The Bank of Canada raised its policy interest rate Wednesday, pushing up borrowing costs for the first time since 2018 and kicking off a much-anticipated rate hike cycle despite heightened economic uncertainty caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The central bank’s governing council voted to increase the key overnight interest rate to 0.5 per cent from 0.25 per cent – the first step in a push to bring runaway inflation back under control.
This puts the bank on the path to normalizing monetary policy after two years of record-low interest rates, held down by the bank to support the Canadian economy through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bank of Canada Reporter Mark Rendell reports here.
Meanwhile, Real Estate Reporter Rachelle Younglai reports here that the rate-increase decision is not expected to cool the country’s frenzied real estate market, with homebuyers still able to get cheap mortgages to compete for properties.
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CANADA TO FACE ECONOMIC PRICE FOR UKRAINE MEASURES: FREELAND - Canada will expand its Russia sanctions to target more Putin-friendly oligarchs and businesses, but Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland warns Canadians there will be an economic price for these punitive measures in support of Ukraine. Story here.
CITY OF OTTAWA INSTALLING POINTED STREET SIGNS OUTSIDE RUSSIAN EMBASSY - The city of Ottawa is installing new “Free Ukraine” street signs in front of the Russian Embassy in the nation’s capital to protest Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. Story here from CTV.
UKRAINIAN-CANADIANS JOIN FIGHT AGAINST RUSSIA - Some Ukrainian-Canadians are heading to Ukraine to join the fight against Russia after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for the formation of an international legion of volunteer fighters. Story here.
UPDATES: Watch here for the latest Globe and Mail updates on the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
LICH FLAGS BACKGROUND OF JUDGE IN HER BAIL HEARING - Ottawa convoy protest organizer Tamara Lich submitted an affidavit in court as part of a bail review saying she was unaware a judge who denied her release was a former Liberal candidate, adding that if she had known that she would have had her lawyer ask for the recusal of Ontario Court Justice Julie Bourgeois from her case. Story here.
DECRIMINALIZE DRUGS: NDP CRITIC - The Liberal government must decriminalize drugs to save lives as the opioid crisis worsens across the country, the NDP’s public safety critic said at a House of Commons committee hearing.
ELECTIONS CHIEF ACTS ON HATE GROUPS - Canada’s elections chief is set to take action to stop hate groups from getting tax breaks and lists of voters’ names and addresses by registering as political parties. Story here.
MENDICINO ANNOUNCES GUN-CONTROL LEGISLATION - Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says the Liberal government will soon introduce new gun-control legislation. Story here.
CHONG CONSIDERS TORY LEADERSHIP BID - Conservative MP and former leadership contender Michael Chong says he hasn’t yet ruled out another potential run for the top job, while a different prospective candidate prepares to meet tonight with potential supporters. Story here from CTV.
B.C. LEGISLATURE CLERK MISUSED PUBLIC FUNDS: PROSECUTOR - British Columbia’s former clerk of the legislative assembly used public funds to enrich himself in “glaring and egregious” ways, a special prosecutor alleged Tuesday. Story here from CBC.
MANITOBA MLAS PAY TRIBUTE TO COLLEAGUE KILLED IN CAR CRASH - A northern Manitoba politician killed in a highway crash late last year never hesitated to tell the people she loved how she felt about them, one of her colleagues said on Tuesday, as MLAs paid tribute to Danielle Adams. Story here from CBC.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS - Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March 2, accessible here.
NUMBERS PROVIDED ON RUSSIAN VESSELS - A day after the federal government announced it is banning Russian-owned and registered ships from Canadian ports and waters, Transport Canada has put some numbers on the commitment, which comes in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a statement, a department spokesperson said that in a typical year, about 7,500 international commercial marine vessels dock in Canada. “Russian vessels are a small share of this total, but we do not have the exact number as we have not historically tracked country of ownership of vessels,” said the statement issued by Hitcham Ayoun. “For example, at this time, we are tracking four vessels off Canada’s coast that would be subject to the ban.”
NEW ADVISOR TO NAMES BOARD - A new Indigenous Advisor has been named to the Geographical Names Board of Canada. The board serves as the national co-ordinating body responsible for official place names across Canada. (There’s more information here on the board.) Rob Houle, a member of the Swan River First Nation in Kamloops, B.C., has been appointed as the new First Nations Indigenous Advisor to the board for a two-year term ending in March 2024. Among his responsibilities is to provide culturally appropriate advice, perspectives and insight on historical, geographical, cultural and linguistic matters to aid the Board in developing enhanced policies. Mr. Houle replaces Ava Hill, the first person to hold the position of Indigenous Advisor to the board.
TOP MILITARY LEADERS AT COMMITTEE HEARING - There‘s a timely committee hearing on Wednesday. Between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., the Standing Committee on National Defence will be focused on “Threat Analysis Affecting Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces’ Operational Readiness to Meet Those Threats.” Witnesses include Vice Admiral J.R. Auchterlonie, Commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, and Vice Admiral Scott Bishop, Military Representative of Canada to NATO, Canadian Armed Forces. There are details of the meeting, including webcast information, here.
THE DECIBEL - Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast features Maria Avdeeva, the research director of the European Expert Association, which analyzes Russian disinformation. With the sound of Russia’s attack in the background, Maria explains what’s happening in her hometown of Kharkiv, and why the decision to stay is her way of fighting the “Information War,” where disinformation is weaponized to change how the world understands the horrors unfolding in Ukraine. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Private meetings. The Prime Minister attended the national caucus meeting and Question Period.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet held a news conference, on Parliament Hill.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh met with former federal Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy and Fen Osler Hampson, chair and president of the World Refugee & Migration Council regarding the situation in the Ukraine and attended the NDP’s national caucus meeting. He held a press conference and attended question period.
No schedule released for the Conservative Party leader.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s heroes wouldn’t stop now, and neither will he: “On Day Six of the invasion of Ukraine, the conventional wisdom was that things were not going according to plan for Russian President Vladimir Putin. That his military advance was behind schedule. That so much Ukrainian resistance had not been expected. That such a strong response from the West had not been anticipated. That sanctions were damaging the Russian economy. That Mr. Putin, that cold calculator of his own interests, had miscalculated. That he had cornered himself. We wrote as much yesterday. But we also said that being cornered will not necessarily cause Mr. Putin to back down. Quite the contrary. It may simply push him to up his level of commitment, and violence.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on Ukraine’s courageous fight against Russia: “The implicit bargain appears to be this: Mr. Putin is prepared to tolerate other countries supplying weapons to Ukraine, so long as they are prepared to acquiesce in Ukraine’s destruction. Our hesitation to disturb this balance is entirely understandable, if the alternative is war with a nuclear power. We are doing what we can, we tell ourselves, without putting our own populations at undue risk. Still, I can’t help noting: Ukraine is at war with a nuclear power. Its soldiers are shooting at Russian soldiers every day. Mr. Putin could order a nuclear strike on it at any moment. And yet they fight on. Because they have no choice? No. Because they have chosen.”
Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war is revitalizing the presidency of Joe Biden - and America’s global leadership role: “That was a chipper and confident Joe Biden giving the State of the Union address Tuesday night. Small wonder. His presidency has been given a new life. Vladimir Putin’s barbaric assault on Ukraine has shifted the focus from the President’s debilitating domestic woes to a leadership role on the global stage confronting the march of authoritarianism. Mr. Biden has an opportunity to unite his brutally fractured republic against a common enemy. In a rare show of bipartisanship, typically disdainful Republicans actually stood to applaud him as he expressed his resolve in meeting the Putin challenge. “It is in this moment that our character is formed, our purpose is found,” Mr. Biden said. “I know this nation. We will meet the test.”
Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on how long the fiction told Russians that they’re fighting for a noble cause will last: “And one week into a war that has united the Western world and upended foreign policy traditions – Switzerland shelved its position of neutrality and Germany agreed to send lethal weapons to a combat zone – the Russian narrative has largely stayed the same: their forces are bravely clearing the Donbas of enemy combatants, they say, while Western powers conspire to levy cruel anti-Russian sanctions. This narrative is now being challenged, however, by images of Ukrainian children sleeping in metro stations, videos of the apparent cluster bombing of residential areas in Kharkiv, and social media posts of regular citizens taking up arms to defend a country Mr. Putin said was not real – citizens who, according to state media, were supposed to welcome invading Russian troops as liberators.”
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