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In the news today: Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney dead at 84, tributes pour in

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney delivers a eulogy for former Newfoundland and Labrador Lieutenant Governor, and federal politician John Crosbie, during the State Funeral at the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in St. John’s on Thursday, January 16, 2020. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is dead at 84. His family announced late Thursday that the former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today...

Commons to stay empty after Brian Mulroney's death

Members of Parliament are absent from the House of Commons as Canadians mourn the death of former prime minister Brian Mulroney. 

The flag atop the Peace Tower is flying at half-mast in tribute to the Progressive Conservative titan who died Thursday at 84. 

Tributes to Mulroney and his substantial political and personal legacy are sure to dominate when the sitting resumes March 18. 

A family spokesman says Mulroney died surrounded by his family in a Palm Beach hospital, where he'd been since a recent fall. 

What happens next on long road to pharmacare

The bill Health Minister Mark Holland tabled in the House of Commons Thursday is only the first step toward a possible pharmacare program. 

But the legislation does lay down a road map for how the federal government plans to get there. 

The first step is to negotiate universal coverage for birth control and diabetes drugs with provinces and territories — something he says he's fairly certain he can accomplish by the next election.

The Liberal government drafted the legislation with the help of the NDP, and they staunchly support a single-payer, universal program that would cover prescription drugs for everyone with a valid health card. 

Here's what else we're watching ...

Mass killer inquest makes arrest recommendations

Community members hugged the mother of a mass killer after jurors at a Saskatchewan coroner's inquest determined he died from an accidental overdose following a high-speed police pursuit.

Myles Sanderson's family was devastated after he went on a stabbing rampage on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon, said the killer's uncle Eddie Head. 

Eleven people were killed and 17 others injured as Sanderson went door to door attacking people.

Head said his sister and Sanderson's mother, Beverly Burns, isolated herself and struggled to cope with the destruction caused by her 32-year-old son. But the inquest has brought answers, a sense of relief and a reconnection with people on the First Nation, he said. 

Ontario child-care wait lists balloon

Child-care wait lists have ballooned across Ontario since the province signed on to the national 10-dollar-a-day program, as demand due to the lower fees appears to be far outpacing the creation of new spaces in many regions.

In Kawartha Lakes, one of several municipalities with a central wait list, children are now set to spend an average of 6.4 years waiting for licensed child care, up from an average of 3.7 years in early 2022, before Ontario joined the program. 

In the Region of Waterloo, there has been a 115 per cent increase in the number of children on the wait list.

Niagara Region has seen a 76 per cent increase.

Apparel sector faces cost-conscious shoppers

Despite an unseasonably warm winter, there's a chill across the Canadian retail landscape.

Less snow than usual in many parts of the country along with high inflation put a damper on splurging during the typically busy holiday season, which retail industry watchers say is continuing into 2024.

Sandrine Devillard, who leads consulting firm McKinsey and Company's retail practice, says clothing companies are being hit particularly hard because shoppers see their products as discretionary.

With interest rates still high and layoffs mounting, Devillard says many would much rather spend on essential items like food and pastimes they were deprived of during the pandemic, such as travel or entertainment.

Meet Manitoba's first drag artist-in-residence

Ruby Chopstix hopes to give back to the marginalized communities who welcomed her as she was starting her drag journey six years ago. 

The self-proclaimed Asian pop princess of Winnipeg was crowned the first drag artist-in-residence at the Rainbow Resource Centre, an L-G-B-T-Q-plus and two-spirit advocacy organization. 

Chopstix won the inaugural title in January, beating out two other finalists during a special showcase where each drag artist had to perform a number. 

As the drag artist-in-residence, Chopstix will spend the next year representing the centre at various events.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 1, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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