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British Columbia is seeking approval from the federal government to become the first province where possession of small amounts of illicit drugs is not a criminal offence.

In a letter to federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, which was obtained by The Globe and Mail, Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said the change would help the province respond to a worsening overdose crisis that has taken thousands of lives in recent years.

The province will release a report today on its 2020 drug-death figures that will again shatter records, with more than 1,700 people dead. B.C. is the first province to seek such an exemption, although some Canadian cities have called on the government to decriminalize possession.

A man sits on a sidewalk along East Hastings Street in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Thursday, Feb 7, 2019. More people fatally overdosed in British Columbia last year compared with 2017 despite efforts to combat the province's public health emergency, the coroner says.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan HaywardJONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

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Dominic Barton says he was unaware of McKinsey’s role in sales of OxyContin

Dominic Barton, who was the head of McKinsey & Co. for nine years before becoming Canada’s ambassador to China, says he was unaware of the global consulting firm’s role in advising Purdue Pharma to bolster sales of OxyContin, the highly addictive painkiller that contributed to tens of thousands of deaths in Canada and the United States.

McKinsey consultants advise governments and corporations around the world. The firm agreed last week to pay US$573-million to settle investigations in U.S. states over its consulting work related to sales of opioids.

Provincial governments in Canada have also filed opioid-related claims against Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies in a U.S. court totalling US$67.4-billion, in an attempt to recover health care costs associated with fighting the opioid epidemic.

How are small, rural U.S. states doing so well in the COVID-19 vaccine race?

At a National Guard armoury in Charleston, West Virginia, military personnel hunker down with government officials, business and community leaders to co-ordinate the state’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

This command centre has proven highly effective. West Virginia has given at least one vaccine dose to 12.4 per cent of its population – the second-highest total of any state in the United States. It’s a surprising feat for one of the country’s poorest and sickest places.

Read more:

Pharmacies across Canada say they are ready to help COVID-19 vaccine rollout

WHO recommends use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine despite setback in trial

Editorial: Other countries are making vaccines. Why can’t Canada?

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Riot at U.S. Capitol came close to becoming a multiple political assassination, Trump’s impeachment trial hears: On the second day of proceedings in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, Democratic members of Congress serving as prosecutors used harrowing, never-before-seen video to argue how close the already deadly attack came to becoming a multiple political assassination.

Also: Lawrence Martin: With a rushed impeachment, the Democrats risk blowing it

Saudi human-rights activist released after 1,001 days in prison: Saudi human-rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who began advocating for women in the kingdom while studying at the University of British Columbia, has been released from prison after serving 1,001 days on charges that sparked an international uproar over her country’s persecution of protesters.

Bank of Canada accelerates development of ‘digital loonie:’ A decline in the use of cash and the boom of e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the Bank of Canada to speed up its development of a “digital loonie,” even as the decision to issue such a currency remains up in the air.

Two UCP MLAs in Alberta join anti-lockdown group as dissent grows in Kenney’s caucus: Jason Kenney says two United Conservative Party MLAs who have joined a coalition battling COVID-19 public-health restrictions will remain in his caucus because he allows more room for his members to express their views than other political leaders.


World stocks nudge higher: Global shares rose for a ninth day running on Thursday, just off record highs, as investors digested recent gains, while bulls were sustained by the promise of more free money after a benign U.S. inflation report and a dovish Federal Reserve outlook. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.10 per cent. Germany’s DAX gained 0.41 per cent while France’s CAC 40 slid 0.15 per cent. In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.45 per cent. Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.86 US cents.


David Parkinson: “Newfoundland and Labrador voters head to the polls Saturday with their province looking over the edge of a financial precipice. And yet no one vying to form the next government wants to face the one problem that is within their power to address. The province has a serious spending addiction.”

Cathal Kelly: “If someone as high up on the pole as Masai Ujiri could find himself getting ground through the gears of the U.S. court system, what does that mean for those people? Exactly how vulnerable are they to the whims of some random public official who’s having a bad day, or is looking to make a few bucks, or just wants to work out some frustration on a civilian? And how much worse must this be for people who don’t make as much money as you do?”


Brian Gablebrian gable/The Globe and Mail


The Power Gap in corporate Canada: Q&A with Robyn Doolittle and Chen Wang

Women are still – in 2021 – underrepresented in Canada’s corporate and economic spheres. Join investigative reporter Robyn Doolittle and data journalist Chen Wang for a live Q&A about the Power Gap series, moderated by financial services editor Janet McFarland.


A picture taken on February 11, 1990 shows Nelson Mandela and his then-wife anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie raising their fists and saluting cheering crowd upon Mandela's release from prison.ALEXANDER JOE/AFP via Getty Images

Nelson Mandela is freed from prison

For 27 years, the South African government kept Nelson Mandela hidden from view while he served a life sentence for sabotage. He spent most of his prison term on Robben Island, as barren and isolated as Alcatraz. The country’s white government had long feared that any images of the political activist could stir up the Black majority, which was desperate to get rid of more than three centuries of white domination. The moment Mandela was released and stood on the front steps of Cape Town’s City Hall to address a crowd of more than 10,000 wildly cheering citizens, the government of F. W. de Klerk knew its efforts to diminish his reputation had been futile. Now 71, regal in bearing, Mandela looked like the elder statesman he was destined to become. “Comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom,” he told his supporters. “Today, the majority of South Africans, Black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our decisive mass action. We have waited too long for our freedom.” It took four years, but in May, 1994, Mandela became South Africa’s first Black president. Gayle MacDonald

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