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The RCMP is not investigating foreign interference in Vancouver’s election last year, despite a Canadian intelligence report that China’s consul-general sought to shape the outcome of that vote.

The report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service describes Tong Xiaoling as saying that “they needed to get all eligible voters to come out and elect a specific Chinese-Canadian candidate,” in the mayoral race, while also assessing a specific person to “groom” as a councillor.

The description of that conduct, denied by the Chinese government, has added to calls for Canada to address more seriously the threat of foreign interference at all levels of government. Such meddling, some have said, constitutes a threat to national sovereignty. But Canada’s national police force says it is not pursuing a case.

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The RCMP logo is seen outside the force's 'E' division headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 16, 2023.DARRYL DYCK

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Bank of Canada ‘ready to act’ if financial turmoil spreads

The Bank of Canada is prepared to support the financial system if the banking-sector turmoil in the U.S. spills across the border and hits Canadian banks and markets, deputy governor Toni Gravelle said yesterday.

In a speech in Montreal, Gravelle said that the Canadian banking system remains strong and financial markets are functioning. But he said the central bank was “ready to act in the event of severe market-wide stress and provide liquidity support to the financial system.”

Gravelle’s remarks were the Bank of Canada’s first direct comments since the failure of Silicon Valley Bank on March 10 sent shockwaves through the global banking system. Two other U.S. regional banks have failed in recent weeks, and Swiss lending giant Credit Suisse was forced into an emergency sale to rival UBS Group – a series of events reminiscent of the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

Tech leaders call for temporary pause on AI development over ‘profound risks’

Prominent artificial intelligence researchers and tech leaders, including Canadian deep-learning pioneer Yoshua Bengio and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, are calling for a temporary pause on the rapid development of some AI systems, arguing the technology poses “profound risks to society and humanity.”

Around 1,300 other people have signed an open letter proposing that AI labs immediately halt the training of systems that are more powerful than GPT-4, the latest iteration of a large language model created by OpenAI. The letter suggests the pause continue for at least six months, to give the industry time to create and implement shared safety protocols. “Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable,” the letter says.

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Also on our radar

Gairdner Awards recognize groundbreaking health research: An AI-powered algorithm that can deduce the structure of proteins is among the breakthroughs recognized by the 2023 Gairdner Awards, Canada’s most prestigious accolade for research related to human health conducted anywhere in the world. The international awards, which come with $100,000 per winner, were announced today by the Toronto-based Gairdner Foundation.

Man suspected in police killing had mental-health issues: Over the years, Isaac Brouillard Lessard’s frequent outbursts left a trail of mental-health review board decisions. Taken together, those records highlight the difficulties police, social services and family members face in dealing with people like Brouillard Lessard, who had a violent streak and mental-health issues, but was still given a chance to be released from a psychiatric facility where he was being held by court order. Brouillard Lessard is the suspect in the stabbing death Monday of provincial police Sergeant Maureen Breau in Louiseville, Que.

Danielle Smith said she asked prosecutors about COVID-19 infraction cases: Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told a street preacher facing charges related to the Alberta-Montana border blockade and COVID-19 infractions that she asked prosecutors “almost weekly” about such cases, according to a recording of a phone call posted online. The call, captured on video, renewed allegations that the Premier and her office attempted to interfere with pandemic-related prosecutions.

Zelensky warns of unacceptable compromises: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, in an interview with the Associated Press, that any loss in the war would give Russia an opening to push the international community to pressure Ukraine to accept unacceptable compromises. Zelensky spent two days travelling by train to the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia with a team of AP journalists.

Watchdog releases guidelines for troubled borrowers: The federal financial consumer watchdog has released a set of proposed guidelines for how lenders give cash-strapped mortgage borrowers help, including lengthening the time it takes for homeowners to pay down their loan, allowing mortgages to expand beyond their original size and not charging penalties for any relief.

Toronto teen swim star humble about world record: Canadian teen swimming sensation Summer McIntosh said it was tough to sleep after she set a new world record in the 400-metre freestyle Tuesday night at the Canadian Swimming Trials. She cried joyful tears right after the race, but the 16-year-old said she didn’t do much to celebrate her first world mark. She wants to remain “in the zone,” focused on racing four more events at the Toronto Pan Am Centre this week, as swimmers try to make Canada’s team for the upcoming world championships.

Morning markets

World stocks advance: A steadier tone in global stocks continued on Thursday as investors hoped the banking sector had turned a corner on its recent turmoil to help markets end the quarter on a positive note. Around 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.64 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 were up 1.09 per cent and 1.15 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei ended down 0.36 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.58 per cent. New York futures were positive. The Canadian dollar was higher at 73.85 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Campbell Clark: “You would think that a politician as hard-hitting as Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre would have something clear to say about the big initiatives that the federal government outlined in its budget. But somehow the Leader of the Opposition can’t tell us whether he opposes the biggest thing in the Liberal budget.”

Phoebe Maltz Bovy: “What we’re looking at is not a city that is too gentle towards the most destitute. Hardly. Rather, we’re witnessing the messy class politics of transit ridership in Toronto. There are a few moving parts here, all of which are necessary to keep in one’s mind at the same time if one is to make sense of this mess.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable, March 30, 2023.Illustration by Brian Gable

Living better

Watch: How the 2023 budget affects Canadians struggling with inflation

From a grocery rebate to a new RESP rule, personal finance columnist Rob Carrick discusses in this video how the federal budget could affect your wallets.

Moment in time: March 30, 1968

Open this photo in gallery:Celine Dion in concert at Ontario Place, September 8, 1998.  Photo by James Pattyn / The Globe and Mail

Celine Dion in concert at Ontario Place, September 8, 1998.James Pattyn/The Globe and Mail

Celine Dion is born

“I get wings to fly; oh, oh, I’m alive.” On this day in 1968, the pop singer Celine Dion was born in Charlemagne, Que., outside Montreal. The 14th child of Thérèse Tanguay and Adhémar Dion, she slept, according to lore, in a dresser drawer. Twelve years later, she was in the office of record producer René Angélil, who asked her to sing into a pencil as if it were a microphone. After the big-voiced ingenue threw everything she had into that No. 2, one thing led to another. She gained international recognition by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1988, the same year she began a personal relationship with Mr. Angélil. They married in 1994; he died in 2016. On the strength of worldwide hits My Heart Will Go On, I’m Alive and others, the singer, dubbed the Queen of the Power Ballads, ranked No. 33 on Billboard magazine’s recent Greatest of All Time Artists list, based on sales. For her vocal histrionics and sometimes schmaltzy material, Ms. Dion has her detractors. Still, by most measures that matter, she is undeniably top shelf. Brad Wheeler

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