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Hello,

Commuters in and around Canada’s biggest city got a taste of the rail chaos that has engulfed much of the country as pipeline protests popped up along Toronto’s busiest transit lines on Tuesday, ensnaring tens of thousands of travellers during rush hour.

Widespread travel disruptions are expected to continue today after new blockades emerged in Ontario as part of ongoing protests in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in B.C., who oppose the Coastal GasLink project. (The issue is further complicated by internal disputes about who speaks for the community – hereditary chiefs or elected council – as The Globe’s Justine Hunter explores today.)

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The protests have put Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the tricky position of trying to defend and promote Indigenous rights while fending off the economic and political setbacks of a crippled rail line. Meanwhile, Alberta, stung by the loss of the $20-billion Tech Frontier project, has introduced a law that would jail pipeline protesters for up to six months and impose huge fines starting at $1,000 a day. So far, the only thing that appears certain is the issue will not be resolved quietly. The Wet’suwet’en chiefs have said Thursday is the earliest they can meet with the federal government to talk about the dispute.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter. 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

Democratic debate Joe Biden accused front-runner Bernie Sanders of causing “carnage on our streets” by voting against gun control legislation in a heated and relentlessly negative debate that was the last chance for several Democratic presidential contenders to keep their struggling campaigns alive. The seven-person joust was the last before South Carolina’s primary on Saturday and next week’s Super Tuesday contests.

Foreign aid International development experts say the federal government must boost its foreign-aid spending toward the UN target if it wants its feminist agenda to have a meaningful and sustained impact. Trudeau announced plans last year to gradually increase international funding for women and girls’ health and rights to $1.4-billion annually by 2023, up from the $1.1-billion the government currently spends. But the annual budget increases have not resulted in a significant boost in development spending as a percentage of Canada’s gross national income (GNI), the OECD says.

Carbon tax Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister hinted at a potential breakthrough with the federal government on a carbon tax, and did not rule out introducing a tax in the upcoming provincial budget. Mr. Pallister would not reveal what price he is willing to agree to, but said the federal government has been told.

Coronavirus World markets were spooked by the spreading coronavirus this week as the WHO warned that many countries are ill-prepared for an outbreak. As the Globe’s Mark MacKinnon reports, the authoritarian instinct to deny and obfuscate has only made the situation worse. He points to the Iranian regime, which, like China’s, denied there was a problem for weeks before admitting the severity of the threat.

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Boeing 737 Max In a rare acknowledgement that its oversight of the Boeing 737 Max was flawed, Transport Canada said it believed the Max was safe when the government approved the new plane three years ago, but officials did not closely examine the aircraft’s flawed software before clearing it to fly. Aviation authorities grounded the Boeing 737 Max in 2019 after two deadly crashes only months apart.

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on investments in the oil sands: “It is no longer enough for the promoters of any resource project to pass through an environmental assessment review process and obtain the support of a majority of Indigenous peoples affected to proceed with a development deemed in the ‘public interest.’ A leadership void in Ottawa has allowed an entirely new set of hurdles to pop up.”

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on Bernie Sanders’ rise: "To suggest Mr. Sanders can’t defeat Mr. Trump is to be in the grip of old thinking. Few thought Americans would elect a black president. Few thought, given his assaults on norms, they’d elect a Donald Trump. They were outliers both. The outlying Mr. Sanders is thus in keeping with the trendline: He fits the mood and the mould.

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on reconciliation, development and carbon pricing: 'The debate has been dominated by the most extreme, uncompromising, all-or-nothing voices...Only when all sides dispense with the fantasy of total victory will there be a way out of this stalemate."

Jonathan Kay (National Post) on Trudeau’s political dilemma: “The idea that Indigenous political agitation would lead to Canada’s break-up is not new. The shocking thing now is that the main threat doesn’t actually come from Indigenous peoples.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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