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Canada Morning Update: CEO of major pot firm to step down; Huawei Canada says it wouldn’t spy for China

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Vic Neufeld will step down as CEO of Aphria, one of the largest Canadian cannabis producers

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Sources say Neufeld (seen above) will leave when the Ontario company finds a replacement for the post he has held since 2014 (for subscribers). Aphria is expected to make the announcement today, when it releases quarterly results amid a slumping stock price and questions about its deal-making.

The move comes weeks after short-sellers released a report suggesting assets Aphria acquired in a nearly $300-million deal are worth a fraction of that amount. Aphria has disputed the report.

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Canadians were among the targets of a thwarted terror plot in Israel last year

Muhammad Jamal Rashdeh was planning to target senior Canadian officials who were in Jerusalem last year training Palestinian Authority forces in the West Bank, according to Israel’s internal security service. He was also planning to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and attack buildings belonging to the U.S. consulate, the agency said.

Rashdeh, a resident of a Palestinian refugee camp in eastern Jerusalem, is said to have received orders from a Syria-based terrorist group. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Canadian Armed Forces members and RCMP officers are based in the West Bank as a part of Canadian operations in the region, though neither force confirmed that Canadians were targeted.

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Huawei Canada says it would never spy for China

The CEO of the telecom firm’s Canadian operations says it cannot and would not allow the Chinese government to access the wireless networks its technology supports. “Simply put, we comply only with Canadian laws,” Eric Li said. (for subscribers)

Huawei is facing mounting pressure as multiple countries including the U.S. bar it from supplying 5G equipment over national-security concerns. Concern has also been raised over a Chinese law that says companies there “must support, co-operate with and collaborate in national-intelligence work” as requested by Beijing.

Pipelines: Coastal GasLink, Trans Mountain and the protests

Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in northern B.C. have reached a deal with the RCMP to comply with an interim court injunction that lasts until May 31 (for subscribers). They will give access to pipeline workers with TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink, though a metal gate will remain at the bridge. Hereditary chiefs remain “adamantly opposed” to the project and it’s unclear what legal steps Coastal GasLink might take to extend access across the blockade to get to the pipeline route 1.1 kilometres away from the bridge.

Trans Mountain, another controversial B.C. pipeline project, is back in the news as the National Energy Board issued a set of draft recommendations. The NEB is urging Ottawa to toughen marine monitoring and protection standards, including potential limits on the whale-watching industry, if the cabinet decides this spring to proceed with the expansion. A final report is due next month.

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And in Alberta, Premier Rachel Notley is urging the pro-pipeline movement to not let protests “be taken over by people with more extreme views.” (for subscribers) Some of the people holding rallies and staging conveys identify as part of the “yellow vest” movement that started in France. The Canadian protesters oppose the federal carbon tax and increased immigration, and denounce Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Donald Trump is threatening to declare a national emergency to fund a border wall

The U.S. President raised the possibility while visiting the Texas border with Mexico as he tries to put pressure on Democrats on a deal to end the government shutdown. The Washington Post and others are reporting that the White House is laying the groundwork for an emergency measure, a move that would likely prompt an immediate legal challenge.

Here’s David Shribman’s take: “By declaring a national emergency to use Pentagon funds to begin construction of a wall along the U.S. southern border, Trump would both redeem a campaign promise and widen the partisan and ideological divide in Washington. By extending his presidential powers and courting a constitutional crisis, he would take political warfare to a new, dangerous level.”

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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The AGO is taking the rare step of selling 20 paintings by a famed Group of Seven artist

The A.Y. Jackson works are being sold to make room for more works by underrepresented artists (for subscribers). The Art Gallery of Ontario is giving other Canadian galleries the first right to buy the paintings at a “preferential rate,” before possibly taking them to public auction. The proceeds would go toward works for the Indigenous and Canadian art collection, but specific purchases have not been confirmed.

MORNING MARKETS

Markets mixed

Soothing sounds from the world’s top central banks helped stocks maintain their strong start to the year on Friday, while another leap from China’s yuan capped its best week since being cut loose from the U.S. dollar in 2005. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.6 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 0.7 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.2 per cent by about 6:35 a.m. ET, with Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 each down about 0.2 per cent. New York futures were down. The Canadian dollar was just below 76 US cents. Oil prices rose 1 per cent, on track for solid weekly gains.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

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The politics of border-crossing bogeymen are unwise – and dangerous

“There’s a trick, long known to certain politicians, to get an electoral boost when you’re down in the polls: You declare that dangerous people are about to come across the border, and you latch onto a conspiracy theory claiming that the other political party, or some dark forces associated with them, are responsible. It can be an effective tactic. Immigration is often a popular election issue, especially when it’s mixed with atavistic fears of mysterious predators entering your territory. It is also a profoundly dangerous tactic.” – Doug Saunders

Indigenous groups are the world’s endangered environmental guardians

“Brazil’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro – known for his misogynistic, racist, homophobic and anti-environmental comments – has raised questions about the future of the world’s fourth-largest democracy with his support for torture and his unapologetic nostalgia for the country’s 1964-85 military dictatorship. But no part of Brazil’s diverse society has more to dread from Bolsonaro’s coming to power than the country’s already beleaguered Indigenous groups.” – Brahma Chellaney, geostrategist and author

You can’t say inclusive education doesn’t work. We haven’t even begun to try

“When it comes to inclusive education, we slap a sticker on a mainstream classroom that says, ‘Open to all!’ and assume the job is done. If your kid can’t make it work, that’s their problem and your problem, not our problem. Education is not a privilege. It is a human right. That means no child has more of a right to walk into a classroom than any other child. We all know that is not how the system currently works.” – Allison Garber, who is on the board of directors of Autism Nova Scotia

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LIVING BETTER

What’s happening with the Oscars, plus new films to check out (for subscribers)

Rumours are swirling that this year’s Academy Awards will go hostless for the first time since 1989 after Kevin Hart’s exit over a series of homophobic tweets from 2010 and 2011. Here’s Barry Hertz’s view on the situation: “If the 91st Academy Awards do indeed go hostless this year, it will be a successful move – in that it will give critics just one less piece of ammunition to assail an organization already riddled with self-inflicted wounds.” (for subscribers)

The Upside, starring Hart, is out this weekend and Kate Taylor says the comic drama warily attempts to cash in on a European success story. (2.5 stars)

Destroyer, meanwhile, is a tightly wound and tense thriller starring an unrecognizable Nicole Kidman, Taylor writes. (3 stars)

MOMENT IN TIME

Ford announces shutdown of Oakville truck assembly plant

(J.P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail)

J.P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail

Jan. 11, 2002: It is by now a familiar scene in the Canadian industrial heartland: A foreign-owned company closes a factory and shifts production to a place with lower costs and wages, leaving workers to face a financially iffy future. Buyers’ tastes change and sales are down, the company executive says, so we’re making less of this and more of that. Just not here. H.J. Heinz in 2013; Caterpillar Inc. in 2012; General Motors in 2001 and 2018. Every shutdown is different; every shutdown is the same. On this day in 2002, it was Ford Motor Co. delivering the bad news to 1,600 autoworkers at its truck plant in Oakville, Ont. The end of the factory that made F-150 pickups was part of a global shake-up at the Detroit-based automaker that would eliminate 35,000 jobs. Ford was losing money, and its path to profit lay in slashing production capacity by one million vehicles and making fewer cars at fewer plants. The Ford announcement came just months after GM said it would end production at its Camaro/Firebird factory in Ste-Thérèse, Que., and would become just one of many mass layoffs in the shrinking manufacturing sector. – Eric Atkins

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If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

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