Good evening, it’s been a busy week. This evening’s newsletter looks at the steadily deteriorating Sino-Canadian relationship, the myriad threads of the Trump saga and we have a few suggestions of what to watch and read this weekend. Have a good one.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Canada rebuffs China’s warnings of ‘repercussions’ for banning Huawei
Tension between China and Canada continues to rise in the wake of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in December. Yesterday, China’s ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, said there would be a price to pay if Canada decided to ban Huawei from supplying gear for its 5G mobile networks. He called Ms. Meng’s arrest an act of “backstabbing” and warned Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland about trying to rally support from other countries to put pressure on China over the arrests of Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor and the recent death sentence handed down to Robert Schellenberg.
Today, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale shrugged off a Chinese threat and said Canada won’t be deterred from making decisions that are best for Canada. “So we understand that those sorts of comments will be made in the process, but we will make our judgement based on what’s right for Canada and not be deterred from making the right decision,” Mr. Goodale told reporters today. The issue around whether Canada will follow the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea in banning the Chinese telecom maker has yet to come to a head. Currently, the federal cabinet is awaiting the conclusion of a national security review before deciding.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government continues to reject the contention that interrogators in Beijing are violating the legal immunity owed to Mr. Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who was detained shortly after Ms. Meng’s arrest. The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations establishes the rights of national emissaries operating in foreign countries. Among those is a form of residual immunity, which protects the activities performed by a person as a diplomat, even after they have left their post
Globe readers have weighed in on the conflict and appear to overwhelmingly support a ban on Huawei. In a recent From the Comments, readers argue for a ban.
If you need to be caught up on all of the details of the Sino-Canadian rift over Ms. Meng’s arrest and the subsequent moves by both countries, we have several explainers and a ton of background reading.
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U.S. Congress to investigate report that Trump told Cohen to lie
In the latest from Washington, Democrats are vowing to investigate whether President Donald Trump directed his personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate project. It’s a big deal because directing a witness to lie to investigators is partly what lead to Richard Nixon’s resignation and the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton. This comes in the wake of an interview Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave to CNN in which he said he had no idea whether any aides colluded with Moscow.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government shutdown continues into its 28th day and Democrats, Republicans and the White House continue to exchange volleys. Yesterday, Mr. Trump denied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi use of military aircraft for an overseas trip in apparent retaliation for her suggestion that he delay the annual State of the Union address.
Ottawa looking into how Saudi man facing sex charges may have fled Canada
How did a Saudi man with no passport who is facing sexual assault charges in Nova Scotia manage to flee Canada? With help from the Saudi embassy in Ottawa, says Lee Cohen, a veteran Halifax immigration lawyer. Now, that possibility has federal officials looking into the case of Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi. While Mr. Alzoabi’s whereabouts remain a mystery, a court document says a sheriff unsuccessfully tried to locate the Saudi man on Dec. 8, and quotes Mr. Alzoabi’s lawyer at the time as saying the young man had “fled the country some time ago.” Crown prosecutors say Mr. Alzoabi had $37,500 of his bail posted by the Saudi Arabian embassy last year in relation to the alleged sexual assault, assault and forcible confinement of a woman between Aug. 1, 2015, and March 26, 2017.
There is muted optimism amid a slowing global economy
Global economic growth is slowing under the weight of feuding politicians, growing trade tensions and rising interest rates, but that’s not stopping some analysts from seeing the glass half full. Report on Business’s Ian McGugan writes in this weekend’s paper that while there is broad agreement that the global economy is slowing, the smart money is still betting on a modest downshift in global growth. Why? Well one reasons is the belief that slowing the raising of interest rates (or even cutting them) or backing off various trade showdowns could help counteract any potential weakness. The big challenge though is trying to predict the unpredictable: What will the Trump administration do about tariffs it has imposed on several different countries (including Canada) and what will be the impact of Brexit.
Calgary Flames to retire Jarome Iginla’s number
The Calgary Flames announced today they plan to retire former captain Jarome Iginla’s No. 12 during a ceremony on March 2 just before a game against the Minnesota Wild. Mr. Iginla, from St. Albert, Alta., was a home-grown talent and retired from the NHL last July after a 20-season career. Though drafted 11th overall by the Dallas Stars in 1995, he was acquired by the Flames in a trade that December. He made his debut in a Flames jersey in the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs and played 16 seasons in Calgary scoring 525 goals, notching 570 assists and amassing 1,095 points in 1,219 games with the Flames. Mr. Iginla played for Canada at three Olympics, winning gold in 2002 and 2010. He assisted on Sidney Crosby’s overtime winner against the Americans (You Tube) in the final in Vancouver in 2010.
The financial, industrial and energy sectors helped Canada’s main stock index push higher Friday, while U.S. markets also charged ahead. The Toronto Stock Exchange rose 92.61 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 15,303.83. In New York, stocks also closed higher, marking a fourth week of advances for Wall Street’s major indexes on hopes that the United States and China would resolve their trade dispute. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 342.69 points, or 1.41 per cent, to 24,712.79, the S&P 500 gained 35.33 points, or 1.34 per cent, to 2,671.29, and the Nasdaq Composite added 72.77 points, or 1.03 per cent, to 7,157.23.
WHAT TO WATCH AND READ THIS WEEKEND
Brexit: The Uncivil War is a funny, simultaneously terrifying lesson in populism and contemporary politics
Television critic John Doyle calls Brexit: The Uncivil War (Saturday, Crave/HBO, 9 p.m. ET) a blistering take on the 2016 U.K. referendum that saw Britain vote to narrowly to leave the European Union. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dominic Cummings, the “geeky analyst” who called the tune in the Leave campaign. Doyle writes: “It’s a masterful performance from Cumberbatch as the neurotic, arrogant geek who, it turns out, had his ear to the ground ... and was cannily able to construct an anti-EU narrative that politicians and their advisers could not articulate.”
Review: The Kid Who Would Be King proves the pen of Joe Cornish is mightier than the sword in the stone
Reviewer Chandler Levack gives The Kid Who Would Be King three and a half stars out of four. It’s a take on the classic Arthur sword-in-the-stone legend about a diverse group of unlikely British schoolkids tasked with saving the world with a clear message about what it means to be a hero when the world seems more rotten and despairing than ever. “...viewers will be entranced by Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of Andy Serkis. He’s one of the greatest child actors to grace the screen in some time, whose golden lion-hearted essence shines through even when facing indecision and doubt. If perfect casting is looking for the one actor who can pull the sword from the stone, Cornish has found the Webster’s definition of a hero.”
Review: With Glass, one must ask how badly Shyamalan needs to fail before Hollywood stops rewarding him
Universal Studios likely won’t use many quotes from Globe film critic Barry Hertz’s review of M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass for the movie’s poster: “Why was Shyamalan, who has directed at least four objective failures over the course of his career, allowed yet another chance to prove what a disappointment he can be?” While Barry recognizes Shyamalan displayed a knack for teasing out tension in earlier films such as The Sixth Sense and Signs), with Glass, the director “seals his fate as being forever aligned with ineptitude.” Ouch. Then there’s this: “This could all be read as subversive. But only if you’re, say, Shyamalan’s mother. Or Shyamalan himself, who is obviously pleased with himself, so much so that the finale ... is essentially the director congratulating himself for making what he believes is a world-changing film.”
Six hot thrillers to get you through the big cold of January
If you’re looking for a good Canadian crime writer who consistently produces books with solid plots and enduring characters, try Peter Robinson’s Careless Love. That’s one of writer Margaret Cannon’s six reads for the month. “For 30 years, [Robinson has] managed to keep his Inspector Banks series fresh by adding new characters such as Annie Cabot, originally a possible love interest but now a woman with a life and career of her own, and a fine cast of reappearing supporting police.”
MULTIMEDIA: Paving a new road for rap
Take a minute this weekend on a big screen to scan freelance photographer and videographer Michelle Siu’s Meet the next generation of artists breaking through Toronto’s hip hop scene. It’s a spectacular mix of vivid portraits of some of the city’s new fresh talent that’s giving voice to Toronto’s stories, mixed with several Soundcloud tracks of their work.
WHAT’S POPULAR WITH READERS
Snowbird life: How I learned to settle into Florida’s sunny paradise of Naples
Kevin Spreekmeester discovers there’s a difference when you winter over in a place such as Naples for eight weeks rather than the normal week-long vacation – it’s not a vacation, it’s a relocation. As a short-term resident, and not a tourist, you rebel against the very things that used to make you so happy during those shorter trips. You even start resenting short-term visitors who get in the way of your routines. However, if you are going for a week, the piece has some suggestions of where to eat, where to shop and other sights that might make the tourist in you happy.
DAVID SHRIBMAN, former executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, wonders How will future historians regard Donald Trump? “... after he leaves the White House, Mr. Trump will be a gift to biographers and historians who almost certainly will look with wonder on this period in U.S. history and this unusual President. Indeed, just as the passage of decades has clarified our views on Thomas Jefferson (no longer simply the innocent lyricist of American freedom) and John A. Macdonald (no longer simply the heroic principal figure of Canadian Confederation), the ticks of the historical clock will clarify the role and impact of the 45th President. And it may help us understand the present if, at the mathematical halfway point of his term, we examine his presidency from some imaginary future, where the following questions may have some decisive answers.”
MARGARET WENTE looks at Rahaf Mohammed’s escape from Saudi Arabia: “There are three main reasons why Rahaf Mohammed, the woman with the thousand-watt smile, was able to escape Saudi Arabia and, in record time, find a home in one of the nicest countries in the world. One is the astonishing power of social media to turn an unknown teen into a global celebrity in a matter of hours. Another is the underground sisterhood of Saudi women, who share advice and support to other women trying to escape one of the most repressive regimes in the world. The most important reason she escaped is Rahaf herself. ”
Also writing on Rahaf Mohammed, Bangkok-based PHIL ROBERTSON, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, explains Why I helped Rahaf Mohammed: “She was reaching out to me and any others who could help, and she was in a world of trouble. And so began an urgent journey, one that has lessons for the Rahafs of the future, the vulnerable women fleeing oppression in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, and for advocates and governments prepared to help them.”
GABRIELE CONTESSA, an associate philosophy professor at Carleton University, on why Changes to Ontario tuition are unfair and short-sighted: “The shakeup includes a reduction of OSAP’s tuition grant program, as well as a 10-per-cent cut in tuition fees for domestic students enrolling in Ontario colleges and universities in 2019-2020 and a tuition fee freeze for the following year. While the government’s announcement suggests that the changes to OSAP are intended to make higher education more affordable, the reality is that the changes are short-sighted and will make the system less fair.”
FOR A LAUGH
Big-value wines that score just shy of 90
Beppi Crosariol, The Globe’s wine and spirits columnist, take a stab at explaining the intricacies of the 100-point wine scoring system and provides a little insight into how and when he awards a wine a 90 or an 89. “The scoring burden plagues me daily,” he writes. “Ultimately a critic, similar to a gymnastics or ice-dancing judge, must make the call and commit to a number.” To round it off, Beppi lists a handful of good wines that he thinks will appeal to even the most rigid wine buyers and perhaps free what he calls the 90-point albatross.
Globetrotting CEO never checks a bag, and here’s how
From Pursuits in this weekend’s paper, the Style section speaks with Gillian Tans, the Amsterdam-based chief executive of Booking.com who also happens to be the highest-paid female CEO in the digital travel sector. With more than 17,000 employees around the world, Ms. Tans is on the road for more than half the year. To say that she has become a packing expert would be an understatement (she never checks luggage, no matter how long she’s gone). Here, she shares a few of the essentials that help her travel light.
Also from the weekend Pursuits section, a companion piece that looks at those dreaded red-eye flights. From making your seat comfy to sticking to your sleep routine, here are some suggestions for making red-eye flights more tolerable.
LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE
A beef tale: How a farmer flourished by letting his bulls enjoy the scenery
There are a few feature writers in Canada who can spin an interesting tale and tell it with language that just makes you appreciate great writing. Read Roy Macgregor’s look at Stan Christensen, a cattle farmer in Lac-Sainte-Marie whose non-traditional methods (actually, completely traditional, if you go back in time about 50 years) have helped them to endure some of the Canadian beef industry’s biggest challenges. The story part of an occasional series in which The Globe examines the lives of Canadian farmers after the North American free-trade agreement was renegotiated.
Here’s Roy on Mr. Christensen: “Stan Christensen – all 6 foot 5 of him – moves about a fenced field that holds a dozen or so Red Angus bulls, the largest among them, the “boss” of the herd, weighing in at more than 1,100 kilograms, slightly larger than a black rhinoceros, roughly the size of three adult moose. Mr. Christensen throws an arm over the shoulder of the giant known as Red Sage 142Y 678, and the big bull all but rubs against him like a barn cat. He then moves through the rest of the bulls, not a snort among them, calmly talking to them as they appear to lounge about in some impossibly bucolic painting.”