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Canada’s banking regulator is increasing its monitoring of domestic banks’ financial health as the fallout from Silicon Valley Bank’s failure ripples through markets, even after U.S. leaders introduced rare measures designed to avoid repeating the run on deposits that toppled the tech-lending leader.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions took control of SVB’s Canadian operations on Sunday, and yesterday the regulator took steps to begin daily check-ins with banks that will enable it to monitor their liquidity, according to two sources with knowledge of the decision.

Facing acute fears of contagion in the U.S. financial sector, President Joe Biden pledged yesterday to do “whatever is needed” to shore up the American financial system and provide stability for depositors.

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Open this photo in gallery:

A pedestrian passes a Silicon Valley Bank Private branch in San Francisco, Monday, March 13, 2023.Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press

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Volkswagen picks Ontario for its first North American electric-vehicle battery plant

Canada’s effort to position itself as a major player in electric-vehicle manufacturing, and to prove that it can compete with massive new U.S. subsidies for automakers, has received a major boost from Volkswagen Group.

The German auto giant announced yesterday that it has chosen St. Thomas, Ont., as the site for its first battery factory outside Europe, after considering locations in both Canada and the United States.

Details of the planned investment, including the dollar amount and production capacity, were not provided and are expected in the coming weeks. But federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne pointed to Volkswagen’s description of the facility as a “gigafactory” – a term that is meant to indicate massive scale – to describe it as “probably the largest single investment in the auto sector in Canada’s history.”

Ottawa orders Imperial Oil to contain leak of toxic water

Ottawa has told Imperial Oil Resources Ltd. to take immediate action at its Kearl oil sands site and contain the seepage of toxic tailings-tainted water that it says is harmful to fish.

The federal government, local Indigenous communities and the public at large were not informed of the leak last May until months afterward, when a separate incident at Kearl spilled 5.3 million litres of water.

Water tainted with dangerous levels of arsenic, dissolved metals and hydrocarbons has been seeping off the Kearl project onto Crown lands north of Fort. McMurray, Alta., since May, including next to a small fish-bearing lake and tributaries to the Firebag and Muskeg rivers.

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Also on our radar

Pedestrians killed after truck swerves onto sidewalk: Two people are dead and nine are injured after a pickup truck drove into pedestrians along a downtown road in Amqui, Que. yesterday. The driver, a 38-year-old man who lives in the region, turned himself in to provincial police, and was arrested on suspicion of committing a fatal hit and run.

Witness says Justice Russell Brown followed her to hotel room: A witness to a physical altercation involving Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown told police the jurist followed her and her daughter to their hotel room and that she was glad a former U.S. Marine protected them.

Survivors applaud move by the Jesuits: A decision by the Jesuits of Canada to publish a list of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children has been praised by survivors, many of whom have called on more Catholic entities to follow suit.

Renowned Canadian cancer researcher wins award: Dr. Tak Mak, a Toronto researcher who, over his career, has profoundly reshaped what we know about cancer cells, has been awarded one of the world’s most prestigious scientific prizes.

Weeknd wins album of the year at Junos: Avril Lavigne shooed a topless woman off the Juno Awards stage in Edmonton shortly after the Juno Awards got under way. It was a surprise moment in a typically tame broadcast. This year’s winners included Jessie Reyez who picked up contemporary R&B recording of the year and The Weeknd who won album of the year.

Larry Kwong broke NHL colour barrier 75 years ago: It was 75 years ago yesterday that Larry Kwong, the Canadian-born son of a Chinese immigrant, became the first non-white player to appear in a game in the National Hockey League. Despite his extraordinary ability, he played in the NHL for just one minute in a piece of history that has largely been forgotten.

Morning markets

World markets on edge: Global shares slid on Tuesday as a brewing U.S. banking crisis prompted investors to downgrade their expectations for interest rate hikes, even ahead of key inflation data later in the day. Just after 5:30 a.m., Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.48 per cent. France’s CAC 40 slid 0.13 per cent while Germany’s DAX edged up 0.21 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 2.19 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 2.27 per cent. New York futures were positive. The Canadian dollar was slightly lower at 72.78 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

David Mulroney: “Far from being racist, requiring transparency of those who speak, lobby, or disburse money for China or any other foreign state protects vulnerable members of diaspora communities, who are often the first targets of foreign interference.”

Editorial: “Fifty-eight years ago, Prime Minister Lester Pearson and nine premiers agreed to create the Canada Pension Plan ... Six decades later, it’s time for a new plan, one that a number of other countries have already adopted: a Canada Long-Term Care Insurance Plan, to provide a guaranteed quality of life for the elderly who are frail.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

Open this photo in gallery:Editorial cartoon for March 13, 2023

Illustration by Brian Gable

Living better

Mediterranean, MIND diets may protect the brain, study shows

Healthy dietary patterns, including the MIND and Mediterranean diets, have been associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline and protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Now, a study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago suggests that both dietary patterns can prevent the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, a hallmark sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Moment in time: March 14, 2018

Open this photo in gallery:FILE PHOTO: Professor of mathematics at Cambridge University Stephen W. Hawking discusses theories on the origin of the universe in a talk in Berkeley, California, March 13, 2007. REUTERS/Kimberly White/File Photo     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Professor of mathematics at Cambridge University Stephen W. Hawking discusses theories on the origin of the universe in a talk in Berkeley, California, March 13, 2007.Kimberly White/Reuters

Stephen Hawking dies

In the end, the surprise was how long Stephen Hawking lived. Born in Oxford in 1942, the celebrated scientist and Cambridge University professor was a 21-year-old graduate student when he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The prognosis was a dismal one: The disease has a median survival time of two to four years. But his case proved the exception. He lived another 55 years, many of them confined to a wheelchair. When he gradually lost his ability to speak in the 1980s, he switched to an early version of a voice synthesizer, with a deadpan delivery that became his signature. The growing impediments did not stop him from becoming a towering figure in theoretical physics and the best-selling author of A Brief History of Time. Among his biggest contributions to science is the prediction that black holes give off energy, now called Hawking radiation, which causes them to evaporate at a rate that depends on their mass. But his impact transcended science. He was a cultural icon who exemplified the power of the human mind to reach beyond physical constraints. Ivan Semeniuk

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