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Evening Update: Mexico committed to trilateral NAFTA deal; a hidden body of water on Mars

Good evening,

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Mexico says it’s only interested in a trilateral NAFTA deal

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Two key Mexican ministers countered Donald Trump’s recent assertion that the U.S. is getting closer to reaching a bilateral deal with Mexico. Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Videgaray also said they consider a sunset clause a deal breaker. (The clause would allow for a NAFTA pact to be terminated after five years.) “You cannot ask the auto industry to design a new business model, [but] at the same time you tell them, ‘Look, in five years, we may change our minds,’” Guajardo said.

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Breaking up is hard to do: Air Canada wants to buy back Aeroplan

In May of 2017, Air Canada said it would part ways with Aeroplan (and parent company Aimia) when its contract with the loyalty rewards program ends in 2020. Air Canada also said it would start an in-house rewards program. But now it has launched a hostile bid to acquire Aeroplan at a heavily discounted price. The cash price amounts to $250-million, and Air Canada (along with three banks) will assume a $2-billion outstanding liability for loyalty points that have yet to be redeemed. Aimia’s board is now reviewing the bid, which, if successful, would reunite Air Canada with the loyalty program it built in the 1980s.

Blayne Lastman, the son of former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman, is running for office

He’s set to announce his bid for mayor of Toronto tomorrow. With Lastman’s name on the ballot, incumbent John Tory will face his first well-funded and well-known opponent in this fall’s municipal election. Lastman is known locally as the TV pitchman for his Lastman’s Bad Boy furniture stores, where he can be heard, along with his father, offering up the slogan: “Who’s better than Bad Boy? Nooo-body!” His campaign is expected to be populist in tone; he met with Doug Ford earlier this month and has said if he ran for mayor he would support police and small businesses.

Alberta is expanding a pilot project for rural bus service

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The move, which comes in the wake of Greyhound’s withdrawal from Western Canada, is designed to assist about 40,000 people in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Red Deer County (there are already pilot projects in a few other areas). Blaming a decline in ridership, Greyhound announced this month a plan to shut down all service stretching from Northwestern Ontario to B.C., barring one cross-border route from Vancouver to Seattle. Facing pressure from opposition MPs and affected areas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has directed his Transport Minister to work with Greyhound and communities to try and address the gap in service.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index jumped on Wednesday, propelled by gains in industrial and energy stocks. The S&P/TSX composite index rose 0.19 per cent to 16,420.76.

On Wall Street, major U.S. indexes advanced as technology stocks soared and reports that the European Union made concessions in its trade battle with the U.S. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.68 per cent to 25,414.58, the S&P 500 gained 0.91 per cent to 2,846.06 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.17 per cent to 7,932.24.

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WHAT’S TRENDING ON SOCIAL

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After an epic search, scientists have detected a hidden body of water on Mars

It’s a discovery that, if confirmed, could lead to a fresh push to answer the everlasting question: Is there life on Mars? For the first time, a team of European scientists says it has found evidence of a 20-kilometre-wide reservoir of water on the planet. One caveat: the water’s location is beneath a 1.5-kilometre-thick layer of dust and ice, amid temperatures possibly reaching –68C and kept liquid only by a blend of mineral salts. But the researchers are optimistic: “There are bacterial species on Earth that can survive in a similar environment, so it’s tempting to conclude that this could be considered a habitat,” Roberto Orosei said.

TALKING POINTS

How Toronto can curb gun violence

“The first priority is to reknit the city’s fraying social fabric, especially in its most disadvantaged areas. Toronto’s middle class is eviscerated. The city is evolving into small pockets of concentrated economic advantage, surrounded by larger expanses of concentrated disadvantage. People living in the city can feel the mounting anger and anxiety over these growing divides. Fear of mass shootings intensifies their angst. While lone shooters and terrorist attacks make global headlines, the reality is that most gun-related deaths rarely make the front page. Most of them are clustered in socially and economically marginal neighbourhoods. Many lethal shootings are connected to turf wars between highly territorial rival gangs. The key to turning around gun violence requires mobilizing the marginalized communities that are most affected by it.” – Robert Muggah (executive director of the SecDev Group) and Richard Florida (author of The New Urban Crisis)

Like father, like son: Prime Minister Trudeau faces Greenpeace activists, again

“Prime Minister Trudeau made a controversial decision, which seemingly flies in the face of the progressive values on which he was elected. This has, in turn, prompted widespread protests, including one on Parliament Hill led by Greenpeace, which threaten the prime minister’s prospects for re-election. This isn’t 2018. It’s 1983. While Justin Trudeau today grapples with opposition to his resolve that the Trans Mountain pipeline will be built, we should consider the parallels between this situation and Pierre Trudeau’s difficulties with peace activists during his final term – and what lessons might be drawn for the current Prime Minister.” – Luc-André Brunet, lecturer in history at the Open University

Canadians want convenience when food shopping — and grocers are paying the price

“Ready-to-eat solutions are more prominent than ever. Even vending machines are increasingly becoming go-to places for quality meals consumed outside the home. Online food shopping, mostly for non-perishable staples, is also becoming common practice for consumers, thanks to what is now known as the Amazon effect. With the ready-to-cook segment growing at an incredible rate, now worth almost $200-million annually in Canada, fewer shoppers are showing up at the grocery store.” – Sylvain Charlebois, dean of the faculty of management, Dalhousie University

LIVING BETTER

Should I be eating grass-fed beef?

Grass-fed beef is considered healthier than regular feedlot beef, but it is becoming increasingly harder to find on grocery-store shelves. Grass-fed beef has roughly one-third less saturated fat and is also lower in calories than regular beef. If you can afford it, food columnist Lucy Waverman says it’s worth tracking down. Smaller meat shops and local farmers’ markets are often a good place to look.

LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE

How Canada’s woman in Istanbul began the daring rescue of Syria’s White Helmets

The operation that saved more than 400 people — members of Syria’s famed White Helmets and their families — began with a meeting in Istanbul between Raed Salah, one of the group’s leaders, and a Canadian diplomat who would go on to persuade her government it needed to mobilize a rescue effort before it was too late.

The contradictory world of the Toronto Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman

The 27-year-old pitcher is described by his friends as loyal and protective, but he can be hostile to his perceived enemies. He often seems to believe that it’s him against the world. Brash confidence has served him well on the mound, when things are going well. But when they are not, which covers most of this season, his meltdowns against antagonists — even against his own team — can come in a torrent, oddly interspersed with positive affirmations and proclamations that he doesn’t care what transpires away from the baseball field.

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