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In today's Morning Brief, we have analysis of what the Meng Wanzhou extradition might mean for Canada's relations with China. We also have the story of a nurse who was kicked out of the room she was renting because the landlord feared she might bring the coronavirus home.

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Our dismal relationship with China just got a whole lot worse

Meng Wanzhou lost the first round in her bid to avoid extradition to the United States on Wednesday. But it's clear the B.C. court ruling doesn't help the Trudeau government much either.

As CBC National Affairs Editor Chris Hall writes, relations between Canada and China are arguably at their lowest point since the prime minister's father was prime minister and established diplomatic ties back in the early 1970s. Yesterday's ruling already has led to warnings about blowback from Beijing — especially for detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Both men are accused of violating China's national security. Unlike Meng, they aren't free to move about — as she did this week while posing with a bevy of friends and colleagues on the courthouse steps in Vancouver for a photographer. Kovrig and Spavor remain in solitary confinement. Neither man has been seen, in person or virtually, by Canadian consular officials since January.

Former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney said he expects their plight to get even worse. "My takeaway is that this (decision) is not good news for the two Michaels," he said Wednesday. "That's human and personal. It affects two Canadians who are victims in this, who are being held hostage, and we can never forget that."

Watch | Meng Wanzhou decision could deepen Canada-China deep freeze:

Meng Wanzhou decision could deepen Canada-China deep freeze

3 years ago
Duration 3:14

The fate of the two Michaels isn't the only problem the court decision could aggravate. Canada now depends on China for much of the personal protective equipment needed by front-line health-care workers in the battle to contain COVID-19. Access to that equipment is not guaranteed. China is also a major export destination. Renewed trade sanctions on Canadian food and agricultural products amount to another potential threat.

Mulroney's advice to the Trudeau government is to not overreact to Wednesday's ruling, to allow the judgment to speak for itself. More than anything else, he said, that would underscore the independence of Canada's judiciary from the kind of political direction Chinese authorities take for granted. Read more on this story here.

Notice these landscape paintings on billboards? So did we

(Liny Lamberink/CBC)

The image seen here is one of two scenes cropping up next to busy roads and on bus shelters across Canada. Neither have any advertising copy on them, perhaps leaving passersby curious as to where they came from. Herman Bekkering is the national creative director of Pattison Outdoor Advertising. At 58 years old, he's been in the advertising industry for about 40 years and has been an artist even longer. His paintings have been appearing on unsold billboards across Canada since December after he anonymously submitted them as visually interesting content between paid advertising campaigns. Read more about the landscape paintings here.

In brief

Seven weeks ago, Kathrine Slinski was kicked out of the room she was renting because the landlord feared the 48-year-old nurse might bring the pandemic home with her. Now, she has taken a drastic step to both find a place to live and stabilize her finances. She took a break from her job as a community care nurse in Ottawa and moved nearly 400 kilometres away to work at a long-term care facility fighting a COVID-19 outbreak. For Slinski, the move means greater financial stability, but the work is extremely tough. Roughly half of the 119 residents of River Glen Haven have been infected. So have 30 staff members. Twenty-three people have died at the facility since the start of the outbreak. Read more about Slinski's story here.

If information is power, Ontario seems to be experiencing a brownout, writes CBC's Jonathon Gatehouse. Three months into the COVID-19 crisis, the province is still unable to share some basic details about the spread of the disease, including the number of tests being performed per region, statistics on the success of contact tracing, the availability of personal protective equipment or the location of outbreak "hot spots." The sort of data that is often readily available in other Canadian provinces and jurisdictions around the world. Yesterday, Toronto Public Health released COVID-19 case numbers for all of the city's postal codes — information that may well spur more residents to get tested. That came a day after Ontario Premier Doug Ford rejected calls for a similar province-wide disclosure. Now, critics are calling for even more COVID transparency as Ontario struggles to flatten its curve and find a safe way to relax its lockdown. Read more on this story here.

Watch | Toronto releases map of city's COVID-19 cases:

Toronto releases map of city’s COVID-19 cases

3 years ago
Duration 2:00

Canadians working in improvised workspaces in their homes are beginning to get neck, back and shoulder pains, something Regina chiropractor Doug Pattison has dubbed "work-from-home syndrome." He has already treated several patients for chronic strain in their back, neck or shoulders since his clinic reopened its doors to the general public on May 4. "Sitting for a living is hard on you as it is, but when you're at the office, you've got your fancy work chair and your adjustable desk and all the things that your employers provided you to keep you safe," Pattison said. "But now, with the pandemic, you're working at your kitchen table … or sitting on the couch, and it's putting the body into awkward prolonged positions." He is urging companies to get serious about preventing work-related injuries at home, before it results in workers' compensation claims and lost time. Read more on the physical issues of working from home

We're answering your questions about the pandemic. Send yours to and we'll answer as many as we can. You're going in for that shopping cart when someone brushes uncomfortably close, and you instinctively hold your breath. Many of you, like Richard H., are wondering if it can help keep the germs away. "[Holding your breath] might be marginally beneficial, but unless someone is breathing right in your face or speaking moistly right at you, [it] is unlikely to spread the virus," said Michael Curry, a University of British Columbia professor and emergency room doctor at Delta Hospital. Sumon Chakrabarti, infectious diseases physician at Trillium Health Partners in Ontario, said the risk of catching the virus from someone who is briefly walking by is "essentially zero unless they happen to cough or sneeze directly in your face." Read more of our Q&A here

When Valerie Hammond's countertop oven burst into flames, causing hundreds of dollars in damage to her kitchen, she figured the cost would be covered since the KitchenAid appliance was from a big company she trusted. Whirlpool, which owns KitchenAid, replaced the oven, as required by the warranty.  But things got complicated when she asked for $600 to cover the smoke and fire damage. Whirlpool refused, telling Hammond she'd have to go after a third-party company she'd never heard of — located in China — that owns the factory that manufactured the appliance. Read more about Hammond's experience here.

Now for some good news to start your Thursday: Free vegetable plant seedlings from the City of Victoria's greenhouses have started moving to new homes this week, as part of a measure to increase food security for residents with low incomes, or who've lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Victoria, often dubbed the flower capital of Canada, directed staff to grow more food plant seedlings in the city's greenhouses in spring at the start of the pandemic. Councillors said it was the first time since the Second World War that municipal efforts had been diverted to food production. The city is now distributing 75,000 plants, including tomatoes, cucumber, squash, zucchini and others, through 30 non-profit organizations. Read more about the seedling program here

Front Burner: Police allege fraud, arson and murder amid tow truck wars

York Regional Police announced an enormous bust taking down alleged organized crime rings in southern Ontario's tow truck industry this week. Police say that for the last three years, rival companies have used violence and intimidation to carve out turf, alleging they caused and staged collisions, worked with auto repair shops and rental companies to carry out fraud, set fires and even killed in cold blood. Four people are dead, and the investigation is ongoing. And police say that's just scratching the surface. CBC senior reporter John Lancaster has been covering this story. Today, we sort through the violent wreckage of the "Tow Truck Turf Wars."

Today in history: May 28

1808: Canadian explorer Simon Fraser begins a trip down the British Columbia river that would bear his name.

1927: The Old Age Pensions Act is approved by the House of Commons. The money was to be paid to those in need over the age of 70, in co-operation with participating provinces.

1934: The Dionne quintuplets are born in Callander, Ont. Annette, Emilie, Yvonne, Cecile and Marie were the first quints to survive more than a few days. The Ontario government placed them in a specially built hospital, where the children were put on public display. More than three million people came to watch them play behind a one-way screen. Their mother fought for nine years to regain custody, but the family reunion in 1943 was not successful. In 1998, the three surviving sisters and their families received $4 million in compensation from the Ontario government for their childhood mistreatment.

1995: Jacques Villeneuve becomes the first Canadian winner of the Indianapolis 500 auto race.

2000: The remains of an unknown Canadian soldier are interred at the National War Memorial in Ottawa after being returned from Vimy Ridge, France.

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

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