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Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Two weeks before his firing, McCallum said the U.S. didn’t have strong case to extradite Meng

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On Jan. 11, prior to public comments that led to his dismissal as ambassador to China, John McCallum told Canadian business executives in Toronto that the U.S. legal case against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was weak, sources say (for subscribers). He also expressed hope that Washington would withdraw its extradition request as part of a trade deal with China.

Opposition critics and a former diplomat say this suggests McCallum hadn’t gone off script from official policy, as the Trudeau government said. Instead, they believe McCallum was communicating a consistent message that must have been approved at some level.

This is the daily Morning Update newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for Morning Update and more than 20 more Globe newsletters on our newsletter signup page.

Bankrupt companies can’t avoid oil-well cleanups, the Supreme Court has ruled

Environmental responsibilities trump payment to creditors, the top court said in a decision that could threaten bank financing of smaller resource companies (for subscribers). Alberta’s rules requiring oil and gas firms to remediate the unused wells are in the public interest and don’t conflict with banks’ rights to collect on debt, the court said.

The judgement overturns lower-court rulings that effectively enabled a bankrupt company to discard unprofitable wells, forcing the wider industry to cover cleanup costs.

Our editorial board says that while the ruling is a victory in principle, “in practice, a bankrupt company may only be able to cover pennies on every dollar of its environmental liabilities. Even the Supreme Court can’t get blood from a stone.”

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Canada’s Western provinces currently have more than 120,000 inactive wells that pose an environmental and financial threat, a Globe investigation revealed (for subscribers).

CBC’s president is warning that Netflix poses a cultural threat to Canada

“I was thinking about the British Empire and how, if you were there and you were the viceroy of India, you would feel that you were doing only good for the people of India,” Catherine Tait said, before adding: “fast-forward to what happens after imperialism – and the damage that can do to local communities.” Tait said an onslaught of foreign-owned media services like Netflix could have a similar effect, and that Canada must be mindful about how it responds to global companies.

Netflix didn’t comment on her remarks, but the streaming giant has emphasized that it has committed hundreds of millions of dollars on production of Canadian content.

Others criticized Tait’s comments for being tone deaf to the subjugation of millions of Indians. And Jim Compton, founder of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, said: “There is no Indigenous [programming] strategy from these people who are complaining about others coming in."

The latest on Ontario’s health-care system and sex-ed curriculum

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Health Minister Christine Elliott won’t say if her PC government will expand the private delivery of health-care services. A draft of a government bill released by the NDP doesn’t explicitly use the term privatization, but Leader Andrea Horwath said it would open the door to privatizing health-care providers, including hospitals. Elliott said the PCs are committed to strengthening the public system.

Doug Ford’s government considered suspending sex-ed entirely from classrooms across the province, according to documents presented at a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario case. The PCs ultimately decided to scrap the 2015 curriculum, which the lawyers for an 11-year-old transgender girl have argued subjects their client to unequal treatment since “transgender” is not included in learning materials.

A manhunt is under way for the suspect in the Surrey SkyTrain shooting

The RCMP have identified the suspect as 35-year-old Daon Gordon Glasgow, who they say shot a Metro Vancouver Transit Police officer on a station platform. After initially dispatching 80 officers on Tuesday evening, Surrey police have reached out to law-enforcement partners for help. Groups of officers are patrolling neighbourhoods near Scott Road station, where a mobile command post has been established. This is the first time in the transit force’s history that an officer was shot on duty.

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


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A high risk of delays and cost overruns means the Liberal government likely overpaid for Trans Mountain, according to a report from Parliament’s spending watchdog. The Liberals spent $4.4-billion, while the report estimates the project’s value at between $3.6-billion and $4.6-billion.

A U.S. court found Syria liable for the death of reporter Marie Colvin. A judge ruled Syria’s military deliberately targeted the media centre where Colvin and other journalists were working in 2012. It hit the government with a US$302-million judgment, money Colvin’s lawyers hope to recover by freezing Syria’s overseas assets.

The driver who caused the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash apologized during the closing of a sentencing hearing yesterday. “I cannot imagine what you guys are going through, what you have been through,” said Jaskirat Singh Sidhu. “I have taken the most valuable things of your life.” The Crown has requested a 10-year sentence; the judge will issue her decision on March 22.


Stocks mixed

Global shares crept lower from their highest levels in two months on Friday as data showing shrinking factory activity in China dampened a rally that took them to their best January on record. Stocks have benefited this week from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which all but abandoned plans for further rate hikes, and on optimism that a U.S.-China trade deal might be in the cards. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.1 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 1.3 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped slightly. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.2 and 0.7 per cent by about 6:25 a.m. ET, with Germany’s DAX down marginally. New York futures were mixed. Oil prices were down.

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Twelve years ago, I saw hope for peace in Afghanistan die. Now it lives again – but only precariously

“The fate of these negotiations [with the Taliban] remains terribly uncertain, and the risks are enormous. Diplomacy at this stage is a high-wire act. No matter how violent Afghanistan is today, a misstep could plunge the country further into civil war. Still, this is the best chance at peace that Afghanistan has witnessed in years. The Americans are serious about leaving, a fact that opens new political horizons in the country and the region. It also brings a new level of intensity to the negotiations on all sides.” – Graeme Smith, consultant and author of The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War In Afghanistan

Adam Capay’s stay is one more unacceptable consequence of solitary confinement

“The distressing irony of this case is that the mistreatment of Capay, who spent more than four years in solitary confinement, means no justice for another inmate, Sherman Quisses. The practice of solitary confinement is now interfering with the ability of the criminal justice system to perform its basic function of deciding guilt and innocence.” – Lisa Kerr, assistant law professor at Queen’s University

How I got better service from Bell – for now

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“Between September and last week, I was embroiled in an exhausting dispute with my cell carrier, Bell Mobility. … By the new year, I was refusing to talk to anyone but managers. I was also forcing my friends to listen to the boring details, when one of them gave me a present. ‘I have an e-mail for you,’ he said, texting me an address for ‘executive client relations,’ a secret handshake that he’d similarly been offered in a moment of telecom distress.” – Denise Balkissoon (for subscribers)


Farewell, Agave Maria: Halifax residents lined up for a tiny seed of the famed plant

Halifax's agave plant is seen during its bloom, in April of last year. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Okay, it might not be ‘living’ any more, but last year’s social-media sensation is now finding a second life as residents get set to plant the seeds it produced. During lunchtime yesterday, 158 of about 200 people who lined up at the city’s Public Gardens received a plastic baggie containing one agave seed.

Agave plants live for decades, but flower only once before spreading their seeds and dying. That’s what happened last year, when Halifax’s agave bloomed – and earned the nickname “Agave Maria” – after four decades in waiting.


Infinite Jest is published

(Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Feb. 1, 1996: There was already talk in literary circles about David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jestbefore it was even published. Was it really more than 1,500 pages long? Was it going to be the era-defining work of a not-even-34-year-old genius (as some claimed it would be)? Wallace’s publisher, Little, Brown, stoked the hype by sending postcards to publications with phrases such as “Infinite Pleasure” and “Infinite Writer.” The novel – trimmed down to just under 1,100 pages – was about society’s addiction to entertainment, among so many other things, and it made Wallace, pictured above, the literary celebrity for Generation X. A Rolling Stone reporter followed him on the book tour – it was the first time the music magazine had planned to profile an author in a decade. (The profile would never run, but the reporter would turn his conversations with Wallace into a book, which would became the 2015 movie The End of the Tour). Today, Infinite Jest is as much loved as it is hated. For some, it’s become the ultimate “lit bro” book. But it will always be the biggest book published in the 1990s, in more ways than one. – Dave McGinn

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