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Day 1 of cannabis legalization saw celebrations, strong demand – and shortages

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Websites and stores sold out of many brands and strains in a matter of hours, and long lines plagued many of the retail shops. By noon, only one product made by industry giant Canopy Growth was still for sale on Ontario’s government site. Despite the hiccups, there were festivities across the country to mark Canada becoming just the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to allow the sale and use of recreational marijuana. At the University of British Columbia, scores of students smoking marijuana filled a hill beside the student centre. And in Calgary, a party-like atmosphere was seen outside of two stores.

Despite the excitement, opposition and skepticism about legalization remain. As Ian Brown writes, “the stigma that survives will determine whether cannabis becomes an accepted habit of mainstream life for anyone but the people who already use it.”

It was mostly business as usual for unlicensed dispensaries in places like Toronto and Vancouver. But those shops continue to get their supply from unlicensed processors and growers, a sign that the illicit market isn’t about to dissipate any time soon. Two dozen Vancouver dispensaries fighting a city order to shut them down are hoping a court ruling will come soon that would allow them to continue selling to medical marijuana patients. (for subscribers)

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How – and why – Turkey is keeping international attention on the Khashoggi case

A pro-government Turkish newspaper is reporting that a man who previously travelled with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage to the United States entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul just before journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished there. The Sabah report came as Turkish crime-scene investigators finished an overnight search of both the consul general’s residence and a second search of the consulate itself

A leak by Turkish officials alleges Khashoggi was tortured during an interrogation, according to details from audio recordings. The steady stream of leaks to government-friendly media has made it impossible to sweep the Khashoggi case under the rug. “I think the Turks are bargaining with the Saudis and the Americans. As they see their demands not being met, they are leaking more stuff,” said Suat Kiniklioglu, a former Turkish parliamentarian. Turkey is in an economic crisis and may be seeking economic compensation from the Saudis, Kiniklioglu said. For his part, U.S. President Donald Trump said yesterday that he wants to preserve the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

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The Washington Post published the last column it received from Khashoggi, who began contributing to the paper’s opinion section a year ago. In the piece, Khashoggi warns that governments in the Middle East “have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.” The Post held off on publishing it with the hope he would return. But in a note appended to the column, editor Karen Attiah wrote: “Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen.”

Vancouver election: The latest twist in the civic vote, and the differing housing plans

Mayoral candidate Hector Bremner has been cleared of the conflict-of-interest allegations that forced him to leave the Non-Partisan Association and start his own party. Bremner’s move to start his own party, which has similar ideological leanings to the centre-right NPA, contributed to the confusion of a long and competing list of candidates on this year’s ballots. There are nine parties in Vancouver’s election, including several new ones, and two of the mayoral front-runners are independents.

All of the leading mayoral candidates are pushing for increased density to address the housing crisis, though their approaches differ sharply. Independent Kennedy Stewart, who was leading in a recent poll, has the most aggressive plan, which includes a promise of 8,500 homes built a year. NPA candidate Ken Sim’s platform is the most cautious, with his main proposal being allowing people to build two basement suites instead of one. “I don’t believe we have to massively densify,” Sim said.

Getting ready to vote? Go here for a primer on the Vancouver election.

The first-ever Ebola outbreak in an active war zone has created extraordinary challenges

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The worst Ebola outbreak since the 2014-2016 crisis has caused 142 confirmed or suspected deaths so far, and the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo isn’t making things easier. When one confirmed Ebola victim fled into Mai Mai guerrilla territory, long negotiations were needed before health workers could enter their region to do vaccinations. The danger of violence has also made it difficult for workers to trace the contacts of those who were infected. One glimmer of hope is a new Canadian-developed vaccine, which has been administered to more than 18,000 people and appears to be working, according to the World Health Organization.

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A push is under way to remove Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook chairman

Four major U.S. public funds with shares in the social-media giant proposed removing the company founder and CEO from his chair position. The proposal is aimed at installing an independent board chair to improve oversight, a common practice at other companies. But it’s unlikely the move will get past the discussion phase at Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting: A similar proposal in 2017 was defeated because Zuckerberg’s majority control makes outsider resolutions effectively symbolic. One key factor will be whether the public funds can earn strong support from outside investors, something that wasn’t achieved in 2017.

Serial rapist and killer Paul Bernardo was denied parole

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Bernardo, who has served 25 years of his life sentence, told the parole board he no longer poses a threat to the public. “What I did was so dreadful. I hurt a lot of people. I cry all the time,” he said. He also insisted that he hasn’t been violent since his arrest and wouldn’t reoffend, saying, “Everybody is scared but there is no reason to be scared.” But the panel rejected Bernardo for both day and full parole; he can make another bid for release in two years.


Stocks mixed

The U.S. dollar rose to a one-week high on Thursday and stocks edged lower after signs that the Federal Reserve will keep raising interest rates through 2019 undermined a bounce in world markets. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.8 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped slightly, and the Shanghai Composite tumbled 2.9 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.2 and 0.5 per cent by about 6:15 a.m. ET. New York futures were down.


With recreational cannabis now legal, here’s a glimpse at a different form of opinion piece: Tongue-in-cheek illustrations on the unforeseen consequences, by Graham Roumieu:

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“A person I could have a beer with” is no longer an adequate measure of how down-to-earth your candidate is. Populist politicians start sharing bong hits with supporters. Campaign speeches start to ramble.

The availability of edibles on domestic flights increases deboarding times by 420%.

“Heheheh ... Weed!,” a deeply emotional and nuanced one-man play about a pot dealer in the days leading up to legalization, crystallizes writer-director-performer Seth Rogen’s reputation as the greatest artistic voice of his generation.


Books to read: Tales about Russia from Jean Chrétien – and an anonymous author

Jean Chrétien was on a river cruise in Siberia, and his hosts were trying to drink him under the table. It was a year after Canada beat the Soviets in that 1972 hockey series, and the vodka-drinking was competitive. That’s the start of just one story from My Stories, My Times, the 84-year-old former prime minister’s collection of anecdotes and reflections.

And then there’s a different set of stories, in The Kingfisher Secret: As Simon Houpt writes: “At The Globe and Mail, we’re not supposed to publish anything we haven’t been able to verify. But right now, there’s a guy on the other end of the line who won’t tell me his name, and he’s got this story about Ivana Trump being a Russian spy which is sounding increasingly plausible.”


Festival of Festivals debuts

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From left: Stephen Young, Celine Lomez, Donald Sutherland, and Daryl Duke attend the Festival of Festivals in September, 1977. (Barrie Davis/The Globe and Mail)

Barrie Davis/The Globe and Mail

Oct, 18, 1976: Last month, the Toronto International Film Festival drowned the city in Lady Gaga-levels of celebrity and more than 250 films for 11 days. But the festival’s first edition was a far more modest affair. Originally called the Festival of Festivals, the event was a seven-day celebration of international cinema, with 80 movies plucked from Cannes and Berlin. The brainchild of Toronto’s Dusty Cohl, Bill Marshall and Henk Van der Kolk, the inaugural edition opened with French director Jean-Charles Tacchella’s warmly received comedy Cousin, cousine, and boasted one genuine celebrity: Jeanne Moreau, who screened her directorial debut, Lumiere. (More high-wattage stars arrived the following year, including Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland, pictured.) Passes were $6, the media was largely dismissive (The Globe and Mail’s Robert Martin wrote that organizers didn’t appear to know “just what sort of festival they want to put on”), and venues included the Uptown Backstage and The New Yorker (both are now gone). “It was a very duct-taped situation,” Marshall would recall years later, before his death in 2017. “But we were partying as hard as we could into the small hours of the morning. We brought out the rock-and-roll side of Toronto.” – Barry Hertz

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