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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, fighting for his political survival, sought pledges of support as he faces a decisive caucus vote that could oust him from the party’s top job.

O’Toole, his advisers and caucus loyalists spent yesterday calling MPs to back his leadership ahead of a vote in a secret ballot today on whether to remove him as leader and set the stage for a third Conservative Party leadership convention since 2015.

A letter signed by 35 dissident MPs, representing 30 per cent of the caucus, was sent to caucus chair Scott Reid on Monday triggering the leadership vote. O’Toole pledged to fight the open leadership revolt, but sources said it is unclear whether he will be able to rally enough support.

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Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin TangJustin Tang/The Canadian Press

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Protesters at Alberta border blockade defy RCMP orders to disband

Protesters demanding an end to pandemic restrictions refused yesterday to dismantle their blockade of Alberta’s most important border crossing into the United States.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki briefed Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who said he received reports that people aligned with the protesters assaulted Mounties. In one instance, someone tried to ram RCMP members, which led to a collision with a civilian vehicle, Mr. Kenney told reporters yesterday.

Protesters near Coutts, about a three-hour drive southeast of Calgary, want governments to cancel all COVID-19 restrictions, such as vaccine passports and mask mandates. The blockade at Coutts, which started on Saturday, has closed the crossing Alberta uses to export meat products, damaging a key part of the provincial economy.

Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford appealed to similar demonstrators in Ottawa to go home, saying the province and the country have heard their voices, and now it is time to give the capital city back to its residents.

Putin warns a Western military alliance with Ukraine could result in war

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the West has ignored his country’s security concerns and warned that if Ukraine were allowed to join NATO it could lead to war between Russia and the Western military alliance.

Putin, making his first public comments on Ukraine in almost six weeks, accused the United States of being less interested in ensuring the security of Ukraine than in containing Russia.

As Putin spoke, an estimated 130,000 Russian troops remained massed on three sides of Ukraine. Even more menacing than the troop presence, military analysts say, is the number of tanks, artillery and other equipment Russia has positioned near Ukraine’s eastern border, as well as in Crimea, to the south, and in Belarus, a close Russian ally directly to the north of Ukraine.

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Canada’s flag-bearers: Women’s hockey captain Marie-Philip Poulin and short-track speed skating star Charles Hamelin have been named Canada’s flag-bearers for Friday’s opening ceremonies of Beijing’s Winter Olympics.

U.S. frustrated Canada won’t share information on child sex offenders: The U.S. government says it’s frustrated that Ottawa refuses to routinely notify Washington when Canadians convicted of sexual offences against children travel to the United States, noting that it alerts Canada when the same class of American offenders are heading here. The Americans say Canada cites federal privacy law as the reason.

Quebec scraps plans to tax the unvaccinated: Quebec Premier François Legault is abandoning the controversial idea of a tax on the unvaccinated that he floated in recent weeks, as he called for “social peace” amid growing unrest around public-health rules.

Brother of Canadian embassy worker in Kabul killed in Afghanistan: A former employee of Canada’s embassy in Kabul who made it safely to this country in August says his brother, whom he wanted to bring here as well, has been killed in Afghanistan.

Big banks’ credit-card profits slow to recover: Credit cards have been one of the hardest-hit categories of lending for Canada’s big banks as massive government stimulus and widespread public-health restrictions helped households build up savings and curb spending.

Stratford Festival set to begin comeback 2022 season: Ontario’s Stratford Festival is welcoming back its ensemble at last, with 125 actors set to appear on the not-for-profit theatre company’s stages in 2022. Stratford artistic director Antoni Cimolino today announced casting for a 10-play season, which begins rehearsals later this month.

Publisher delays further printing of disputed Anne Frank book: The Dutch publisher of The Betrayal of Anne Frank, a new book scholars have criticized for putting forward inconclusive findings, apologized for “offending anyone”, and said it would delay printing more copies of the book until further notice.


European markets gain: Shares rose in Europe on Wednesday as investor sentiment continued to steady after a rout last month, but the advance was capped by concerns over how fast central banks will raise interest rates to quell soaring inflation. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.77 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.43 per cent and 0.50 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.68 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.90 US cents.


Sylvain Charlebois: “Given the current food supply chain woes, going to the grocery store once a week, or once every two weeks, may not be ideal right now. Instead, doing a food run two or three times a week – and buying enough for the next two to three days – may waste less and help you in the long run.”

Cathal Kelly: “That may end up being the featured match here – China’s self-interested, apolitical reticence versus the new tendency of Olympic athletes to treat media availabilities like a soapbox. Who’s going to be the first to cause problems for the hosts? More interestingly, how long will the hosts be able to keep up their initial strategy – pretending that things they don’t like talking about aren’t happening?”


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Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


A cool month: The best of January TV on streaming

January was a splendid start to the year on TV, John Doyle writes. From finales to new arrivals, from comedy to thrilling drama, to documentaries, it was a cornucopia. Here’s a list of the best.


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Punxsutawney, Pa.: "Punxy Phil" the King of all Weather Prophets appeared early in the morning at Gobblers Knot and cast his shadow forecasting six more weeks of winter, February 2, 1973.Bettmann / Getty Images

The first Groundhog Day

A celebration on Feb. 2 – roughly the halfway mark of winter – goes back as far as the Pagans. However, it was on this date in 1887 that a group of Pennsylvania-Dutch groundhog hunters in Punxsutawney, Pa., decided that, following old customs of an animal predicting weather, one of their local rodents could do it. The woodchuck, eventually known as Punxsutawney Phil, would be forced to pop out of his burrow in the Gobbler’s Knob part of town. If it saw its shadow, it was six more weeks of winter; if it didn’t, it was an early spring. These days, Canadians more frequently turn to Shubenacadie Sam, Wiarton Willie or Fred La Marmotte, among other groundhogs, for the forecast. Groundhog Day organizers claim an accuracy rate of 75 per cent or more, but meteorologists say it’s usually between 30 per cent and 40 per cent. The problem is that what constitutes an “early spring” isn’t consistent. In fact, the animal has a 50-50 shot of being right. In Toronto, where the once-dismal Maple Leafs were often out of the NHL playoffs by Feb. 2, the day used to be marked with the sad refrain, “Six more weeks of bad hockey.” Philip King

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