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Canada Evening Update: Aimia accepts Air Canada’s sweetened bid for Aeroplan; Freeland ‘extremely concerned’ as Saudi Arabia seeks death sentence for female activist

Good evening,

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Aimia accepts Air Canada’s sweetened $450-million bid for Aeroplan

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A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal to acquire the Aeroplan loyalty program from Aimia. The group, which includes Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Visa Canada, has agreed to pay $450-million in cash and assume the approximately $1.9-billion liability associated with Aeroplan miles customers have accumulated.

The agreement, yet to be voted on by Aimia shareholders, calls into question deals the company made with other airlines in the days following its initial rejection of an Air Canada offer (for subscribers). Aimia had announced arrangements with Porter Airlines, Air Transat and Flair Airlines to join Aeroplan.

The future of the program has been uncertain since Air Canada announced last year that it planned to launch its own loyalty rewards plan in 2020 when its partnership with Aimia expires.

Freeland ‘extremely concerned’ as Saudi Arabia seeks death sentence for female activist

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office is voicing concerns about another jailed female civil rights activist in Saudi Arabia, continuing the Canadian government’s criticism of the kingdom’s human rights record despite the Saudis' hefty economic retaliation.

Human rights advocates are sounding the alarm about Israa al-Ghomgham and five other activists, Steven Chase and Nadine Yousif write. They are being tried by the country’s terrorism tribunal on charges “solely related to their peaceful activism” and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for nearly all of them including Ms. al-Ghomgam, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Canadian government did not call on Saudi Arabia to “immediately release” al-Ghomgam, however, unlike earlier this month when Canada used that phrase in referring to the plight of Saudi women’s activists.

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Michael Cohen has reached plea deal with U.S. prosecutors: reports

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has reached a deal with federal prosecutors in New York to plead guilty to campaign finance violations, bank fraud and tax evasion, news media outlets reported today, citing unnamed sources. The plea bargain includes a possible prison sentence of three to five years, Fox News said. Cohen appeared in federal court in Manhattan this afternoon, accompanied by his attorney. Earlier in the day, Cohen surrendered to the FBI, CNN reported.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, found guilty on eight counts of fraud

U.S.President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty today of eight of the 18 charges he faced in a case of bank and tax fraud. The judge in the case declared a mistrial on the 10 other counts. Earlier in the day, the jury had indicated it was unable to reach consensus on all of the counts.

During two weeks of testimony, prosecutors presented evidence that Manafort evaded income taxes on US$16-million he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine and then lied to banks to secure US$20-million in loans after his Ukraine income dried up.

B.C. Premier John Horgan says wildfires prompted unprecedented second state of emergency

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British Columbia Premier John Horgan says successive governments have budgeted “laughable” amounts of money to fight wildfires that are becoming all too common. The premier, speaking in Prince George, says wildfires have prompted an unprecedented second state of emergency in the province in the last 12 months, after floods this spring, but he’s confident there’s enough contingency in the budget to provide the needed support.

The forests that are burning across British Columbia are littered with millions of hectares of dead or dying trees that turn into volatile fuel for flames in conditions such as this year’s drought, experts say. The situation has persisted despite recommendations stretching back more than a decade calling on provincial and local governments to clear the forests of debris, Wendy Stueck writes.

Canadian IndyCar driver Robert Wickens has rod, screws placed in spine after crash

Canadian IndyCar driver Robert Wickens had titanium rods and screws placed in his spine to stabilize a fracture associated with a spinal cord injury suffered in a crash at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania on Sunday. IndyCar said today the severity of the spinal cord injury was unknown. The native of Guelph, Ont., is expected to undergo more surgeries to treat fractures in his lower extremities and right forearm. His condition remains stable.

“Everything should be looked at because improving safety should always be a priority,” Jenna Fryer writes. “But racing is never going to be 100-per-cent safe. If risk was not part of the show, there would be no show.”

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MARKET WATCH

The benchmark S&P 500 touched a record high today, as U.S. stocks rose on earnings reports in the consumer sector and relative calm in the trade dispute between the United States and China.

The S&P rose as much as 0.6 percent to a record intraday high of 2,873.23 points, topping its previous record on Jan. 26, though it closed at 2,862.96, up 5.91 on the day. The index’s bull-market run is now 3,452 days old and on Wednesday would become the longest such streak in history, at least for some market watchers. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 63.6 points to 25,822.29, and the Nasdaq Composite added 38.16 points to close at 7,859.17.

Canadian stocks closed modestly lower despite another rally in the pot sector. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX fell 34.06 points to 16,296.97.

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WHAT’S TRENDING ON SOCIAL

Two days after a report detailed an accusation of sexual assault against #MeToo activist Asia Argento, the Italian actress and filmmaker said she never had a sexual relationship with Jimmy Bennett, the young actor whom she agreed to pay $380,000 in a settlement. She said today that it was her boyfriend, celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, who undertook the payment. No one will be hearing his side of the story, as Bourdain died by suicide in June.

TALKING POINTS

City growth dominated by car-driving suburbs, whose votes decide elections

“Both the Conservatives and the Liberals face major challenges in wooing the auto-suburban voter. The Tories are plagued by nativist, anti-immigrant attitudes among some supporters. The Liberals often treat auto suburbs, and the people who live in them, as a problem to be solved rather than as a community to be respected.” - John Ibbitson

An open letter to Pope Francis

“Unless we’re convinced that only pedophiles and perverts are interested in joining the clergy, we must acknowledge that the problem is neither pedophilia nor perversion, and abandon those clichés once and for all. The problem is taking normal individuals and asking abnormal things of them. The Church itself is ‘perverse’ in its refusal to recognize the importance of sexuality and the disastrous consequences of its repression.” - Nancy Huston, award-winning author

Why Canadian medical students should be offered free tuition

“In Canada, physicians are almost all on the public payroll. Soaring debt has fueled demands for higher fees and that, in turn, makes it more expensive to deliver publicly funded care. That makes it all the more sensible that we make it affordable for people to get a medical education and promote a more diverse work force in the process.” - André Picard

LIVING BETTER

Your hands do a lot of work when you use your phone, Wency Leung writes. And if you’re starting to feel pain at the base of your thumbs and in your wrists, these digits are probably working overtime. Quervain’s tenosynovitis, or so-called “texting thumb,” affects the tendons running along the thumb-side of the wrist. Paul Girard, a certified hand therapist in Penticton, B.C., suggests using voice-recognition software, setting your phone down instead of holding it in your hand when you text, or using your fingers more to give your thumbs a break. He also advises applying heat - not ice - and massaging to promote blood flow. Gentle stretching may also be beneficial, but don’t go overboard: Those tiny muscles in your hand don’t need more work, they need less.

LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE

For years, it was an ecovillage and a commune. Now, Poole’s Land in Tofino, B.C., is up for sale

Michael Poole jabs a claw-headed garden tool deep into a matrix of roots on his 17.5-acre property in Tofino, B.C., Melissa Renwick writes. Like a squirrel hiding its bounty, Mr. Poole stashes his money and “earth medicines” beneath the forest, dismissing any worry that someone might try to steal his treasures. “Oh no,” he grins, “that would just make it so much more fun.”

To Poole, money is a secondary concern; his real interest is in instigating cultural change, which may help explain why over the past 30 years he’s had an estimated 20,000 strangers pass through his property and take refuge for just $10 a night. Famously known as Poole’s Land, it is often referred to as a “hippie commune,” or an “ecovillage,” but Poole describes it as an “anarchist experiment. “ It has become a Tofino mainstay, a travel destination passed down through generations. But as the 66-year-old is confronted with aging, he says he can no longer go on and is finally ready to sell.

I’m single, and not looking to change that. Why should I?

“The problems with a question such as ‘How are you still single?’ are the assumptions that must be made in order for it to be considered a compliment, which I think is how people genuinely expect it to be taken. The question assumes two truths: 1) that being in a relationship is preferable to being single; and 2) that there are those who are more deserving to be in relationships than others and, by default, that those who are in relationships belong to a higher calibre of people. If this inference feels like a leap, consider what would happen if I turned the question back on my partnered friends: ‘How is it you’re in a relationship?’ Such a question would be considered insulting, as though the person is too selfish or too boring or too unattractive to be in a partnership.” - Rachel Jansen

Evening Update is written by S.R. Slobodian. If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

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