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Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly rejected a visa for a Chinese diplomat in the fall of 2022 because her department determined that Beijing was actually sending a political operative to conduct foreign-interference operations in Canada, according to a federal government source.

In October, China applied for a visa for a new position at its embassy in Ottawa called the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party. A source said the Department of Global Affairs concluded that the new position was “transparently not a diplomatic position” and likely designed to handle covert political and interference activities.

China has increasingly been in the spotlight over election interference in this country, particularly since The Globe reported Feb. 17, based on secret and top-secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service documents, that China employed a sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy in the 2021 election campaign.

Canada's Foreign Minister Melanie Joly attends the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi on March 2, 2023.POOL/The Associated Press

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Massive Russian attacks across Ukraine kill six, cut power to nuclear plant

Russia launched a “massive” overnight strike on Ukraine early on Thursday, hitting critical infrastructure around the country with cruise missiles and explosive drones in the largest such attack for several weeks.

The air strikes, which killed at least six people around the country, involved six hypersonic Kinzhal-47 cruise missiles, the first time Russia has fired the advanced weapon at Ukraine during more than a year of full-scale warfare.

“It’s been a difficult night. A massive rocket attack across the country,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on his Telegram channel, hours after residents of Kyiv and at least nine other cities were woken first by air raid sirens and then the sounds of loud explosions. “The enemy fired 81 missiles in an attempt to intimidate Ukrainians again, returning to their miserable tactics.”

Bank of Canada holds key rate steady at 4.5 per cent

The Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate steady at 4.5 per cent yesterday, pausing its year-long campaign to increase borrowing costs while leaving the door open to further rate hikes if inflation doesn’t slow as quickly as expected.

The widely anticipated decision makes the Bank of Canada the first major central bank to halt monetary policy tightening and puts it on a different trajectory than the U.S. Federal Reserve, whose officials have said they expect to increase interest rates several more times.

The bank has raised its overnight rate eight consecutive times since March, 2022, hammering the housing market and squeezing Canadians’ finances in an effort to cool demand in the economy and slow the pace of price growth. While inflation remains high, bank officials believe they have done enough to guide it back down to the bank’s 2-per-cent target over time.

The killing of Oshawa’s ‘Star Wars guy’ has residents wondering what’s happened to their city

One grey afternoon last month, a cube van pulled up outside the tiny apartment in Oshawa, Ont., where Ken Chopee met his violent end. Workers piled the last of his belongings into the back. But before they could drive off to the dump, Chopee’s brother, Robert, salvaged two of Ken’s most treasured keepsakes, sealed in a plastic bag.

One was the baby bracelet that he wore in the hospital where he was born. Little white beads spelled out his surname. The other was an old paperback with yellowing pages, Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker.

Chopee, 58, was found dead in his government-built microhome on Jan. 27. A 32-year-old man arrested at the scene was charged the next day with first-degree murder.

The killing has sharpened concern over crime and disorder in the heart of Oshawa, a thriving community of 170,000 an hour east of Toronto. Some residents are focusing their anger on the microhomes, saying they have become a source of constant trouble. Even in downtown Oshawa, which is accustomed to dark happenings, Chopee’s killing was a punch in the gut.

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Also on our radar

Ontario to face looming shortage of nurses, PSWs, report says: The Ontario government needs to spend $21.3-billion more on health care to meet its own expansion targets and will be short about 33,000 nurses and personal support workers by 2027-28, says a new report from the province’s fiscal watchdog.

New study finds COVID-19 didn’t have big impact on mental health: A new international study led by Canadian researchers and published yesterday in the British Medical Journal looked at 137 international studies from 31 countries that followed the same people both before the pandemic started and after the lockdowns began, and found no significant declines in mental health.

Alberta didn’t reveal Imperial Oil leak for months, Environment Canada says: Alberta didn’t notify the federal government that toxic water from the Kearl oil sands project was seeping for months into the environment and that a drainage pond breach at the site spilled 5.3 million litres of water, Environment and Climate Change Canada says. Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Canada failed Indigenous communities in the Kearl leak, because of “inadequate” provincial and federal systems that must be improved.

Freeland drafting budget with an eye to fiscal restraint: Chrystia Freeland is emphasizing the need for fiscal restraint as she finalizes her 2023 federal budget, pointing to concerns about inflation and high interest rates as key reasons Ottawa must ease up on new spending.

Loblaw, other grocery CEOs grilled by MPs: Members of Parliament pressed top executives at Canada’s largest grocery retailers for answers about high food prices and growing corporate profits, expressing concerns about transparency amid a period of high inflation.

Canada Soccer gender equity issues to come to Parliament: Four members of the national women’s soccer team will testify today in Ottawa, where parliamentarians are holding hearings into allegations of unequal treatment between the national men’s and women’s squads by Canada Soccer.

Morning markets

Global markets were in a rare lull today ahead of U.S. jobs data tomorrow that could easily whip up more cross-asset storms. In testimony yesterday, U.S. Fed chair Jerome Powell stuck to his message of higher and potentially faster interest rate hikes, but emphasized that the decision would hinge on the strength of incoming data.

Overnight in Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan has sagged 0.6 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.6 per cent.

In Europe, real estate and mining stocks led the decline, as the STOXX 600 index dropped 0.4 per cent. In early trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.81 per cent, Germany’s DAX slid 0.46 per cent and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.6 per cent.

The loonie traded at 72.44 U.S. cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Campbell Clark: “Imagine for a moment what would happen if Canada’s auto industry was sucked away into the United States. Tens of thousands of jobs and a big chunk of the $19-billion a year the sector contributes to Canada’s gross domestic product would slip away. How much would a Canadian government pay to stop that? That’s a question the current government in Ottawa seems to think it is facing.”

Editorial: “The Senate’s existence is guaranteed in the Constitution, so it’s not going anywhere. That makes it doubly insulting to Canadians that it is managed so poorly, and from the top down. Mr. Trudeau should do his job and fill vacant seats, and existing senators should make sure that they are sitting in theirs.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable, March 9, 2023.Illustration by Brian Gable

Living better

Oscars guide 2023: How to watch the ceremony and nominated films, critic’s picks and more

The 2022 Academy Awards was a spectacle, and, Barry Hertz writes, 2023 could be the year the ceremony slouches back toward normalcy. There are indie hits up for multiple awards that people have actually seen, underseen critical darlings and genuine Earth-conquering blockbusters. Here’s our guide to the 95th annual Academy Awards.

Moment in time: March 9, 1954

American journalist Edward R. Murrow delivers an investigative report critical of U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy on the news show 'See It Now,' broadcast on March 9, 1954.CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Edward R. Murrow criticizes senator Joseph McCarthy on air

By today’s standards, the broadcast looks rather tame. A subdued Edward R. Murrow, host of CBS’s See It Now, assembled a highlight reel of senator Joseph McCarthy’s worst moments: baselessly claiming everyone from the American Civil Liberties Union to a state department official to various military officers to the governor of Illinois were secretly in bed with the Communist Party. To this, Mr. Murrow added his own commentary, warning that “we must not confuse dissent with disloyalty” and “accusation is not proof.” For television audiences on this day in 1954, this was explosive stuff – all the more so because it was delivered so calmly by one of the country’s most respected newsmen. It would prove the beginning of the end for Mr. McCarthy’s witch hunts, helping turn public opinion against him ahead of the Army-McCarthy hearings the following month. Ultimately, the conspiratorial legislator would be censured for his behaviour. Meanwhile, Mr. Murrow’s technique – though not his measured delivery – would inspire broadcasters, from John Oliver to Now This, who have made extensive use of the same clips-package method for taking politicians to task. Adrian Morrow

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