Open this photo in gallery: THE CANADIAN PRESS
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz listens to remarks after addressing the Canadian Club of Toronto on Dec. 14, 2017.

Good morning,

The Bank of Canada is set to make its first interest rate decision of 2018 later today. Many analysts are expecting a hike in the central bank’s benchmark rate, which would be the third increase in six months. BoC Governor Stephen Poloz began unwinding years of super-low interest rates, which came about after the Great Recession, last year as the economy was firing on all cylinders. In 2017, Canada’s GDP led the G7 countries with 3-per-cent growth, and our economy saw 420,000 jobs added, pushing Canada to its lowest unemployment rate in more than 40 years in December. An increase in the Bank’s overnight rate would likely increase borrowing costs for individuals but may also end up boosting the loonie, which would increase Canadians’ purchasing power while decreasing exports. Although the central bank’s decision will give insight on where it thinks the economy is heading in 2018, what might be even more revelatory is the Monetary Policy report, which also comes out today. All signs point, however, to the Bank of Canada moving to prevent the economy from overheating by increasing interest rates, a year ahead of a federal election.

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says North Korea needs to stop its threatening behaviour before talks can begin to defuse nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula. But nonetheless, Mr. Tillerson says it’s “time to talk.” Mr. Tillerson says the United States will never accept North Korea as a nuclear power, and he pushed for rigorous enforcement of sanctions to pressure the regime. He was among foreign ministers from the U.S., Canada, South Korea and Japan who were in Vancouver yesterday for a one-day summit on North Korea. China and Russia were not invited and condemned the summit as meaningless.

The existing sanctions against North Korea have also put tremendous pressure on humanitarian groups, who have encountered a litany of problems getting gear and aide supplies into the country.

The federal Liberals will be announcing a new watchdog position today that will be in charge of corporate social responsibility. The ombudsperson will be responsible for overseeing how Canadian companies respect human rights abroad.

Ottawa is facing pressure to block a proposed $1.5-billion acquisition of Aecon Group Inc. by a state-controlled Chinese firm. Canada’s largest construction companies — Aecon’s competitors — argue China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. has a poor safety and corruption record, and can’t be trusted to work on sensitive projects. The final regulatory hurdle for the sale is approval from the federal government under the Investment Canada Act.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify on the probe into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, The New York Times reports.

Conservative Foreign Affairs Critic Erin O’Toole is asking for more clarity on the deals struck by RT, the Kremlin-run news channel that’s part of Russia’s “propaganda machine,” which pay Canadian TV providers for distribution. “It’s something we need to look at. What mandate should it be? Should it be under the regulator for content, or should it be something that’s more oversight on a security basis?” Mr. O’Toole said. The Globe’s Susan Krashinsky Robertson reported last month that RT pays TV providers to be included in some cable and satellite packages.

Longtime Parti Québécois members Alexandre Cloutier, Nicole Leger and Agnes Maltais say they won’t be seeking re-election Jean-François Lisée, the leader of the party, says he’s not worried ahead of a provincial election later this year that threatens to diminish the PQ’s standing amid the waning political saliency of the sovereignty question in Quebec politics.

British Columbia’s Premier John Horgan is ruling out a ban on foreign ownership in the real estate market, as the NDP government prepares to unveil its plans to curb speculation next month. The BC Greens, who are supporting the NDP in the legislature, have called on the province to…