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Evening Brief: Pipeline overpayments and Polar Vortex ouchies


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Good evening to you.

We begin today in Ottawa, where we learned that not only did the government buy a pipeline many across the country feel we had no business buying, it turns out the government may have overpaid for it  — by up to a billion dollars. The Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report pegging the value of the 1,150-kilometre pipeline at between $3.6 to $4.6-billion, though cautioned that construction delays could lower its value.

“From our analysis, the Government of Canada’s purchase price of $4.4 billion, does put it at the higher end of the pipeline’s valuation range,” PBO Yves Giroux said in a statement.

More from Marco Vigliotti on this doozy. Must be nice to have money to burn!

In Canada: 

Canada’s peacekeeping mission in Mali will end on schedule at the end of July. Global Affairs Canada announced this afternoon that Romanian troops will replace the Canadian Armed Forces in the mission. From the beginning, the government has maintained it would only be a one-year commitment. Charlie Pinkerton reports.

 (Photo: Cpl. Ken Beliwicz)

In his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, Justice Minister David Lametti was taken to task over the length of time it took the government to amend a Criminal Code provision that narrowly defines bestiality as penetration involving a person and an animal. “It’s been nearly three years this loophole has existed,” said Tory MP Michael Cooper. “We’re talking about bestiality. We’re talking about a pattern of behaviour that involves the most violent of behaviour towards animals and towards children. What has taken so long?” Holly Lake was there

The Supreme Court of Canada said today that just because an oil and gas company goes bankrupt, it cannot walk way — and nor can the bankruptcy process — from the duty to environmentally clean up its well sites. Chief Justice Richard Wagner, who wrote the majority decision, said, “Bankruptcy is not a licence to ignore rules, and insolvency professionals are bound by and must comply with valid provincial laws during bankruptcy.” That story from Leslie MacKinnon.

The Ontario NDP say they were leaked a draft version of a government bill that shows a “blueprint for privatization.” At an impassioned press conference this afternoon, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath accused the government of planning to throw the doors open to privatization under a planned Health System Efficiency Act. More from Marieke Walsh

The affordability struggle that Premier Doug Ford capitalized on in last spring’s election is real, says Ontario’s budget watchdog. While the province’s median income is the third-highest in Canada, income growth in Ontario is slower than any other province, said Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman. His report, released today, shows that since 2000 Ontario has turned into a laggard by a “wide margin” when it comes to middle income growth. “We are way worse in terms of growth than the rest of the country,” Weltman said. Walsh has that story as well.

Meanwhile from the bizarre file, CBC president Catherine Tait spent part of today warning about the cultural imperialism danger from — wait for it — Netflix. As someone noted on Twitter: “If you think what Netflix is doing is the equivalent to killing, enslaving, and oppressing tens of millions of people through colonization, Netflix might have a few history docs that may change you mind on that inane opinion.”

In The Sprout: China chatter
In The Drilldown: Alberta pulling back on production cuts

In Other Headlines:

Several witnesses in Norman trial still haven’t searched personal records for evidence, court told (CBC)
Humboldt Broncos case: Loose tarp distracted semi-driver before crash (Global)
Push for study of coerced sterilization intensifies on Parliament Hill (CP)
Vic Fedeli files defamation suit against Patrick Brown (CP)
Senators at odds over pitch to take proposed new environmental assessment law on the road (CBC)


So, it seems the chances of President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency at the border shot way up today. In the latest go around, he said he wouldn’t accept a deal to avert another government shutdown without money for his long-desired border wall, pushing back on Democrats who stressed their opposition to a wall. “If there’s no wall, it doesn’t work,” he told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if he could accept border measures other than a wall. He accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of “playing games” and said he’d wait to see if Congress can come up with an agreement before the Feb. 15 funding deadline before he decides whether to declare a national emergency. Meanwhile, in another ring of the circus, Pelosi signalled the Democrats might be open to new border ‘infrastructure.’ 

Good god, make it stop.

CNN is reporting that the White House is preparing a draft proclamation for Trump to declare an emergency and has identified more than $7 billion in potential funds for his signature border wall should he go that route.

Across the pond,  NATO’s chief is calling on China to treat two Canadians detained in the country “fairly and with due process.” In his first public comments about the case, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said today that he was following their case “with concern.” He called on Beijing to address the concerns of the Canadian government, which wants the pair to be “immediately released.” That story from the Associated Press.

In Featured Opinion: 

Martin Patriquin: Scheer prioritizes electability over personal conviction in ‘de-facto’ climate change skepticism
Paul Adams:  Election meddling—how much will Canadian voters even know?
Justina Ray: Ontario’s review of Endangered Species Act must address long-term ecosystem damage
Merran Smith and Dan Woynillowicz: As the carbon tax debate heats up in Ottawa, Canada should look to B.C.

The Kicker: 

Finally kids, Polar Vortex or not, don’t try this at home. At least not while you’re only wearing your unmentionables — like this steamy god.

Stay warm and have a good night.

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