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Good evening to you.
We begin today in China, where consular officials visited detained Canadian businessman Michael Spavor. That came as he draws closer to his third month in custody. Global Affairs Canada announced the meeting in a statement, promising to continue pressing for “further access” to Spavor and fellow detainee Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave. More from Marco Vigliotti.
The long-awaited final stage of a Liberal government bill to bring back stricter rules for long gun sales and licence screening are set to begin this month with a marathon six-hour Senate committee hearing with 18 witnesses. But as it stands now, the legislation’s passage through the Senate National Defence and Security committee could be a rough ride for the government. Tim Naumetz has more on why.
Marineland’s lone orca, Kiska. Photo: Dr. Ingrid N. Visser/ Orca Research Trust
A bill that would ban whale and dolphin captivity in Canada is off to the House fisheries committee for further study. Bill S-203 was debated in the House of Commons for a second time this afternoon and MPs then voted to move it along, with the backing of the NDP and Liberals. “We need to make it clear through legislation that indeed whales do not belong in captivity,” parliamentary secretary Peter Schiefke told the House. Holly Lake has the latest.
The federal government is seeking a private sector operator for several central heating assets in the National Capital Region to help facilitate sweeping upgrades and address long-term staffing issues, according to the public works department. However, the union representing public employees at the facilities is accusing the government of creating the staffing woes by failing to invest in recruitment or retaining existing workers. Vigliotti has that story as well.
The Ontario NDP is joining a growing chorus of left-of-centre parties questioning the residency status of Jason Kenney during his time as a federal minister and MP. The party is calling on Elections Ontario to investigate if the leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party illegally made donations to the Ontario Tories. Since Kenney, who represented a Calgary riding, listed Alberta as his primary residence, the NDP say he shouldn’t have been allowed to make those donations.
That comes as Ontario Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to investigate whether Kenney misused the expense system by claiming Calgary as his primary residence despite seldom visiting the city. That story from Marieke Walsh.
Still with Kenney, he’s demanding Premier Rachel Notley call the Alberta election now and stop campaigning with public money. As the Canadian Press reports, he says recent unbudgeted spending announcements and multimillion-dollar government ad campaigns for programs like the carbon tax are nothing more than partisan promotions for Notley’s NDP.
Across the pond, former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers says he is retiring next month as Canada’s ambassador to Ireland, and many New Brunswick Liberals say they’re hoping Vickers is preparing for a bid to become the province’s next Liberal leader. Hailed as a hero for helping to end the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill, Vickers took to Facebook today to say he’ll retire effective March 2 and return to his home in Trout Brook, Miramichi, N.B. That story from The Canadian Press.
In The Sprout: Super Bowl Sunday and trade deal delays
In The Drilldown: Insolvency is no excuse for skirting orphan well obligations
In The Rebel to Rabble Review: Election rumours and Venezuela fallout
In Other Headlines:
Veterans to share $100M settlement from feds after Federal Court approval (CTV)
Veteran politician critical of Jagmeet Singh in Weir saga (CBC)
Co-founder of Tim Hortons and philanthropist Ron Joyce dies at age 88 (CP)
Trade tribunal rejects rival’s bid to block warship contract (CBC)
General Dynamics wins $186-million Canadian navy contract for underwater sensors (CP)
More staff, artificial flooding among plans to save Wood Buffalo National Park (CP)
Guilty plea but no jail for former SNC-Lavalin CEO (Montreal Gazette)
Ellen Page calls out environmental racism in NS on Stephen Colbert’s show (The Star)
The U.S. government says it is freeing itself from the constraints of a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia and will begin withdrawing from the pact — which has been a centrepiece of arms control since the Cold War — tomorrow. As the Associated Press reports, the withdrawal had been expected for months, and follows years of unresolved dispute over Russian compliance with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which bans certain ground-launched cruise missiles. Canada, as well as NATO, have put the blame for the pullout on Russia, which denies violating the treaty.
So is nuclear disarmament set to self-destruct? The BBC weighs in.
Another day, another Democratic candidate announces their intention to try and take down Trump. Today, it was Cory Booker throwing his hat into the ring. The New Jersey senator recently gained national prominence in the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. As ABC News reports, he’s the fourth senator and ninth person to announce a bid, so needless to say, it’s going to be a crowded race.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson says she’s considering putting a gag order in place to keep Roger Stone’s yap shut. We can’t imagine why. Although we have been busy trying to keep count of how many interviews he’s given since last weekend.
It was a move that fuelled much backlash, and now Sen. Elizabeth Warren has privately apologized to the Cherokee Nation for her decision to take a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry. The New York Times reports.
In Featured Opinion:
Finally today, forget the Caramilk bar. The bigger question gripping the interweb this week is how the mystery makers of a giant snow bear in Montreal managed to get a belly button in its middle without leaving tracks or trace.
Mac the Moose, in Moose Jaw, Sask.
And an update to the plight of Mac the Moose we told you about last month. As he tries to reclaim his title as the “World’s Largest Moose” in the face of a challenge from a Norwegian, Moosehead Breweries has made a “tall boy” investment and kicked in $25,000 to the Moose Jaw’s icon’s cause. It comes as locals campaign to raise money for the efforts, suggesting Mac get a hat, a pair of hockey skates or just bigger antlers. CTV has the update.
Have a great weekend!