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Liberal budget unlikely to include airport sales or major tax hikes

Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes part in the pre-budget ceremony of putting on new shoes at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Toronto on Monday.

Mark Blinch/THE CANADIAN PRESS

CANADIAN NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW

There's only one more sleep until the federal budget (can you tell we're excited?) and sources tell The Globe that two controversial, much-talked-about measures will not appear in this week's fiscal plan: a sell-off of Canada's airports and an increase in the capital-gains tax -- even if Charles Sousa wants it.

Who is the man behind the budget? Gregarious finance ministers like Paul Martin and Jim Flaherty have loomed over Parliament Hill in recent decades, but so far Bill Morneau's technocratic persona has been outshined by his boss's charisma.

Citing a Globe investigation, MPs on the Status of Women committee say Statistics Canada needs to resume tracking police dismissals of sexual-assault cases.

Senator Don Meredith is hiring a new lawyer.

The inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women says they have few cases on file because the information they were given by the government wasn't particularly helpful.

The government will stop producing cardboard cutouts of Justin Trudeau.

The Liberals are in no rush to fix Access to Information laws after all.

The Anglican Church of Canada has blasted Senator Lynn Beyak for talking about the "good" in residential schools.

And The Globe and Mail has received 19 nominations for National Newspaper Awards, including two of the three finalists in Politics: Steven Chase in Ottawa for his coverage of Canada's controversial arms sales to Saudi Arabia (which already received an award from Amnesty International) and a team of Globe reporters for their coverage of "cash for access" political fundraisers in Ottawa, British Columbia and Ontario.

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U.S. NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW

FBI Director James Comey
confirmed that an investigation is looking into whether U.S. President Donald Trump and the Kremlin colluded during the election campaign and has been since July of 2016. Mr. Comey also mentioned that both parties were hacked during the campaign but that only information about Democrats was released because Russia wanted to "hurt her, help him." NSA Director Mike Rogers noted that the level of hacking conducted by Russia was unprecedented.

The White House worked to contain the fallout from the explosive hearings. In the daily press briefing Press Secretary Sean Spicer said former campaign manager Paul Manafort was part of the Trump team for a "very limited time" in a "very limited role." He also said that former national security adviser and adviser to the campaign Michael Flynn was a "volunteer." Both had repeated contacts with the Russian government throughout the campaign.

Nomination hearings continue for Mr. Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch today in Washington. Democrats are facing grassroots pressure to oppose Mr. Gorsuch at all costs, much in the way that Republicans stonewalled Merrick Garland in a breach of longstanding precedent. 

There are cabinet secretaries, and then there are the Trump-picked political aides inside their departments whose responsibility it is to monitor cabinet members' loyalty to the White House.

And Ivanka Trump will be getting an office in the West Wing, security clearance and official communications devices. She will also continue to advise the president and broaden her portfolio. Despite this, the Trump team is insisting that she'll play no official role and have no official title as anti-nepotism laws prevent the hiring of family members as White House employees.

LUNCHTIME LONG READ

More than 90 per cent of sexual assault victims never report the incident to police. Of those who do, many are not taken seriously. The Globe and Mail interviewed dozens of women who reported the crimes, and they explain some troubling experiences dealing with the justice system.

WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail): "Mr. Morneau's task is to deliver a budget for economically uncertain times. His problem is that the Liberal government is facing a big lump of insecurity, too, and had promised not to borrow much more, so it doesn't have a ton of new money to throw at Canadians' worries. But reassurance seems to be what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government wants this budget to be about."

Munir Sheikh (The Globe and Mail): "Suppose a budget told you that increased spending on a particular objective would raise GDP a lot more than any economic cost of deficit financing. Should you undertake that spending regardless of the debt-to-GDP ratio? I would assume the answer is yes (ignoring the rearranging of the budget items). Alternatively, assume that this spending was bad for the economy, but we have a low debt-to-GDP ratio. Should we proceed with it? I assume the answer is no. Then what is the value of a debt-to-GDP ratio?"

Gordon Harris (Vancouver Sun): "But selling ports and airports wouldn't recover value from facilities we no longer need. It would privatize assets that are still essential, and will remain so."

Stephen Gordon (National Post): "If the pre-budget messaging is anything to go by, the focus of the 2017 budget will be innovation and economic growth, with a generous dollop of verbiage about the middle class. But, to the extent that these measures involve new spending, the middle class isn't likely to see much of it. The people who will benefit directly from new spending on innovation are likely to be well-educated and probably already making a decent living — the sort of people who might have done pretty well from the tax cut on upper-middle-class incomes."

Andrew MacDougall (The Globe and Mail): "The poor-but-not-decimating 2015 election result [for the Conservatives] gave way to a vibrant 2016 policy convention. Rona Ambrose has done an excellent job of holding Justin Trudeau's government to account in the House of Commons. This week the Liberals are widely expected to table a second budget full of monster deficits. It should be open season for Conservative leadership hopefuls, not open season on them."

Ezra Klein (Vox): "Republican leaders have moved this bill as fast as possible, with as little information as possible, and with no evident plan for what will happen if the bill actually becomes law and wreaks havoc in people's lives. This is not the health reform package Donald Trump promised his voters, it's not the health reform package conservative policy experts recommended to House Republicans, and it's not the health reform package that polling shows people want."

Written by Chris Hannay and Mayaz Alam.

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