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Former CSIS directors question pursuit of extradition treaty with China

Signing an extradition treaty with China might not be a great idea, two former Canadian Security Intelligence Service directors say. In the fall, Ottawa announced it had agreed to begin talks with Beijing about a possible treaty. But Australia's recent decision to scrap a similar treaty is raising questions about how Canada can reconcile its human-rights standards with China's justice system. As part of a crackdown on corruption, Beijing is pushing for the treaties as a way to bring back people it says must face criminal penalties back home. Ward Elcock, who served as CSIS director from 1994 to 2004, said: "The reality of the Chinese justice system is it is totally unlike our justice system, so we will have almost no guarantees in sending somebody back to China – even for what we would regard as a normal criminal prosecution."

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Canada puts down cash for AI race

In a bid to stay competitive in the growing field of artificial intelligence, Ottawa, the provinces and corporations are injecting major cash into Canadian research institutes (for subscribers). Toronto's Vector Institute is set to get a total of $170-million in funding, about half from the feds and Ontario, and the other half from corporations such as Shopify, Magna and Canada's Big Six banks. Google, meanwhile, is opening up a research lab in Toronto. Ottawa has committed $125-million to AI research institutes in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto. The hope is that talent will stay north of the border, and in the process facilitate the use of AI within corporate Canada.

Trump's bid to reverse climate agenda puts pressure on Ottawa

Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday that scales back key aspects of Barack Obama's climate change plans. The move will put pressure on Justin Trudeau on climate pledges and could also hurt Canada's oil and gas sector. Trump's bid to help the coal industry could affect Canadian hydroelectricity producers expecting to benefit from the U.S. Clean Power Plan. Canada is pledging to forge ahead with its Paris climate accord commitments, but Trump's actions could cause the U.S. to fall short on its own greenhouse gas promises.

Inside Valeant's fall

"Once a darling of Wall Street and Bay Street investors and analysts, Valeant is now likely to go down in the history books as one of the largest corporate debacles in North America," writes Bruce Livesey in the cover story of this month's Report on Business Magazine. So how did the fortunes of the Quebec-based pharmaceutical company, for a brief time Canada's largest corporation, come crashing down? Bay Street analysts, its former CEO and one-time employees wouldn't talk. But a small group of largely ignored people did. Find out how an analyst, a hedge fund manager and a journalist exposed the fatal flaws in the company's strategy and ended a drug-fuelled capital markets rampage (for subscribers).


Global markets were cautious and mixed Wednesday with European shares rising, while the sterling was the biggest loser on major currency markets ahead of the formal triggering of Britain's exit process from the European Union later in the day. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 was down less than 0.1 per cent by about 5:45 a.m. ET, while the Paris CAC 40 and Germany's DAX were down by between 0.2 and 0.5 per cent. Earlier, Tokyo's Nikkei gained 0.1 per cent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng 0.2 per cent, though the Shanghai composite lost 0.4 per cent. New York futures were down, and the Canadian dollar was just shy of the 75-cent (U.S.) mark. Oil prices gained after a severe disruption to Libyan oil supplies and as officials suggested OPEC and other producers could extend output cuts to the end of the year.


Britain files for divorce

Today, Britain is formally notifying the European Union of its decision to exit the union. But the actual process to leave will be complicated: British Prime Minister Theresa May wants to negotiate the exit terms and sign a trade agreement with the EU within two years. By comparison, the Canada-EU trade deal has taken seven years to put together.

While the official exit letter is being sent to the EU today, face-to-face talks probably won't start until June. In September, Germans will head to the polls. The results of that election could have a big impact on the EU's negotiating positions. Exit talks would theoretically end in October, 2018, in order to give member countries time to ratify the agreement by March, 2019. If talks need to be extended, unanimous support from all countries is needed. But the next EU elections will be in May or June of 2019, which would leave Britons in an awkward position of voting in a governing body they're leaving.


Ottawa should learn from Australia's extradition debacle with China

"Australia had struck a free-trade deal with China, but Australians couldn't digest a deal with its justice system. Justin Trudeau should keep that in mind. He has agreed to hold exploratory talks on a Canada-China extradition treaty, but the big deal for his government rests in another set of talks on a free-trade agreement. The political question he faces is not only whether Canadians will accept an extradition treaty, or even whether they'll resign themselves to it if it means lucrative trade and benefits for Canada's economy. It's whether the distaste for an extradition treaty, or things like it, will scare Canadians away from economic initiatives such as free trade." – Campbell Clark (for subscribers)

Kevin O'Leary: Rebel without a (notwithstanding) clause

"Kevin O'Leary doesn't have a clue how the country he hopes to govern one day operates. Not a clue. While his delusional fantasies about how he would rule his kingdom may fly with members of the Conservative base, they are not rooted in any kind of reality. In fact, they are so detached from it, alarms should be ringing everywhere. … It is increasingly evident that O'Leary is employing a Trump-like strategy to say anything that might help him win the leadership of his party, no matter how foolish and impractical these utterances are. But with each passing day, O'Leary mostly demonstrates why he's a would-be politician not to be taken seriously." – Gary Mason

Why re-opening NAFTA would be good for Canada

"Perhaps Ottawa could take a page from Trump's playbook and use this opportunity to champion the interests of ordinary Canadians. For starters, if the agreement were reopened, it would give us the chance to challenge protectionist pandering to pet industries. Supply management, which fixes prices for milk, eggs and poultry in Canada, is a good place to begin. Because milk prices are predetermined, when the market is oversupplied, rather than driving down prices, excess milk gets thrown out. Ontario farmers have been known to dump almost a million litres in a month. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has estimated that supply management costs Canadian consumers an average of $2.6 billion per year." – Rita Trichur


A fitness alternative to massages

Tight muscles? Getting a massage isn't your only option. "Recovery/release" classes can help massage pressure spots by using small balls and a foam roller. They'll allow you to release knots, which in turn increases motion – and helps prevent injuries.


I.M. Pei's 'Grand Louvre' opens

March 29, 1989: Pyramids of glass and steel? The idea of such foreign objects in the heart of the Louvre did not go over well with Parisians when the Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei unveiled his renovation to the nearly 1,000-year-old site. "It's a scandal," one local complained in the days before the opening. And yet, the combination of French classical architecture and austere modernism proved felicitous. The "Grand Louvre" project created a well-lit lobby and many other facilities underground – space for the museum's armies of visitors to get their bearings as they tried to see the 35,000 works on display. Yet, above ground on Napoleon Court, all you could see on opening day were Pei's three pyramids. They would soon become inseparable parts of the collection, works of design that showed the hand of the 20th century while shedding light on the past. – Alex Bozikovic

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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