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Good morning, The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe is on the ground reporting on two Canadians detained in China.

But the secret trials for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor will be conducted without any foreign observers, Chinese authorities have told the Canadian government, refusing to allow diplomats to attend court proceedings after barring visits to the men for more than six weeks.

And 830 days after state security agents seized the them, China has yet to disclose any evidence against the men.

On Friday, the trial scheduled for Spavor was conducted behind closed doors in two hours, a judicial hearing on charges punishable by life in prison that was completed by lunch time. It concluded without the issuance of a verdict or sentencing, which in the Chinese system can be delayed for years.

Ahead of the trial in the north-eastern city of Dandong, police surrounded the Dandong Intermediate People’s Court with caution tape, pushing back journalists and Canadian diplomats as several police vehicles entered, one with sirens on. A court hearing is scheduled Monday for Kovrig. It is common for court hearings in China to last a single day.

Jim Nickel, Charge d'affaires of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, speaks to foreign diplomats outside the Intermediate People's Court where Michael Spavor, a Canadian detained by China in December 2018 on suspicion of espionage, is expected to stand trial, in Dandong, Liaoning province, China March 19, 2021.CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS/Reuters

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Sajjan wrong on probe: Former military watchdog

In an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail, Gary Walbourne said he disagrees with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s assertion that the former military ombudsman could have taken stronger action when he was presented with an informal complaint of alleged sexual misconduct against now retired chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance in 2018.

On Friday, Sajjan told a House of Commons committee that he did all he could and it is the job of the ombudsman to conduct investigations.

Walbourne also warned the Prime Minister against setting up an independent military watchdog agency that reports directly to the Defence Minister rather than Parliament.

Canadian Forces ombudsman Gary Walbourne appears at a Senate veterans affairs committee in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Tories say they are financially ready for an election

Federal Conservatives say they are cash rich and ready to take on the Liberals in an election, but a senior party official warned that money alone won’t be enough to secure government.

Party president Scott Lamb told a virtual policy convention on Thursday the Conservatives paid off their 2019 election loan last summer, allowing donations to be banked for a campaign fund.

Party Leader Erin O’Toole is facing challenges uniting the Conservatives and making a case to Canadians to support them.

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Member of Canada’s military police charged for allegedly distributing racist images: News of the pictures emerged in a message to Canadian military personnel last June from then-chief of the defence staff General Jonathan Vance and his civilian counterpart at National Defence, deputy minister Jody Thomas.

U.S. prepares to lend Canada 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: The news that AstraZeneca shots will soon be flowing across the Canada-U.S. border came on the same day British and European medical regulators announced they have found no evidence of a connection between blood clots and the vaccine.

Report from B.C. First Nation on COVID-19 pandemic response critical of lack of support: During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Tŝilhqot’in Nation has found it extremely difficult to keep residents of its six communities in central B.C. isolated and restrict non-essential travel into their territory, largely because the province failed to help with enforcement, Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse says.

As Atlantic Canada prepares to reopen bubble, questions remain about domestic travel: Health Canada says it’s up to each province and territory to set their own rules for entry.


Global markets slide: Global stock markets followed Wall Street lower on Friday after rising U.S. bond yields dampened buying enthusiasm driven by the Federal Reserve’s promise of low interest rates. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.58 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.28 per cent and 0.61 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 1.41 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.4 per cent. New York futures edged higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 80.15 US cents.


The most dangerous place for women is behind closed doors

Elizabeth Renzetti: “But laws are only as good as the people who enforce and try them. A much broader societal reckoning is required before anything changes. That means teaching boys and men that women are not their property, whether it’s on the street, in the office, or at home.”

It’s time to put consumers first. How about we start with the Rogers-Shaw deal?

Andrew Coyne: “What would policy look like if the interests of consumers mattered a whit? Competition – full, free and open – would be the default mode of public policy, not some unimaginable last resort.”

If sex workers are as ‘vulnerable’ as the law suggests, where’s their pandemic support?

Bronwyn McBride and Jennie Pearson: “COVID-19 has further revealed the fact that sex workers aren’t more vulnerable because of the nature of their work: rather, they’re made vulnerable because of criminalization, structural exclusion and the lack of income support that all workers need during the pandemic to protect their own health and that of the public.”


Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


Hidden Bench tasting kitsHandout

Canadian wineries are finding ways to bring tastings to their consumers

Most wineries have got creative with tasting opportunities out of necessity, offering social hours and other online experiences to stimulate sales. Some artisan wineries in Ontario see tasting kits that offer smaller samples as low-risk opportunity to showcase their wines.

For example, in Penticton, B.C., Little Engine Winery ordinarily enjoys steady tourism traffic to its tasting room during the spring and summer. Their kits were first offered to wine-club members, then social-media followers, and finally as a Christmas offering to the public. Response across the board has been positive.

MOMENT IN TIME: March 19, 1992

Prince Andrew, The Duke of York , and Sarah, The Duchess of York visit Townsville, during their tour of Australia in 1988, on October 5,1988, in Townsville, Australia. (Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images

Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York announce separation

It was the beginning of the Queen’s annus horribilis, but not the end. On this day in 1992, Buckingham Palace announced the separation of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson nearly six years after they were married at Westminster Abbey. At first, the woman who was known in headlines as “Fergie” and “the flame-haired commoner” was considered a breath of fresh air. By 1992, though, she was being punished for a “jet-set lifestyle” and for her friendship with a Texan oil heir. The Duchess of York’s unhappiness became apparent when the Sunday Times revealed that she had said, “I just wanted to get away. To get away from ‘The System’ and people saying no you can’t, no you can’t, no you can’t.” Although the BBC’s royal correspondent believed that “the knives are out for Fergie at the palace,” their 1996 divorce proved to be amicable. The former spouses continued to live in the same residence, and Ferguson defended Prince Andrew when he was accused of sleeping with a woman who claimed to have been trafficked by his friend, the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The Queen’s horrible year continued with the separation of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, and a fire at Windsor Castle. Elizabeth Renzetti

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