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The RCMP says it is assessing the Auditor-General’s report into spending on the federal government’s ArriveCan app. The report, which was released earlier this week, found a troubling disregard for basic management practices and flagged concerns about interactions between private consultants and public servants.

Auditor-General Karen Hogan also told MPs yesterday that she met with the RCMP to discuss her report’s findings before it was released and is prepared to hand over relevant documents upon request.

The Globe and Mail first reported in October that the RCMP is investigating allegations of contracting-related misconduct at the Canada Border Services Agency. That investigation is looking into allegations brought forward by a Montreal software company. The RCMP has never said it is investigating ArriveCan directly.

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Auditor general Karen Hogan waits in a hallway to begin a news conference about a report her office released, Feb. 12, 2024 in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Ottawa eyes birth control in pharmacare talks with NDP

As it negotiates new pharmacare legislation with the NDP, the Liberal government is considering covering the costs of birth control as part of the deal, according to sources with direct knowledge of the secret talks.

Three sources told The Globe and Mail that the possible birth-control funding is in addition to coverage for diabetes medications, which is also being discussed. Negotiators are discussing how many drugs to cover and how to determine which drugs qualify, two of the sources said.

The Liberals struck a deal with the NDP almost two years ago to prop up their minority government in the House of Commons. Under what’s called a supply-and-confidence agreement, the NDP supports the Liberals in the House in exchange for policy concessions such as anti-scab legislation, dental care and pharmacare legislation.

Toronto passes budget with 9.5-per-cent tax hike, additional police funding

Toronto City Council approved a 9.5-per-cent property-tax increase, finalizing a $17-billion budget that Mayor Olivia Chow called a first step in reversing the city’s decline.

The tax hike, the largest one in a quarter century, was opposed by councillors who argued that residents were already struggling with rising living expenses including high mortgage payments and rents, and called on the city to reduce its costs instead. The increase passed by a vote of 18-8.

The 9.5-per-cent hike means that the average Toronto household will pay just under a dollar more a day, city officials say, as the municipal government digs itself out of a financial hole that had it projecting a $1.8-billion shortfall for this year when the budget process began.

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Also on our radar

Canadian involved in research with Iranians on drones: Canadian academics have been collaborating with Iranian universities on drone technology and other research that could benefit Tehran’s armed forces and that country’s allies, intelligence analysts say. A number of research papers include researchers from the University of Windsor, University of Waterloo, York University, University of Calgary and the University of Regina along with researchers from a number of Iranian universities.

Eight children injured in Super Bowl parade shooting: Eight children were among 22 people hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of yesterday’s parade to celebrate the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl win, authorities said, as terrified fans ran for cover and yet another high-profile public event was marred by gun violence.

How Ukraine resumed crucial agricultural exports: The first year of Russia’s war saw some of Ukraine’s seaports closed and its agricultural infrastructure decimated. But since then Ukrainian commandos have sent Russia’s Black Sea fleet fleeing leading to reopening of sea ports and the rebuilding of the country’s agriculture industry.

John Thornton moved in Barrick executive shuffle: Barrick Gold Corp. announced yesterday that long-term executive chairman John Thornton has moved from that role to the role of chairman, a position that carries fewer responsibilities, lower pay, and much more clearly defined parameters.

ROM unveils plan to revamp Crystal: The Royal Ontario Museum announced yesterday a $130-million plan to turn its controversial Michael Lee-Chin Crystal into a more open and welcoming space. When it is complete in 2027, there will be no admission fee for visitors to see the ROM’s main floor.

Morning markets

World stocks gain: Global equities rose on Thursday, powered by a rally in technology shares that pushed Japan’s Nikkei to a new 34-year high, while the U.S. dollar steadied around three-month peaks as investors assessed the chances of when rates might fall. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.06 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.65 per cent and 0.72 per cent, respectively. In Asia, the Nikkei closed up 1.21 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.41 per cent. New York futures were modestly positive. The Canadian dollar was up slightly at 73.87 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

Konrad Yakabuski: “While Australia’s centre-left federal government has finally moved – however reluctantly – to fix a “broken” immigration system, Canada’s is still in denial. Liberal Immigration Minister Marc Miller last month announced a 35-per-cent reduction in student visas this year. But that timid move was typical of a government that still refuses to admit its immigration-policy mistakes.”

Lawrence Martin: “Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Biden can both go out with winning political records and, especially in the case of Mr. Biden, substantive legislative records. What’s getting in their way is power lust and ego gratification. Democrats in the U.S. and Liberals in Canada shouldn’t allow it to happen.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Editorial cartoon by David Parkins, Feb. 15, 2024.Illustration by David Parkins

Living better

How to bring restaurant design into your dining room

Restaurants aren’t only leading the way when it comes to culinary trends. They’ve also become hotbeds of innovative, cutting-edge and inspiring design. The Globe and Mail asked some of the top designers in the field of hospitality for tips on how to decorate a dining room that will invite guests to linger, long after the plates have been cleared away.

Moment in time: Feb. 15, 1985

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Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, director John Hughes, Ally Sheedy on the set of The Breakfast Club, 1985.

The Breakfast Club movie released in cinemas

As if anticipating its own massive cultural influence, The Breakfast Club closes to the tune of Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me). How could anyone, really? When the high-school dramedy first hit theatres, the film not only instantly minted stars in Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, and Ally Sheedy, but also changed the course of “teen movies” while also cementing writer-director John Hughes as the pre-eminent voice of 1980s Hollywood filmmaking. Certainly Hughes wasn’t an unknown quantity by the time that he imagined five disparate teens bonding while stuck in detention – he directed Ringwald the year before in Sixteen Candles, and wrote two National Lampoon-branded flicks before that – but The Breakfast Club’s winning combination of wit, pathos and note-perfect performances helped Hughes dominate the next decade of mainstream comedy (everything from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to Home Alone). While certain elements of The Breakfast Club have aged better than others, there hasn’t been a movie set inside a high school since that hasn’t cribbed from Hughes’s notebook. Barry Hertz

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