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Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Morning Update

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TODAY’S TOP STORIES

Opposition MPs cry foul over Liberals’ tabling of 300-page bill

The federal government tabled a wide-ranging budget bill on Tuesday that includes legal changes to the powers of the Parliamentary Budget Officer as well as a new law that creates the Canada Infrastructure Bank. But the Conservatives and NDP say that the more than 300-page legislation amounts to an “omnibus bill” – something the Liberals have separately proposed making illegal. The Trudeau government campaigned on a pledge to end so-called omnibus bills based on concern that such large bills force MPs to vote yes or no on a large package of changes even though they might support some parts and not others. Opposition MPs say Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s latest budget bill appears to be an example of the very thing the Liberals say should be banned.

Under pressure: In Moscow, Tillerson faces uphill battle to turn tough talk into cohesive strategy

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets Russian officials in Moscow today to confront them about Russia’s backing of the Syrian regime. After the U.S. air strike in Syria last week and the rhetoric that followed, observers are left wondering when a comprehensive strategy will emerge from the Trump administration.

Trudeau government calls on Russia to end support for Syria’s al-Assad

Meanwhile, the federal government is sharpening its criticism of Russia, calling on Moscow to stop backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of the chemical-weapons attack last week.

Transport Minister enhances airport security but no laptop ban

Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau says that enhanced airline security measures have been put in place on passenger planes from other countries, but those measures don’t involve a ban on all large electronic devices. Mr. Garneau was also mum on specifics regarding the security measures – not disclosing what measures had been adopted or what countries were affected – citing national security. Federal sources said the measures involve stricter screening of passengers and checked baggage, but they also would not name the countries.

CBC apologizes, says it didn’t mean to offend with roundly criticized ‘Story of Us’ series

The CBC has apologized in the wake of mounting criticism over its history series, Canada: The Story of Us. The public broadcaster says it never meant to offend “anyone or any group” and didn’t intend to “diminish the importance” of stories that were left out of the program. The first two episodes of a 10-part series meant to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the country were poorly received in Quebec and the Maritimes, with the furor even reaching the provincial governments.

MORNING MARKETS

Global markets were mixed Wednesday as a break in political news lifted European stocks and cooled a safe-haven rally that saw the yen and gold at five-month highs and top-rated government bond yields at their lowest this year. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 1 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.5 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.9 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up 0.4 per cent by about 5:25 a.m. (ET). New York futures were also up, and the Canadian dollar was above 75 cents (U.S.).  Oil’s winning streak got an added lift from reports Saudi Arabia was lobbying OPEC and other producers to extend a production cut beyond the first half of 2017.

THE LOOKAHEAD

The Bank of Canada will make an interest rate announcement and release its monetary policy statement this morning. While the central bank is expected to hold rates steady, all eyes are on the outlook, as the trend of upbeat economic news becomes hard to ignore.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

"So an airline passenger dared to believe his ticket actually gave him the right to a seat? No wonder United Airlines was so enraged. Its clumsy response to the now-famous incident in Chicago can be read in many ways – as a commentary on United’s tone-deaf management (which has since apologized) or on the sad state of air travel, for starters. Really, though, the case is one that echoes way beyond any single company or industry." - Ian McGugan (for subscribers)

"The Liberal government is about to introduce legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana. What’s the best way to do that? That’s what Ottawa has been puzzling over ever since the Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, made their bold promise in the last election campaign. For answers, look at how Canada has succeeded, and failed, in dealing with another recreational product both popular and problematic for public health: tobacco." - Globe Editorial

"
There is an old saying in politics that governments are compared to perfection at the start of an election campaign but simply the best alternative by the end of it. BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark is certainly hoping this is the case as she attempts to carry an election for a second time, running against polls that suggest the New Democratic Party is poised for victory." - Gary Mason

"
It’s been obvious for some time that Canadian hockey succeeds despite the league, rather than because of it. No other organizing body in the world works so hard at ignoring its base in order to reward people who’ve shown little or no interest in their sport." -Cathal Kelly

HEALTH PRIMER

High sexual desire in women can be totally normal

In an effort to attain a perceived level of "normal," women often grapple with feeling abnormal, and even broken, when it comes to their sexual desire.

MOMENT IN TIME

Yuri Gagarin becomes first human in space

April 12, 1961:
America may have had the right stuff, but the Russians were first to send a man into space. The former Soviet Union had a head start in the space race with the 1957 launch of Sputnik 1 – the first man-made satellite which set off the reach-for-the-stars competition between the two superpowers. Soviet Air Force pilot Yuri Gagarin, 27, was pressed into service as a “cosmonaut” and, soon after, the Vostok 1 spacecraft blasted off from its launch site in Kazakhstan. Over 108 minutes, the craft made a complete orbit of Earth and attained a maximum height of 327 kilometres. Three days after Gagarin’s return to terra firma, Russians celebrated his flight by dancing in the streets of Moscow. Three weeks later, the United States caught up when Alan Shepard piloted the Mercury capsule Freedom 7 on a successful suborbital flight. – Andrew Ryan

Morning update is written by Kiran Rana.

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