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Canada Evening Update: Canada, U.S. break off NAFTA talks, set to resume next week; Ottawa posts $4.3-billion first-quarter surplus

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Canada, U.S. break off NAFTA talks, set to resume next week

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Canada-U.S. talks to revamp the North American free-trade agreement ended this afternoon without any apparent deal – as President Donald Trump insists that he won’t offer any compromises to Canada, according to sources. Although negotiations failed to meet Trump’s deadline of today, a senior Canadian official said talks are expected to resume next week.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the President would notify Congress that he would proceed with a bilateral U.S-Mexico deal but was open to including Canada if negotiations are successful.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who has led the around-the-clock talks, addressed the press this afternoon. She said Lighthizer “has brought good faith and good will to the table,” but did not comment on specific issues, saying she was not going to negotiate in public.

The negotiations ran in trouble late last night when Lighthizer would not budge on an independent trade dispute mechanism – a key Canadian demand – even when offered concessions on intellectual property and greater U.S. access to the Canadian dairy market.

Canadian officials were taken aback after the Toronto Star obtained a transcript of off-the-record remarks from an interview Trump gave to Bloomberg yesterday, in which he was quoted as saying he is not making any compromises in the talks with Canada. Trump later confirmed in a tweet that his statement was accurate.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters early today that Canada will continue to search for a “win-win” in the increasingly contentious talks, refusing to comment directly Mr. Trump’s no-compromise remarks. (Robert Fife and Adrian Morrow, for subscribers)

Ottawa posts $4.3-billion surplus for first quarter

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Federal finances were in surplus over the first quarter of the fiscal year, but Ottawa still expects to fall back into deficit as more results come in, Bill Curry writes.

Finance Canada’s monthly tracking report of the federal bottom line showed a $4.3-billion surplus over the April to June period, up from a $83-million surplus a year earlier. It is largely attributed to stronger revenues.

But the report cautions that, as in previous years, expenses will be concentrated later in the fiscal year and that the results so far are “broadly in line” with the February budget.

Rachel Notley scraps plans to raise Alberta’s carbon tax following court decision on Trans Mountain

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is withdrawing her support for Ottawa’s climate change strategy following a court decision overturning approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Kelly Cryderman writes, scrapping plans to raise the province’s carbon tax in 2021 and 2022.

Notley said in a speech last night the Trudeau government should call an emergency session of Parliament. She’s also calling on the federal government to appeal the Trans Mountain case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Ottawa responded today, calling it the “wrong approach,” Shawn McCarthy writes. Vincent Hughes, a spokesman for Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, said the government would not comment on Notley’s demand for legislative action.

Toronto’s Yorkdale mall reopens following yesterday’s gun violence

Yorkdale Shopping Centre is open for business today. One of the busiest malls in the country, it was packed with back-to-school shoppers when gunshots rang out yesterday afternoon, sending thousands of panicked customers ducking into clothing racks and running for safety.

Police said the shooting stemmed from a “minor confrontation” between two groups of young men. There were at least three men on each “side.” One man pulled out a handgun and fired at least two shots before both groups fled. No arrests have been made.

The Evening Update newsletter will return Tuesday, Sept., 4, following the Labour Day long weekend

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Canada’s main stock index fell today after talks with the United States ended without a deal on a new North American free-trade agreement. Eight of the index’s 11 major sectors were lower, led by the energy sector’s 1.4-per-cent drop as oil prices were pressured by trade worries. The S&P/TSX composite index finished down 108.67 points to 16,262.88.

The S&P 500 ended flat while the Dow edged down and the Nasdaq closed higher in light trading ahead of the long weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.1 points to 25,964.82, the S&P 500 gained 0.39 points close at 2,901.52 and the Nasdaq Composite added ended at 8,109.54, 21.18 points higher.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford has warned universities and colleges they will face funding cuts if they fail to adopt free-speech policies that defend controversial speakers on campus, and decline to stop shielding students from opinions some might find offensive. The move, promised by Ford during the spring election campaign, follows a number of high-profile protests over the past year against speakers at Ontario universities. The government says it will give schools four months to design, implement and enforce wide-ranging free-speech policies.

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It’s time to take consultations with First Nations seriously

“This isn’t the politics of magical thinking. Consultation is the politics of concrete solutions – solutions that ensure that our peoples are never again asked to sacrifice our livelihoods and health so that non-Natives can reap a benefit. Official Canada, and its hard-headed commentators and politicians who are today busy rushing before cameras to puff out their chests and stamp their feet need to grow up and join First Nations in the real world. If any development is to happen in Canada, they need to learn to take the duty to consult seriously – there is no more important job in Canada today.” - Robert Jago, Montreal-based entrepreneur and a member of the Kwantlen First Nation

B.C. is burning. Is climate change really to blame?

“The trouble is that proper forest management is extremely expensive. No one has the budget, and no one wants to pay the price to do it right. And everybody wants to pass the buck. A report commissioned by the B.C. government after last year’s disastrous summer gives a hint of the challenge. It says treating the province’s moderate- to high-risk areas would cost $6.7-billion – and that’s after overcoming the resistance of local residents to the whole idea of prescribed burning.” - Margaret Wente

This messy #MeToo moment

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“It’s also not true that redemption is impossible or that it always involves criminal charges. What many survivors have always wanted is what advocates call ‘restorative justice’: An honest effort on the part of the perp to admit what they did was wrong, and to change.” - Denise Balkissoon


A good bank for a young adult in college or university or starting out in the work force is one that offers all necessary services with no monthly costs and offers a great rate on savings. But many choose their financial institution based on recommendations from family and friends. Chances are good that it’s one of the big banks, which are lukewarm at best for young-adult needs, Rob Carrick writes. He offers a name you may not know, Alterna Bank, an online bank owned by credit union Alterna Savings.


Saying goodbye to Old Ontario on the Opeongo Line

Twenty-five summers ago, as a writer for the Ottawa Citizen, I traversed and then wrote about the Opeongo Line, the road that opened the Upper Ottawa Valley to settlement, John Ibbitson writes. The original track had long since become highway and county road, but the route remained intact, although the culture that had formed around it was already disappearing. “Just as the settler heritage of Ontario is being submerged by time and new immigration, so also the Opeongo may be doomed to disappear, a victim of fading memories and road improvements,” I wrote then.

The culture of the old Line is my culture, too. My great-great grandfather was among the first settlers in Muskoka, a couple hundred kilometres to the west, on the other side of Algonquin Park. Muskoka was transformed, and the old culture submerged, by tourism. But I always wondered: What had happened to the people along the Line? A quarter-century after I last wrote about it, what was left of this corner of Old Ontario, of the descendants of Irish and Polish and English settlers, of their fierce Catholic and Protestant loyalties, of their economy of just getting by?

Why everyone should write their own obituary

"If there is a theme to my obituary, it is one of celebration. The latter part of my life has been a total champagne-popper. Part of this trend started 15 years ago, when I bought a house from a widower in a small town outside of Toronto. We started to see each other eight months after the closing and ended up getting married in the award-winning garden two years later. (Initially, friends made a beeline to town to meet him, fearful that I might have fallen for the local con man who only wanted to get the house back.)

Our lives together have included a three-month honeymoon in the south of France and two major trips each year after that. There is also a reference in the obituary to the rich journey one takes when two adult lives are put together. Everything changed for me – suddenly being responsible for meals several times a day, looking after a household and the addition of grandchildren. I skipped the first volley on the family journey and now have the benefit of watching up close as these young people become the most amazing creatures imaginable.” - Penny Lipsett

Here’s one death notice that you might suspect the subject had a hand in writing.

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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