These are the top stories:
The Liberals blocked opposition efforts to call forward Jody Wilson-Raybould in hearings
Liberal MPs used their voting majority on the justice committee to reject Tory and NDP attempts to include the former attorney-general as well as Justin Trudeau’s two top staffers as witnesses in hearings on the SNC-Lavalin controversy. Besides Wilson-Raybould, opposition parties wanted to call on principal secretary Gerald Butts and chief of staff Katie Telford to testify. (for subscribers)
Instead, the Liberals passed a motion to broaden the scope of the hearings beyond strictly examining accounts that Trudeau’s office put pressure on Wilson-Raybould to scrap criminal prosecution of SNC in favour of a settlement. The issue will now be just one piece of a broader study that will also examine the settlement option.
Tory and NDP MPs are accusing the Liberals of trying to shut down an inquiry into what happened. The Liberals pointed to the fact that the Ethics Commissioner is already conducting an investigation.
As this story continues to develop, subscribers can go here for a full primer and the latest details.
Here’s the view from our opinion section:
Lori Turnbull, director of the School of Public Administration at Dalhousie: “The Liberal Party campaigned on a message of open and accountable government, a feminist approach to policy and governance, a robust reconciliation agenda, and justice and fairness for everyone. Against this backdrop, the allegation that PMO staff pressed Wilson-Raybould … does not compute.”
Professors Joyce Green and Gina Starblanket: “We are troubled by the rollout of toxic politics and by the mistreatment of one of our own, an accomplished Indigenous woman who chose to contribute to mainstream politics.”
Konrad Yakabuski: “Since Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, a consistent pattern has emerged of a leader who is strangely detached from what goes on in his own government.” (for subscribers)
And here’s today’s editorial cartoon by Brian Gable:
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School boards are hiring teachers who can speak French only slightly better than their students
Demand for French immersion is rising – and school boards are lowering their standards in a bid to find enough teachers. A new federal report has found several boards in different parts of the country have been interviewing and hiring candidates without adequate skills to teach conversational French.
Enrolment in French immersion climbed 20 per cent between 2011-12 and 2015-16 at a time when the total student body remained the same. In some B.C. school districts, parents have lined up outside schools to get their kids a spot in the program. In Ontario, boards have put in place a lottery system to cope with demand.
Frank Stronach’s granddaughter has entered the family feud
Eighteen-year-old Selena Stronach has filed a lawsuit against her aunt Belinda as she seeks to maintain her luxury lifestyle. Her legal action comes as her mother and father – Frank’s son – are divorcing. (for subscribers)
A claim for support filed by her mother, Kathleen, focused on continuing with a lifestyle that includes a 15,000 square-foot home in Aurora, Ont., with five staff, two luxury cars, plus a pair of vacation homes. Selena also owns a ranch where she raises cattle that are shown in country fairs.
Frank, the founder of auto-parts giant Magna, is fighting his daughter Belinda in court over control of the family businesses. Belinda has accused Frank of “unsound business decisions” that have reduced the family’s net worth by $800-million.
A court has ordered Quebec to restore full public coverage of Remicade medication
The ruling is a victory for Janssen, the maker of the expensive infused medication that treats arthritis and Crohn’s disease. But it’s a blow to the Quebec government’s efforts to steer patients toward cheaper biosimilars, which are almost the equivalent of a generic drug.
Remicade is Canada’s top-selling drug by revenue, with $1.1-billion in sales in 2017. It’s also the first blockbuster biologic – complex drugs manufactured from living cells – to lose its patent protection in the country.
A Globe investigation previously revealed that Janssen has signed confidential Remicade pricing deals with insurers to protect its market share, in addition to paying doctors for each time the drug is infused in their offices. (for subscribers)
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort deliberately lied to investigators and a grand jury in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, a judge ruled. The decision could impact the length of his sentence, which will be decided next month. The judge said Manafort broke the terms of his plea agreement when he lied about his interactions with a man the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence.
A hearing is under way in Saskatchewan as provinces spar with Ottawa over the federal carbon tax. Saskatchewan’s lawyers argued that the tax gives Ottawa unfair power over energy regulation and violates Canada’s founding principles. This won’t be the end of a largely conservative fight against the tax: Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government has also filed a legal challenge to the tax; that hearing is set for April. (for subscribers)
A group says Ontario Minister Lisa MacLeod told them it would be “four long years” for them if they didn’t publicly support changes to the province’s autism program. The Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis says MacLeod told them she would release a communication that they are “self-interested” if they didn’t back the new program. The group has voiced concerns that Ontario’s changes will leave many children without the level of therapy they need.
In addition to Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, the RCMP has now charged a second person with breach of trust over the alleged leak of confidential information related to the 2015 government purchase of a vessel from the Davie shipyard in Quebec. Norman’s legal team had recently questioned why Matthew Matchett wasn’t charged despite allegations he leaked classified documents. (for subscribers)
NASA’s miracle Mars rover was pronounced dead yesterday. While Opportunity was built to operate for only three months, it lasted 15 years, gathering critical evidence that ancient Mars might have been hospitable to life.
Optimism about U.S.-China trade talks and bumper earnings lifted European shares to a three-month high on Thursday, though news that Germany only dodged recession by the narrowest of margins left the euro feeling unloved. Tokyo’s Nikkei and the Shanghai Composite each closed marginally lower, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.2 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.2 and 0.6 per cent by about 7 a.m. ET. New York futures were also up. The Canadian dollar was below 75.5 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
The utter symbolic failure of Bruce McArthur’s light sentence
“The reaction in the LGBTQ community to the sentence handed down to serial killer Bruce McArthur – life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murder of eight men – was immediate, full of outrage and, yes, predictable. Which is one reason it hurts so much more. We could have predicted that he would get the least, and maybe we should have braced ourselves. The case was proof that again, nobody listened to us – this time in court, and before that on the streets when the community told the police that a serial killer was out there in the first place.” – R.M. Vaughan, Canadian writer and video artist based in Toronto
With proposed reform, Quebec swipes left on immigration
“The thing about blowing dog whistles during election campaigns is that people keep hearing them after the votes have been counted. That’s why Quebec Premier François Legault’s plan to reform immigration in his province is so troubling. Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec government tabled legislation last week that will increase the province’s ability to decide who gets to immigrate to Quebec and who doesn’t.” – Globe editorial
Baseball has a charisma problem, and Canada is a problem area
“This free-agent class has become a scene from Gone With the Wind – bodies strewn all the way to the horizon. Everybody’s going young (i.e. cheap) or value-oriented (i.e. cheap). This raises a philosophical question. However skilled, can you be called a sports star if no one will pay you to play sports? Baseball has your answer – no.” – Cathal Kelly
Valentine’s Day reads
In this First Person piece, Holly Clark writes about her first love: “Once in a while, you’ll hear the rare tale where first love became the last, and I tip my hat to these lucky warriors. But I’ve come to believe that the very nature of first loves is that they have to die: the shell you must shed to become the real you.”
Wendy Reichental explores her obsession with The Bachelor: “This TV show with its now familiar cheesy line, ‘Do you accept this rose?’ reminds me how much we all just want to be loved.”
Is the golden age of online dating over? Multiple studies show most millennials hate hookup culture and online dating – which have become synonymous. Gayle MacDonald delves into the issue.
And Corey Mintz says you should give up on trying to cook the perfect Valentine’s meal: “It’s hard to believe, with your ego on the line, but when you cook for someone you love, it really is the effort that counts. The meal can be terrible. The point is that you made it for them, because you care.” (for subscribers)
MOMENT IN TIME
The St. Valentine’s Day massacre
Feb. 14, 1929: Some people send candy or flowers for Valentine’s Day. Chicago mobster Al Capone (allegedly) sent two shotguns and two Thompson submachine guns. Chicago was a tough city in 1929, in which ruthless criminal mobs ran the bootleg liquor business. And when George (Bugs) Moran started to muscle in on Capone’s action, the fight was on. On Valentine’s morning 90 years ago, Capone (allegedly) sent an assassination squad to teach Moran and his gang a lesson. Two men dressed as policemen and two in suits and overcoats burst in on a meeting of Moran’s mob in a North Side warehouse. The men were lined up against a wall, the phony cops pulled out shotguns and the well-dressed men pulled out the machine guns. They unloaded. Six men were killed instantly. One, with 14 gunshot wounds, died three hours later refusing to rat out his killers, saying he hadn’t even been shot. But Moran, the original target, wasn’t at the warehouse and therefore survived. And Capone, who (allegedly) organized the hit as retaliation for Moran’s incursion into his turf, was in Miami. The gangland massacre shocked Chicago, but no one was ever charged in the incident. The case remains unsolved. – Philip King