The Evening Update newsletter will pause on Monday for the Victoria Day long weekend, but will return on Tuesday.
Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Danielle Smith picks her own adventure
As if drawn from the exploits in the adventure books she loved as a youth, Danielle Smith has had a political career filled with both treasure chests and calamity. A political star well before her 40th birthday, she became the leader of the Wildrose Alliance. But just five years later, she appeared to be a spent force. She and eight other Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor to the governing Progressive Conservatives. She became a social pariah and lost the PC nomination in her Highwood riding south of Calgary a few months later.
And now she’s back, running for Alberta’s top political job. Espousing many outlandish ideas about the pandemic and treatments, she was boosted by Alberta conservatives who didn’t trust government or the media. As the pandemic subsided, they gave her the edge in the UCP leadership contest last October that made her premier.
Smith is asking mainstream voters to look past a flood of anti-science or ahistorical pronouncements from her past. But the blunders continue. Just hours before this week’s leaders debate – the only one of the campaign – Alberta’s Ethics Commissioner found that she contravened the Conflicts of Interest Act, while premier, in a conversation she had with her Justice Minister on a high-profile criminal case related to a pandemic-mandate blockade.
Kelly Cryderman takes a look at the storied career of Danielle Smith, and the where the next chapter might find her.
- Opinion: “The Premier should have known that her conversation with Mr. Shandro was an improper attempt to influence the independence of the legal system.”
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Canada joins other G7 nations to impose new Russian sanctions
The G7 Leaders’ Summit kicked off earlier today in Hiroshima with Canada joining other members to announce new sanctions on Russia, as well as new funding to guard against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that more than 70 new sanctions would focus on people who are supporting Russia’s illegal military action and who are complicit in human rights violations.
Meanwhile, Ukraine said today that it had repelled attacks by Russian forces trying to recapture land they had lost around the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut.
Bill Blair took months to approve CSIS surveillance of Liberal powerbroker
It took four months in the early part of 2021 for then-public safety minister Bill Blair to sign off on the clandestine surveillance of former Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan, who had for years been a CSIS target because of alleged ties to China’s consulate in Toronto and association with proxies of Beijing. Chan has been linked by CSIS to recently expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei.
The spy agency wanted to intercept Chan’s electronic communications and gain entry to his home and offices, but the four-month delay left little time for CSIS to get the approval of a federal judge and to figure out the best ways to plant bugs in Chan’s cars, home, office, computers and mobile phones before the 2021 election campaign got under way.
Chan currently serves as deputy mayor of the city of Markham, but was in the Ontario Liberal cabinets of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne from 2007 to 2018.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Ontario will put ‘more money on the table’ to keep Stellantis EV battery plant, Ford says
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Ontario is prepared to give more money to Stellantis NV to keep the company’s electric-vehicle battery plant in the province. Ford’s comments come after a week of pressure from the automaking giant, along with battery maker LG Energy Solution Ltd., which halted construction at the Windsor, Ont., plant over a funding dispute.
The company wants Ottawa to match billions of dollars in incentives offered in the United States and said the federal government has failed to follow through on its commitments. Ottawa, in turn, has said Ontario needs to pay its “fair share” of the deal.
- Eric Reguly: “The decision to lunge into the EV supply chain lies somewhere between irresponsible and crazed; it locks us into an ever-expanding car culture for generations when we should be downgrading the car as a transportation tool, as some European cities are doing.”
WestJet averts strike with deal handing its pilots significant pay raises
WestJet Airlines and its pilots’ union reached a tentative four-year deal that provides significant raises and better working conditions. The contract, still to be ratified, makes them the highest-paid crews on narrow-body aircraft in Canada, and provides double-digit pay increases in the first year.
The settlement, reached early this morning, includes an additional $400-million in pilot wages over the life of the deal, and the possibility of creating the first pension plan for members.
U.S. consultancy Mintz’s executives leave Hong Kong after China raid, sources say
Some Hong Kong-based staff with U.S. consultancy Mintz Group have left the city after the firm’s Beijing office was raided by Chinese police in March. A crackdown by Chinese authorities on Mintz, along with U.S. management consultancy Bain & Co. and mainland consultancy Capvision Partners, have sent a chill through companies that deal with China.
U.S. stocks closed out the trading week on a soft note on Friday as early gains dissipated after U.S. debt ceiling negotiations in Washington were paused, denting optimism a deal could be reached in coming days to dodge a default. The TSX ended the day with a small gain as commodity-linked stocks rallied, but the Canadian market still posted its fourth straight weekly decline.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 53.97 points, or 0.3%, at 20,351.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 109.28 points, or 0.33%, to 33,426.63, the S&P 500 lost 6.07 points, or 0.14%, to 4,191.98 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 30.94 points, or 0.24%, to 12,657.90.
The loonie was trading at 74.09 cents (U.S.), up 0.02 cents.
Canada has room for a new centrist party, provided we can define what ‘centre’ means
Andrew Coyne: “If, as is so often the case, the centre ground is defined as the status quo, a party that mindlessly aims for the centre would not really change much of anything. But there’s another way to define centrism, less as a matter of positioning and more as a matter of temperament – moderation, in other words, and all that that implies: judgment, reflection, open-mindedness, level-headedness.”
Trump’s positioning on Ukraine is a problem for Biden
Konrad Yakabuski: “Trump’s depiction of the war in Ukraine as a conflict in a ‘faraway land’ that has little to do with U.S. national security interests was music to the ears of Republican isolationists, now the dominant foreign-policy faction within the GOP.”
Hidden Canada: 2023 Edition: Home sweet home
For the sixth annual edition of our Hidden Canada series, we asked writers to inspire your next trip and explore a favourite corner of their home province or territory. From Sunday drives in Alberta to historic hideaways in British Columbia and Newfoundland – and everything in between – there’s plenty to discover in your own backyard. Read more.
TODAY’S LONG READ
We built a volcano, and then threw Alberta in
Though often viewed as a rural problem, wildfires increasingly target cities and towns. The wildland urban interface – that tree-lined subdivision where forest meets the built environment – is a beautiful place to live, until it’s on fire.
We are a fire-powered civilization. About three billion people still cook and heat their homes with open fires. Gas stoves, water heaters and home furnaces number in the hundreds of millions. Wars and trash generate fires; so does slash-and-burn agriculture, so do forest fires, and so does petroleum refining. And globally there are more than a billion cars, a quarter-billion trucks, 200 million motorcycles, 25,000 passenger jets, and 50,000 ocean-going freighters. That’s a lot of fires. Add it all up and you get tens of trillions of individual combustions. And every one of those fires generates CO2 emissions, and all of it stays here on Earth.
Over the past 40 years, roughly 40 per cent of the area burned in wildfires in the western U.S. and southwestern Canada can be traced to industrial CO2 emissions.
John Vaillant began his latest book, Fire Weather, in 2016, days after Fort McMurray disappeared beneath a fire-borne cloud 14 kilometres tall. Now, as tens of thousands of Albertans have been evacuated because of multiple, fast-moving wildfires, Vaillant takes a look into our new, more combustible world.