TODAY’S TOP STORIES
Bombardier’s stake in Russian rail venture shrouded in mystery
In 2010, Bombardier signed a deal with Russian Railways that was set to see it acquire nearly 50 per cent ownership in a joint venture named Elteza. The business covered seven factories that would work on Bombardier’s signalling systems for trains. But an internal memo suggests that Bombardier’s ownership stake in Elteza is no more than 13 per cent (for subscribers). That’s because of two other partners, men who are often referred to as business associates of then-Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin. Those two men appear to have used shell companies to hide their apparent stake in Elteza.
Bombardier’s rail business in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union have come under scrutiny of late: Earlier this month, Swedish prosecutors questioned Bombardier executives over bribery allegations stemming from a 2013 rail deal with Azerbaijan.
Track unfounded sex-assault data, MPs urge
Statistics Canada should once again track unfounded sexual-assault rates, a federal report on violence against young women and girls has recommended. The report from a Status of Women committee also said judges and police should be required to undergo training on how to deal with sex-assault cases. It made mention of The Globe and Mail’s Unfounded investigation, which revealed that police forces across Canada dismiss one in five sex-assault claims as baseless. “We have a patchwork of responses across the country,” NDP committee member Sheila Malcolmson said. “The Globe and Mail reporting on the unfounded crisis has really highlighted this need and we just heard this reinforced again and again.”
FBI confirms Russia-Trump election probe
FBI Director James Comey has confirmed that the intelligence agency is investigating whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of last year’s election. Comey revealed the news while testifying before the House of Representatives intelligence committee yesterday. Speaking of the Kremlin, Comey said: “They wanted to hurt our democracy: Hurt [Hillary Clinton], help him.”
Separately, Comey also dismissed Trump’s claim that he had been wiretapped by Barack Obama. “I have no information that supports those tweets. We have looked carefully inside the FBI.”
No evidence has come about so far that links Trump’s team to Russia’s election interference. But Trump’s team has been under fire over communications with Russia. Michael Flynn lost his job as national security adviser over his lack of disclosure about his talks with Russia’s U.S. ambassador following the election. And Attorney-General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing a probe of Russia’s interference in the election after it was revealed he didn’t disclose his meetings with Russia’s ambassador.
No airport privatization in federal budget
Wednesday’s federal budget won’t include a proposal to privatize Canada’s major airports. The issue isn’t off the table though; Ottawa is still weighing the benefits of a sell-off, which could bring in billions of dollars. Last year, Finance Minister Bill Morneau asked Credit Suisse AG to look at privatization options for airports in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Halifax.
As for the rest of the budget, the Liberals are expected to eliminate some tax credits – but don’t expect major tax changes just yet. Yesterday, Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa called on Ottawa to increase capital gains taxes in order to limit speculation in the real estate market. Investors have expressed concern that Morneau might target capital gains as the government looks to find new revenue sources.
The euro climbed to six-week highs and French bonds and stocks rallied on Tuesday after centrist Emmanuel Macron’s performance in a television debate raised expectations he would win France’s presidential election over the far-right’s Marine Le Pen. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.3 per cent, though Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.4 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.3 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX were down less than 0.1 per cent by about 5:25 a.m. (ET), while the Paris CAC 40 was up 0.3 per cent. New York futures were also up, and the Canadian dollar was sitting at just about 75 cents (U.S.). Oil prices rallied almost 1 per cent on talk that OPEC could extend supply cuts.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Donald Trump’s really bad day
“It is impossible to overstate the significance of the revelation that the FBI is investigating possible collusion between the Russian government and President Donald Trump’s campaign team during last year’s election. This bombshell could eventually be remembered as the beginning of the end of the chaotic Trump presidency. At the very least, it means Trump will not soon escape from under the cloud of suspicion hovering over him and his campaign team.” – Globe editorial
Why campuses are ditching free speech
“Should speech rights be restricted by people’s feelings? A lot of people think so – especially on university campuses. … [there is a viewpoint] that free speech – far from being the bedrock of a fair and just society – is illegitimate and even dangerous when the oppressive class uses it to hold on to power. … Why doesn’t the university leadership stand up to this bullying? Simple. They can’t afford to rile the faculty.” – Margaret Wente
Economists can’t say they weren’t warned about Toronto housing
“So all of us can finally agree: Toronto’s home prices constitute a ticking time bomb. The question is, how do you defuse that high explosive? Over the past couple of weeks, economists for major banks have lined up to offer their ideas. Their flurry of suggestions provides a stirring display of public-spirited ingenuity – although observers might be tempted to ask where all that mental acuity has been lurking. Just a few months back, bank economists were still ferocious contenders in an unofficial contest to offer the most reassuring voice on soaring Canadian housing prices. They may now profess to be shocked – shocked! – at evidence of speculation in the Toronto real estate market, but they cannot say they were not warned.” – Ian McGugan (for subscribers)
Stuck on the bottle
Most Canadians have access to clean, drinkable tap water. But the Canadian bottled-water industry brings in $2.5-billion in annual sales. There are a few reasons for this. One, some people think it’s safer to drink bottled water despite Health Canada saying that the quality standards are “similar.” For others, it’s about making a fashion statement (see: Smartwater, for example). And for many Indigenous people who live in communities under boil water advisories, there is no other option.
MOMENT IN TIME
Stanley begins his search for Livingstone
March 21, 1871: The term “roving reporter” might have been invented for Henry Morton Stanley. Born in Wales in 1841 to a teenaged mother who abandoned him and a father he never knew, much of his early life was spent in the workhouse. Immigrating to the United States in 1859, he was roped into the the Civil War, achieving the distinction of fighting for both the Confederate and Union sides. Stanley was working as a freelance journalist reporting from Europe and the Middle East when the New York Herald tapped him to set out for Africa. His mission: Discover the fate of the celebrated missionary/explorer David Livingstone, who hadn’t been heard from for several years. Stanley finally came upon his quarry in a village on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in November, delivering perhaps the most famous greeting ever: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” – Ian Morfitt
Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.
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