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The federal government is pushing ahead with sweeping Emergencies Act powers that could ban gatherings around legislative buildings and national monuments, even as police announce resolutions of border blockades in Alberta and Manitoba.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced heated criticism from the Conservatives yesterday for enacting the never-before-used legislation. The Opposition noted the legislation was not needed by police who have resolved various border protests across the country, including reopening traffic on the Windsor-Detroit Ambassador Bridge.

The Prime Minister said the new powers are needed to address cross-country disruptions, including the nearly three-week-old protest over COVID-19 measures in downtown Ottawa.

Veterans sing the national anthem at the National War Memorial during a Flag Day ceremony, as truckers and supporters continue to protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, February 15, 2022.CHRIS HELGREN/Reuters

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Canada adjusts COVID-19 border measures for fully vaccinated travellers

Ottawa is easing border restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, who soon will no longer be required to take a molecular COVID-19 test before arriving in the country, and dropping its recommendation that Canadians avoid international travel for non-essential purposes.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, alongside several ministers, told a news conference yesterday that the new travel policies, which take effect Feb. 28, have been possible because the peak of the Omicron variant has passed and that, after two years of following public health measures, Canadians know what to do to stay safe.

Announcement of Russian troop withdrawal comes amid mixed messages from Putin

Russia sent mixed messages yesterday about its intentions toward Ukraine, announcing a withdrawal of some troops only to escalate the political tension a few hours later when lawmakers sent President Vladimir Putin a bill asking him to recognize the independence of two breakaway regions.

Putin himself added to the ambiguity by saying it was impossible – even for him – to say whether Russia’s troop withdrawal would continue. Putin added that Russia did not want war, and was “ready to go down the negotiations track” regarding its main demand that Ukraine be barred from joining the NATO military alliance.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Dozens of possible unmarked graves found at former Saskatchewan residential schools: A Saskatchewan First Nation has discovered 54 possible unmarked graves on the grounds of two former Catholic-run residential schools, adding to the ever-growing national tally of suspected school burials that has drawn international scrutiny to Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.

Six months of Taliban rule has been terrible, Afghans say: Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan six months ago, things have been much worse, Afghans say. A food crisis has worsened since the extremist group gained power, with more than half the population facing acute food insecurity. Also, former members of the Afghan army, former government employees and women’s rights activists say they are forced to live in hiding for fear of Taliban retribution.

Chaotic frenzy as house prices in Canada hit a fresh high: Canadian home prices hit a fresh high in January as frenzied buyers raced to buy properties and the number of new listings dropped. The national home price index jumped a record 2.9 per cent to $836,300 from December to January, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Tim Hortons mulls more price hikes: The price of your double-double could soon be going up. With continuing supply-chain pressures and rising commodity costs affecting food prices, the coffee and doughnut chain said menu prices will increase at its stores.

Vancouver jazz festival in jeopardy as main sponsor pulls out: The future of Vancouver’s jazz festival is in question with news its main sponsor plans to stop funding the event at the same time as a bitter boardroom drama has spilled into the public.

Canada, U.S. to face off again for women’s hockey gold: Another chapter in a decades-long duel is about to be written in Beijing. Canada and the United States clashing for Olympic women’s hockey gold may have been expected, but nothing is predictable when women from the two countries step on the ice with sticks in their hands.


MORNING MARKETS

World stocks crept higher on Wednesday for the second day in a row, while safe-haven assets such as government bonds and gold lost ground, despite Western skepticism over Russian claims of a troop pullback from Ukraine’s borders. MSCI’s global equity index rose 0.4%, following Tuesday’s 1.3% bounce, which snapped a three-day losing streak. Playing catch-up with a late Tuesday rally in U.S. and European stocks, Japan’s Nikkei increased 2.2%. The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.89 US cents.


WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Gary Mason: “‘Media you should be scared for You know your days are numbered,’ the group Canada Unity said. ‘Jail Cells are waiting for each of you!!!’ Once upon a time, a note such as this might have been greeted in the news business with some eye-rolls and a snicker or two. Not any more. The working environment for journalists in Canada (and around the world) is no laughing matter. In fact, it’s become downright scary for many in the field.”

Cathal Kelly: “If we agree that minor athletes deserve special protection, then why do we continue to put them in special peril at the Olympics? There is no reason to have children here. Nobody needs to speed skate or whatever in an Olympics at 16. They can wait a few years. The Olympics aren’t going anywhere.”


TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


LIVING BETTER

Maintaining an environmentally sustainable diet is a worthwhile goal

If you’re like many people, you’ve made a commitment to improve your diet this year, perhaps by trimming oversized portions, eating more vegetables and/or cutting back on sugary treats. Consider another worthwhile dietary goal: shifting to a diet with a lower environmental impact.


MOMENT IN TIME: FEBRUARY 16, 1959

Fidel Castro reads the oath of office and is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba on February 16, 1959.Bettmann / Getty Images

Fidel Castro sworn in

Punching above its weight – that was Cuba in the latter half of the 20th century, thanks to Fidel Castro. After overthrowing dictator Fulgencio Batista, the charismatic and prone-to-speechifying revolutionary leader made his island country of seven million a key player in the Cold War. He quickly nationalized U.S.-owned businesses in Cuba, which prompted the CIA to stage the Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961. It did not go well. After that disaster, Castro increasingly allied Cuba with the Soviet Union and even allowed leader Nikita Khrushchev to place nuclear missiles on the island. That, too, did not sit well with the United States. For 13 days in October, 1962, the world sat on the brink of a war to truly end all wars – until Khrushchev relented. For the next five decades, Castro infuriated the U.S. by supporting leftist movements around the world. At home, he expanded access to electricity, education and health care – all while jailing opponents and overseeing an increasingly creaky economy. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he carried on his ideological fight with the U.S. – never at a loss for bad things to say about his neighbour just to the north. Massimo Commanducci


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