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Canada’s spy agency told the government before it invoked the Emergencies Act that convoy protests against vaccine mandates last winter did not meet the national security threat level required to trigger the sweeping powers.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service director David Vigneault told a cabinet committee meeting the day before the act was invoked that the protests did not reach the threat level that the Emergencies Act relies on, according to an interview summary tabled yesterday at the inquiry examining the act’s use. The meeting of what’s called cabinet’s Incident Response Group was chaired by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Protesters participating in a cross-country truck convoy protesting against measures taken by authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 and vaccine mandates walk near Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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RCMP lays historic first charge of economic espionage against former Hydro-Québec researcher

The RCMP have laid the first economic-espionage charge in Canadian history against a researcher in Quebec who is accused of obtaining trade secrets for the benefit of China.

Yuesheng Wang, 35, faces four criminal charges involving an alleged conspiracy to spy on his employer. He has spent six years working for Hydro-Québec, which said in a statement that he was doing research into battery materials for the utility’s Centre of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage.

The RCMP announced charges yesterday against Mr. Wang alleging that he had been involved in obtaining trade secrets, fraud for obtaining trade secrets, breach of trust and unauthorized use of a computer. He is to appear in a Longueuil court on Tuesday morning.

Biden and Xi meet on the sidelines of G20, signs of a thaw in U.S.-China relations

U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to edge toward a long-sought reset in relations with China yesterday, meeting with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Statements and comments from both sides hailed an “open and candid” conversation between the two men, their first in-person meeting since Biden was elected in late 2020. White House officials had repeatedly played down expectations in the run-up to the meeting, but there were tangible results nonetheless: an agreement to restart climate talks and to establish new guidelines to manage the relationship in the future, including joint working groups on various issues of contention.

“I’m not suggesting that this is kumbaya,” Biden told reporters, adding that the two sides continue to have disagreements, “but I do not believe there is need for concern of … a new Cold War. We’re going to compete vigorously, but I’m not looking for conflict.”

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Also on our radar

Zelensky visits liberated Kherson: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited newly liberated Kherson yesterday and addressed the residents of a city that Russia claimed only six weeks ago to have annexed “forever.” “This is the beginning of the end of the war,” Zelensky told a crowd of several hundred cheering people.

Border agency misses ArriveCan deadline: The Canada Border Services Agency has missed a committee-ordered deadline to hand over outsourcing invoices related to the ArriveCan app, and the agency president told MPs yesterday that she couldn’t provide a timeline for handing over the documents.

Premier replaces Alberta’s chief medical officer: Premier Danielle Smith is replacing Deena Hinshaw as Alberta’s chief medical officer of health ahead of significant changes she says are coming this week to the province’s health care system and its leadership. Hinshaw earned admiration and accolades for her steady, calm advice during the pandemic, but was criticized by Smith for providing bad advice that led to health restrictions.

Telus tried to ‘kill’ $26-billion Rogers-Shaw deal: Telus Corp. made efforts to “kill, slow and shape” the proposed $26-billion merger between Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc., according to an internal presentation made to Telus’ board that was revealed yesterday as part of the Competition Tribunal’s review of the takeover.

Ontario company given contract to build lunar rover: Canadensys Aerospace Corporation has been given the green light to build a lunar rover for Canada – a key step in the country’s first effort to lead a space science mission on another world.

Morning markets

World stocks edge up: Global stocks ticked higher and the U.S. dollar slipped on Tuesday as a fall in U.S. inflation and an improving outlook for China’s economy continued to cheer investors. Just before 5:30 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.15 per cent. Germany’s DAX slid 0.12 per cent while France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.32 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished 0.10-per-cent higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 4.1 per cent. New York futures were positive. The Canadian dollar was up at 75.34 US cents.

What everyone’s talking about

André Picard: “What is clear is that our leaders need to stop squabbling like five-year-olds, get off their tuchuses and start giving the health emergency in this country the attention it deserves. Canadians simply cannot abide the playing of political games while their access to health care fritters away and children’s lives are put at risk.”

Andrew Willis: “It will take a dual set of skills – in sports management and real estate – and two serious fortunes to realize the Senators’ potential as a pro sports franchise and a business. That is why a consortium, rather than an individual, is likely to win the team. And it’s why alliances between the entrepreneurs lining up to bid on the Sens may be critical to hoisting the prize.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail

Living better

Tips by Montrealers for getting outside in the winter – even if you don’t like the cold

To enjoy a Canadian city like Montreal during the winter – where temperatures fall past 20 below, and, according to the city, an average of 190 centimetres of snow falls each year – you must learn not just to survive the cold, but to embrace it. The city’s diverse array of vibrant outdoor offerings and cozy après-ski vibes entice locals and visitors alike. It’s partially an attitude, and partially the result of strong seasonal programming.

Moment in time: Nov. 15, 2017

An employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” on display at Christie’s auction rooms in London, Oct. 24, 2017.Kirsty Wigglesworth/The Associated Press

Leonardo painting sells for a world record $450.3-million

Is the Salvator Mundi, a painting of Christ with a crystal globe in one hand and the other raised in blessing, the work of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci? When the painting sold for a record US$450.3-million at a London auction on this day in 2017, it was clear that at least one buyer believed that attribution. Five years later, the art world still debates how much of the world’s most expensive painting the 15th-century artist actually executed – and how much might be the work of his studio, later copyists or even its 21st-century restorer. The unrestored painting was initially bought by a group of art dealers at a New Orleans auction for US$1,175 in 2005, before they commissioned a restoration that led London’s National Gallery to conclude it was Leonardo’s work. It was resold twice for millions before the sale at Christie’s in 2017 where Saudi Prince Badr bin Abdullah Al Saud purchased it for the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The painting has not been seen since, and hopes that curators at the Louvre in Paris would pronounce definitively were dashed when Saudi Arabia declined to lend the work to the museum’s 2019 Leonardo retrospective. Kate Taylor

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