Evening Update: Liberals block opposition efforts to call PM’s chief of staff to testify over Beijing election interference
Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Liberals continue filibuster to block Telford from testifying on Chinese interference
Opposition MPs accused Justin Trudeau of a coverup today as Liberal MPs continued a filibuster to block the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, from testifying before a Commons committee studying China’s interference activities in Canadian democracy.
MPs on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee met during the March parliamentary break to debate an NDP motion to call Ms. Telford to explain what she and the Prime Minister knew about Chinese election interference and what they did to stop it.
But Liberal MPs prevented a vote by reading newspaper articles, talking about their university days, overseas travel and accusing the Opposition of playing political games. Others said a public inquiry wasn’t necessary at this time or said that political staff should not be forced to testify at committees.
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U.S. surveillance drone crashes into Black Sea after being hit by Russian jet
A U.S military MQ-9 surveillance drone crashed into the Black Sea today after being intercepted by Russian fighter jets, in the first such incident since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over a year ago.
The Pentagon said that a Russian Su-27 jet struck the propeller of the drone, making it inoperable, while Russia’s defense ministry blamed “sharp manoeuvring” of the unmanned drone for the crash and said that its jets did not come into contact with it.
The incident was roundly condemned by the White House and the Pentagon, which warned of the risk of escalation.
On the ground in Ukraine, a Russian missile struck an apartment building in the centre of Kramatorsk, killing at least one person and wounding nine others in one of Ukraine’s major city strongholds in its eastern Donetsk region, officials said.
Flair Airlines missed payments for months before planes seized, lessor says
The leasing company that seized four Flair Boeing 737s on the weekend said it did so only after the Edmonton-based discount airline “regularly” defaulted on millions of dollars in payments over a five-month period.
The lessor, Airborne Capital of Dublin, worked with bailiffs to repossess four of Flair’s 19 jets late Friday and early Saturday at airports ahead of one of the year’s busiest travel days.
Flair CEO Stephen Jones said yesterday the seizures were directed by impatient New York hedge funds because Flair was just US$1-million behind in its payments.
But Airborne said it “strongly rejects” Mr. Jones’s statements, and says the amount owed was in the millions of dollars.
Wife of Alberta spiritual leader John de Ruiter also faces sexual assault charges, police say
The wife of a controversial Alberta spiritual leader accused of sexually assaulting some his followers is now facing charges herself.
Edmonton police confirm that Leigh Ann de Ruiter, wife of John de Ruiter, was arrested yesterday and charged with three counts of sexual assault.
A police spokesperson says the three sexual-assault charges against her arise from the same incidents for which her husband is charged.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Charges in Quebec crash: The driver of a pickup truck that killed two people and injured nine others yesterday in the Quebec town of Amqui was charged with dangerous driving causing death after police said he drove into pedestrians chosen at random, including children. Court documents identify the accused as 38-year-old Steeve Gagnon.
More tech layoffs: Facebook-parent Meta Platforms says it will cut 10,000 jobs, just four months after it let go 11,000 employees, the first Big Tech company to announce a second round of mass layoffs.
U.S. inflation up in February: U.S. consumer prices increased solidly last month as Americans faced persistently higher costs for rents and food, posing a dilemma for the Federal Reserve, whose fight against inflation has been complicated by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. The Fed is seen raising its benchmark rate a quarter of a percentage point next week instead of the half percentage point previously expected.
Topless protester crashes Junos: A wildly unpredictable Juno Awards unfolded last night as a topless protester charged the stage, leading to some choice words from Avril Lavigne, while an absent The Weeknd emerged as the top winner this year. Police in Edmonton say charges are pending against the protester.
Winnipeg to host Grey Cup: The CFL has announced that the 2025 Grey Cup game will be played in Winnipeg, marking the fifth time the city has hosted the championship game and the first since 2015.
U.S. stocks rebounded today as largely on-target inflation data and easing jitters over contagion in the banking sector cooled expectations regarding the size of a rate hike at the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting next week. Canada’s main stock index underperformed Wall Street, as the energy sector fell amid oil prices sliding to a three-month low.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 336.26 or 1.06 per cent to 32,155.40, S&P 500 rose 64.80 points or 1.68 per cent to 3,920.56, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 239.31 points or 2.14 per cent to 11,428.15.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main composite index closed up 105.26 points or 0.54 per cent at 19,694.16. The loonie traded at 73.07 U.S. cents
Will a crackdown on private telemedicine improve health care access? The jury is out
“It’s all well and good for Ottawa to take a stand against private, for-profit health care, but it would be a lot more useful if they used their energies fixing the crisis in access to primary care.” – André Picard
There is nothing racist about creating a foreign-agent registry in Canada
“Far from being racist, requiring transparency of those who speak, lobby, or disburse money for China or any other foreign state protects vulnerable members of diaspora communities, who are often the first targets of foreign interference.” – David Mulroney, former ambassador to China
The cost of food has risen sharply and Canadians are feeling the pinch. Using loyalty points is one way to offset rising costs. but with the recent announcement that Bank of Montreal will acquire Air Miles, many people are wondering what to do with their points. Here’s how Canadian grocery store loyalty programs compare.
TODAY’S LONG READ
Navalny director and Canadian filmmaker Daniel Roher on his Oscars-night whirlwind
“It was the most extraordinary fever-dream whirlwind, a surreal moment to cap off two years of an already extraordinary fever-dream whirlwind. When we got off the stage, I was stunned. I don’t think I’ve ever been truly stunned before. I was crying, Yulia [Alexey Navalny’s wife] was crying. I just wished that Alexey could be there with us.
“We went upstairs to walk down this thing called the “Winners Hallway,” which is a thing you really want to walk down, that takes you to the press room. Ke Huy Quan from Everything Everywhere All at Once was walking toward us and I just jumped into his arms to embrace him. We were both stunned and petrified.
“I saw the two kids who made An Irish Goodbye [which won the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film] and the three of us were just flabbergasted. They’re like 26, I’m 29 – talk about Imposter Syndrome. Then I’m giving Jamie Lee Curtis a hug. If you’re there, you’re for one evening in this tiny little club of people who have climbed the highest mountain – Movie Everest. You’re blessed with pride and joy for one another.” Read the interview with Barry Hertz.
Read more: Sarah Polley on her ”surreal and wonderful” Oscar win for Women Talking