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Canada Morning Update: Attorney-General says SNC settlement possible; Grammy Awards highlights

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Attorney-General David Lametti says a settlement with SNC-Lavalin is still possible

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Lametti says it’s not too late for him to issue a directive to the federal prosecutor service to settle the charges against the Quebec company out of court (for subscribers). And he sees nothing that “justifies” Tory and NDP calls for a committee investigation after The Globe and Mail reported that the Prime Minister’s Office attempted to put pressure on then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to direct the prosecutions office to settle the case.

SNC-Lavalin, meanwhile, is arguing in court documents that it has made “permanent transformative changes” to its business practices. The company says it “easily met” requirements for settling charges of bribery and fraud in connection with Libyan construction contracts. It accuses federal prosecutors of being “incoherent” in their explanation of why they won’t settle.

The Globe’s editorial board says “The Prime Minister must explain what happened, but so far he has only made matters worse by playing semantic games.”

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Protests in Spain as the Catalan independence movement re-enters the spotlight

Tens of thousands of centre-right and far-right supporters took to the streets of Madrid to protest against what they view as concessions by the government to Catalan independence parties (for subscribers). Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez recently said he would engage in talks with the Catalan groups, although the pro-independence side has rejected the framework and is demanding a referendum be put on the agenda.

Right-wing politicians are calling for early national elections, and they may soon get their wish if the government’s budget proposal fails a vote on Wednesday.

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At the same time, 12 Catalan independence leaders are set to begin trials this week on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds over their failed efforts to secede in 2017.

Michael Wilson, a former federal finance minister and businessman, died at the age of 81

Wilson served under Brian Mulroney’s government in the 80s and 90s, ushering in the 7-per-cent GST before helping to negotiate the North American free-trade agreement. In the late 2000s, he went on to serve as Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., and also served as chancellor of the University of Toronto. A giant in the business world, Wilson held senior roles at a number of firms including RBC and Barclays Capital Canada. Later in life, after his son’s death by suicide, Wilson became an advocate for mental-health support. He died of cancer.

Grammy highlights: Kacey Musgraves, Childish Gambino and Drake

Musgraves, a rising country star, took home the top honours last night as she won album of the year. But the bigger story may have been Childish Gambino, who with his track This Is America becoming the first rap-based song to win record and song of the year. And Drake, usually a no-show at awards shows, made a surprise appearance to accept his trophy for best rap song.

Drake accepts the award for best rap song for "God's Plan." (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Matt Sayles/The Associated Press

Other Canadian winners included Daniel Caesar for his feature on R&B track Best Part, Willo Perron for his work on St. Vincent’s Masseduction album and Greg Wells for his contributions to the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman.

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Brad Wheeler takes a look at the all the highlights.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The mystery of a missing $500,000 Super Bowl betting pot is captivating Bay Street stock traders. Every year, 100 people put in $5,000 apiece in cash to participate in an exclusive football pool run by an old-school trader on the Toronto Stock Exchange. But days before 2019’s big game, he shared the news that he’d been robbed. (for subscribers)

Two or three Canadian women living in Islamic State territory have surrendered themselves as U.S.-backed forces close in on the jihadist group’s last remaining territory in eastern Syria. The U.S. is likely weeks away from starting the withdrawal of its forces in Syria, according to a top general.

Thousands are still without power in B.C. after a weekend windstorm, while the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island experienced heavy snowfall that was expected to reach as much as 10 centimetres.

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A cyclist makes his way through heavy snowfall in Vancouver on Sunday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

MORNING MARKETS

Stocks rise

World stock markets rose on Monday, as investors eyed the resumption of trade talks between the United States and China and watched for signs of progress on Brexit. Tokyo’s Nikkei was down 2.0 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.7 per cent and the Shanghai Composite Index 1.3 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.6 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX were up 0.8 per cent. New York futures were up. The Canadian dollar was at 75.33 US cents. Oil prices were steady as support from OPEC-led supply restraint was countered by an uptick in U.S. drilling.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

The Bissonnette sentencing doesn’t bring closure on Islamophobia

“When I speak to Québec Muslims, they talk tensely about being accustomed to being talked down, to being vilified in the news media and to being viewed by the political class as useful foils and second-class citizens. In other words, the fertile ground upon which the deadly mosque attack was able to take shape continues to be watered.” – Ihsaan Gardee, executive director, National Council of Canadian Muslims

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One year after the acquittal of Gerald Stanley, little has changed

“What has changed in the year since Gerald Stanley was acquitted, on Feb. 9, 2018, for the killing of Colton Boushie on Mr. Stanley’s Saskatchewan farm? Not much. Indigenous people remain underrepresented on juries throughout Canada, despite being grossly overrepresented among both accused and crime victims. In places such as Spiritwood, Sask., and Okotoks, Alta., farmers continue to fire warning shots to ward off rural crime.” – Kent Roach, author of Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case

No side will emerge unscathed in fight to avoid a second U.S. shutdown

“The White House – eyeing the 2020 presidential election against energized Democrats – knows it won’t get funding for the border wall at the levels Mr. Trump insists on. The Democrats – acknowledging they can’t be identified with a completely open border – know they won’t escape granting some money for border security. The Republicans – opposed to their President on Syria and horrified by the prospect Mr. Trump might declare a national emergency to ferret out funds for this border wall – just want the whole nightmare to end.” – David Shribman

LIVING BETTER

Is fruit just as healthy as vegetables on your plate?

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The two categories might offer similar vitamins and minerals, but Leslie Beck notes that they have different nutrient and phytochemical profiles. Leafy green vegetables, for example, have properties that have been linked to healthy brain aging and a lower risk of cataract and macular degeneration. In short: you need both fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet.

MOMENT IN TIME

Learning about Ontario’s black history, 1963

For more than 100 years, photographers and photo librarians working for The Globe and Mail have preserved an extraordinary collection of 20th-century news photography. Every Monday, The Globe features one of these images. In February, we’re focusing on Canada’s black history.

(John Boyd/The Globe and Mail)

JOHN BOYD/The Globe and Mail

With the civil-rights movement turning the United States inside out, the Toronto Negro Business and Professional Men’s Association sponsored an exhibition in 1963 at the Toronto Public Library to remind students of their own country’s history of institutional racism. John Boyd’s photograph of 13-year-old Jo Anne Grayson seems unremarkable until the words on the announcement behind her come into view. Dated Feb. 10, 1806, when slavery was still legal in much of the British Empire, the local announcement’s dispassionate language is the kind one might use today to sell a car or sofa. But the sordid spirit of those few words is clear: The woman is 40, a “tolerable cook,” and her 15-year-old son is tall and strong for his age. Her name is Peggy, and the young man’s name is Jupiter. – Massimo Commanducci

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