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Good morning,

These are the top stories:

B.C.’s Speaker is accusing the top two legislature officials of improper spending

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Speaker Darryl Plecas alleges Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars in overspending on travel, jewellery and other inappropriate benefits, and charged personal purchases to taxpayers.

James and Lenz were suspended with pay in November pending the results of an RCMP investigation. But little explanation had been given for the probe until Plecas released his 76-page report yesterday.

In one example, Plecas says that on a trip with the pair to London, James spent $1,300 on a new suit and other items at an exclusive men’s wear shop, while Lenz bought $660 in items that included mother-of-pearl cufflinks. The costs were charged to the Legislative Assembly.

For their part, James and Lenz said they were shocked by the public release of “unsubstantiated and hearsay allegations.”

This is the daily Morning Update newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for Morning Update and more than 20 more Globe newsletters on our newsletter signup page.

The U.S. will proceed with its request to extradite Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou

Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. confirmed that Washington is going forward with its request over allegations of banking fraud related to violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran. Meng is currently living in Vancouver while out on $10-million bail. Her arrest appeared to spark retaliation from China, which has detained two Canadians and sentenced a third to death.

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"We don’t like that it is our citizens who are being punished,” Ambassador David MacNaughton said. "[The Americans] are the ones seeking to have the full force of American law brought against [Meng] and yet we are the ones who are paying the price. Our citizens are.”

China issued fresh demands Tuesday that the U.S. abandon its request for the extradition.

MacNaughton’s comments follow the publication of an open letter signed by 143 academics and former diplomats who called on China’s President Xi Jinping to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Authorities have sent a message that forging cross-border connections and seeking the exchange of ideas “is unwelcome and even risky in China,” they write.

In a heated response Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accused the letter’s signatories — which include some of the world’s top China scholars and two former national foreign ministers — of “deliberately attempting to arouse fear,” and shading the truth.

How the extradition process works: The U.S. must formally file the Meng request by Jan. 30. After it’s received, Canadian federal lawyers must determine within 30 days whether an extradition hearing will be held, though they can’t deny a hearing if the U.S. request complies with treaty requirements. A judge will then weigh whether a trial would happen north of the border if the alleged conduct had “occurred in Canada.” There are several opportunities for Meng to appeal decisions, which could mean months or even years before a final answer.

Frank Stronach’s ventures have lost $800-million, daughter Belinda Stronach alleges

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In a court filing, Ms. Stronach says that the 86-year-old’s track record should prevent him from taking back control of the businesses he built over a lifetime (for subscribers). Ms. Stronach alleges that since selling his stake in Magna, the auto-parts company he founded, Mr. Stronach has bankrolled a series of money-losing ventures, including an organic cattle ranch, electric bicycles, a pumpkin seed oil business and a Florida golf course. Ms. Stronach also says US$55-million was spent on two massive bronze and steel sculptures of the winged horse Pegasus.

This is the latest development in a two-year battle for control of their family fortune, which totalled $1.6-billion eight years ago.

Lawyers for Mr. Stronach referred questions to family friend Dennis Mills, who said many of Mr. Stronach’s investments are in real estate, assets that tend to hold their value over time.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

The new Canada Food Guide is set to be unveiled today. You can expect a reduced emphasis on meat and dairy in favour of plants and plant-based protein. A draft of the new guide indicated a drop from four food groups to three: “vegetables and fruits,” “whole grains,” and a new “protein foods” group in lieu of the existing “meat and alternatives” and “milk and milk products” categories.

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A Democratic senator with a Canadian connection is running for president in the 2020 election. Kamala Harris, an outspoken critic of U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, joins a growing field of contenders that includes Senator Elizabeth Warren. Harris spent her formative years in Montreal, attending Westmount High School while her mother worked at McGill University.

There are “close links” between the Rwandan government and the main suspects in the 2013 assassination of exiled Rwandan dissident Patrick Karegeya, according to a newly disclosed letter from South African prosecutors. The letter corroborates a 2014 Globe investigation that revealed the role of the Rwandan government in plots to assassinate Rwandan dissidents in South Africa.

MORNING MARKETS

Stocks sink

Pessimism about global growth drove down world shares and commodity markets on Tuesday and left investors seeking refuge in the U.S. dollar, government bonds and gold. The International Monetary Fund’s warning of a darkening outlook on Monday, after China’s confirmed its slowest growth rate in nearly 30 years, continued to weigh on the mood. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.5 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.7 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 1.2 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.4 and 0.6 per cent by about 6:25 a.m. ET. New York futures were also down.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

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There are a lot of royally bad drivers on the roads, and they aren’t all seniors

“Given the carnage on our roads, shouldn’t we be striving to ensure everyone is fit to drive? Does it make any sense that we issue a driver’s licence at age 16 and then give drivers free rein for the next six decades? Shouldn’t we have periodic testing and remedial driving lessons regardless of age? There are royally bad drivers of all ages. Let’s stop picking on the elderly.” – André Picard

Rebranding solitary confinement doesn’t change what it is

“While the recently introduced Bill C-83 declares that it would ‘eliminate the use of administrative segregation,’ the actual provisions of the bill would do no such thing. It is true that Bill C-83 would change the name of the ‘segregation unit’ to the ‘structured intervention unit.’ It would add a few daily hours out of cell for some inmates. And it would offer most inmates a shower and a few other minor improvements. However, Bill C-83 also would allow our penitentiaries to keep people in conditions of extreme isolation for at least 22 hours a day for undefined, perhaps indefinite periods.” – Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, director of the equality program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Thank TV ratings for killing the increasingly irrelevant Oscars

“You must excuse my lack of sunny disposition about the Academy Awards. The announcement of the nominees is on Tuesday morning and I care about it as much as Doug Ford cares about Ontario postsecondary students: Not very much at all. Here’s the thing about the Oscars. It’s just a TV show. It will come and go on Feb. 24 and it will be awful. This year more awful than usual, probably, for reasons that reflect and illustrate the doolally days we live in.” – John Doyle (for subscribers)

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LIVING BETTER

Snowbirds in Florida: Follow the quintessential Canadian trip south

For 18 years, Debbi Garrett has left the cold Canadian winter behind for warmer days down south. The adventure comes from driving through seven states, dealing with snowstorms, tornado warnings and diners with dangerous amounts of cheese and gravy. Photographer Sarah Palmer joined the ride for the annual pilgrimage.

MOMENT IN TIME

Influential ballet choreographer George Balanchine born

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Jan. 22, 1904: The man often referred to today as the father of American ballet was born in Imperial Russia, to composer and opera singer Meliton Balanchivadze. Music was a major influence in young George Balanchine’s life. While he was trained in Russia, Balanchine moved to the United States in 1933 at the invitation of arts supporter and patron Lincoln Kirstein. It was Kirstein’s dream to open an American school and company to rival those in Europe, and he believed Balanchine – with his particular style, an emphasis on lines, deep pliés and unusual positioning of the body – could help him do it. Balanchine served as the ballet master and head choreographer for the New York City Ballet from its creation until his death, famously choreographing The Nutcracker for the company, which now performs the show every Christmas season. While he is most known for his work in ballet, he also choreographed for movies, operas, television and musicals. (He was photographed here, in 1939, with his wife Vera Zorina rehearsing for the Warner Brothers musical production On Your Toes.) In Canada, the National Ballet has taken Balanchine’s technique into stride since the 1960s, when his Concerto Barocco and critically acclaimed Serenade were performed here. – Mira Miller

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