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TODAY’S TOP STORIES

Nova Scotia judge under fire for consent remark

A Nova Scotia judge is under fire for comments he made when acquitting a taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger. “A lack of memory does not equate to a lack of consent. … Clearly, a drunk can consent,” the judge said. The woman had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit and had urinated on herself when she was found unconscious in the cab. The judge said prosecutors didn’t prove that she hadn’t consented to sexual activity. This isn’t the first time a Canadian judge has been in the spotlight for comments on alleged sex assaults. In 2014, Alberta Justice Robin Camp asked a rape complainant why she didn’t keep her knees together.

Sessions steps aside from Russia investigation

U.S. Attorney-General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from an investigation into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Sessions met twice last year with Russia’s U.S. ambassador. Sessions didn’t mention the encounters during his confirmation hearing when he was asked about Russian contacts with the Trump campaign. Trump has referred to the Democratic response, which includes some calls for Sessions to resign, as a “witch hunt.”

Despite Sessions’s assertion he met the ambassador in his capacity as a senator, the saga threatens to impact the standing of a man who’s been called the “intellectual godfather” of Trump’s team. During the Obama administration, Sessions expressed vocal opposition to immigration. Sessions had taken a vocal opposition to immigration under the Obama administration. Stephen Bannon, the President’s senior counsellor, said Sessions “was the leader of the movement” that eventually elevated Trump to the White House.

Lawyers say clients forced to choose between rights

A right to a timely trial or a preliminary inquiry. That’s the choice Ontario prosecutors gave the accused in a murder case, according to their defence lawyers. One of the lawyers called the Crown’s proposal “extortion.” Ontario’s Attorney General Yasir Naqvi has told Crown prosecutors to avoid preliminary inquires if a case is at risk of being thrown out for taking too long (last year, the Supreme Court set time limits on cases).

Proposed lawsuit targets B.C.’s foreign-buyer tax

B.C.’s foreign-buyer tax violates Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, argues the plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit. The tax is discriminatory because it “assumes foreign nationals have more wealth,” the claim says. The person behind the potential suit is a Chinese citizen who moved to Canada in 2013. She ended up paying an extra $83,850 to purchase a townhouse when the 15-per-cent tax came into effect last summer. B.C. introduced the measure as a response to skyrocketing home prices in the Vancouver area. In January, Premier Christy Clark said the rules will be loosened: Soon, international citizens who work and pay taxes in B.C. won’t have to pay the 15 per cent premium.

MORNING MARKETS

The U.S. dollar retreated on Friday after two days of gains while world stocks pulled further back from record highs as investors unwound positions on growing expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this month. Global markets are tumbling in advance of a speech later today by Fed chair Janet Yellen. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.5 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.7 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.4 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.1 and 0.4 per cent by about 5:25 a.m. ET. New York futures were also down. Oil prices ticked higher, recouping some of the previous session’s losses.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Lower electricity rates? Don’t fall for Premier Wynne’s power move
“Do not be fooled. [Kathleen Wynne] isn’t fixing the electricity system mess. She isn’t lowering the extortionate system costs created by a decade of poor choices and mismanagement of the province’s power system. She’s simply rigging consumers’ bills during an election year. … Basically, a Liberal premier has found yet another way to make Ontarians pay more for electricity, but this one is selling it as the act of a thoughtful government coming to the aid of consumers beleaguered by high electricity generation costs that somehow, gosh, just got that way on their own.” – Globe editorial

The frail wall between U.S. church and state

“Controversial Christian evangelist [Rev. Franklin Graham] was chosen by the President to preside over his inauguration. Trump also credited his friend with delivering the votes of thousands of members of his vast flock. Mr. Graham’s roving worldwide crusade makes a stop in Vancouver this weekend, and … there are genuine concerns it could incite violence. Those worries stem from harsh views to which Mr. Graham clings and that others have denounced as dangerous and bigoted. Yes, we should all fret over the impact Mr. Trump’s insidious nativist notions are having on the United States. But people like Graham are, in many ways, more frightening and a more immediate threat to the U.S. cultural fabric.” – Gary Mason

HEALTH PRIMER

The search for a healthier slice of pizza

Pizza isn’t good for you, but some are worse than others. A simple comparison of different frozen and delivery pizzas revealed Delissio’s pies to be the highest in calories and fat. If you make your own pizza, here are a few tips to make it (a little) healthier: go with a thin crust, limit the cheese, and use a paper towel to get rid of some grease. Oh, and if you can bear it, avoid the creamy dipping sauce.

MOMENT IN TIME

Alan Eagleson indicted in the U.S.

March 3, 1994: Alan Eagleson’s fall as the head of the NHL Players’ Association, the international boss for Hockey Canada and the top agent for players began on this day in 1994 when he was indicted on 32 counts of embezzlement, fraud, racketeering and obstruction of justice by a federal grand jury in Boston. He was accused of using his positions to steal millions of dollars from NHL players from 1975 to 1992 – and even though the majority of the crimes occurred in Canada, it took the U.S. justice system to hold the well-connected Eagleson to account. Eventually, he pleaded guilty to six fraud-related charges and received an 18-month sentence in 1998, to be served in Toronto. Eagleson, however, was out on parole after six months. He said the jail time was “just like football camp or hockey camp.” – David Shoalts

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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