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Contractor woes stall Ontario public projects

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Bondfield Construction Company has been terminated as the general contractor on three public-sector projects since the start of 2018. A number of the Vaughan, Ont.-based firm’s other projects are caught in delays. Subcontractors told The Globe and Mail they’ve had to take extraordinary steps to get paid on Bondfield projects, including reaching agreements to get paid directly from the public-sector institutions.

Among the dozen public-sector projects affected: the expansion of Cambridge Memorial Hospital’s emergency department is 22 months behind schedule; a patient-care tower at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital was set to be completed 10 months ago; the City of Brampton terminated Bondfield as the builder of a community centre and library; the City of Toronto took a similar step on a St. Lawrence Market contract. In a statement, Bondfield said delays “are often an unfortunate but unavoidable part of large construction projects.”

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NAFTA: The U.S. is escalating pressure on Canada for dairy concessions

Canada’s supply management system is the major issue preventing a breakthrough in trade talks, according to three senior U.S. officials (for subscribers). U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is calling for Canada to end its low-price milk-proteins policy, which he said hurts U.S. dairy farmers. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland continued to stress that “no deal is better than a bad deal” as she underscored the need for flexibility from both sides in negotiations.

Meanwhile, U.S. negotiators want Canada to raise its “de minimis threshold” – the level below which goods are given exemptions from duty and sales tax (for subscribers). Right now, any e-commerce shipments coming to Canada from the U.S. are subject to duty and sales tax when more than $20 in value. By comparison, Canadian goods shipped south of the border are exempt from duty up to US$800 in value. Canadian retailers argue that increasing Canada’s limit would benefit the likes of Amazon at their expense, resulting in scores of job losses and a decline in government revenue.

Sweden is set for political deadlock after far-right gains

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Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in white supremacy, won 17.6 per cent of the vote and 63 seats in the election, a marked increase from the 12.9 per cent and 49 seats four years ago. The ruling centre-left bloc finished with 144 seats, while the centre-right party notched 142. That means weeks of uncertainty before a government can be formed; both leading parties have shunned the Sweden Democrats since they entered parliament in 2010. The party wants Sweden to leave the European Union and freeze immigration.

Here’s Doug Saunders’s take: “In Hungary, Poland and Italy, parties of the far right now govern. And it means that Sweden now joins France and Denmark among countries where around a fifth of voters see nothing wrong with routinely casting a ballot for a party of intolerance. That makes Sweden – a country experiencing an economic boom and low unemployment – a surprising test case for two dominant theories of what has happened to European politics.”

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves has resigned amid new allegations of sexual misconduct

His resignation came on the same day the New Yorker published a story which included accounts from six more women accusing Moonves of sexual assault and harassment (the publication first ran a story in July in which six women came forward with accusations). Moonves, 68, is expected to receive an estimated US$100-million in severance, though he could end up with nothing depending on the outcome of an independent investigation into the allegations. CBS said US$20-million of his severance will go to organizations supporting the #MeToo movement.

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MORNING MARKETS

Markets mixed

Global shares were flirting with their longest run of declines since early 2016 on Monday, hit by rising anxiety about the U.S.-China trade war and another interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve later this month. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.3 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.3 per cent and the Shanghai Composite shed 1.2 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent by about 5:45 a.m. ET. New York futures were also up. The Canadian dollar was just shy of 76 US cents.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

How can we defend human rights while selling arms to Saudi Arabia?

“Chrystia Freeland’s tweet last month, which called for the release of detained human-rights activists in Saudi Arabia, triggered a Canadian-Saudi spat in which Saudi Arabia abruptly cut diplomatic and new-trade ties with Canada. It also pulled thousands of Saudi scholarship students from Canadian universities. Freeland’s tweet and previous calls by the Canadian government for the release of arbitrarily detained activists and dissidents in Saudi Arabia are in line with Canada’s professed human-rights-conscious foreign policy. The continuation of its multibillion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia is most definitely not. After Saudi Arabia’s punitive response to Freeland’s tweet, she stated that Canada would continue to stand up for human rights at home and around the world. But Canada’s so-called feminist and human-rights-oriented foreign policy rings hollow in the ever-expanding gravesites of Yemen.” – Noha Aboueldahab, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center

For smarter kids, keep smartphones out of the classroom

“Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government has promised to ban smartphones in the classroom. It is right to. More vexing than the question of whether the government should go ahead is the question of how these devices were allowed free rein in classrooms in the first place. iPhones and their like are carefully engineered to consume the maximum possible portion of their users’ attention, and are crammed full of apps designed to do the same. In many Canadian schools, students are currently entitled to have them turned on all the time. Predictably, this has led to widespread reports of students texting, using social media and surreptitiously watching video in class, to the frustration of their teachers and the obvious detriment of their educations. It would be like students of an earlier generation having land lines and TVs fastened to their desks.” – Globe editorial

Canada’s Big Six banks have an obsession with cutting costs amid record profits

“The extended bull market and booming economy is the stuff investors used to dream of. But for some, it's just not enough. Coming off a quarter in which they collectively earned an eye-watering $11.6-billion, Canada's largest banks participated in a Bay Street conference last week where the main focus was, of all things, cost control. It has been this way for a few years now. Whenever banks report earnings, or their leaders appear at investment conferences, they are grilled about expenses. What started as an obsession with restructuring charges, when the banks were booking ones worth hundreds of millions of dollars around 2014, has morphed into a fixation on so-called ‘operating leverage.’” – Tim Kiladze (for subscribers)

LIVING BETTER

Is coconut oil a poison or a cure?

This summer, an epidemiologist and professor at Harvard made waves for calling coconut oil “pure poison” and “one of the worst foods you can eat." That's a bold statement to make when there is no evidence to back up the assertion, writes Leslie Beck. But, she adds, that doesn't mean coconut oil deserves the superfood status it's been given by many health bloggers and celebrities.

MOMENT IN TIME

Fall fashion, 1965

For more than 100 years, photographers, photo editors and photo librarians working for The Globe and Mail have amassed and preserved an extraordinary collection of 20th-century news photography. Every Monday, The Globe will feature one of these images, and throughout September we’re working with the theme of “fashion."

Images are unavailable offline.

The Globe and Mail

It was September, 1965. A new City Hall had just opened its doors at Queen and Bay Streets and Toronto's two biggest retailers, Simpson's and Eaton's, were introducing their fall wares with daily fashion shows at Simpson's Arcadian Court, across Queen Street, and Eaton's Georgian Room, a block from Bay Street. Simpson’s styles, Globe fashion writer Joyce Carter noted, ran from “ultra-sensible” leather dresses to “sentimental” frocks with ruffled sleeves. At Eaton’s, co-ordination was key. This outfit was captured in black and white by a Globe photographer, alongside several other classic outfits featuring luxurious coats and tall hats. The ensemble, Carter wrote, "has a marmalade and black checked dress under a matching coat, which reverses to plain marmalade, and all the accessories to match.” A similar plaid jacket might not be too hard to find steps away from City Hall at today's Eaton Centre. – Carine Abouseif

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