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Morning update: Top stories to start your day

TODAY'S TOP STORIES

The drinking water problem on reserves

About a year ago, Serpent River First Nation completed the installation of a modern water-treatment plant. But then trihalomethane levels were discovered in initial testing and the water was deemed unsafe to drink. Now, Serpent River, which sits between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, is one of roughly 90 reserves under a drinking-water advisory. And the water problem is more widespread: About one in three First Nations have systems at medium or high risk of producing unsafe water, The Globe and Mail found.

The root of the issue is complicated: The federal government provides the funding and lays out the construction rules, while the communities oversee the implementation. But funding is tight and even when a system is built properly there often isn't enough money for proper maintenance. Justin Trudeau has pledged to end water advisories on reserves by 2021, and that's a possibility – "if the government is willing to change the way they're doing things," said one retired engineering-industry executive.

Families of vets lost to suicide to receive military honour

More families of Afghanistan war veterans who died by suicide are set to receive the Memorial Cross and Sacrifice Medal. The medal pays tribute to soldiers who died as a result of military service. In the fall, The Globe profiled 31 cases of soldiers who died by suicide after serving on the Afghanistan mission. Only eight of those families had received the medal. Now, as many as 14 more will likely be honoured, while the other nine cases are still under review. "It was mixed feelings," said one family member who received the honour last week. "They wouldn't acknowledge [my son's death by suicide]. Now they're giving us a medal."

Unauthorized border crossings continue

The stream of asylum claims in Canada isn't letting up: 452 people made the journey from the U.S. into Quebec via illegal border crossings just last month. That's almost half of the total number of claims for all of 2015. "I had trouble in my country and, now where I've been living in New York, I'm having trouble because of Trump," said one migrant from Haiti who was making the journey north. By entering through unofficial crossings, people are avoiding the rules of the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Act, which denies any attempts at claiming refugee status when crossing at official borders.

Trump taps new national security adviser

Donald Trump has found his national security adviser replacement. Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond McMaster, who's known for questioning authority, will fill the role that was Michael Flynn's up until last week. Flynn resigned over his lack of disclosure on communications with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

Tim Hortons' parent sets sights on Popeyes

Roll up the rim to win … fried chicken? Tim Hortons' parent company appears to be on the verge of a deal to buy Popeyes. The acquisition of the American fast-food chain, which has more than 2,600 locations, could be worth $1.7-billion (U.S.). By comparison, Restaurant Brands International already has more than 20,000 Tim Hortons and Burger King locations worldwide. Even though it's based in Ontario, Restaurant Brands' largest shareholder is a Brazilian private equity firm called 3G Capital.

MORNING MARKETS

Weak earnings trumped strong economic data for European stocks on Tuesday, as investors took their cue from banking giant HSBC's surprise slump in profit rather than stellar reports on the euro zone economy. Tokyo's Nikkei gained 0.7 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.4 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.8 per cent. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 was down 0.3 per cent by about 5:15 a.m. ET, with the Paris CAC 40 and Germany's DAX up by between 0.1 and 0.4 per cent. New York appears poised to return from a long weekend with a stronger open. Oil prices rose, with Brent futures up 0.8 per cent to $56.63 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude up 1 per cent to $53.93 a barrel.

THE LOOKAHEAD

B.C. budget to be tabled

Christy Clark's government is set to unveil the B.C. budget today. It's expected to be balanced, and filled with promises to target voters ahead of the province's election on May 9. Here's what we might see: tax relief in the form of reduced sales or income taxes; job-creation measures, as B.C.'s housing market cools; more money for schools; and additional funding for child protection, after a critical report about B.C.'s handling of kids in government care.

WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

O'Leary, Trump and the downside of celebrity politicians

"Playing an abrasive businessman on a reality television show in no way prepares a person for the complexities of leading a party, a caucus, a government, a bureaucracy and relations with other countries, all at the same time. Getting that experience requires time in the halls of government, or a serious study of what goes on in those halls, and how the machinery works. Nobody wants to be operated on by a surgeon who has neither studied nor practised medicine. … There is nothing charming about hearing a job candidate tell you that his or her utter lack of experience or interest in your business is a plus, and that anyway they'll be great because they can sell baseball caps with their name on them." – Globe editorial

To Trump, fairness is just another alternative fact

"We all know by now that the new American President is fond of declaring things unfair. The Nordstrom department-store chain treated his daughter 'so unfairly.' … this tendency goes both to the core of the President's volatile personality and hints at the chaos that a demonstrably unhinged world leader could unleash. Trump is not all that different from other thin-skinned, overprivileged and narcissistic people. Nothing is ever their fault, critical motives are always dark and failures to acknowledge their excellence are jealous, never factual. The obvious difference is that few, if any, command Trump's global field of fire." – Mark Kingwell, professor of philosophy, University of Toronto

HEALTH PRIMER

Be careful of becoming a glutton for rice

A diet filled with rice products could result in higher levels of arsenic. People with gluten-free diets had close to twice the level of arsenic in their system as those who didn't eat gluten-free, according to a U.S. study. But researchers didn't actually track the types of foods those people ate, instead assuming those with gluten-free diets were consuming more rice. And it's not clear if those levels of arsenic concentrations would have an impact on someone's health.

MOMENT IN TIME

The death of Sir Frederick Banting

Feb. 21, 1941: War hero, artist, knight, medical pioneer. Frederick Banting accomplished a great deal in his 49-year life, but will forever be associated with the discovery of insulin, for which he shared the Nobel Prize with John Macleod in 1923. However, Banting did not set out to blaze a trail in the field of diabetes research. One night, as he was preparing for a planned lecture at the University of Western Ontario, he happened across a research paper that inspired an epiphany: If he could isolate a secretion from the pancreas believed responsible for controlling blood sugar, he may find the key to controlling diabetes – at that time, an untreatable, fatal disease. Crude experiments would eventually pay off and Banting became a household name, elevated to legendary status following his death in a Newfoundland plane crash on Feb. 21, 1941. – Carly Weeks

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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