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Canada’s inflation rate fell far enough in January to place it within the Bank of Canada’s target range, surprising analysts and reigniting speculation about a potential interest-rate cut this spring.

The Consumer Price Index rose 2.9 per cent in January on an annual basis, down from 3.4 per cent in December, Statistics Canada said yesterday in a report. Financial analysts were expecting a slight easing to 3.3 per cent.

Investors ramped up their bets that the Bank of Canada will start to lower interest rates in the first half of the year. Any cut would be the first since the central bank began hiking its key interest rate nearly two years ago, as part of its strategy to cool the economy and slow price growth.

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A shopper browses in an aisle at a grocery store In Toronto on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024.Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

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Suspended public servants ask court to block internal border agency probe

Two suspended senior public servants have asked a judge to shut down an investigation into contract misconduct allegations at the Canada Border Services Agency, saying the probe is unfair and biased.

Cameron MacDonald and Antonio Utano filed the notice of application for judicial review in Federal Court on Friday, days after the Auditor-General delivered a report on federal outsourcing at the CBSA that outlined problems in basic management and contracting practices.

The pair had worked together at the CBSA on the development of the ArriveCan app, which has also been investigated by the Procurement Ombudsman and two parliamentary committees. The initial $80,000 cost to build the first version of the app ballooned to about $59.5-million because of numerous amendments and extensive outsourcing costs.

An Odesa cathedral’s wounds slowly heal as Ukrainians endure Russia’s war on their culture

As Rev. Myrsoslav Vdodovych held the large Bible, the pages unfurled, exposing a ragged tear in each of them, evidently made by a single piece of shrapnel. The book was found in the ruins of an enormous hole next to the altar in Odesa’s Transfiguration Cathedral, which was hit by a Russian missile seven months ago.

The attack on the cathedral in the early morning of July 23 shocked the people of Odesa. It told them that no building in Ukraine, not even a church with civilians inside, was immune to Russian attack.

But the people of Odesa are hopeful. The church is now being rebuilt even if the people are well aware it could be hit again as the war enters its third year. They know that their city, equipped with a strategically important deep-water port on the Black Sea, is a high-priority target for Russian missiles and drones.

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Restoration work in the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa is the Orthodox Cathedral in Odesa, Ukraine.Olga Ivashchenko/The Globe and Mail

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Also on our radar

The latest developments in the Israel-Hamas war: Israeli strikes across Gaza killed at least 67 Palestinians overnight and into Wednesday, including in areas where civilians have been told to seek refuge.

Ottawa pledges $2-billion for new B.C. housing effort: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced yesterday that the federal government will help boost British Columbia’s pioneering rental-housing construction program with $2-billion in low-cost loans for builders, doubling the amount of construction-loan money the province had previously committed.

Toronto bus stop shootings random, police say: Two shootings in Toronto at the same location only a day apart were random, Toronto police said yesterday. The shootings left a father of four dead and a teenager seriously injured. Investigators believe the same suspect is connected to both shootings and that neither of the victims were known to him.

Canada must tell NATO when it will raise spending, secretary-general says: Canada must let NATO know when it will fulfill a pledge to the military alliance to raise defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP, secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday. Canada has not spent 2 per cent on the military since the late 1980s. In the summer of 2023, NATO released estimates saying Canada was only spending 1.38 per cent of GDP on defence.

Ottawa ends digital-upgrade program for businesses early: The federal government is cancelling the Canada Digital Adoption Program, a $4-billion program to help small businesses upgrade their digital technology, even though most of the funding was left unspent.

Woman has to repay $14,000 in pandemic benefits: An Ontario woman on social assistance for disability owes $14,000 to the federal government after being told that provincial guidelines required her to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for which she turned out to be ineligible.

Morning markets

Markets await Nvidia results, Fed minutes: Global shares eased on Wednesday ahead of earnings from Nvidia, which many are hoping will help justify the hype around 2024′s AI-driven rally, and ahead of minutes of the Federal Reserve’s January meeting. Around 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.86 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.36 per cent and 0.31 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.26 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.57 per cent. New York futures were lower. The Canadian dollar was little changed at 73.94 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Mairav Zonszein: “But even if we assume that Hamas’s military force can be largely neutralized once Israel completes its assault on Rafah, even if Hamas eventually cedes power of the Strip, what then? No one in Israel’s halls of power has an answer to that question, except for the far-right in Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition, which insists Gaza should be depopulated and Israeli settlements rebuilt.”

Don Drummond: “History proves that budget planning should not be based on the assumption everything will turn out favourably. Climate change and public-health threats and the uncertainties of our contemporary world suggest that, if anything, we should be preparing for more shocks in future. Young Canadians cannot be left to deal with and pay the costs of today’s errors. Correction of those errors must begin now.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Editorial cartoon by David Parkins, Feb. 21, 2024.Illustration by David Parkins

Living better

Here’s what you should do with $1,000, $10,000 or a million dollars

How would landing a bit of unexpected cash change our lives? Could a million dollars buy an early retirement and the car you always wanted? Could $10,000 allow you to buy a house now instead of a year down the road? Should you put $100 in a savings account or toward a fancy dinner? Clay Gillespie, managing director of RGF Integrated Wealth Management, says money like this should be used to accelerate your life goals, rather than expand your life in an unsustainable way.

Moment in time: Feb. 21, 1952

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Bangladeshi youth decorate the monument for Bangladesh's Language Movement martyrs with flowers in Dhaka on Feb. 21, 2009, to pay homage to the martyrs of the 1952 Bengali Language Movement.AFP/Getty Images

The Bengali Language Movement protests

The 1947 partition of India created the state of Pakistan, consisting of a western wing and an eastern wing, with India separating the two by more than 2,000 kilometres. Urdu was declared the official language of Pakistan despite the fact that more than half the country’s population, around 40 million people in East Pakistan, spoke Bengali. Those in the East faced both linguistic and cultural prejudice that gave rise to the Bengali Language Movement, a grassroots effort to fight for the right to have their language officially recognized. Protests on Feb. 21 and Feb 22, 1952, resulted in violence in Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan – now known as Bangladesh. The New York Times reported at least 29 people were killed. Less than two decades later, the war of 1971 led to Bangladesh declaring independence from Pakistan, after Pakistani soldiers launched a deadly campaign against the Bengali population that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Bengalis, and many more displaced. In 1999, at the urging of Bangladesh, UNESCO declared Feb. 21 International Mother Language Day to “promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.” Maryam Shah

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