We tell you five things you need to know this morning.
1. The auditor general reports. The opposition’s favourite mornings are those during which Michael Ferguson releases his public audits of government programs. This morning, the auditor general’s latest assessment looks at the quality of data provided by Statistics Canada, as well as First Nations policing, federal correctional institutions, public sector pension plans, relocation services, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. Cabinet stands at the ready to defend its record against whatever Ferguson reveals. The opposition will read the worst into everything.
2. Thirty pro-Russians die in Slovyansk. So claims Ukraine’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov, who also pointed to four Ukrainian troop deaths in the region. Kyiv’s forces are apparently up against about 800 insurgents—to use The Associated Press’s phrasing—in Slovyansk, in addition to other pro-Russian forces in the country’s east. The Kyiv government also booted out the governor of Odessa, a port city at risk of revolt, and bolstered its military presence.
3. Bernard Valcourt pauses his education bill. The aboriginal affairs minister won’t yet pass his First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, a bill meant to significantly rework aboriginal schooling in Canada—and includes a $1.9-billion injection of funding. Valcourt’s proposed legislation had earned the support of former Assembly of First Nations national chief Shawn Atleo. When other aboriginal leaders objected to the bill, however, Atleo stepped away from his role. Valcourt will wait for the AFN’s renewed opinion before proceeding in the House of Commons.
4. Oscar Pistorius’s neighbours heard a man crying. Michael Nhlengethwa told a courtroom in Pretoria, South Africa that he heard the famous double-amputee, Pistorius, crying loudly alongside a female body. Nhlengethwa’s wife, Eontle, claimed Pistorius was hollering for help. They both denied hearing a woman scream, a key claim of the defence—which argues that Pistorius screamed “like a woman.” The Olympian claims to have accidentally killed his wife, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
5. Canada really wants a new bridge in Windsor. Stephen Harper’s government has spent years pushing for a second crossing between Ontario and Michigan, and Canadians are footing the bill for most of the project. The only major U.S.-funded piece was a $250-million customs plaza on the Detroit side of the border. State and federal officials have refused to cough up funding, however, so Transport Minister Lisa Raitt revealed yesterday that Canada is open to paying for the plaza, too. The region’s other crossing, the Ambassador Bridge, is owned by powerful billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun.