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Canada Morning Update: The latest on SNC; what’s next on Brexit; resentment rising in Western Canada

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

The SNC-Lavalin affair continues to dog Justin Trudeau

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Former minister Jane Philpott is calling on the Prime Minister to let Canadians hear “the whole story” of the SNC saga. In an interview with Maclean’s, she complained about “an attempt to shut down the story” and said “there is still a substantial amount of [Jody Wilson-Raybould’s] story that’s not out there.”

But Trudeau pushed back on allowing Wilson-Raybould to speak further, saying he already granted an “unprecedented waiver” to testify once.

Philpott, who resigned from cabinet this month over political interference in the justice system, also said she wanted her own cabinet privilege waived to discuss a January conversation she had with Trudeau where the topic of SNC’s desire for a settlement came up.

Meanwhile, Quebec’s newly unveiled budget sets aside $1-billion to encourage companies to keep their head offices in the province, a measure the province’s finance minister said could be used to protect SNC-Lavalin’s Montreal hub.

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The EU’s Brexit terms: Here’s how the next few weeks could unfold

The prospect of Britain leaving the EU on March 29, sans exit deal, is now off the table as Theresa May and European Union leaders agreed to a delay. If May is able to finally pass her withdrawal agreement next week, Britain will leave the bloc on May 22. But if MPs reject it for a third time, Britain could depart with no deal on April 12.

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The April 12 caveat: If her plan fails, May will have to present EU leaders with an alternative proposal by April 12. This means all options are possible, including leaving with a deal, without a deal, and a long extension.

EU elections: Voters are headed for the polls on May 23 for the European Parliament elections, and Britain has to notify the EU by April 12 if it plans to participate in them.

Is the West fed up with Canada? Here’s what a massive new survey shows

Battles over pipelines, emissions and equalization payments are fuelling rising resentment in Alberta and Saskatchewan, according to an Environics Institute survey. And it raises questions about the future of Confederation, with 56 per cent of those in Alberta and 53 per cent in Saskatchewan who strongly or somewhat agree that “Western Canada gets so few benefits that it may as well go it on its own.” There’s also still persistent frustration in Atlantic Canada, the study found.

“What you’re seeing in Western Canada and Atlantic Canada – it’s the start,” said expert Donald Savoie, who’s based at the University of Moncton. “I don’t think people in the Ottawa bubble get it. But it’s going to bite.”

In Ontario: Autism program changes, reaction to increased class sizes

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After weeks of protests by parents, the Ontario government is backing off on some changes to the province’s autism program. The government is now going to “explore” how to provide more funds for children with more complex needs, while also scrapping proposed income tests for families seeking funding. Parents had voiced concern that funding cuts would force them to send their children to school full-time or face high bills for intensive therapy.

The province’s plan to increase high-school class sizes from 22 to 28 students would lead to thousands of job losses, the secondary school teachers’ union is warning as it vows to fight the changes. Education Minister Lisa Thompson recently told CBC that students are “lacking resiliency” and that boosting class sizes is “preparing them for the reality” of university and work life.

China ramps up tensions, halts new purchases of all Canadian canola, imposes strict inspections of other agriculture goods

China has put a stop to all new purchases of Canadian canola, the industry says, in an escalation of what executives and analysts believe is retaliation over the arrest of a Huawei executive.

The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe reports from Beijing that Chinese importers say strict customs inspections have disrupted shipments of a broad range of Canadian agricultural products, an indication of a wider-reaching effort by Beijing to place economic pressure on Ottawa after it authorized extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei chief financial officer.

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Two Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary leaders are vowing to set up a new protest camp to fight TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline project. The last pipeline blockade, in a different area of the B.C. interior, ended four days after the RCMP arrested 14 protesters. (for subscribers)

In a dramatic shift of U.S. policy, Donald Trump says it’s time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The disputed region was seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war; Israel’s claim to the territory is not recognized internationally.

At least eight Ontario seniors were sent to hospital after being served cannabis-laced brownies. A few hours after a luncheon at a community centre near Parry Sound, the seniors began to experience dizziness, disorientation and, for some, nausea and vomiting.


Stocks slip

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Shares fell in Europe on Friday after preliminary surveys showed that manufacturing in Germany, France and the wider euro zone had slowed in March. News that the European Union offered to only briefly extend the Brexit deadline added to uncertainty. Tokyo’s Nikkei, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and the Shanghai Composite each gained about 0.1 per cent, and that’s pretty much where the green ends. Flashing red are London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40, which were down by between 0.4 and 1 per cent by about 6:50 a.m. ET. New York futures were also down. The Canadian dollar is below 75 US cents after a brief bounce earlier in the week.


After New Zealand massacre, we must stop ignoring the idea that leads to terrorist murder

Doug Saunders: “The ideas that motivate these killers are often glibly characterized as ‘anti-immigration.’ That is not the point. People hold all sorts of legitimate views about immigration, and believing that it should be slowed or stopped is a valid policy opinion. On the other hand, any notion of ‘population replacement’ or demographic ‘invasion’ or ‘genocide’ is not an opinion about immigration at all. It is race hatred. There is no other interpretation of those ideas, and there is no moderate or acceptable version of them.”

Flush your disgust. We can’t let emotions dampen our water policies

Sarah Wolfe: Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, was one of the first cities to develop and implement a “toilet-to-tap” system on a large scale, more than 50 years ago. Now, cities around the world are seeing their wastewater as a supplement to constrained water supply; philanthropists are supporting innovations in this kind of waste and water management. But people are often appalled by the idea that their drinking water might have once touched feces, even if it has been cleaned to the highest standards and represents no harm to human health." Sarah Wolfe is an associate director of the undergraduate studies School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo.

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We must not politicize psychiatry, no matter what Trump tweets

Peter McKnight: Trump detractors might think they’re on to something by applying psychiatric labels to the President, but since what goes around comes around, let me ask them one final question: Given Trump’s willingness to use anything, including the military and the police, to advance his own interests, do you really want to hand him an excuse to use the awesome power of politicized psychiatry against his opponents as well?" Peter McKnight is an adjunct professor in the school of criminology at Simon Fraser University.


(Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)



Two films to watch: A Quebecois drama and Jordan Peele’s directorial follow-up

Philippe Lesage’s Quebecois drama Genesis is one of the best films of the year - no matter its country, or province, of provenance, Barry Hertz writes (for subscribers). The plot, which follows the romantic travails of two stepsiblings who stumble in their encounters with their crushes, defies the “coming-of-age” genre label. (4 stars)

Rumours that Us, Peele’s second effort after Get Out, is “just” a straight-ahead scare-fest seem exaggerated, John Semley says. Although it is foremost a highly entertaining and well-executed horror movie, Us is shot through with its own strain of social criticism, he notes. (3 stars)


U.S. Equal Rights Amendment passes in the Senate

(Warren Leffler/U.S. News & World Report Magazine/Library of Congress)

Warren Leffler/U.S. News & World Report Magazine / Library of Congress

March 22, 1972: The Equal Rights Amendment, the proposal to enshrine in the U.S. constitution equal legal rights for the country’s citizens regardless of sex, was first drafted in 1923. Variations were presented to every sitting of Congress between then and 1970, when it was pushed to Congress for debate. The House of Representatives passed a reworded version the next year. Finally, in 1972, the Senate passed the amendment, which read, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” The ERA was ratified by 30 states within a year, but the process slowed when protests mobilized against it. Conservative women, organized by Phyllis Schlafly, argued that the ERA would disadvantage housewives and eliminate the tendency for mothers in divorce cases to be granted custody of their children. To become part of the constitution, 38 states had to ratify the amendment by March, 1979. Only 35 did so. Congress extended the deadline by three years, but no new states came on board. Today, 37 have ratified the ERA, with Illinois the most recent, in May, 2018. Although the ERA never received enough support to be part of the U.S. constitution, 21 states have adopted their own, similar amendments. Shelby Blackley

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