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Canada Morning Update: Quebec’s religious-symbols ban; Halifax’s carding problem; May’s Brexit self-sacrifice

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Quebec will table its religious-symbols bill today. Here’s what to expect

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François Legault’s CAQ government will pre-emptively invoke the notwithstanding clause by including it in legislation barring teachers, principals, judges, police officers and others from wearing Muslim headscarves and other religious symbols. Using the clause will effectively override sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in turn putting a halt to any court challenges over the legalities of the law.

The bill will allow current employees to continue wearing religious symbols at work while imposing the restrictions on new hires or those who change jobs, sources said.

Has the clause been used before? Yes, but rarely. Various Quebec governments have relied on the clause, but it hasn’t sparked controversy since a restrictive language law in 1988. The last time it was used anywhere was in Saskatchewan in 2017, to override a ruling that would have removed funding for non-Catholic students attending Catholic schools. The federal government has never used the clause.

The view from Ottawa: Don’t be surprised if we hear from Justin Trudeau: The Prime Minister has previously spoken out against proposed legislation in Quebec that would say what people can and can’t wear; he also denounced the use of the clause when Ontario was planning to use it last year over changes to the municipal election process. The Conservatives have said they would respect Quebec’s right to enact the ban.

Here’s Konrad Yakabuski’s opinion of the bill and secularism in the province: “The debate within Quebec is far more nuanced than the rest of Canada seems to understand. Charging racism is the lazy way to go. It perpetuates a situation that only serves the interests of those who like to stir up polemics, rather than foster reconciliation.”

The religious-symbols bill is just one of a series of major changes Legault has moved to implement since taking office. Go here for a look at how the CAQ is transforming immigration, cannabis, climate and the economy.

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Black Nova Scotians are stopped by police five times more than their white counterparts

The revelation contained within a new human-rights report is prompting calls to immediately ban the practice that’s faced criticism in other parts of the country. The study, which was prompted by allegations of systemic racial profiling by Halifax police, found the equivalent of 28 per cent of the city’s black male population faced street checks compared with just 4 per cent of the white population.

Nova Scotia’s Justice Minister promised action but is not yet committing to a ban. In the meantime, officers across the province have been told not to place quotas on street checks and to “reacquaint themselves” with the police code of conduct and ethics.

Jody Wilson-Raybould wants an investigation into the leak that revealed her Supreme Court recommendations

The former justice minister says the leak – which revealed that Justin Trudeau rejected her apparent plan to appoint a Manitoba judge as chief justice of the Supreme Court – “could compromise the integrity of the appointment process.”

Conservative justice critic Lisa Raitt said it appears “sources close to the Prime Minister” were behind the breaches and called them another case of “potential political interference.” Trudeau’s office is denying any involvement, saying it takes “the integrity of our institutions seriously.”

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The spat over the leak follows Wilson-Raybould’s accusation that Trudeau and other top officials attempted to put inappropriate pressure on her to shelve prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Theresa May is promising to resign if MPs pass her Brexit deal. But will that be enough?

The British Prime Minister says she is “prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.” But while the self-sacrifice won over some opponents, other members of her Conservative Party and the key voting bloc of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party remain opposed to her proposed exit deal.

It’s not clear what May will do if the agreement is rejected for a third time or if she decides not to bring it back for another vote. If one of those scenarios play out, May will need to inform the European Union of an alternate plan by April 12. Otherwise, Britain would leave on that date without a deal, or stay and participate in upcoming EU elections set for May 23.

Boeing has outlined proposed changes to Max 737 software

The company gave no timeline for the adjustments to its jets that are currently grounded after two deadly crashes. The patches are intended to improve the ability of flight crew to control the automated flight system; the pilots in the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes apparently lost the ability to override the system. Boeing also plans to improve manuals, bulletins and computer-based training. Ethiopian Airlines executives recently criticized Boeing’s training and “aggressive” software.

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ALSO IN THE NEWS

Facebook says its banning statements supporting white supremacy. Starting next week, people searching for terms tied to white nationalism will see a referral to an organization devoted to helping people leave violent extremism. Facebook and other social-media companies have faced criticism from the federal government for not doing enough to address hate speech on their platforms.

A First Nations-led group is putting together a $6.8-billion bid to buy a 51-per-cent stake in the federally owned Trans Mountain pipeline. The former chief of the Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan is heading the effort and is in talks with major Canadian banks to help finance the acquisition. Ottawa says any formal talks would need to wait until there’s further clarity on whether construction can proceed. (for subscribers)

Canadian farmers are criticizing Justin Trudeau for his handling of the canola crisis amid escalating trade tensions with China. Beijing’s move this week to expand its ban on Canadian canola-seed imports is a blow to the Prairies, which until recently had sent 40 per cent of its crop to China. (for subscribers)

Could we be headed for an all-Canadian men’s tennis final at the Miami Open? Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, 18, upset 11th-seed Borna Coric of Croatia to advance to the semi-finals. To get to the title game, the 57th-seed will have to beat American John Isner, who’s ranked ninth in the world. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., is getting ready for his quarter-final matchup today. (for subscribers)

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Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada serves against Borna Coric on Wednesday. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

MORNING MARKETS

Stocks mixed

Global bond yields continued to spiral lower on Thursday as recession fears fed expectations of more policy easing by major central banks, while Turkey’s lira took a 5 per cent beating as pressure ratcheted up on its volatile markets again. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 1.6 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 0.9 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.5 and 0.9 per cent by about 6:30 a.m. ET. New York futures were up. The Canadian dollar was at about 74.5 US cents.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Even in space, women can’t escape the flaws of biased design

Elizabeth Renzetti: “...this week’s historic spacewalk was cancelled because there weren’t two lady-sized spacesuits ready for the two women who needed them. … It will not surprise any woman who has tried to squeeze into a roller coaster’s unforgiving chest restraints that this world is not designed with our measurements in mind. But really – does the injustice have to follow us into space? I would laugh, except that probably I should cry (searching in vain for tissues in my dress with no pockets.)” (for subscribers)

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With Toronto transit plan, Doug Ford redefines ‘gravy train

Globe editorial: “What does the province want? Basically, to rip up years of Toronto Transit Commission planning and restart at zero. Under the previous Liberal government, as under every provincial government, transit planning was politicized. The Ford administration, in the name of smaller government, is proposing to take centralized political meddling to new heights – or rather new lows. This is transit politicization on steroids.”

Alien as a high-school play? Thumbs down to dumbed-down theatre for teens

J. Kelly Nestruck: “Listen, there’s no doubt about it: The American high-school theatre production of Alien: The Play that went viral this past weekend looks cool. … At a certain point, however, the mainstream media got involved and ruined the fun by hyping up this high-school show beyond all reason. This is the worst kind of contemporary arts coverage: Just because something is shared widely online doesn’t mean it is necessarily news.” (for subscribers)

TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

(Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)

LIVING BETTER

Why we need stricter regulation of ‘alcoholic energy drinks’

Last winter, a 14-year-old Quebec girl drowned after consuming the equivalent of 12 glasses of wine. Athéna Gervais had consumed roughly three cans of a high-alcohol, high-sugar drink called FCKD UP. Now, a coroner’s report has been released, and it focused on the popularity and availability of these beverages.

André Picard says we’re overdue for stricter regulation of alcoholic drinks that are aimed at seducing young people: “Twenty years ago, this kind of sleaziness was the norm with cigarette marketing, but we put an end to that nonsense. Is there any reason we shouldn’t do the same with alcoholic drinks that are clearly targeting underage drinkers?” (for subscribers)

MOMENT IN TIME

French ‘Spider-Man’ scales world’s tallest building

(Balkis Press/ABACAPRESS.COM)

Balkis Press / ABACAPRESS.COM via CP

March 28, 2011: Alain Robert earned the nickname “Spider-Man” by climbing more than 70 skyscrapers around the world, often without a safety harness. His conquests include the Empire State Building, the Willis Tower in Chicago (formerly known as Sears Tower) and Taipei 101 in Taiwan – which was the world’s tallest building when he ascended it in 2004. But by 2010, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, had become the world’s tallest building. Spider-Man had found his next claim to fame. Robert scaled the 828-metre-tall tower the following year. It was great publicity for the Frenchman and owners of the Burj, who agreed to let him climb it on the condition that he use a safety harness. Robert began his climb around 6 p.m. with hundreds of spectators watching and an ambulance on site. As darkness fell, spotlights shined on Robert so the audience could see his progress. He moved up the tower with the methodical patience of a rock-climber, grabbing the metal ridges that divide the building’s glass windows and pulling himself up. Six hours later, he was standing atop the tower waving. The climb made headlines across the globe. It was a feat of marketing as much as human accomplishment. – Dave McGinn

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