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Morning Update: Details emerge from Air Canada flight mishap; Gregor Robertson’s mayoral exit

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson listens during an announcement about the expansion of the Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library program, in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday March 6, 2017. Mr. Robertson, who was first elected in 2008, says he won’t be seeking re-election this fall.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

What went wrong in an Air Canada flight incident at San Francisco's airport

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On Oct. 22, an air-traffic controller ordered an Air Canada plane to abandon landing because another jet hadn't cleared the runway. But no crew responded, and the controller repeated a command to "go around" six more times to no avail, before resorting to flashing a red light at the cockpit. But the plane went ahead and landed anyway (it did not collide with the other plane). After the incident, the pilot told investigators that the crew couldn't hear the commands because the radio frequency in the cockpit had been changed, according to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail (for subscribers). This was the second recent incident involving an Air Canada jet at San Francisco's airport: In July, an Air Canada pilot nearly landed on a taxiway occupied by four other planes.

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Canada is taking the U.S. to the world's trade court in a massive complaint

The decision to file the wide-ranging complaint comes amid growing concerns that President Donald Trump will soon pull the U.S. out of the North American free-trade agreement (for subscribers). In the complaint, Canada is accusing the U.S. of breaking World Trade Organization rules related to the dumping or subsidizing of exports. The challenge is connected to the softwood lumber dispute that has seen the U.S. slap tariffs on Canadian exports. Canada has cited nearly 200 cases as part of its complaint. "This sends a signal to the Trump administration that if NAFTA is going to end, and we are going to be treated no better than other countries in the world, then this is the kind of treatment you can expect to receive in return," said economist and trade expert Chad Bown.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson won't run for re-election

Robertson, a former BC NDP MLA, was first elected mayor in 2008, and won two subsequent elections in 2011 and 2014. He first rose to office in part on a promise to end street homelessness by 2015, but plans to build temporary housing for the homeless were met with opposition from angry residents. And others argue he failed to do enough to tackle affordable housing as real estate prices soared. "In hindsight, I wish we'd figured out how to get more citywide consensus on solutions before affordability hammered the city," Robertson said.

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Gary Mason writes that the housing issue would have cast a shadow on Robertson's campaign had he decided to run: "While he lectured the former B.C. Liberal government about not doing enough to stifle the unseemly rise in house prices in his city, it was a finger-wagging that came too little, too late. It was also tough to swallow. This was his city after all. He was the one who, in the opinion of many, was far too cozy with developers. He was the one who, initially anyway, resented any suggestion that it was offshore Chinese buyers who were bidding up the cost of homes, and creating an upward spiral effect on prices across the region. When he lamented in a speech that the city was in danger of losing its soul, those listening couldn't help but shake their head in disbelief."

The cause of health symptoms affecting Canadian diplomats in Cuba is still a mystery

It has been nearly a year since Canadian diplomats and their families began experiencing sudden nosebleeds, dizziness, sleeplessness and headaches. A federal official says Ottawa still doesn't know what caused the unusual symptoms. Twenty-seven Canadian diplomats have undergone medical testing, and eight required follow-up care. Some American diplomats suffered permanent hearing loss and concussions. One theory has been that the individuals were hit with a sonic attack, but Cuba's ambassador to Canada said there aren't any sonic weapons in his country. This week, U.S. officials said they're investigating other possible causes, including a deliberate viral attack.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Anger is brewing over Tim Hortons' response to Ontario's minimum wage hike

Rallies took place across Ontario to protest the actions of several Tim Hortons franchisees. A social-media campaign is also encouraging people to boycott Tim Hortons to show solidarity with employees. Staff at two locations owned by the son and daughter of the chain's founders were told their paid breaks would be cut and that they'd have to start covering at least half the cost of their health benefits. Some other locations have allegedly told employees to hand in their tips or pay for their own uniforms. The minimum wage hike, from $11.60 to $14, has been criticized by business groups who say the increase happened too quickly.

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Here's economics expert Michael Farren's take on the issue: "Most of the time, the minimum wage's effect is hard to see. It's usually hidden in shorter employee hours and increased workloads, price increases and cost-cutting by reducing the quality of service provided. In this case, however, the company that owns Tim Hortons limits franchise owners' ability to raise prices and hasn't lowered the cost of the supplies that franchises have to purchase. So instead, franchisees' short-term alternative is to push down labour costs. In this case, it means eliminating free uniforms, ending paid breaks and even reducing what they contribute for employee medical insurance."

MORNING MARKETS

Bonds bounce

Worries about a U.S.-led trade war put world stocks at risk of their first two-day loss of the year on Thursday, while bond markets bounced as China poured cold water on reports that it might stop buying U.S. debt. Tokyo's Nikkei lost 0.3 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.2 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.1 per cent. In Europe, London's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent by about 5:45 a.m. ET. New York futures were up. The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.66 cents (U.S.). Oil prices continued to climb higher.

FYI: The Globe now provides all users access to real-time stock quotes for both Canadian and U.S. markets. Go here to find out about the major changes to our Globe Investor site.

WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Art is not sacred – the abuse of power must end

"When allegations against Toronto theatre star Albert Schultz were made public, not one of my hundreds of friends in theatre or the arts reacted with shock. An important distinction: The lack of astonishment did not stem from bad feelings toward, or ideas about, Schultz. Rather, the allegations were met with shrugs because, once again, a powerful man running a well-funded cultural institution was alleged to have abused his position for sexual kicks. As one friend put it on social media, 'I wondered who would be first [in Canada].' … But this I know: If you work in the arts in Canada, whatever the discipline, you have seen some truly appalling behaviour. Indeed, the allegations against Schultz detail what could arguably be regarded as normalized, even institutional, problems." R.M. Vaughan, Canadian writer and video artist

Along with bread price-fixing, Loblaw serves up baloney

[Loblaw's $25] gift card tactic seemed to work for a minute, with many people getting excited about what was essentially a bribe. But my household goes through two loaves a week. If I was being overcharged 25 cents each time – an invented number, since I haven't been given a real one – Loblaw is coming up at least $300 short. Criminal problems were already off the table, since Galen G. Weston, chairman and CEO, and other Loblaw executives are participating in the Competition Bureau's immunity and leniency program. That means they'll face no criminal charges or fines for the decade-plus they spent overcharging an entire country for a basic food." – Denise Balkissoon

HEALTH PRIMER

A diet high in fat is best – with the right kind of fat

"The best current evidence for prevention of heart attacks is for the Mediterranean diet, which is high in beneficial oils (olive and canola), high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes (beans, lentils, peas, nuts etc.), and much lower in cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fats than the traditional Western diet. … This is why recent guidelines – the 2016 U.S. guideline, and the Canadian guideline now in development – are moving toward a more plant-based pattern of eating. We should limit red meat, avoid egg yolks and have three vegetarian days a week." – doctors David Spence and David Jenkins

MOMENT IN TIME

U.S. Surgeon-General issues smoking warning

Jan. 11, 1964: On a winter weekend in the smoky homes of the United States, the story "hit the country like bombshell." That's how U.S. Surgeon-General Luther Terry would later describe a report he published that weekend, declaring that smoking causes illness and death; it noted correlations with chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart disease and lung cancer. The statement – put out on Saturday to avoid a blow to the stock market – wasn't necessarily the first of its kind, but it was the first to have a dramatic effect on the industry. In 1965, Congress required all cigarette packs to carry warning labels, and, by 1970, tobacco advertising on television and radio was banned. In the years that followed, millions of Americans would stub out, but it took Canadian smokers another decade to begin quitting in large numbers. While doctors and politicians in the 1960s put forward recommendations to curb consumption, many, such as banning ads, only became law in the 1980s. From 1981 to 1986, the average smoker had 700 fewer cigarettes a year. For the first time in Canadian history, smoking entered a period of sustained decline. – Carine Abouseif

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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Protesters rallied Wednesday at several Tim Hortons locations against cuts some outlets made to employee breaks and benefits after Ontario’s minimum wage hike. Toronto demonstrators explain why they don’t support a boycott. The Canadian Press
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