WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Doug Ford to invoke notwithstanding clause to override judge’s Toronto council ruling
Early this morning, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba declared Premier Doug Ford’s bid to cut the size of Toronto city council in half in the middle of an election unconstitutional. In his decision, he called the move to cut the number of city councillors to 25 from 47 "unprecedented" with a campaign under way, declaring that the Premier's intervention "crossed the line."
After delaying a planned noon news conference for two hours, Ford announced he would recall the legislature and invoke the Constitution’s rarely used notwithstanding clause to override a judge’s ruling. He said he would use the notwithstanding clause, never before invoked in Ontario, to go ahead with his plan. And he warned he could use the clause again, on other issues.
The Globe’s justice writer Sean Fine explains the legal reasoning behind why the judge stopped Ontario’s reduction of Toronto city council, which Mayor John Tory earlier said vindicates the city’s decision to challenge the cut.
"Judicial oversight exists to keep our elected leaders from overstepping the bounds and acting in a high-handed, arbitrary, capricious or vindictive fashion," Marcus Gee writes. "Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s decision to slash the size of Toronto city council in the midst of an election campaign was all of those things."
Contractor woes stall Ontario public projects
Bondfield Construction Company, a family-owned firm based in Vaughan, north of Toronto, has been terminated as the general contractor on three public-sector projects, and several others are mired in delays. Frustrated subcontractors tell The Globe and Mail they have taken extraordinary steps to get paid on Bondfield projects – in some cases striking agreements to receive payment directly from the public-sector institutions.
A dozen public-sector construction projects across Ontario – including hospitals, schools and university buildings – are either months behind schedule or in limbo, including an expansion of Cambridge Memorial Hospital, a new wing for Hawkesbury and District General Hospital, and a new patient care tower for St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
U.S. escalates pressure on Canada for dairy concessions in NAFTA talks
The United States is stepping up pressure on Canada to scrap protections for its dairy industry in exchange for striking a new North American free-trade deal. Ottawa's supply managed milk sector and its restricted market to U.S. dairy farmers as the major issue preventing a breakthrough in NAFTA talks, three senior U.S. officials say (for subscribers). Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is in Toronto today along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the Women in the World Canada summit, returns to Washington to resume talks tomorrow.
Meanwhile, U.S. negotiators are using the NAFTA conversation to try to get Canada to raise its so-called "de minimis threshold" – the level below which goods are given exemptions from duty and sales tax. Today, that threshold is very low: U.S goods up to $20 in value are exempt from duty and sales tax when shipped to Canadian customers. Canadian goods shipped to the United States, on the other hand, are exempt from duty up to US$800 in value. The discrepancy has long been a trade irritant between the two countries, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S e-commerce retailers have been pushing for Canada to raise its de minimis threshold closer to the U.S. limit. (for subscribers)
Canada’s family firms continue to outperform widely held corporations
Canada's big family-controlled companies continue to be winners for their investors, outperforming widely held corporations despite lingering shareholder criticism of the dual-class stock structures most of them have, Nicolas Van Praet writes. Forty-three companies, which include corporate pillars such as Onex as well as budding newcomers such as Shopify and Knight Therapeutics, returned 9 per cent on an annualized basis from June, 2005, to June, 2018, compared with 6.7 per cent for the TSX Composite, a new study by National Bank of Canada finds. (for subscribers)
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Energy stocks led Canada’s main stock index lower today. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index finished down 33.18 points at 16,057.09.
U.S. stocks mostly edged higher, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rebounding to snap a four-day losing streak, although a drop in Apple kept gains in check. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 59.47 points to 25,857.07, the S&P 500 gained 5.45 points to 2,877.13 and the Nasdaq Composite added 21.62 points to 7,924.16.
WHAT’S TRENDING ON SOCIAL
John Legend, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice have joined an elite group of people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (EGOT). Last night, with NBC’s live version of Jesus Christ Superstar Emmy win for best live variety special, all three have the four biggest prizes in show business. They join 12 others including Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, Rita Moreno and Mike Nichols. Legend, who played Jesus in the show, won his Emmy as a co-producer and is also up for an acting Emmy.
Why the surge in gender dysphoria among teenage girls?
"I heard about a puzzling trend recently. Apparently clinics working with children with gender dysphoria issues were seeing a sudden surge of adolescent girls who identified as boys. In Britain, one well-known gender clinic reports that the majority of its adolescent population, once 50-50, is now overwhelmingly trans-male (female-to-male). What’s going on? Lisa Littman, a doctor and researcher at Brown University, decided to find out. But these are shark-infested waters, as she discovered the hard way. After she published her results, activists released a barrage of protest on social media, and the university quickly distanced itself from her findings." – Margaret Wente
You can call Serena Williams a poor sport, but she can never be called a loser
"Like [John] McEnroe, Jimmy Connors or Andre Agassi before he softened, Williams has never just been playing tennis out there. She’s waging psychological warfare on her opponent. The whoops, the go-right-through-you stares and, yes, the occasional frothing meltdown, are all tools in her psy-ops kit. She is constantly reminding you that you aren’t just trying to beat a person, but a legend." – Cathal Kelly (for subscribers)
Notes from a disillusioned Canadian: Our friendship with the U.S. may never be the same
"When I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, Americans and American-ness were part of the daily lives of Canadians in ways that were intrinsic and unquestioned. In our house, we watched the three American TV channels, ABC, CBS and NBC, and two Canadian ones, CBC and CTV. As the nightly news flickered on the black-and-white TV screen, my five-year-old self did not see the difference between Pierre Trudeau suspending civil rights to quell separatist terrorism in Quebec and the killing of student protesters at Kent State by the National Guard. In the years before that, Expo 67 brought the world to Montreal and in 1969, Apollo 11 took men to the moon. These are the threads that fed the warp and weft of identity for many Canadians of my generation – an identity that is more North American than strictly Canadian." – Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington.
Many online brokers have no minimum account size, which sends a generally inaccurate message that newbies are going to be nurtured, Rob Carrick writes. But unless you dig deep into the fine print, you can easily miss the fees applied to accounts with assets less than $10,000 to $25,000 – and they can add up. These fees go by various names – inactivity or maintenance fees or annual administration fees. Inactivity or maintenance fees usually come in at $25 or $30 each quarter, while admin fees are generally billed in one go at $100. Here's how to avoid the fee trap awaiting novice DIY investors. (for subscribers)
LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE
Dentists on Queen West in Toronto? Worries mount about professional offices replacing retailers on main streets
Keen observers have noticed an unexpected trend in the ultra-hip West Queen West area of Toronto – a proliferation of dentists’ offices, Sarah Efron writes. “Right across from the Drake Hotel there’s a dentist’s office and half block south another one just opened,” says Antonio Carvallo, a realtor with Re/Max Hallmark Bibby Group. He says there are two other dentist offices moving in on nearby Sudbury Street, just off the main retail strip. “It just doesn’t look good. It takes away from the whole culture of the neighbourhood.”
According to John Kiru, executive director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Mr. Carvallo’s observation is part of a bigger trend. In recent years, Mr. Kiru has noticed service businesses are replacing small retailers on main streets across the Greater Toronto Area. While there has always been some service businesses and professional offices at ground level in retail strips, Mr. Kiru says the trend is accelerating as independent retailers face pressure from rising property tax assessments and online retailers such as Amazon.
What it’s like to have a hip replaced in your 50s
The surgery took an hour and a half to two hours. They remove the bone from the hip socket and replace the ball of the femur with ceramic material. Because of the impingement, they smoothed out the socket so it was round again, and took this new ceramic bone and hammered it into the femur and fit it into the socket. They hammered everything back in place. I was in hospital for two days afterward, but I was up and standing on my new leg on the first night. I was walking on it the next day.
It felt amazing. When the anesthetic wore off, the first thing I noticed was that the crushing pain was gone. When they got me up walking for the first time, they gave me a walker, and I was able to put my foot down and take a few steps. It was such a feeling of relief, I can't even begin to tell you. Pamela Jessen, as told to Wency Leung