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TODAY'S TOP STORIES

Jeff Sessions didn't disclose his talks with Russia's ambassador

Jeff Sessions spoke twice with Russia's U.S. ambassador last year, including a private office meeting in the fall. But during his confirmation hearing to become Attorney General, Sessions said, "I did not have communications with the Russians." Sessions joined Trump's campaign in February of last year. He currently oversees the Justice Department, which includes the FBI. The intelligence agency has been conducting an investigation on Russian interference in the election.

This isn't the first time one of Trump's appointee's has gotten in hot water over Russia: Michael Flynn was fired as Trump's national security adviser last month over his failure to properly disclose his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Alberta's prosecutors push back

Alberta prosecutors have stayed criminal charges against 200 people in just two months because of a lack of resources. The news comes as provinces figure out how to handle the pressures introduced by a Supreme Court ruling that set a time limit of 18 months for bringing cases to trial. In response, Alberta decided to implement a "triage" strategy which prioritizes cases dealing with serious and violent offences. But the province's prosecutors are pushing back: "We are potentially opening up the situation for an impaired driver to kill somebody," said the president of the Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association. A total of 18 impaired driving charges were among the recently dropped cases.

Are Ontario's hydro rate changes too late for Wynne's political survival?

Facing heat for high hydro prices, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced yesterday that rates will be cut by 17 per cent this year. That's in addition to an 8 per cent rebate for the provincial sales tax which is already in effect. To pay for the cuts, Wynne plans to extend electricity contracts over a longer period of time.

But is the move too late to salvage the Ontario Liberals' political hopes for next year's provincial election? If so, Adam Radwanski writes, "their last-ditch clean-up attempt will just add to the mess that the next government wades into."

By one measure, Ontario's power rate has soared at four times the rate of inflation over the past decade. Someone who lives in a 1,600-square-foot detached home in Toronto pays roughly twice as much as a Vancouverite for the same amount of electricity.

Trump, trade and taxes

In his speech to Congress Tuesday, Donald Trump reaffirmed his promise to rectify the U.S. trade deficit. A day later, it was revealed that his country posted a $39-billion energy-trade deficit with Canada in 2016. That won't help diminish worries in the oil patch about a border-adjustment tax being pitched by some Republicans. Meanwhile, Canada still doesn't have any idea what Trump's team plans on doing in the tax department. The U.S. President has promised "tax relief," which could motivate some Canadians to pick up and head south.

MORNING MARKETS

European stocks held near 15-month highs and the greenback strengthened against other top global currencies on Thursday on growing expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this month. Global markets are mixed, and the loonie has traded at a low of 74.77 cents (U.S.) and a high of 75.05 cents. Tokyo's Nikkei gained 0.9 per cent, though Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.2 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.5 per cent. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX were little changed by about 5:25 a.m. ET, with the Paris CAC 40 up 0.1 per cent. New York futures were little changed. Oil prices fell for a third consecutive day after data showed a record build-up in U.S. crude inventories.

WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Trump may praise Canada's immigration model, but he would never adopt it

"If Trump truly wished to adapt the Canadian immigration ethos, he would have to embrace concepts he currently rejects. First and foremost, he would have to fling open the doors. … The President would have to welcome Muslim immigrants. The Canadian system is blind to ethnicity or religion. Muslims are as welcome as any others, provided they meet the criteria. Mr. Trump, in contrast, wants to ban the citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States in any circumstances. Most important of all, Mr. Trump would have to embrace multiculturalism: the celebration of diversity within a united society. Such a concept would be alien to the President and his supporters." – John Ibbitson (for subscribers)

Big surprise: Party nominations are rigged

"It is a pointed accusation: Some Liberal Party nominations for by-elections are being rigged. And they are. Again. The problem is that federal political party nominations are made to be rigged. They're not democracy. They're gang fights. Until that is changed, the leadership of political parties will keep on rigging them. Again and again and again." – Campbell Clark (for subscribers)

HEALTH PRIMER

Lifestyle changes may not fend off breast cancer

A drastic change in diet might not help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer. Instead, working out regularly and maintaining a healthy weight are the best options, a new analysis found. The study also aims to debunk assumptions that soy and antioxidant vitamins might negatively affect those in treatment or remission.

MOMENT IN TIME

Kirpan allowed to be worn in school

March 2, 2006: In 2001, a young Sikh boy, Gurbaj Multani, dropped his kirpan – a ceremonial dagger – in a schoolyard in Montreal. Seemingly all of Quebec heard it drop. For a while, Gurbaj walked to school under police protection, while adults stood and jeered. On this day in 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada, by a count of 8-0, including all three Quebec judges, made a defining ruling on freedom of religion: The boy could wear his religious symbol, which wasn't hurting anyone. Many in the province thought the judges daft. "In the minds of the vast majority of Quebeckers, the Supreme Court should have grasped the opportunity to send a strong message in favour of non-violence," a government-commissioned report said in 2008, as a crisis over "reasonable accommodation" roiled the province. But if Quebec was uncomfortable, Multani found peace; now 27, he studies accounting at McGill and works at a bank – while continuing to wear his kirpan. – Sean Fine

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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