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Morning update: Top stories to start your day

Chemical weapon used in death of Kim Jong-nam

A banned chemical weapon was used to kill Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Malaysia says. The VX nerve agent chemical is considered a weapon of mass destruction. Kim Jong-nam died after an incident at Kuala Lumpur's airport on Feb. 13. His death "is a direct blow to China," The Globe and Mail's editorial board writes.

Manitoba calls for end to preliminary inquiries

Manitoba is the latest province to call for an end to preliminary inquiries. The province's chief judges and Attorney-General have reached out to Ottawa to ask it to clear an experiment that would allow those pre-trial hearings to be scrapped. Hundreds of charges are at risk of being thrown out after a Supreme Court ruling last year set limits on how long a case can take to go through the justice system. Two people so far have had first-degree murder charges tossed out because their cases went past the time limit. Judges work independently of the Attorney-General, but they felt compelled to act in co-ordination to call for changes. "We can't abdicate our role when we're in the midst of a crisis," said one justice.

Licensed producer making pot tests available to public

In the wake of recalls over banned pesticide use, one licensed medical marijuana company is having its pot tested by independent labs in order to reassure customers. CanniMed Therapeutics will be making the results available to the public. Health Canada had allowed the country's licensed producers to police themselves. It recently announced it would begin random testing, but the lack of total assurances has worried some. Two producers were found to have used a banned pesticide, with a staff member at one firm hiding the chemical when inspectors visited, a former employee said.

Tory leadership contenders eye Quebec

As the Conservative Party leadership race hits its stride, the jockeying for Quebec votes is on. Under leadership voting rules, every riding is weighed the same. That means the 38 Quebec ridings that have fewer than 30 Conservative Party members will have just as much of an impact as one in Toronto. Maxime Bernier, the MP from Beauce, Que., has the lead, but his economic ideas are off-putting for some Tories. And Andrew Scheer has managed to snag four endorsements from Quebec MPs compared to Bernier's two.

MORNING MARKETS

Commodity-related sectors led European shares lower for a third straight session on Friday while the U.S. dollar was poised for a weekly losses as the "Trumpflation trade" lost momentum. Tokyo's Nikkei lost 0.5 per cent, and the Hong Kong Hang Seng 0.6 per cent, though the Shanghai composite gained 0.1 per cent. European investors are in a sour mood: London's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.6 and 1 per cent by about 5:45 a.m. ET. New York futures were also down. Oil prices fell after U.S. crude inventories rose for a seventh week, showing the market is still struggling to ease oversupply despite producers' efforts to rein in output.

THE LOOKAHEAD

Politicians gather to address opioid crisis

Mayors from across Canada are meeting with federal politicians today to discuss the ongoing opioid crisis. More than 900 people died from drug overdoses in B.C. alone last year, compared to 510 in 2015. Illicit fentanyl has been a major factor in the rise, and new data on drug samples seized by police show the problem has made its way eastward to Ontario.

WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Canada has never had a real migrant crisis. Trump may have just changed that

"When it comes to the treatment of immigrants and refugees, it's easy for Canadians to look south and feel smug. Immigration, always a hot-button issue for Americans, is now driving them completely around the bend. Canada's immigration system really is better than the American system, morally and practically. But that's not because Canadians are better people than Americans, morally and practically. It's because our immigration policies have been smarter than those of our neighbours. And our policies have been able to be smarter because our geography has been luckier. That may be changing." – Tony Keller

Wake up, Toronto, to your housing crisis

"You would have thought that the worldwide attention Vancouver received over its housing emergency might have served as a cautionary tale for other jurisdictions, especially in Canada. But apparently politicians in Ontario, at least, missed the news. … Watching it unfold from my perch here in Vancouver is, I must say, mind-boggling. Witnessing the home-buyer dreams of more and more young people going up in smoke every day is infuriating. Equally maddening is listening to members of the Ontario provincial government utter the same lame excuses for its fumbling as the Clark government did in B.C. before it was forced into action by a braying mob." – Gary Mason

HEALTH PRIMER

Curbing the negative effects of cycling

Cycling is bad for your posture, but there are exercises you can do to limit the negative impact. Chest-strengthening exercises like push-ups and bench presses are good options. It also helps to stretch your legs regularly, including right after you go for a bike ride.

MOMENT IN TIME

Kurt Cobain marries Courtney Love

Feb. 24, 1992: As rock nuptials go, the marriage of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love was a low-key affair. At the time, Cobain was frontman for grunge-rock phenomenon Nirvana, while Love was only slightly less famous as the guitarist/vocalist for the band Hole. Their impromptu ceremony was held on a cliff overlooking a Waikiki beach before eight guests, including Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. The groom wore green flannel pyjamas, while the bride wore a lace dress that had previously belonged to actress Frances Farmer. The wedding made headlines worldwide, as did the birth of their only child, Frances Bean, six months later. "Courtney and Kurt are the nineties, much more talented version of Sid and Nancy," said one unamed music executive in a Vanity Fair profile later that year. Amid rumours of excess and drug addiction, the couple's punk-rock romance came to a tragic end two years later when Cobain took his own life. – Andrew Ryan

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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