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Hello,

The Bank of Canada did what central banks do in a crisis and cut its key interest rate by 50 basis points this morning.

The Bank said the cut, to 1.25 per cent from 1.75 per cent, was due to the economic shock of the coronavirus. “COVID-19 represents a significant health threat to people in a growing number of countries. In consequence, business activity in some regions has fallen sharply and supply chains have been disrupted,” the Bank said in its release.

So far, Canada has been spared the brunt of the infection. But health experts warn that the virus could start spreading more widely in communities in the coming days and weeks.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

If a Democrat had fallen asleep a year ago and woken up this morning, they would not be surprised to find that Joe Biden won big in Super Tuesday last night, setting up the race for the Democratic presidential nomination into a two-man contest with Senator Bernie Sanders. (The rest of us who have been following the ups and downs of the past year might be more surprised.) Businessman Michael Bloomberg has reportedly dropped out after spending half a billion dollars and only winning American Samoa.

The chiefs of Wet’suwet’en elected band councils say they feel left out by the tentative agreement reached between the hereditary chiefs and the B.C. and federal governments. That agreement came about because of opposition by the hereditary chiefs to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their territory – a project backed by the elected chiefs.

The Ontario government has backed down on its proposals to increase class sizes and make online courses mandatory, setting up the prospect of a deal with the province’s striking teachers’ unions.

Alberta’s “fair deal” government panel is asking the province’s residents if they want to separate from the rest of Canada.

Thirteen Canadians working for a non-profit in Ethiopia have been released on bail after being accused of handing out expired medicine.

And how are hospitals dealing with the spread of the novel coronavirus? The Globe took a look inside Toronto’s North York General Hospital, where staff are making important decisions around the call.

Ian McGugan (The Globe and Mail) on banks slashing rates because of the coronavirus: “Lower rates can’t repair busted supply chains, encourage frightened consumers to go out to restaurants, or get more virus-wary vacationers on board airlines to foreign destinations. If schools were to close for a couple of weeks to prevent transmission of the virus, lower rates couldn’t cover for parents who may have to stay home to look after their kids.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the Conservatives and carbon pricing: “Corporate Canada can see which way the world is going: countries without clear plans for reducing emissions are being penalized in global markets. More than that, they dislike being caught in the middle of political firefights. Carbon pricing is not only the simplest and cheapest way of signalling to producers and consumers where and how to cut their emissions. It’s also the least divisive. Businesses making decentralized decisions in response to market-based incentives are far less likely to become points of conflict than governments making centralized decisions in response to political incentives.”

Paul Wells (Maclean’s) on Trudeau’s handling of problems: “On this crisis of substance as on all his earlier crises of style, Trudeau favours a kind of stultifying drone that mimics the effect of air freshener, smothering unpleasant odours without finding or addressing their cause.”

David Shribman (The Globe and Mail) on Biden’s resurgence on Super Tuesday: “The campaign now takes on a fresh character that is a mirror image of the Republican campaign four years ago – a struggle between the conventional and the insurrectional.”

Andrew Cohen (The Globe and Mail) on the importance of the choice for a Democratic running mate: “The vice-presidency this time will be quite a prize. Given the prospect of the president dying or retiring early, it is a more likely stepping stone to the White House, as the office has been for 14 of 45 presidents. There’s a good chance of succeeding the boss.”

Bhaskar Sunkara (National Post) on billionaires in politics: “Bloomberg is a classic definition of an oligarch in that he is someone who is ideologically flexible, who has hopped from party to party, has personal business interests, and is using his billions of dollars to try to influence our political process.”

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