talc products contained small amounts of asbestos, but didn’t disclose that information, Reuters reported in December.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Ottawa is looking to appeal a 15-day limit on solitary confinement. The federal government has applied to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal a ruling last month that said placing inmates in tight quarters for more than 15 days violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Two Canadians have been detained in Somalia. The federal government won’t release details about the individuals for privacy reasons, but a New York-based civil-rights activist says they are both women from B.C., Maymona Abdi and Karima Watts Omer. Abdi was working in Somalia with women facing gender-based prosecution, according to activist Jason Jeremias.
Twitter has suspended accounts associated with the white-nationalist group Canadian Nationalist Front. The move came a day after Facebook banned that group and others, including far-right commentator Faith Goldy (who remains active on Twitter). Twitter said the nationalist group was permanently suspended under its Violent Extremist Group policy, though that has been in place since December of 2017.
Global stocks slipped below the six-month high they reached earlier this week as U.S. President Donald Trump threatened more tariffs against the European Union, though the prospect of European Central Bank largesse kept them from falling too far. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.5 per cent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.1 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.1 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.1 and 0.4 per cent by about 6:45 a.m. ET. New York futures were up. The Canadian dollar was at about 75 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Canada’s federal election could be under attack. Are we prepared?
Wesley Wark: “There are still many gaps in our defences. The most important is the wide-open social-media space, with its lack of agreed policing strategy and its known vulnerabilities to fake news and manipulation. Far too little progress has been made by the major social-media providers to ensure that social media is fenced off from election interference.” Wesley Wark is a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa and an expert on intelligence and national security issues.
A doctor’s murder shows the reality of domestic abuse
Denise Balkissoon: “Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji’s death isn’t notable because of her murderer’s past accomplishments. It’s notable because Canada has lost another daughter, another mother, one who also happened to be a successful family physician, university professor and emerging policy analyst. Like the other 56 women killed by their partners in 2016, she was a person who was loved. And, like many of them, she had her life stolen just as she was trying to take it back.” (for subscribers)
Felicity Huffman’s career isn’t toast: Why?
John Doyle: “Huffman is one of 13 people who have admitted paying bribes to get their children into desirable colleges. … [but] even in this age of outrage and the mob mentality of online attacks, some showbiz careers aren’t ruined by scandal. It just depends on the scandal and the image the showbiz figure has in the public consciousness.” (for subscribers)
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
No, it is not OK to be ‘house poor’
“There is one thing above all others that our society encourages you to overspend on – houses,” Rob Carrick writes. “We even have a cute phrase for buying more home than you can afford: ‘house poor.’ And being house poor isn’t bad, the conventional – and wrong – thinking goes.”
House poor, by one measure, is when you’re spending 30 per cent or more of your total income on mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance and utilities. Carrick says you shouldn’t be sacrificing long-term savings plans like RRSPs or RESPs just for the sake of owning a home.
MOMENT IN TIME
Paul McCartney announces he’s leaving the Beatles
April 10, 1970: They might have once been bigger than Jesus, but in April, 1970, it was all over. George Harrison briefly left the band in 1968 but the others persuaded him to return. John Lennon told them privately that he was quitting in 1969, but they agreed to keep it quiet until the release of Let It Be the following year. Bickering, fighting over solo projects and squabbling over business interests were destroying the Beatles. But it was McCartney who delivered the death blow, publicly announcing that he was leaving the band on April 10, 1970. The news came via a press release, which was written as a Q&A, for his solo album, McCartney. “Is your break with the Beatles temporary or permanent, due to personal differences or musical ones?” he was asked. McCartney’s response: “Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don’t really know." When asked if he could ever see writing songs with Lennon again, he flatly answered, “No.” Journalists seized on this as a clear statement: Paul Quits the Beatles, one headline declared. – Dave McGinn