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More than 3,000 CN workers walk off the job, shutting down Canada’s biggest rail network

More than 3,000 Canadian National Railway train operators went on strike just past midnight today, shutting down Canada’s largest rail network.

Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the union representing the workers, said it and CN failed to reach an agreement on a new contract after several months of mediated talks. The two sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table today.

The union says the main issues are drug benefits, time off and remote-control train operations, not wages.

Impact: Grain companies, farmers, chemical makers, miners and retailers that rely on CN to get their goods to and from market have no real shipping alternatives.

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Ministers Freeland and Champagne reportedly moving in tomorrow’s Liberal cabinet shuffle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reportedly moving Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to a domestic portfolio, as part of a cabinet shuffle to be announced tomorrow afternoon that will aim to prioritize Ottawa’s fight against climate change and the creation of a green economy.

Radio-Canada is reporting that Freeland will be replaced by François-Philippe Champagne, who has had the Infrastructure portfolio. It also says Jonathan Wilkinson will move to Environment from Fisheries and Oceans.

Liberal and government sources have said Freeland will play a key role in dealing with the fallout from last month’s election, in which the Liberal Party’s economic and environmental policies came under fire. It is unknown which portfolio she will inherit.

Key witnesses tell impeachment hearing that Trump’s probe into Biden was ‘improper’

Open this photo in gallery:

Jennifer Williams, left, and Alexander Vindman at today's hearing. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP)Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “improper” efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden set off alarm bells among national security staff in the White House this summer, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Vindman told the congressional impeachment inquiry today.

Vindman said that after he and other staffers reported the President’s demands to White House lawyers, the transcript of a key telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was moved into a secure vault where fewer people in government could read it.

Both he and Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy adviser to Vice-President Mike Pence who also testified today, listened in on the July 25 call.

Opinion: Sarah Kendzior argues the impeachment hearings need to go beyond Ukraine: “The 2019 Ukraine shakedown is a continuation of the 2016 election heist, which was a continuation of Trump’s apparent lifelong connection to the Kremlin and his schemes with corrupt actors from the former USSR.”

China repudiates Hong Kong court decision, raising concern about power Beijing wields over city’s judiciary

China’s central government has warned Hong Kong that its courts must defer to Beijing on constitutional matters.

Chinese officials strongly repudiated a decision by a Hong Kong court yesterday that declared unconstitutional a law banning the use of masks, which have been worn by protesters in demonstrations and violent clashes with police.

The angry response underscored the power mainland China holds over Hong Kong, including over its judicial system. It also raises concerns that Beijing may reinterpret the city’s constitutional document to limit the city jurists’ role. That could alter the balance between local control and Beijing’s oversight.

Separately: A small band of anti-government protesters, their numbers diminished by surrenders and failed escape attempts, remained holed up at a Hong Kong university early Wednesday morning as they braced for the endgame in a police siege of the campus.

Opinion: “For all of the Canadian government’s past enthusiasm for preaching progressive values abroad, it has been conspicuously reserved in responding to the recent violence in Hong Kong.” - Robyn Urback


Cherry launches podcast: Don Cherry today launched a podcast called Grapevine with his son Tim, on which he says he wasn’t willing to accept Sportsnet’s conditions to have him return following the Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada that led to his firing.

Epstein guards charged: Two jail guards responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself have been charged with falsifying prison records to conceal they were sleeping and browsing the internet when they were supposed to be keeping a close watch on prisoners.

Court orders pirate website blocked: A Federal Court ruling ordering Canada’s internet service providers to block a website offering pirated content, Gold TV, could lead to a flood of other site-blocking cases, industry experts say.

Assange rape probe dropped: A Swedish prosecutor has dropped a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, ending the near decade-old case that had sent the anti-secrecy campaigner into hiding in London’s Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition.

Torstar ending Star Metro in print: Torstar is shuttering the print versions of its Star Metro series of free daily newspapers across the country and laying off 73 employees as it transitions to a digital-only model.

Nygard facing jail time: Fashion retailer Peter Nygard faces jail time in the Bahamas in a dramatic escalation of his long-running feud with a billionaire neighbour over parties and construction at his island vacation property.

Alberta terminates election commissioner’s contract: Alberta’s United Conservative Party government is terminating the contract of Lorne Gibson, the province’s election commissioner who investigated allegations about the UCP’s 2017 leadership race that involve Premier Jason Kenney.

Related opinion: Can Jason Kenney do as he pleases? - Gary Mason

Top 3 winners to face off on Jeopardy!: The three top money winners in Jeopardy! history – Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer – will vie for a share of US$1.5-million in prime-time episodes in January.


Canada’s main stock exchange slipped today after a drop in oil prices for the second straight day hit energy stocks. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 13.71 points at 17,011.40.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell from record levels while the S&P 500 edged lower as dour forecasts from retailers Home Depot and Kohl’s fuelled worries about consumer spending as the U.S.-China trade dispute dragged on.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 102.20 points to 27,934.02, the S&P 500 lost 1.85 points to 3,120.18 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 20.72 points to 8,570.66.

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You hear it every year: With the first big snowfall, people forget how to drive. As winter weather inevitably grips most of the country, it’s time to put your skills to the test. Take our winter driving quiz to find out how good – or bad – a driver you are during cold, snowy conditions.


The Enthusiast: As God is my witness, WKRP in Cincinnati could fly

American Thanksgiving used to trigger a Norman Rockwell kind of nostalgia, but for those of us who came of age in the 1970s, one pop culture moment invariably comes to mind. On Oct. 30, 1978, CBS aired the Turkeys Away episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, the network’s sitcom about the dysfunctional (but curiously telegenic) staff of a struggling U.S. Midwestern rock radio station.

Anyone who watched WKRP in wood-panelled rec rooms will recall the show’s most iconic line, “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” The utterance from Gordon Jump’s station manager Arthur (Big Guy) Carlson concerned an ill-fated Thanksgiving promotion in which 20 gobblers were dropped to their deaths from a helicopter, “hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement.” The station’s oddball newsman Les Nessman reported live on air as he witnessed the turkey-bombing outside Pinedale Shopping Mall.

But here’s the thing: Wild turkeys can fly. More importantly, while the Turkeys Away episode was brilliant, there was much more to WKRP than its most famous 22 minutes. Read Brad Wheeler’s full appreciation here.

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WKRP in Cincinnati (Photo: CBC handout)

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