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Canada Evening Update: Money laundering in B.C.’s real estate market inflated home prices, reports say; the latest in Canada-China tensions

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Money laundering in B.C.’s real estate market inflated home prices, government reports say

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The B.C. economy was used to wash more than $7-billion in dirty money last year — a large portion through real estate and enough to drive up the cost of buying a home by at least five per cent, according to new government reports.

They show poor transparency, inadequate policing, weak tracking of housing ownership and massive holes in limits on cash transactions have made the province vulnerable to cleaning up the proceeds of both domestic and international organized crime.

“It is alarming to know that Greater Vancouver has also acted as a laundromat for foreign organized crime, including a Mexican cartel, Iranian and Mainland Chinese organized crime, all seeking a safe and effective local in which to wash their proceeds of crime,” said one report, by Peter German, a former RCMP deputy commissioner,

This comes on the heels of another report by Mr. German, which analyzed how criminals are exploiting B.C.s luxury-vehicle sector while avoiding tens of millions of dollars in provincial sales tax.

Opinion: “Money laundering may be invisible but, like a punch you never saw coming, it hurts. When Canadian real estate is used as an international dirty-money laundromat, it harms law-abiding Canadians by artificially pushing up housing prices.” - Globe editorial

Canadian sentenced to death in China maintains appeals; Meng Wanzhou extradition proceedings delayed

Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian man sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking, maintained his innocence today during a four-hour appeal hearing that ended without a verdict, the latest development in a diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Ottawa.

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Yesterday in B.C. Supreme Court, the legal team for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou successfully delayed formal extradition proceedings until after a separate hearing at the end of September determines whether more evidence must be disclosed by prosecutors. They argued the Canadian government is withholding key evidence relevant to how and why the Huawei executive was arrested, which may have violated her constitutional rights.

Ms. Meng’s arrest at the Vancouver Airport on Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. officials is at the centre of increasing tensions between Canada and China. In apparent retaliation, China has detained two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – and sentenced two others to death, Including Mr. Schellenberg. Beijing has also targeted this country’s pork and canola exports (for subscribers).

Norman returning to active duty after Crown says his actions were ‘inappropriate,’ not criminal

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman is returning to active duty with the Canadian Forces after the Crown dropped a breach-of-trust charge against him.

The federal prosecutor said that new documents the prosecution received from the defence revealed that the senior naval officer’s actions in relation to a shipbuilding contract were “inappropriate," but that does not mean they were criminal.

Vice-Adm. Norman was charged last year over allegedly leaking government secrets in an attempt to influence cabinet’s decision on a $700-million shipbuilding contract with Quebec’s Davie shipyard. He has denied any wrongdoing.

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Opinion: “The most striking thing about the Vice-Admiral’s case is how little we yet know about the government’s motivations in pursuing it with such vigour, and the dances that have been done as more and more Liberals became embroiled through documents requested by the defence.” - Andrew MacDougall, former director of communications to Stephen Harper

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes says it’s time to break up the company

Facebook quickly rejected a call from co-founder Chris Hughes today to split the world’s largest social-media company in three, while lawmakers urged the U.S. Justice Department to launch an anti-trust investigation.

Facebook has been under scrutiny from regulators around the world over data-sharing practices as well as hate speech and misinformation on its networks.

Mr. Hughes, a former university roommate of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, made his pitch to separate Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in an opinion piece in The New York Times.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Mohammed Shamji sentenced in wife’s murder: Mohammed Shamji, the husband of Toronto doctor Elana Fric-Shamji, who he murdered two days after she filed for divorce in 2016, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years.

Playoff action: The Toronto Raptors tip off against the 76ers in Philadelphia at 8 p.m., aiming to close out the 3-2 series and advance to the NBA semi-finals. Check back later at GlobeSports.com for the score and highlights. “In a series that’s been as topsy-turvy as this one, it’s not unrealistic to believe the 76ers may orchestrate another plot twist,” Rachel Brady writes.

Sobeys doubles down on e-commerce: The country’s second-largest grocer is more than doubling its bet on e-commerce technology – to $190-million – with plans to build a robotic warehouse in Montreal in addition to the one under construction north of Toronto for home-delivered goods (for subscribers).

Solomon Elimimian signs with Roughriders: Veteran linebacker Solomon Elimimian has signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, after spending his first nine CFL seasons with the B.C. Lions (for subscribers).

MARKET WATCH

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Stock indexes around the world fell today, but Wall Street pared its losses after positive comments from President Donald Trump about U.S.-China trade talks a day before the United States was due to raise tariffs on Chinese goods.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 138.97 points to 25,828.36, the S&P 500 lost 8.70 points to end at 2,870.72 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 32.73 points to 7,910.59.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index dipped 75.65 points to 16,321.75, as marijuana producers pushed health care stocks down by 2.4 per cent.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

TALKING POINTS

Public school mystery: The case of the disappearing teachers

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“Teachers aren’t just coaches for the memorization of facts – they help shape children’s lives. The best of them help young people realize their budding passions and talents, as well as how to approach new ideas, and how to cope when things are difficult or confusing.” - Denise Balkissoon (for subscribers)

What’s causing Vancouver’s extraordinary pain at the pumps?

“An investigation by the utilities commission is welcome; it could help shine a light on the main drivers of the price swell and answer perhaps the biggest question of all: Are oil companies gouging British Columbians out of spite or just because they can?” - Gary Mason (for subscribers)

A ban on shark fins is long overdue – and common sense

“Though we consider our cultural diversity and freedoms to be of great importance in Canada, there is an ethical line we are less likely to cross; our ban on shark finning in Canadian waters exemplifies just that. But to continue to finance the cruel shark-fin trade elsewhere does not fit within modern Canadian standards for the treatment of animals.” - Jessica Scott-Reid, animal advocate

Our libraries – and the books in them – foster a sense of community

“This lesson shouldn’t be lost on Ontarians. Imagine if, instead of cutting library services, our provincial government understood libraries for what they are and can be: inclusive spaces which actually drive social mobility.” - Mary Ladky, executive director of the Children’s Book Bank

LIVING BETTER

Down payment or dream trip? What about retirement? If you’re entering the work force and struggling to decide how you’ll meet competing financial goals, this calculator can help. Plug in your income and monthly living costs, and the Real Life Money Launcher will help you map out how much of each paycheque should be going into short-term goals like weddings, medium-term goals like home ownership and long-term objectives like retirement.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

AGO aims to attract new audiences with $35 annual pass and free admission for those 25 and under

As Canadian museums labour to attract new audiences and improve access, the Art Gallery of Ontario is taking a bold gamble and slashing ticket prices. As of May 25, everyone 25 and under will be able to visit the Toronto institution free while older adults will be offered an annual pass for only $35. Also, there will be no extra charge for special exhibitions.

AGO director Stephan Jost has been working on the idea for two years in a bid to reach a larger constituency and expand the popularity of the gallery’s free Wednesday evenings to the entire week. His plan requires a financial balancing act – private philanthropists and corporate donors are contributing $1.8-million to support the first experimental year – and comes at a time when art museums are particularly concerned with reaching new audiences.

Mr. Jost’s philosophy is that tiered pricing models, in which visitors who pay more get more, are wrong-headed. He believes that the free admissions and the $35 pass will enable the gallery to build long-term relationships with a wider audience by encouraging youths and adults on a budget to make repeat visits. Globe subscribers, read Kate Taylor’s full story here.

Stephan Jost (Photo by Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

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