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In today's Morning Brief, a look at Canada's vehicle recall system, the warning professional colleges are issuing to doctors and nurses, and why it took the Trudeau government more than five years to reverse some mandatory minimum sentences.

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Exposing the flaws in Canada's recall system

Millions of Hyundai and Kia vehicles run the risk of sudden engine fires and failures — and drivers say recalls have done little to address the safety issues. The CBC's Go Public unit and Marketplace have joined forces to investigate the potentially dangerous engines.

Recalls on millions of these vehicles have dragged on for years — starting in 2015. Each recall names very specific models and years, often excluding cars with the exact same engine, only to add those vehicles and others months or years later. 

"That is a very serious safety issue," said George Iny, director of the Automobile Protection Association. "We need to have, I would say, a wary eye over this recall."

He said the recall system is part of the problem because it mostly leaves it to car makers to identify and deal with safety problems.

WATCH | Exposing the flaws in Canada's recall system:

Investigating Hyundai and Kia recalls

1 year ago
Duration 2:00

Transport Canada told CBC News it has suggested recalls to Kia and Hyundai, and the manufacturers are co-operating with all of them. 

The federal transportation department said its own investigations into the engine problems have triggered at least 11 of the recalls and extended warranties on vehicles with potential problems.

But car safety advocates said Hyundai and Kia should have known more cars needed to be recalled before the regulators suggested they do it — because the companies themselves would be hearing from customers. 

Hyundai said it actively monitors new safety concerns and will "continue to issue new recalls or expand existing ones," when needed. Read more on this story here.

Acting out history

(Maria Jose Burgos/CBC)

New Brunswick high school student Joanna Daramola volunteers at the Saint John Theatre Company. It's teaching her a lot about the history of Saint John, and some of the Black residents who defied racist norms and became leaders in equality. Playwright Clyde Wray brought these historical figures back to life with his play We Were Here, which will be live streamed next week. Read more about the play and the real-life people it is based on, here..

In brief

Why are coronavirus variants more transmissible? Che Colpitts, a molecular virologist at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said the three variants of concern all have mutations in their spike protein on the surface of the virus, which it uses to grab onto our cells. "They stick better to the cell more easily," she said, and that allows the virus to spread more easily. Fiona Brinkman with the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network said the variant first identified in South Africa also has "notable immune escape mutations." That could potentially allow it to evade the human immune system more effectively. Read the answers to more of your coronavirus variant questions here

B.C.'s regulatory colleges are reminding doctors and nurses they have a duty not to encourage people to violate public health advice on COVID-19. The warning comes ahead of a "freedom rally" in Vancouver, which is billing an outspoken doctor among its speakers. Dr. Stephen Malthouse has been vocal in his opposition to COVID-related measures throughout the second wave of the pandemic. Read about some of the other medical professionals who may appear at the rally here.

The Trudeau government has tabled legislation to repeal the mandatory minimum sentences for 20 different offences. It has been promising to reverse the Conservative-era justice policy for five and a half years. So why is it happening now? In part, because the courts have said it has to. It seems there may have also been some disagreement within the government on how to proceed. And it's still politically risky for politicians to appear soft on crime. Read why the Liberals took the long road to sentencing reform here.

Of the 129 Indigenous communities potentially affected by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, 120 either support it or do not oppose it, the Federal Court of Appeal found last year. But that support comes with a list of demands. Federal officials are bringing in a consultant to advance talks about possible revenue-sharing or a purchase of an equity stake in the pipeline. Right now there are two prominent Indigenous groups that are actively pursuing an ownership stake in the pipeline — and other groups could still emerge. Read more of the details here

WATCH | Trans Mountain spokesperson on the tricky terrain ahead for TMX:

Ali Hounsell on the tricky terrain of the Trans Mountain pipeline route

2 years ago
Duration 2:36

Canada and other countries are considering joining Australia in taking a stand against Facebook. The social media giant is banning users in Australia from sharing news content, after the government there asked Facebook to start paying for it. Now some advocates are saying an international effort is necessary to take on the titans of tech. Read what Canada is considering here.

Now for some good news to start your Friday: One year ago, Michael Teigen donated a kidney to his long-time friend Stephen Gillis. It saved his life. Today, the two men are healthy and happy, so they decided to celebrate with a five-kilometre run. The pair hit a Vancouver track together to advocate for early COVID-19 vaccinations for dialysis patients. "They are very, very vulnerable," said Gillis about dialysis patients who are not only immune compromised but are also regularly having to go to hospitals for their procedures during the pandemic. He says he hopes the run brings the needs of this group to the attention of the B.C. government so they can be prioritized for the vaccine, along with the elderly. Read more about how they marked their anniversary here.

Front Burner: Should Canada boycott the 2022 Olympics in Beijing?

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are just a year away, and pressure is building for Canada to take a stand against China by boycotting them in response to China's imprisonment of the "Two Michaels" and the ongoing human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority.

This week, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole called what's happening there a genocide and insisted the Games should be relocated. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was reluctant to use the word "genocide" at all. 

Today, former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney discusses why he calls what's happening to Uighurs in China a genocide, and the difficult stand he thinks Canada needs to take.

Today in history: February 19

1889: Métis leader Gabriel Dumont is pardoned by the federal government for his actions during the 1885 Northwest Rebellion led by Louis Riel.

1960: Queen Elizabeth becomes the first reigning British monarch in more than a century to have a baby, Prince Andrew.

1996: Canada introduces its new $2 coin, dubbed the "toonie."

2010: Pope Benedict approves sainthood for Montreal's Brother André, the founder of St. Joseph's Oratory, who was credited with miracle healings before his death in 1937.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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