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Canada Morning Update: Ottawa orders national-security review of Aecon’s sale; Boushie family’s visit to Ottawa

Aecon has been known for road projects, such as Highway 407 in Toronto.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail (File)

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Ottawa has ordered a national-security review of Aecon's sale to a Chinese state-owned firm

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The Trudeau cabinet has issued a special order to prolong Ottawa's scrutiny of a $1.5-billion takeover of Canadian infrastructure giant Aecon Group Inc. by a Chinese state-owned firm, invoking a section of law used when the federal government believes an investment "could be injurious to national security." The Aecon deal has been under review since last fall by Ottawa over whether it constitutes a "net benefit" for Canada. The would-be buyer, China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC), is 63-per-cent owned by the Chinese government. Toronto-based Aecon disclosed Ottawa's extended investigation Monday when it announced it was notified by Innovation Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains's department that cabinet "has, under section 25.3 of the Investment Canada Act, ordered a continuation of the national security review of the proposed acquisition of Aecon."

Meanwhile, a man purporting to be a major construction executive, who has been lobbying in Ottawa against the sale of Aecon to the Chinese state-owned enterprise, has convictions for fraud and perjury and is facing new charges of fraud. Michael Wilfred Beattie, who says he is an independently wealthy owner of a construction company with 145 employees, had been shepherded to meetings with federal politicians, regulators and media by a well-known law firm and lobbyists. But sources say the Toronto law firm Goodmans LLP dropped Mr. Beattie on Monday after being informed of the criminal charges and convictions by The Globe and Mail.

Olympics 2018: Canada wins gold in mixed doubles curling, bronze in both women's short-track speed skating and singles luge

Canada's John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes beat defending world champions Jenny Perret and Martin Rios of Switzerland 10-3 in the gold-medal game. Ottawa's Morris and Winnipeg's Lawes claimed the second Olympic gold medals of their careers and Canada's third of the Pyeongchang Games.

Canadian short-track speedskater Kim Boutin captured a bronze medal in the women's 500 metres at the Winter Olympics. The athlete from Sherbrooke, Que., finished fourth but was bumped up to third after South Korea's Minjeong Choi was disqualified.

Calgary's Alex Gough took bronze in women's singles luge this morning.

Elsewhere on the Olympics front:

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Boutin's medal capped what started out as a disappointing day for the Canadian team. Quebec-born Marianne St-Gelais failed to make it out of the quarterfinal stage after receiving a penalty for impeding. St-Gelais made contact with Yara Van Kerkhof of the Netherlands while trying to jockey for position. St-Gelais first made a name for herself when she captured two silvers at the Vancouver Games, and followed that up with another silver in Sochi.

Japanese short-track speed skater Kei Saito became the first athlete to be ejected from the Pyeongchang Games after failing a doping test. Saito, a reserve athlete, tested positive for a masking agent that is used to cover up banned substances.

Moguls skier Mikaël Kingsbury won Canada's second gold medal. Here's Cathal Kelly's take: "Remember back to Vancouver, when Kingsbury's predecessor, Alexandre Bilodeau, won gold in the moguls. That was a national eureka moment. It felt enormous. … By contrast, Kingsbury's win here felt like a coronation and, dare one say it, a little blasé. This is the downside to Canada morphing into an Olympic powerhouse – no one triumph feels quite as special any more."

Medal count (Gold, Silver, Bronze, Total)

Netherlands: 4, 4, 2, 10

Germany: 4, 1, 2, 7

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Canada: 3, 4, 3, 10

United States: 3, 1, 2, 6

Norway: 2, 4, 3, 9

Want to get caught up further? Our daily Olympics guide gives you everything you need to know about the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

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Liberals to examine jury-selection rules after acquittal in Boushie killing

The federal government is promising to examine the way juries are chosen after the acquittal of a white Saskatchewan farmer, charged in the killing of a 22-year-old First Nations man, by a jury that appeared to have been selected to exclude Indigenous people. Three members of Colten Boushie's family travelled to Ottawa on Monday to talk to Liberal cabinet ministers about the injustices they say they have experienced since Mr. Boushie, a Cree man, was killed in August, 2016. Their trip followed a weekend of protests and expressions of outrage by First Nations leaders and others after Gerald Stanley, who held the gun that killed Mr. Boushie, was found not guilty Friday on charges of second-degree murder.

The Globe and Mail's John Ibbitson argues that "you and I have every right to question the verdict in the Stanley trial. [...] But ministers of the Crown cannot and must not question the verdict of a trial. With their prejudicial tweets, they undermined the justice system they are charged with upholding. And they have made it harder, not easier, to fairly examine the jury-selection process, which the Prime Minister and Justice Minister promised to look into Monday."

The Globe's editorial board writes that the government should fix our juries in the name of fairness: "It's unusual for cabinet ministers to comment on a jury verdict. They exposed themselves to criticism that they were interfering with the justice system, and they appeared to be insensitive to the rights of the accused. But they were also touching on a fact of Canadian life that is often discounted: that Indigenous people – who are vastly overrepresented in federal and provincial jails – are deeply suspicious of the justice system in general, and the process of jury selection in particular."

Ontario's Catholic school boards are enrolling more non-Catholics

With provincial funding tied to student numbers, Catholic boards are increasingly pitching their schools to those who don't subscribe to the faith. Last year, the number of non-Catholic students in Ontario reached nearly 11,000, an 18-per-cent boost in the past four years. The tactic raises questions about a system that was constitutionally mandated to protect a specific religious identity. The office for Ontario's Education Minister said school boards are "able to establish their own policies regarding enrolment in their schools." Last year, a Saskatchewan judge ruled that the province doesn't have a right to fund non-denominational students at Catholic schools. Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta are the only remaining provinces still required to fund Catholic schools.

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South Africa's ruling ANC decides to remove Zuma as head of state: source

South Africa's African National Congress party executive committee has decided to "recall," or remove, President Jacob Zuma as head of state, a senior ANC source told Reuters on Tuesday, after a 13-hour meeting of the party's top leadership. Since Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected party leader in December, Zuma has faced mounting calls from his party to end his scandal-plagued second term scheduled to run out in mid-2019. The 75-year-old Zuma has been South Africa's most controversial president since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, overseeing a tumultuous nine years marked by economic decline and numerous allegations of corruption. The party's executive committee has the authority to order Zuma to step down as head of state, although there is domestic media speculation that he might refuse.

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Jarislowsky sale likely the end of an outspoken era

"He is one of the original fearless voices, a crusader who took on Canada's corporate elite – from lazy corporate directors to overcompensated investment bankers. As an independent money manager who founded his own firm, Stephen Jarislowsky had free range to say whatever he wanted to. Now, in his 93rd year, Mr. Jarislowsky has sold that firm to Bank of Nova Scotia for nearly $1-billion. There are no guarantees he will be as candid any more – not with all of the checks and balances of a bank, such as investor relations and communications teams, standing as potential obstacles." Tim Kiladze (for subscribers)

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Markets antsy

The fight between Goldilocks bets – on the not too hot, not too cold global economy – and market bears who have delivered some hefty blows in recent weeks, continued on Tuesday with little sign yet of a clear winner. Tokyo's Nikkei lost 0.7 per cent, though Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.3 per cent, and the Shanghai composite rose 1 per cent. There's a note of caution in Europe, where London's FTSE 100 was up 0.2 per cent by about 6:10 a.m. ET, but Germany's DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were each down 0.2 per cent. New York futures were also down. The Canadian dollar is at just about 79.5 US cents, trading so far between 79.4 and 79.6 US cents. The U.S. dollar is softer. Oil stabilized, paring gains made earlier in line with a recovery on global stock markets.

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.


Can Caroline Mulroney pull it off?

"Is Caroline qualified to be the premier of Canada's biggest province? Of course not. That doesn't mean you can count her out. 'She presents a fresh start for both the party and the province,' as one insider told me. All she has to do is navigate the demolition derby of current Ontario politics." Margaret Wente

Trump's budget plan signals disregard for deficit, but it means little

"President Donald J. Trump presented his annual budget Monday. America shrugged. But just as important, Washington shrugged, too. With expansive and expensive tax cuts and a refusal to tackle so-called entitlements – the Social Security retirement supplement and the Medicare health program for seniors – the discipline that Republicans traditionally brought to American budgets has disappeared in an era where the GOP controls the White House and both houses of Congress. It didn't seem to matter." David Shribman

The cannabis industry must earn the trust of Canadians

"The uniquely Canadian approach to legalizing medicinal and recreational cannabis is focused on the development of a strong and strict regulatory environment that produces safe, quality-assured, medical-grade cannabis. Thus far, it has been a solid approach, but 'better' is both possible and necessary. An increased focus on safety is, of course, an economic benefit to the industry, but there is also the ancillary benefit of goodwill. As an industry poised to be an economic force in the country, the goodwill of Canadians is essential."John Prentice and Jay Rosenthal


Spend time with like-minded people to help combat loneliness

Studies have shown that social isolation can lead to a wide range of debilitating illnesses, from cardiovascular disease and cancer to depression and dementia. The British government has taken note and appointed an official Minister for Loneliness to address the issue. One way to combat the loneliness? Join a running club, or a bird-watching group. "Do something – anything – that forces you to be around like-minded individuals in a healthy environment," says Paul Landini, a personal trainer and health educator at the Toronto West End College Street YMCA.


Mr. Dressup premieres

Feb. 13, 1967: When Mr. Dressup launched in 1967, it established a new template for imaginative children's daytime programming. Ernie Coombs had already worked on series such as Butternut Square and MisteRogers (a precursor to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, with Fred Rogers himself), but Mr. Dressup was Coombs's creation and he put heart and soul into the character. Lovingly simple in tone and execution, Mr. Dressup took viewers into a world of magical stories and non-threatening playtime with puppets Finnegan, a dog, and Casey – an ahead-of-their-time gender-neutral kid – who lived in his backyard treehouse. A dive into the Tickle Trunk, a big red steamer trunk packed with costumes, would inspire new games on screen and in the living rooms of children enthralled by Coombs's spell. The show's bouncy opening refrain is familiar to generations of Canadians – the series lasted for an astounding 29 seasons. It went off the air in 2006, 10 years after the last episode had been made and five years after Coombs's death. When CBC closed its Toronto museum in 2017, Mr. Dressup's easel and treehouse went into storage. Puppets Casey and Finnegan, however, are enjoying retirement in Hornby Island, B.C., with their creator Judith Lawrence. – Andrew Ryan

Morning Update was written by Kristene Quan and Arik Ligeti.

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The NDP pushed Justin Trudeau for answers Monday in the wake of Gerald Stanley’s acquittal in the death of Colten Boushie. The Prime Minister wouldn’t address the case directly, but said work to “fix the system” for Indigenous people was ongoing. The Canadian Press
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