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Growing flowers of cannabis intended for the medical marijuana market are shown at OrganiGram in Moncton, N.B., on April 14, 2016. A class action lawsuit has been filed against a New Brunswick medical cannabis producer after unapproved pesticides were used in their products. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward
Growing flowers of cannabis intended for the medical marijuana market are shown at OrganiGram in Moncton, N.B., on April 14, 2016. A class action lawsuit has been filed against a New Brunswick medical cannabis producer after unapproved pesticides were used in their products. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward

Morning Update

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TODAY’S TOP STORIES

Medical marijuana firms discussed using banned pesticides

A pair of Canadian medical marijuana companies, Mettrum and OrganiGram, have just been hit with proposed class-action lawsuits over their use of a banned pesticide in their products. But they’re not the only ones linked to myclobutanil, which produces a chemical that can lead to health problems. It turns out that in 2015, two other licensed producers wanted the federal government to let them use the banned pesticide in their cannabis. And the two firms, Tilray and MedReleaf, were hoping to rally other companies to support the idea, according to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail. Both Tilray and MedReleaf say they’ve never used the banned pesticide, which helps prevent mildew that can damage cannabis crops. Health Canada has faced criticism for not actively testing products for pesticide use, instead relying on producers to self-police.

Climate, energy and pipelines

Trump may be rewriting the U.S. climate strategy, but Canada won’t veer from its long-term plan. Economic interests in the energy sector have to match climate policy, Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said yesterday (for subscribers). “If some of us have to take a short-term political hit, I think we’ll be doing our kids a favour,” he said.

Meanwhile, B.C.’s upcoming election could cause trouble for Trans Mountain pipeline plans (for subscribers). Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley wants to get her province’s oil out to Vancouver’s coast. But her party counterpart in B.C., NDP Leader John Horgan, opposes the pipeline’s expansion and is hoping to unseat Christy Clark’s Liberals in the May 27 vote.

WikiLeaks releases alleged details on CIA hacking tools

WikiLeaks released a stash of documents yesterday alleging the CIA is using hacking tools to access people’s smartphones, computers and even smart TVs. One technique described involves taking advantage of 24 security gaps in Android devices that Google apparently isn’t aware of or hasn’t fixed. Another tool apparently allows the CIA to activate audio and video on Samsung smart TVs. For its part, the CIA said, “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”

Alberta orders prosecutors to weigh cost of justice

If a case only has a “slim chance” of conviction, accept a plea bargain. That’s the message Alberta is relaying to its Crown prosecutors as part of a response to a Supreme Court ruling last year that set strict time limits for cases. With limited resources, the province has issued a protocol saying that serious and violent cases “may still not be worth prosecuting to the fullest extent possible, given the anticipated result and resources required.” The head of one Crown attorneys’ association says the new process could weaken prosecution standards. Alberta prosecutors have already stayed 200 cases in recent months because of a lack of resources.

MORNING MARKETS

European shares edged higher on Wednesday after minor gains in Asia as Chinese import data signalled a recovering economy, while the greenback rose before jobs numbers that could help cement expectations that U.S. interest rates will rise next week. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.5 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.1 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.4 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.1 and 0.4 per cent by about 5 a.m. ET. New York futures were also up. Oil prices fell in anticipation of data expected to show growing U.S. crude stockpiles.

THE LOOKAHEAD

Today is International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, there are plenty of reminders of the work to be done, starting with the gender pay gap: Women in Canada earn 74 cents for every dollar men make, according to Statistics Canada data. Men make about $70,000 a year, while women pulled in an average of $52,000. Canada sits at 35th in global gender gap rankings, down from 19th two years ago.

In the corporate world, investors are pressuring four major Canadian companies, including Tim Hortons’ parent, to add women to their boards (for subscribers). Three of these companies’ boards have no women; Tim Hortons parent Restaurant Brands International’s only female member is the daughter of a director. The investors are threatening to vote against the directors if changes aren’t made. In 2016, only 20 per cent of board directors at S&P/TSX companies were women. That’s up from 15 per cent in 2014. And just nine women hold the top executive job at Canada’s 100 largest companies.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

On this Women's Day, women should strike – for someone else

“It’s absolutely unfair that most big banks and law firms haven’t been led by a woman yet, that even highly educated women with decent salaries face both quiet and overt sexism every day. It’s also a much bigger deal that many vulnerable women, many of them not white, are cobbling together a living from two or three poorly paid, precarious jobs, often as single parents and without a safety net. … Women’s rights are human rights, and putting the least heard among us at centre stage could have positive benefits for everyone else. When you flip over your desk and walk out early this International Women’s Day, may I suggest you yell about the need for a fair minimum wage.” – Denise Balkissoon

Donald Trump’s distracting and dangerous tap dance

“Trump’s attack on his predecessor is a scorched-earth attack on the office of the President. Baselessly accusing the former chief executive of abusing his power by ordering the tapping of a political opponent’s phone (the “Nixon/Watergate” subtext) undermines Americans’ faith in the Oval Office. Were there factual evidence that Barack Obama had actually done this, it would rock America to its core. Nothing short of a massive investigation would be required, and Obama, were he found to have acted in such a manner, would see his reputation destroyed. Does anyone believe this is what will happen?” – Globe editorial

HEALTH PRIMER

Quick lunch ideas

If you’re in need of some quick lunch ideas, look no further. Fair warning: these aren’t all totally healthy. Here are five recipes to try: instant ramen, but better; curried noodle soup; spicy green pea soup; minestrone soup; mac and cheese.

MOMENT IN TIME

International Women’s Day becomes official

March 8, 1975: If you need one day to recognize women’s achievements, then the United Nations made it official in 1975. But it began much earlier. One hundred years ago, Russian women exhausted by the First World War took to the streets to protest for bread and peace. Their strike helped trigger the revolution that brought down the Czar, and the new Soviet Union estab- lished that day as a national holiday. In the Gregorian calendar used in the West, the February strike date fell on March 8. That date was eventually adopted by Western Europe and the United States, where various women’s days had been marked by trade unionists since the early 20th century. Canadian feminists and unionists began organizing IWD marches in the 1970s and the UN called on member states to mark IWD whenever and however they liked. In some countries, it’s the occasion to push for gender equity; in others, you’ll get flowers. – Kate Taylor

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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