We tell you five things you need to know this morning.
1. Alison Redford quits as premier. The soon-to-be-former leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives broke the news last night, in a move that shouldn’t have been shocking—but was dramatic all the same. Redford’s reign, which will officially end on Sunday, collapsed under the weight of an uncertain caucus that threatened open revolt; a public skeptical of her mounting expense claims; and, as the National Post‘s Jen Gerson observes, “an emotional connection, a sense of empathy, that just wasn’t quite there.” She was, in other words, classically out of touch.
2. Brad Wall lauds a “boring” budget. Meanwhile, across the border in Saskatchewan where the premier can do no wrong, Brad Wall’s government tabled a budget that headline writers called “tight.” Budgets are almost never described with a word like that. Finance Minister Ken Krawetz pulled off a $71-million surplus without, importantly, raising taxes. The annual fiscal plan isn’t without its goodies: there’s money for 500 more childcare spaces, an anti-bullying plan, and millions for a new stadium in Regina. Redford can only sigh.
3. A Venezuelan mayor was arrested for “rebellion.” Daniel Ceballos is the chief magistrate in San Cristobal, the Venezuelan city that’s at the heart of the country’s ongoing social unrest. Miguel Rodriguez Torres, the interior minister, claims Ceballos ”facilitated and supported all the irrational violence” in the city he governs. The government calls his alleged crime “civil rebellion,” and the national intelligence service arrested Ceballos on a trip to Caracas. He was apparently meeting with fellow mayors who oppose the governing socialists.
4. Ukraine warns of a Russian invasion. Yurii Klymenko doesn’t trust that his Russian adversaries will halt their military advance at the Crimean border. Ukraine’s ambassador in Geneva raised the spectre of outright war in his country. ”There are indications that Russia is on its way to unleash a full blown military intervention in Ukraine’s east and south,” Klymenko said. Russia denied the claim.
5. Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile is dwindling. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons reports that 45.6 per cent of chemical weapons are out of Syria. The OPCW said Syria’s entire former stock of sulphur mustard has now been removed. Despite the ongoing diplomatic crisis that’s pitted the west against Russia, the two sides continue to cooperate in Latakia, Syria, where weapons are gradually exiting the country.