Evening Update

March 22, 2019

Evening Update: Canadians need to know ‘whole story’ of SNC-Lavalin affair, former cabinet minister Philpott says; New Zealand bans semi-automatic weapons
Evening Update: Canadians need to know ‘whole story’ of SNC-Lavalin affair, former cabinet minister Philpott says; New Zealand bans semi-automatic weapons - Also: The latest on Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, involved in two recent fatal crashes

S.R. Slobodian

Good evening,


Canadians need to know ‘whole story’ of SNC-Lavalin affair, former cabinet minister Philpott says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has brushed aside calls from former cabinet minister Jane Philpott to waive all cabinet and solicitor general privileges to allow former justice minister and attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould to speak freely about the fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Ms. Philpott told Maclean’s magazine in an interview published today that Canadians need to know “the whole story” of what she called an “attempt to politically interfere with the justice system in its work on the criminal trial” of Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin.

She resigned earlier this month as president of the Treasury Board, citing a lack of confidence in the way the Prime Minister handled the SNC-Lavalin matter (for subscribers). Get the background on the SNC-Lavalin affair here.

At an event in Mississauga, Mr. Trudeau told reporters he already granted an unprecedented waiver to Ms. Wilson-Raybould so she could provide testimony.

After the Liberal-dominated justice committee shut down hearings into the SNC-Lavalin affair on Tuesday, Conservative MPs aimed to disrupt Parliament in protest and forced marathon votes on spending estimates last night that are expected to take up most of today.

Read more: Kathleen Roussel: Who is the top prosecutor pushing ahead with the SNC-Lavalin case?

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New Zealand bans semi-automatic rifles, high-capacity magazines after Christchurch mosque shootings

The government of New Zealand announced a ban on “military-style” semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines today, a week after those types of weapons were used in the mosque shootings in Christchurch that killed 50 people and wounded many others.

An immediate sales ban went into effect to prevent stockpiling and new laws would be rushed through Parliament that would impose a complete ban on the weapons, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Ms. Ardern’s party controls a majority in Parliament, so passage of the legislation is expected. New Zealand does not have a constitutional right to bear arms.

Opinion: “The climate is doing more than inspiring fear around personal safety – it’s also creating barriers for Muslims to find or hold on to meaningful work, housing and community acceptance. Islamophobia is holding people back economically, and it’s time to talk about it.” - Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

The latest on Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, involved in two recent fatal crashes

Air Canada and WestJet Airlines have at least one of the optional safety features on their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that were reportedly lacking on the jets that crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Both say they purchased disagree lights used by the aircraft’s software system during flight to avert stalls.

The New York Times has reported the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air jets involved in recent fatal crashes were not equipped with angle of attack indicators and disagree lights. According to the report, the safety features are not standard on the aircraft and are offered by Boeing as upgrades – for an extra fee.

A separate report says Boeing now plans to offer as standard equipment the angle of attack indicators, and will mandate them as part of a coming software upgrade to the 737 Max fleet that was grounded after the crashes, unidentified officials say.

Ontario to modify reforms to autism program after backlash from parents

The Ontario government says it will modify its reforms to the province’s autism program, which were met with emotional protests by parents.

Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, said she and MPP Amy Fee – her parliamentary assistant and a mother of two autistic children – had convinced Premier Doug Ford to provide more “flexibility” for funding of the program, allowing for a series of changes.

These include consultations on how to provide more funding for children with more acute needs, an end to the proposed income-testing regime for autism money, and the expansion of services eligible for funding to include speech and language therapy and physiotherapy.

Ms. MacLeod would not say how much more money, beyond the $331-million the Progressive Conservative government has already committed, the new autism program would cost.

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Canada’s main stock rose today after data showed increased domestic hiring and wholesale trade, even as the U.S. Federal Reserve abandoned projections for interest rate hikes this year amid signs of an economic slowdown (for subscribers). The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index increased 77.03 points at 16,244.59.

South of the border, expected losses in bank shares on the likelihood of lower interest rates were more than offset by gains in the technology sector, lifting Wall Street’s benchmark to near its highest in five months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 216.84 points to 25,962.51, the S&P 500 gained 30.65 points to 2,854.88 and the Nasdaq Composite added 109.99 point to end at 7,838.96.

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Quebec tables budget: The Quebec government under Premier François Legault introduced its first budget today, with money for expanding kindergarten and keeping head offices in the province.

U.S. policy change: President Donald Trump said today that it’s time for the United States to recognize Israel’s control over the disputed Golan Heights, an announcement that signals a shift in U.S. policy and comes ahead of the Israeli prime minister’s planned visit next week to the White House.

Utrecht shooting charges: The main suspect in a deadly tram shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht will be charged with offences including multiple murder or manslaughter with a terrorist intent, prosecutors say.

Mosques vandalized: Counter-terrorism officers in central England are investigating attacks on five mosques in Birmingham in which windows were apparently shattered by a sledgehammer.

Great Lakes warning: The Great Lakes region is warming faster than the rest of the United States, a trend likely to bring more extreme storms while also degrading water quality, worsening erosion and posing tougher challenges for farming, scientists report.

Major Saint Mary’s donation: The Sobey family empire is donating $18-million to Saint Mary’s University – the single largest gift in the school’s history – aiming to boost business education in Atlantic Canada and position the Sobey School of Business to compete with the country’s top commerce faculties.


We must not politicize psychiatry - no matter what Trump tweets

“As if to prove that [U.S. President Donald] Trump isn’t the only one capable of brewing up a Twitter storm, [conservative lawyer George] Conway issued a flurry of tweets suggesting that the President suffers from both narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders, the very maladies that are bedevilling me. And you.” - Peter McKnight, adjunct professor, school of criminology at Simon Fraser University

In Ontario, a fight over class sizes is the wrong fight

“If the two sides allow this one issue to degenerate into strikes or lockouts, students will be the big losers. They risk missing part of their school year, without the prospect of being better off for it in the long run.” - Globe editorial

Jordan Peele’s terrifying Us takes you out of the sunken place, and into the fire

Strangely, this sophomore effort feels like more of a proverbial “calling card picture” than Get Out. It’s as if Peele, rattled by his own hype, is straining to show what he can do as a straight-ahead craftsman, absent all the talk of him being a generational talent with a gift for articulating the issues vexing America. - John Semley


Personal tax experts are reminding Canadians to claim all of the tax credits they may be eligible for when they file their income tax return this year including the new climate-related tax credit and other oft-forgotten deductions. The climate action incentive can be claimed by those who are 18 or older and resided in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or New Brunswick as of the end of last year. While that’s the big new item this year, don’t forget the other common expenses that people tend to overlook, including prescriptions and other medical expenses that were not fully reimbursed by a health plan.


New York’s new Hudson Yards: When is a mall not a mall?

New York isn’t wanting for places to shop, so the opening of a mall seems like something that would elicit no more than a shrug from your average Manhattanite. And yet, on March 14, 14,000 people gathered at the newly opened Hudson Yards complex to be among the first to take in a shiny, well-appointed mall, albeit one at the north end of the High Line where, just a few years ago, there was nothing.

Okay, it’s more than just a shopping centre. The one million square feet of retail space include Manhattan’s first Neiman Marcus, as well as several dining options, such as Kawi, a new concept backed by Momofuku’s David Chang (designed by Toronto-based firm DesignAgency), TAK Room from Thomas Keller and José Andrés’s Mercado Little Spain (think a Spanish version of Eataly).

In front of the mall is The Shed, a new performance arts centre (Bjork’s eight shows this spring are already sold out), and beside it, what will likely be this new neighbourhood’s primary draw, both for tourists and locals: Vessel. Globe subscribers, read Maryam Siddiqi’s full story here.

People tour the inside 'The Vessel,' a large public art sculpture made up of 155 flights of stairs, during the grand opening of the The Hudson Yards development in New York
People tour the inside the 'Vessel,' a large public art sculpture made up of 155 flights of stairs, during the grand opening of the The Hudson Yards development. (Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
I keep losing stuff, but I haven’t lost my sense of humour (yet)

The loss of things is upsetting enough. But there are the losses of things that aren’t things: intangibles, such as courage, resolve and patience.

I have lost, and continue to lose, my patience daily, often with my dear husband. “What do you mean you didn’t know we were going to the movies with friends tonight? I told you this morning!” ... And I have lost my resolve so many times I can’t count them any more: The resolve to eat less; the resolve to be a nicer person; the resolve to learn Spanish.

And where, along the way, did I lose my courage? Who was that 20-year-old who had the courage to go to France for a year after graduating from university? That young woman who, upon seeing a notice seeking actors for a theatre troupe at the Sorbonne, joined said troupe in spite of her less-than-perfect French? Would the 79-year-old woman I am today do that? Could she? I think not – in fact, I know not. The sting of this realization is sharp and dispiriting. - Ruth Miller

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