News Breakdown: Jan. 27 – Feb. 2

Afghan security forces inspect the site of Saturday’s attack in the centre of the Afghan capital. (Courtesy Massoud Hossani/The Associated Press)

Afghan security forces inspect the site of Saturday’s attack in the centre of the Afghan capital. (Courtesy Massoud Hossani/The Associated Press)

International:

– A SVBIED (suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) in an ambulance killed 103 and injured 235 in Kabul, Afghanistan on Jan. 28. A Taliban spokesman claimed the attack, and the Afghan government set Jan. 29 as a public holiday and Jan. 30 as a day of prayer for the victims.

– House Republicans have, with presidential approval, released a House Intelligence Committee memo alleging FBI abuses of its surveillance authority. The release of the memo has been called a Republican effort to discredit the FBI and its investigation into Russian election interference by Democrats and senior law enforcement officials, while Republicans are calling the memo proof that the FBI harbours partisan bias.

– The U.S. Treasury and State Department said it would not impose additional sanctions on a list of 114 senior Russian administration individuals and 96 Russian business people which was passed by both the House and Senate as well as signed into law by the President last year. The U.S. administration argued that the list itself was a deterrent to those individuals named and that major Russian defense sales have been abandoned as a result.

– Turkish-supported Syrian Arab rebels, in a new advance, have pushed into Kurdish-held Syria and have caused hundreds of casualties. American-supported Kurdish rebels are resisting their advance and have fired rockets at Turkish border towns, causing 52 casualties.

– Ninety Pakistani and Libyan migrants are feared to have drowned after a boat headed for Italy capsized off the Libyan coast, with 11 confirmed deaths. The UN is investigating the sudden increase of Pakistani migrants trying to make the journey to Europe, leaving the Pakistani embassy in Greece wondering about their route and how to curb this deadly wave of migration.

Kinder Morgan's Burnaby Terminal in Burnaby, B.C., the end point of the Trans Mountain pipeline. (Courtesy Nick Procaylo/PNG)

Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby Terminal in Burnaby, B.C., the end point of the Trans Mountain pipeline. (Courtesy Nick Procaylo/PNG)

National:

– The Senate has passed a bill making the national anthem gender neutral in the face of Conservative opposition after a House bill was passed in 2016. The bill awaits royal assent by the governor general to become law, and notes that the original version was gender neutral.

– Scott Moe has won the Saskatchewan Party’s leadership race on the fifth ballot over runner-up Allana Koch. Former Premier and Saskatchewan Party leader Brad Wall resigned in August after low popularity resulting from his austerity budget. Premier Moe was sworn in on Feb. 2 and promptly presented his new cabinet and called three byelections in Saskatchewan Party strongholds.

– Interim leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives Vic Fedeli has backed off of running for permanent leadership, instead focusing on rooting out the “rot” that he says is endemic. Doug Ford, of Toronto’s city council, and Christine Elliott, of the patient ombudsman’s office are the declared candidates with Caroline Mulroney, candidate for York-Simcoe, inheriting former leader Patrick Brown’s campaign apparatus and fundraising muscle.

– The British Colombian government announced plans to put a restriction on the amount of diluted bitumen that is allowed to be transported, pending a panel on spill concerns which is estimated to take two years. This restriction effectively blocks the expansion into B.C. of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline. The Premier of Alberta hit out at B.C.’s decision and suspended talks with B.C. on the import of electricity.

– Wholesalers Canada Bread and Weston Bakeries as well as retailers Loblaw, Walmart, Sobeys, Metro and Giant Tiger have all been accused in the Competition Bureau’s investigation into the industry-wide bread price-fixing scheme. The scandal was uncovered when Loblaw Companies Ltd. and George Weston Ltd. came to the Competition Bureau and alerted them to the arrangement in return for immunity.

Contractors remove the statue of Edward Cornwallis, a controversial historical figure, in a city park in Halifax on Jan. 31, 2018. (courtesy Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Contractors remove the statue of Edward Cornwallis, a controversial historical figure, in a city park in Halifax on Jan. 31, 2018. (courtesy Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Local:

– Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke has announced his candidacy for leadership of the Nova Scotian Progressive Conservative Party. He joins other announced candidates Tim Houston, MLA for Pictou East and John Lohr, MLA for Kings North after former leader Jamie Baillie stepped down after the 2017 election.

– The statue of British military officer Edward Cornwallis who founded Halifax has been removed from a downtown Halifax park after HRM’s city council voted 12-4 in favour of removal. This move comes shortly after the Assembly of Mi’kmaq Chiefs pulled out of a panel on the statue and called for its immediate removal.

– Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke has publicly come out as gay, additionally saying his decision to come out was prompted by someone threatening to publicly out him. This comes two years after a similar blackmail attempt against Steve Sampson, a member of the Richmond County council, went awry when Sampson took the blackmail attempt to RCMP.

– The provincial government has announced the locations of nine NSLC outlets that will sell cannabis in July, after federally mandated legalization. A request for proposals as to the construction necessary for store alterations has been announced and the province has confirmed plans for online purchase and home delivery with details to be released at a later date.

– Nova Scotian Education Minister Churchill has restricted the decision-making abilities of the province’s seven English school boards leading up to their dissolution. The approval of new school board policies, transportation arrangement, finance, operations, staffing and new school reviews now all require provincial approval before going ahead.