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Canada Morning Update: Taverner dined with Ford before OPP appointment; Saudi teen gets ready for new life in Canada

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These are the top stories:

Ron Taverner dined with an interview panelist and Doug Ford before his OPP appointment

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The provincial government’s choice as the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police met with Premier Ford multiple times in the months leading up to his appointment, including a dinner with the hiring official who vetted Taverner for the high-profile position. The Toronto police superintendent also accompanied Ford to an event at the Premier’s lakeside cottage just days before it was announced publicly that the top job at the OPP was available, a Globe and Mail review of photographs and related records shows.

Last month, Taverner deferred accepting the OPP job pending a review by the province’s Integrity Commissioner. OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair is also arguing that Ontario’s Ombudsman should investigate the government’s handling of police matters. For his part, Ford has said he had “zero influence” over Taverner’s hiring.

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Cannabis companies are pitching franchising deals to Ontario’s retail lottery winners

Ontario’s first 25 cannabis store permits were awarded randomly by lottery Friday – and large corporations selling marijuana in other provinces are already reaching out to the winners (for subscribers). Roughly two-thirds of the 17,000 applications came from sole proprietorships, which stacked the odds against established retailers. But if the winners don’t open on Day One, April 1, they face a fine of $12,500, and the penalty rises to $50,000 if sales still haven’t begun by April 30.

“We are actively looking for [lottery] winners,” said Raj Grover, the CEO of Western Canada-based High Tide. “A lot of the winners … some of them are dry cleaners now, or they own a different business or some of them have never owned any business before … and we can finance the whole store structure so it will be at no cost up front to the lottery winner.”

May warns that Brexit will be in peril if her EU divorce deal is voted down

Prime Minister Theresa May warned on Monday that Britain’s planned exit from the EU could be derailed, a last-ditch effort to win over Brexit-supporting lawmakers who have repeatedly said they will vote down her divorce deal.

The fate of the United Kingdom’s March 29 exit from the EU is deeply uncertain as parliament is likely to reject May’s deal on Tuesday evening, opening up outcomes ranging from a disorderly divorce to reversing Brexit altogether.

Amid the deepest crisis in British politics for at least half a century, May and EU leaders exchanged letters giving assurances on her withdrawal agreement, though there was little sign of a change of heart among rebel lawmakers.

Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is getting ready to start her new life in Toronto

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun arrives at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

It was a dramatic saga that played out across social media last week. At 18, al-Qunun fled to Thailand to escape her abusive family, launching an online campaign for asylum while barricaded inside a hotel room at the Bangkok airport. Canada agreed to take her in, and she landed in Toronto on Saturday morning.

“She’s well. Excited to be here, apprehensive at the same time – so many unknowns,” said Mario Calla, executive director of immigration settlement organization COSTI which has arranged her temporary accommodations. Her next steps include finding a place to live, enroll in English classes and pursue her education, supporters say.

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Al-Qunun, who has renounced Islam, is concerned about her safety in light of continued online threats, including from family members, said human-rights activist Yasmine Mohammed, who has been in contact with the teen.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The fatal Ottawa bus crash: What the police chief and experts are saying

Three people were killed and 23 were injured on Friday when a double-decker operated by the local transit agency hopped a curb and struck a bus shelter, carving deep into the vehicle’s upper level. Those who were critically injured have improved in hospital and are now in serious condition.

The bus driver was arrested after the crash, but was released without charge pending the police probe. Police Chief Charles Bordeleau is cautioning the public not to jump to conclusions as the investigation is conducted.

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Experts are calling on the federal Transportation Safety Board to investigate, despite vehicle-only incidents falling outside its mandate. The board probed a different fatal Ottawa bus crash, when in 2013 a double-decker collided with a Via Rail train, killing six people.

MORNING MARKETS

Markets fall

U.S. stock futures were sharply weaker early Monday as a drop in Chinese trade rattled world markets. Overseas, major European markets started the week down while Asia was mostly weaker. In this country, futures on Bay Street were lower with the mining sector in focus on news that Newmont Mining Corp. will buy Canadian rival Goldcorp Inc. in a deal worth US$10-billion. Tokyo’s Nikkei was closed, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.4 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 0.7 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.7 and 1 per cent by about 7 a.m. ET. New York futures were also down. The Canadian dollar was below 75.5 US cents.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Fake data are hiding the real state of China’s economy

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“The lack of reliable data makes it virtually impossible to know with any certainty whether the Chinese economy is suffering a mild cold, the flu or some kind of chronic disease. It’s also not clear whether the recent slowing is solely because of its tariff war with the United States, or something deeper and structural happening domestically.” – Barrie McKenna (for subscribers)

Don’t put anti-vaccine messages in my kid’s lunch box

“A few weeks ago, I found a glossy magazine called Le Droit (“Family” edition) in my son’s bag – thrown between lunch leftovers, some art work and other school documents. Colourful and sleek, it caught my attention. To my great surprise, a lead article featured on the cover was titled: For and Against Vaccination. I was startled. Doesn’t the school support the policies of Canadian public health agencies that promote vaccination? In light of clear scientific evidence and government guidance, why does the school legitimize anti-vaxxers by presenting vaccination as a topic open to debate?” – Vardit Ravitsky, associate professor of bioethics at University of Montreal

Canada’s Food Guide: The end of the milk doctrine?

“Regardless of what happens next, dairy farmers, while producing high-quality products for Canadians, will need to accept that their commodities are now part of a much larger portfolio of good, natural food ingredients. Milk and other dairy products will co-exist with several other commodity groups, which deserve as much attention, if not more.” – Sylvain Charlebois, professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University

LIVING BETTER

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How to travel on toonies a day

It might sound old-school, but saving up that change really can add up. Just ask The Globe’s Alison Gzowski, who managed to cover the flight and accommodation costs of a trip to Spain after 18 months of coin collecting. The hardest part? Having the diligence to resist the temptation to spend a toonie when you’re fumbling for change. (for subscribers)

MOMENT IN TIME

Myron Angus paints in Yonge Street gallery window

For more than 100 years, photographers, photo editors and photo librarians working for The Globe and Mail have preserved an extraordinary collection of 20th-century news photography. Every Monday, The Globe features one of these images. In January, we’re looking back at Canadians who lived with disabilities.

(Lloyd Bloom)

Lloyd Bloom

Myron Angus was only 22 when he had his first exhibition in Toronto, and 23 when he was invited to paint in the window of a gallery on Yonge Street, where he was photographed for The Globe in 1948. Born with a condition that fuses the joints in the body, Angus could not use his hands or his feet. He was about 7 when his parents met writer William Ritchie Watson, who was selling a book he’d written by mouth. Watson told the couple to put a pencil in their son’s teeth. Eventually, Angus learned to write, but also draw and paint. He became passionate about landscapes and watercolours, and the quality of his art enticed buyers. He went on to own a Toronto art gallery and represented the Canadian branch of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists before Pope John Paul II in 1992. – Gayle MacDonald

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If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

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