TODAY’S TOP STORIES
Ontario wants to end most preliminary inquiries
In Quebec today, a man accused of murdering three people will ask to have his charges dismissed because of unreasonable delay. That’s because a Supreme Court ruling last year set time limits for criminal proceedings at 18 months in provincial court and 30 months in superior court. Now, Ontario Attorney-General Yasir Naqvi wants the federal government to remove preliminary inquiries – except in the most serious cases – in order to cut down on the time it takes for cases to move through the justice system.
A preliminary inquiry is a test done to determine if a case should be sent to trial. But the Supreme Court ruling last year suggested that new processes may have rendered those inquiries unnecessary. Ontario alone has more than 6,500 criminal cases that are past the 18-month time limit. Across Canada, lawyers are asking for hundreds of cases to be tossed out because they’re past time limits.
Trump, border crossings and Trudeau’s Catch-22
As Donald Trump directs law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigrants, the stream of asylum seekers crossing the border into Canada won’t be slowing down any time soon. A loophole in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Act allows people who enter Canada from the U.S. via illegal border crossings to make a refugee claim; they’d be turned away if attempting to enter through an official border. In Quebec alone, 452 asylum claims were made last month. Canada’s border agencies are moving staff to deal with the illegal crossings.
The situation leaves Justin Trudeau caught in a political Catch-22, writes Campbell Clark. If he scraps the Safe Third Country Act, then more people will make claims and he may draw the ire of Trump. If he doesn’t, people will continue making sometimes-dangerous trips through unofficial borders. And if he turns people away, it harms the Liberal image of being welcoming to refugees.
B.C.’s provincial budget unveiled
The BC Liberals released their pre-election budget yesterday. The big target was cutting the fees on the Medical Services Plan. Unlike all other provinces, B.C. has a system that requires citizens to pay monthly health premiums of up to $75 a person or $150 per family. Under the new plan, which is set to take effect next year, those rates would be cut in half for some B.C. residents. But many people have their premiums paid for by employers, and those with a household income above $120,000 will pay the same rate. Meanwhile, the province’s welfare rates remain unchanged for the 11th straight year; the BC Federation of Labour says the budget “does nothing for the 500,000 people who are working below the poverty line.”
Inside the brutal transformation of Tim Hortons
“It took less than a year for Tim Hortons’ new Brazilian owner, 3G Capital, to erase more than 50 years’ worth of corporate culture.” That’s how our big Report on Business Magazine story on a Canadian coffee institution begins (for subscribers). In 2014, Tim Hortons was acquired by a private equity and merged with Burger King under a banner called Restaurant Brands International. Between layoffs and departures, some estimate the parent company has slashed as much as half of Tim Hortons’ head office and regional staff. And only one top executive who was around before the sale is still left.
Global stocks hit record highs on Wednesday, pushing gains for the year above those for all of 2016, while the U.S. dollar rose before Federal Reserve minutes that will be scoured for clues on the timing of the next U.S. interest rate rise. Tokyo’s Nikkei inched down, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.2 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.2 and 0.5 per cent by about 5:05 a.m. ET. New York futures were little changed. Brent crude was down 44 cents and the U.S. West Texas Intermediate was down 34 cents 4:50 a.m. ET.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Is Canada ready for Donald Trump’s refugee crisis?
“For the moment, Canada is right to continue to live up to the Safe Third Country Agreement. In the end, it may not even matter. The real question is, Are we prepared for a refugee crisis? … What has Ottawa got in place to deal with a flood of humanity probing the world’s longest unprotected border? Do we have the manpower and resources to handle it? It would be good to know that Canada has a plan. So far, Ottawa has only given us platitudes about our compassionate and welcoming ways. It’s not enough.” – Globe editorial
Trump effect hits Alberta, and Notley pays the price
“Alberta’s current Premier, Rachel Notley, is a constant target of angry and intimidating communication. … With Donald Trump now ensconced in the White House, his foul-mouthed acolytes are more inspired than ever. To think that their intolerant and insidious views and hate-filled language won’t now become more prevalent on this side of the border is naive. Trump creep is already under way. While it is difficult imagining this phenomenon reversing itself any time soon, it’s even scarier thinking that we, as a civil society, will simply accede to it.” – Gary Mason
Deal reduces price of life-saving hepatitis C drugs
The price of hepatitis C drugs in Canada is set to go down thanks to a new deal with pharmaceutical companies. And in B.C., the government said it will start covering the drugs for those with chronic hepatitis C. The drugs that have emerged on the market recently are extremely effective at clearing the virus, with little side effects. The downside is they can cost between $45,000 and $100,000 for each patient.
MOMENT IN TIME
World’s tallest man born in Alton, Illinois
Feb. 22, 1918: Robert Pershing Wadlow came into this world weighing 8.7 pounds, but by his first birthday he was 3 1/2-feet tall and 45 pounds. Diagnosed with hyperplasia of the pituitary gland, he reached six feet by age eight and just kept growing. Although Wadlow accepted the inevitable public attention – even touring with the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1936 – his affliction exacted a terrible physical toll, including a weakened immune system and minimal feeling in his lower extremities. In June, 1940, Wadlow’s height was measured as eight feet and 11.1 inches tall. Several days later, he developed an infection from a blister caused by an ankle brace. Despite blood transfusions and emergency surgery, he passed away soon after at the age of 22. Nearly eight decades later, Wadlow remains the tallest person in human recorded history. – Andrew Ryan
Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.
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