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Chinese investments in oil patch behind RCMP, CRA tax probe in Alberta

A sweeping criminal probe into offshore tax evasion has ensnared the director of a failed Chinese-backed natural gas producer whose bankruptcy has exposed major regulatory lapses in Alberta’s oil patch.

Court documents show a trio of properties in Calgary, West Vancouver and north Toronto owned by, or affiliated with, Wentao Yang and his wife, Rong Catherine Lu, were targeted in February raids by the Canada Revenue Agency, the RCMP and West Vancouver Police.

CRA investigators allege that Mr. Yang and Ms. Lu received payments totaling $2,666,865 through a series of transfers involving foreign corporations that he is either directly or indirectly involved with, and that Mr. Yang did not report income tied to the transactions on his 2016 personal returns. As a result, it says he evaded income tax totaling $736,562. Mr. Yang also failed to report and remit $126,993, according to the court documents filed in Calgary.

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World Press Freedom Day: The journalists killed in the line of duty

Ahmad Shah. Ghazi Rasooli. Saleem Talash. Those are just a few names of the 10 journalists killed in a series of attacks in Afghanistan on Monday, just days before World Press Freedom Day. In 1993, the United Nations declared May 3 an annual date to evaluate the state of press freedom in each country, as well as to honour those killed. This year alone, 27 have been killed in countries including Afghanistan, Syria, Colombia and Mexico. And scores more have been imprisoned: Turkey locked up 73 journalists in 2017, while China jailed 41. Go here to see the names of those killed in 2017 and 2018, along with details on the places where journalists face the most threats.

Here’s our editorial board’s take on the state of press freedom: “Journalists deal in facts, and because facts are often uncomfortable, those who unearth them and disseminate them are attacked. That imbalance is not new. What is new is the mainstream assault on journalists and press freedom. Possession of the facts in too many parts of the world has turned deadly. We are exercised by such attacks, not just because it is our business but because of the immutable link between a free press and freedom.”

Read more on press freedom in these columns:

Bombardier sells Downsview assembly site to pension fund in major makeover

Bombardier Inc. is selling its Downsview site in Toronto for about US$635-million to the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, one of the country’s biggest pensions, which invests funds for the Canadian Armed Forces among other public sector workers.

The plane and train manufacturer is looking to boost its cash reserves after its brush with bankruptcy three years ago, and will see net proceeds of US$550-million after costs. That facility is an assembly site for its Q400 turboprop passenger planes and is one of four final assembly sites Bombardier uses.

The Downsview land sale is the richest on record in Canada, even topping residential land sales that have historically commanded much higher prices than sites categorized as “industrial, commercial, investment.” Until now, the highest valued land deal was the $440-million sale of a Vancouver bus depot in 2016 that was zoned for residential building, according to data from Avison Young.

Canada facing ‘brain drain’ as young tech talent leaves for Silicon Valley

A new study shows one-in-four recent science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates from three of the country’s top universities were working outside Canada, a rate experts say is greater than the mass exodus by Canadian doctors two decades ago.

The study, led by Zachary Spicer, a senior associate with the Munk School of Global Affairs’ Innovation Policy Lab at University of Toronto, found 25 per-cent of recent STEM graduates from the University of Waterloo, University of British Columbia and U of T were working outside Canada, mostly in the United States.

The numbers were higher for graduates of computer engineering and computer science (30 per cent), engineering science (27 per cent) and software engineering, where two out three graduates were working outside Canada. Nearly 44 per cent of those working abroad were employed as software engineers, with Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon listed as top employers.

Singh expels MP Erin Weir from NDP caucus over harassment allegations

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh kicked Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir out of his party’s caucus following a three-month investigation that started when fellow caucus member Christine Moore reported hearing second-hand allegations that Weir had harassed several women. Ottawa law professor Michelle Flaherty investigated the allegations and found credible evidence to support one allegation of harassment and three allegations of sexual harassment against Weir, Singh told a news conference. Weir has characterized the allegations as a politically motivated and unjustified smear campaign from within his own party.


U.S. stocks ended lower on Thursday after a choppy session as strong economic data offset disappointing earnings reports from several companies. Canada’s main stock index finished flat on Thursday as energy shares fell. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5.85 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 23,930.83, the S&P 500 lost 5.93 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 2,629.74 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 12.75 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 7,088.15. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite Index declined 6.46 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 15,621.47.

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Ottawa to implement warning stickers on prescription opioids

The yellow stickers contain a warning that opioids can cause dependence, addiction and overdose. “There were a lot of people going and getting their prescriptions filled not even knowing that the medication they were getting was an opioid.”


Wynne is right: Ford is our Trump

When Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said recently that Doug Ford was like Donald Trump, critics called it a desperate ploy to discredit her rival before next month’s Ontario election. Maybe it is. It also happens to be true. The similarities between these men are too numerous to ignore. Both are thin-skinned, big-talking businessmen who say they will sweep away corruption, confront vested interests and fight for the little guy. — Marcus Gee

Progress takes time. But Trudeau doesn’t have a lot left

Justin Trudeau was asked two questions at Wednesday’s meeting of the Assembly of First Nations. Both, on different Indigenous issues, were about what Mr. Trudeau can guarantee he will get done before the next election, in 2019. Both of the Prime Minister’s answers had the same point: The government cannot force these issues onto a short timeline ... It was a direct way to reset expectations. Mr. Trudeau’s government has been doing a lot of that lately. The promises and ambitions are still big. The warnings about the time it will take are fairly pointed. — Campbell Clark

Can Canada reinvent the plastic economy?

At the dawn of the Plastic Age, a popular ad showed a cartoonish stork delivering a real baby wrapped entirely in clear plastic. The bizarre 1950s ad boasted, “The best things in life come in Cellophane.” Of course, we have long known that it would be folly to actually wrap babies in plastic. But only now are we beginning to appreciate the unforeseen dangers of wrapping a child’s world in plastic. Since that ad first ran, the throwaway plastic economy has created a global environmental scourge. — Margaret Atwood and Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre.


Sniffing out the biases in the fragrance industry

Once a luxury product reserved for the elite, fragrance is fraught with bias. But a new guard of perfumers are looking to change the industry.

Scientists devise new, more accurate test for peanut allergies

British scientists have developed a far more accurate blood test to monitor the most common cause of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis and allergy cases among children. Current tests are based on looking for antibodies, but they’re not always accurate and doctors sometimes have to conduct further testing in which patients are fed larger and larger doses of peanuts, a process that can itself trigger anaphylactic shock. The new tests focuses on mast cells, and in a study involving 174 children, results showed the new process tracked closely the severity of allergies, with the worst-affected patients having the most activated mast cells.


The summer movie season’s big tickets

To help you navigate the summer’s overwhelming movie lineup, The Globe and Mail presents its guide to five unavoidable blockbusters (Solo; A Star Wars Story, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Incredibles 2, Deadpool 2, Mission: Impossible - Fallout) – and five under-the-radar films to balance out a season’s worth of sequels and reboots (Manhunt, Disobedience, Hereditary, Under the Silver Lake and The Wife). Barry Hertz also has a review of Tully, starring Charlize Theron, a role in which she plays a stressed mother of three and faces conflicting emotions after hiring a “night nanny.”

Flipping of condo units by insiders fuels hot Vancouver market

The Globe and Mail spent weeks piecing together available data on who bought and flipped condos in six new buildings. The investigation revealed a highly profitable game being played by local industry insiders.


The Toronto Raptors are seeking a bit of redemption tonight in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Cleveland Cavaliers (6 p.m. EST at the Air Canada Centre). While fans may be nervous — Cleveland has knocked Toronto out the past two years — the players remain confident. The Raptors became just the second team in 20 years to lose a playoff game after leading for every minute of regulation. Rachel Brady speaks with reserve point guard Fred VanVleet about the Game 1 loss and what the team needs to do tonight.

The Winnipeg Jets responded to a crushing double overtime loss against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 by following up the next game with a stunning comeback win. The Jets won 7-4 in Tuesday’s Game 3 despite trailing 3-0 after the first period on the back of Dustin Byfuglien. Tonight in Winnipeg (9:30 p.m. EST), the Jets may get forward Mathieu Perreault back as they look to go up 3-1 in the Western Conference second round.

For a look at how Winnipeg fans are responding to their team’s playoff run, give Marty Klinkenberg’s feature a read: ‘Fans are living a dream’

Evening Update was compiled by Michael Snider. 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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