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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

Canada, U.S. agree on strategy to reduce need for rare-earth metals mined by China

Officials in both countries have been working to develop an action plan for specialty mineral projects and strategic investments in North American processing facilities, as well as greater research and development in extraction of rare-earth materials.

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China is gaining control over the minerals, which are critical to high-tech and military products, such as smartphones, electric cars and weapons guidance systems.

The U.S. is also seeking alliances with Australia, Japan and the European Union, which share U.S. fears about mineral dependency on China.

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‘I think we’re largely forgotten’: Nearly 80 years ago, Canadians fought the Battle of Hong Kong

Almost 2,000 Canadians were shipped halfway around the world to defend Hong Kong in what remains a relatively overlooked chapter in this country’s Second World War record.

Nearly 80 years later, veteran Philip Doddridge still recalls the tears streaming down his company commander’s face as he counted the Canadian soldiers he’d lost in fighting on Christmas Day in Hong Kong.

However, there are few left alive to tell their story. Only seven Canadian veterans of Hong Kong remain alive, according to the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association.

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Hidden bombshells: How unexploded munitions in Canada have become a massive financial liability

Brian Lanteigne, UXO technician, demonstrates using an EM 61 Handheld metal detector to perform a UXO assessment and clearance on a road in an area of the former Tracadie Range, near Tracadie-Sheila, New Brunswick.

Stephen MacGillivray/The Globe and Mail

A quarter-century after the shooting stopped at New Brunswick’s Tracadie Range, the battle to clean up the land persists. Now, the Department of National Defence is fighting a monumental battle to clean up past messes from military training.

Some are near suburbs that sprung up as cities expanded; there are 521, stretching from coast to coast.

Data on old munitions buried across Canada reveal huge costs for the federal government that are being dramatically understated on DND’s books.

In public accounts documents, Ottawa estimates its financial liability for clearing these sites at $115-million. But that amount is almost certainly vastly understated.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

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Activist who raised awareness about transphobia murdered in Toronto: Julie Berman was involved for almost three decades with community events at The 519, and was asking her community members to be more vigilant.

Six sexual-abuse complainants suing Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh in Nova Scotia: AThe court document says MacIntosh was a prominent businessman and community leader in Port Hawkesbury who “abused his position of trust, social status and wealth to repeatedly abuse the plaintiffs.”

Jordan Peterson found an unlikely readership in China, even after censors stripped away entire sections of his book: His book, 12 Rules for Life, was published in Mandarin this fall and made the country’s bestseller lists – but a version without his criticisms of authoritarian Communism.

Arrival of purple gallinule from Gulf of Mexico brings out selflessness of two Northern Canadian communities: It was the beginning of a days-long effort to rescue the lost bird that would draw out the selflessness of two northern communities and evoke a sense of wonder among the dozens of people who crossed its path.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index hit a record high on Friday before closing the session lower as positive economic data from China boosted investor optimism. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 0.07 per cent at 17,168.21, after hitting a record high of 17,230.58 just after the opening bell.

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On Wall Street, the S&P 500 closed the day with little change, the Nasdaq’s 11-day streak of gains came to an end and the Dow squeaked out another record as investors were hopeful of an imminent U.S.-China trade deal. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.08 per cent to 28,644.92, the S&P 500 made virtually no change to remain at 3,239.98 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.17 per cent to 9,006.62.

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TALKING POINTS

Will Ottawa ever do the right thing, and call out discrimination in Quebec?

Robyn Urback: “So while it’s true that a strong stance from the federal government might entrench feelings of nationalism within Quebec, saying nothing sends a far more sinister message about Ottawa’s support for vulnerable groups to the rest of Canada.”

The unfinished business of the Arab Spring uprisings

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H.A. Hellyer: “I have no idea if 2020 will see more upheaval – but I do know that until those that rule understand that the ruled will always insist on a certain level of fundamental dignity, such upheaval is inevitable.” Hellyer is a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In Thunder Bay, an Indigenous teen’s death by suicide shows how bias can be deadly

Alvin Fiddler: “It’s time for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre to start practising health care from an anti-oppression, trauma-informed framework.” Fiddler is Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, representing 49 First Nations in the territory of Treaty No. 9 and the Ontario portion of Treaty No. 5 in Northern Ontario.

LIVING BETTER

Five positive developments in food and drink from 2019

A few of the new developments this year include:

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  • The new food guide from Health Canada, which advised us to eat more vegetables, less meat, more grains and less sugar.
  • A rise of Mocktails on the menu, and the introduction of non-alcoholic options such as non-alcoholic beer.
  • Phase 2 of Canada’s cannabis laws came into effect, making it legal to buy new products including edibles, drinkables, extracts and topicals.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

Ronald McDonald House and the challenges of keeping a family together during cancer treatment

Canada has universal health care, meaning hospital and physician care is provided at no cost. But patients and families have to fend for themselves when it comes to travel, accommodation and related expenses.

Daxton has been undergoing chemotherapy and living with his mom in the nearby Ronald McDonald House, while his father and sister have stayed home, commuting for some together time on weekends.

But that can be a tremendous burden, financially and emotionally, especially when you have a child with a life-threatening illness who needs months of care that is offered only in a small number of urban centres.

Daxton Schlosser, 4, and his mom, Jacey Schlosser, share a laugh in Daxton's room at the Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2019.

CODIE MCLACHLAN/The Globe and Mail

Evening Update is written by Sierra Bein. 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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