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Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull waves with China's Premier Li Keqiang as they walk along the Sydney Harbour foreshore in Sydney on March 25, 2017.


Australia scraps extradition treaty with China

As Canada mulls an extradition treaty with China, Australia has pulled its own agreement after mounting political backlash. Beijing is pushing for the treaties as part of its effort to crack down on Chinese citizens living abroad whom it accuses of corruption. But the use of torture as well as political interference within China's justice system has been a continued source of international criticism, with many calling into question whether those being extradited would be given a fair trial. Lacking a majority in a Senate increasingly opposed to the treaty, Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it off. In the fall, Canada agreed to pursue extradition talks with China. More recently, officials have said Beijing's interrogation methods could impede the potential for an agreement.

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Ottawa approves high-tech takeover

Elsewhere on the China front, Ottawa has approved a Hong Kong-based company's takeover of a Montreal high-tech firm. In 2015, national security agencies said that the acquisition by O-Net Communications could hurt the technological advantage Western militaries like Canada's have over China. The company, officials warned in 2015, is effectively controlled by the Chinese state. Stephen Harper's Conservative government rejected the deal, but the Liberals reopened the file and, on Monday, approved the transaction – with conditions. The requirements are "designed to limit the potential risk that could compromise national security," a Canadian government official said.

Marijuana legalization coming, but access could vary

Marijuana is set to become legalized in Canada by July 1, 2018, but where you live could have a huge impact on its availability. The federal government has indicated it will leave decisions around distribution in the hands of provinces and territories. B.C., for example, already allows illegal dispensaries to operate and might jump faster to regulate the sale and taxation of marijuana. But in Alberta, many mayors appear to be against the retail sale of cannabis, one expert said. That resistance might delay any action and result in the continuation of a black market. Pharmacies, private shops like dispensaries, and even liquor stores have been floated as possible places where pot could be sold.

Conservative leadership camps ratchet up plans to stop asylum seekers

Maxime Bernier says he would build up Canada's military presence at the border in order to put a halt to crossings by asylum seekers. And Kevin O'Leary countered by promising to invoke the Constitution's notwithstanding clause in order to prevent those crossing from making refugee claims. The statements from the Tory leadership hopefuls came just ahead of a key deadline: Today is the last day to sign up new party members who would be eligible to vote in the Conservative leadership contest.


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Hopes that the Trump administration will now prioritize tax reforms, coupled with still-robust economic data and corporate earnings forecasts spurred some investors Tuesday to look past creeping doubts about Trump's ability to deliver on campaign promises. Stocks recovered and the U.S. dollar rose off four-month lows. Tokyo's Nikkei climbed 1.1 per cent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng 0.6 per cent, though the Shanghai composite lost 0.4 per cent. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 and the Paris CAC 40 were down, though by less than 0.1 per cent, by about 5:35 a.m. ET, while Germany's DAX was up 0.5 per cent. New York futures were up. Prices for front-month Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil, were up 0.6 per cent. In the U.S., West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 0.7 per cent.


Trump to sign new executive order

Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order today that reverses key elements of Barack Obama's climate-change policies. Trump will call for a review of a plan that currently restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. The federal ban on new coal leases will also be reversed. Trump has previously said global warming is a "hoax" crafted by the Chinese.


Turkish referendum could signal Erdogan's move toward authoritarianism

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"Not that long ago, then-U.S. president Barack Obama referred to Turkey as a 'great Muslim democracy.' There are two things that statement asks: Is a Muslim democracy the same as a democracy? Is Turkey even a democracy any more given what has transpired since the failed coup attempt last year? The answer to both questions is no. Turkish democracy has always been flawed. But as of now, the challenges are far bigger and the implications for the region and the world are more serious. Regardless of just where you see Turkey headed – to stability and democracy, or to dictatorship – the protagonist in the story is the current Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan." – Aslan Amani and Robert C. Austin, teachers at the University of Toronto

There's only one way to fix the housing bubble

"Everything is window-dressing unless [politicians] tackle the root of the problem: supply and demand. Don't count on action any time soon. Urban containment policies are broadly popular with the public (especially the progressive and already well-housed public). And they are gospel among an entire generation of planners and strategists who are convinced that containment, densification and compact cities are the formula for urban bliss. …The trouble is that policies that are good for places may be very bad for people. It's time to ask ourselves the question: Which comes first?" – Margaret Wente (for subscribers)

Clickbait policies from Tory leadership hopefuls won't stop asylum seekers

"Maxime Bernier said he'd be willing to call the army to stop illegal border-crossers. Kevin O'Leary promised to override the section of the Constitution that guarantees the right to "life, liberty and security of the person." Kellie Leitch ran ads promising to "Crack down on illegal immigration." In the last few days Conservative candidates have been desperate to recruit members who can vote for them before the party's deadline at 5 p.m. Tuesday. And the tool of choice was ill-considered, clickbait policies to stop border-crossers. This was the leadership-campaign version of This Is Spinal Tap: The words made no sense but the amps were turned up to 11." – Campbell Clark


Most Canadians get timely priority medical treatment

Three out of four Canadians getting priority procedures are treated within the recommended time frames, a new report says. But the speed of access depends on where you live: Only 36 per cent of Nova Scotians needing knee replacements got one within the benchmark wait time, compared with 86 per cent for Ontarians. Canada is stronger in some priority areas than others: 97 per cent of patients received radiation therapy within the benchmark time frame, but for cataract surgery the benchmark was only met in 73 per cent of cases – down from 83 per cent four years earlier.


Canada Council for the Arts launched

March 28, 1957: The Canada Council for the Arts that bankrolls thousands of artists each year began as part of a larger council created in 1957 mainly to fund higher education in the humanities and social sciences. The Liberal government of Louis St-Laurent was slow to follow a 1951 recommendation by its own Massey Commission, correctly fearing that some provinces would accuse it of eroding their constitutional authority over education. A bill to create the council was attacked by Social Credit MPs as "a method for promoting state culture," and by Tories for giving Parliament too little oversight. Even Mr. St-Laurent had his doubts about funding ballet dancers. The bill was proclaimed on March 28, and the first arts grants were announced at a private party in Stratford, Ont., in July. Tours by the Stratford Festival and Le Théâtre du Nouveau Monde received $10,000 each. – Robert Everett-Green

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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