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Most of the information in documents on the firing of two scientists from Canada’s top infectious disease laboratory – researchers who worked with China ­­– was redacted to shield the Public Health Agency of Canada from embarrassment rather than to protect national security, a special committee of MPs tasked with evaluating censored records said yesterday.

The committee is recommending the majority of the documents be made public, according to a Feb. 19 letter, obtained by The Globe and Mail, that was sent to House leaders of the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Québécois. A source with direct knowledge of the material said the information when uncovered would show that scientists Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, provided confidential scientific information to China.

The government said it could not release documents about their dismissal for national-security reasons, which led to opposition parties voting to find the Liberals in contempt of Parliament over the refusal.

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The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba on June 17, 2021.Shannon VanRaes/The Globe and Mail

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New Brunswick unaware health network signed more private nursing deals, official says

New Brunswick’s francophone medical authority acted without the knowledge of the province’s health department when it signed two large contracts with a private nursing agency, the province’s lawmakers heard yesterday.

Vitalité Health Network signed the two agreements in late 2022 with a Toronto company called Canadian Health Labs (CHL). The deals, together worth up to $138-million, were finalized without informing the department. The health ministry had been involved in an initial contract with the same company for a maximum of $20-million in July, 2022.

A Globe and Mail investigation into the growth of nursing agencies in the public health care system focused on CHL’s contracts in New Brunswick and Newfoundland, which were signed at a time when provincial governments across Canada were dramatically increasing their reliance on such for-profit services to deal with acute staffing shortages during the pandemic.

How the Kremlin weaponized Russian history – and has used it to justify the war in Ukraine

During his interview with Vladimir Putin earlier this month, Tucker Carlson asked the Russian President about his reasons for invading Ukraine. Putin gave him a lecture on Russian history. Those familiar with Putin were not surprised in the least. In Russia, history has long been a propaganda tool used to advance the Kremlin’s political goals.

In an effort to rally people around their world view, Russian authorities have tried to magnify the country’s past victories while glossing over the more sordid chapters of its history. They have rewritten textbooks, funded sprawling historical exhibitions and suppressed – sometimes harshly – voices that contradict their narrative.

The Russian President has said that there should be one “fundamental state narrative” instead of different textbooks that contradict each other. And he has called for a “universal” history textbook that would convey that narrative. But that idea, criticized heavily by historians, didn’t gain much traction for quite a while – until Russia invaded Ukraine.

To mark the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Globe senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon will discuss the war. Submit your questions now.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

Also on our radar

Officials could seek repayment from ArriveCan contractors: Internal investigators at Public Works and Government Services are reviewing contracting concerns related to ArriveCan and department officials told MPs yesterday they are prepared to seek repayment from private contractors if they’ve overbilled.

U.S. stresses need to consider Israel’s security: The United States said yesterday the World Court should not order the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Palestinian territories because “any movement … requires consideration for Israel’s very real security needs.” The International Court of Justice was not asked to issue an opinion about the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories, but many states have called on Israel to do so.

B.C. taxpayers at risk to cover mining cleanup costs: An investigation by The Globe and Mail and Narwhal has found that the true cost of cleaning up mine pollution in B.C. is growing, and taxpayers in the province could be on the hook to pay for it. The joint investigation discovered that B.C. was short $753-million of the estimated cleanup cost in its last financial year and some major companies have not yet paid for future reclamation costs. Without enough funds set aside for cleanup, B.C. taxpayers will continue to be at risk.

Alberta discriminates against U.S. energy imports, company says: The energy company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is accusing Alberta’s grid operator of limiting electricity imports from Montana, which it says jeopardizes renewable power investment in the state and could cost Alberta consumers billions of dollars.

How Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition party was decimated: When an obscure Zimbabwean politician announced a takeover of the country’s biggest opposition party last October, its members realized that their party was in deep trouble. Four months later, the Zimbabwean opposition is fragmented and leaderless, and the ruling party is continuing its 44 years of domination in the country.

Lunar lander with Canadian hardware aims to make history: Odysseus will attempt to become the first commercial mission to land successfully on the moon today, and the lunar lander is equipped with a number of Canadian-made components. While Canadensys Aerospace Corporation of Bolton, Ont., has an established track record in space, Odysseus represents its largest involvement to date in the race to commercialize lunar exploration.

Morning markets

Nvidia buoys world stocks: Stock market bulls were on the charge on Thursday as a blockbuster forecast from global chip favourite Nvidia set off a wave of record highs on global indexes, including the first for Japan’s Nikkei since 1989. Around 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.05 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 gained 1.04 per cent and 0.62 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei rose 2.19 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.45 per cent. New York futures were positive. The Canadian dollar was higher at 74.33 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

John Ibbitson: “Most Canadians may not appreciate the hard choices that lie ahead as Canada prepares to meet its NATO commitment of devoting 2 per cent of this country’s gross domestic product to defence. Politicians are shielding voters from that harsh reality. They won’t be able to shield them much longer.”

Rob Kreklewetz: “For a long time, domestic NHL teams have been at a disadvantage to their U.S.-based counterparts, who have been able to better attract players because they are in lower-tax jurisdictions. And this is a disadvantage that all industries face. It is a disadvantage that follows directly from Canada’s current income tax system, and one of a number of really disastrous hidden consequences that all Canadians need to wake up to. First this is an income tax system that is driving many of Canada’s current problems.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Editorial cartoon by David Parkins, Feb. 22, 2024.Illustration by David Parkins

Living better

Air fryers have become a kitchen must-have

Home cooks find air fryers useful, and they’ve even inspired a new wave of cookbooks. The air fryer is this generation’s slow cooker: perfect when you need dinner fast, but more suited to individuals, couples or small families. Here’s what you need to know on which type of air fryer you should buy.

Moment in time: Feb. 22, 1881

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Cleopatra's Needle, an ancient Egyptian monument, the obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose III, stands in New York's Central Park Dec. 2, 2013.STAN HONDA/Getty Images

Cleopatra’s Needle, a 3,500-year-old obelisk, is presented to the public in Central Park

For a massive rock, this thing sure gets around. Carved as one of a pair some 3,500 years ago to celebrate Thutmose III’s 30th year on the throne of Egypt, the 21-metre-high obelisk and its companion stood in front of the Temple of the Sun in ancient Heliopolis for hundreds of years – until Persian invaders toppled them in 525 BC. They remained buried for 500 more, until Roman emperor Caesar Augustus found them, transported them to Alexandria and erected them in front a temple built by Cleopatra. Eighteen centuries later, in a charm offensive, Egypt donated one to Britain and one to the United States. The latter reached Manhattan in 1880, where it took 39 days to move the 180-tonne stone, via a special railroad, to its current spot in Central Park. Along the way, New Yorkers with hammers and chisels, hoping to chip off a piece, had to be fended off with an around-the-clock security detail. After being placed upright, the obelisk – nicknamed Cleopatra’s Needle – was officially presented to the public on this day in 1881 in a ceremony at the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art. Massimo Commanducci

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