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Canada Evening Update: Morneau’s economic update focuses on tax breaks for business; Ottawa gives formal notice for legislation to end Canada Post strike

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Bill Morneau’s economic update focuses on tax breaks for business, includes media package

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered his fall economic statement today, and tax breaks for business – not shrinking the deficit – were the focus. Billions in new revenue from stronger economic growth will be used in an effort to keep Canada competitive with the United States, following President Donald Trump’s tax cuts there. The statement revealed Ottawa’s bottom line had been on track to improve this year and next, but new spending and tax breaks would instead put it slightly deeper in the red.

Among the measures announced today was a $595-million, five-year media package, including measures to facilitate fundraising by non-profit news organizations and tax breaks to fund the production of original content. Ottawa is also proposing a temporary 15-per-cent tax credit to encourage Canadians to subscribe to online news media.

Today’s measures reflect “very much a big-L, Trudeau government approach to corporate tax cuts,” Campbell Clark writes. “Everything in their economic rhetoric is about stimulating growth, not about structural changes in the country’s business climate.”

“The big question now is whether Canadian companies will take the bait,” Barrie McKenna writes (for subscribers). “The evidence that tax relief drives investment is mixed.”

Federal government gives formal notice for legislation to end Canada Post strike

The federal government has given notice that they’re prepared to legislate Canada Post employees back to work as the postal service warns of major shipping delays heading into the peak holiday season. Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said 48-hours notice is required before introducing back-to-work legislation, but said it doesn’t mean the government will move to end rotating strikes by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Ottawa has also reappointed Morton Mitchnick as a special mediator, and Ms. Hajdu said she’ll let him take the time he needs. It’s the fifth week of rotating strikes by thousands of Canada Post’s unionized workers as both sides remain apart in contract negotiations.

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Trump thanks Saudis for lower oil prices amid calls to punish crown prince

U.S. President Donald Trump publicly thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices today, just a day after he was harshly criticized for deciding not to further punish the kingdom for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” he tweeted.

Mr. Trump made it clear yesterday that he feels that the benefits of good relations with the kingdom outweigh the possibility its crown prince ordered the killing. He was roundly criticized by Democrats, but by some Republicans too, including senators Rand Paul and Bob Corker. Senator Lindsey Graham, who is close to Mr. Trump, said the United States must not lose its “moral voice” on the international stage.

Ford government rejects Ryerson’s plan for new law school

The Ontario government has rejected Ryerson University’s bid to fund a new law school, Joe Friesen writes, in the latest blow to Ontario universities following the cancellation of three proposed satellite campuses and a francophone university.

The Globe and Mail learned that Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Merrilee Fullerton reviewed the proposal and concluded, based on a number of factors including a surplus of students for articling positions, modest wage growth and projected job openings, that another law school in the province isn’t needed.

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MARKET WATCH

World stock markets climbed today, with the S&P 500 ending higher after a brutal two-day selloff, led by a rebound in energy and technology shares. But the market faltered toward the session’s end as Apple shares surrendered gains ahead of the U.S.Thanksgiving holiday. Oil prices climbed after U.S. government data showed strong demand for gasoline and diesel, though gains were limited by concern over rising crude supply.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended flat at 24,464.69, the S&P 500 gained 8.04 points to 2,649.93 and the Nasdaq Composite added 63.43 points close at to 6,972.25. U.S. stock and bond markets will be closed tomorrow and open for a half-day on Friday.

Canada’s main stock index rose in a broad-based rally, as oil prices rebounded from one-year lows, boosting energy shares, while higher gold prices aided gains in shares of precious metal miners. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 218.02 points at 15,095.02.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

The judge-only, second-degree murder retrial of Dennis Oland began today. In an opening statement, prosecutors say he was deeply in debt as he turned to his very rich father for help and then bludgeoned him to death “in a rage” when he was refused. The defence argued that the circumstantial case is like a jigsaw puzzle, the prosecution is missing pieces and the ones it has do not all fit.

TALKING POINTS

Gerontocracy rules in Washington. Fresher minds prevail in Ottawa

“The age difference might help explain, in part at least, the regressive views of those in power in the U.S. on guns, immigration, nationalism, trade and climate change. As generalities have it, the old have more knowledge but are more set in their ways while the young have more creativity, imagination, energy. For the planning purposes of a nation, the younger are the better bet. The elderly don’t have much of an eye to the future for the simple reason, you might say, that they don’t have one.” - Lawrence Martin

Why the drunk curling debacle is more than just an embarrassing moment

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“If a basketball team had entered a tournament drunk and been disqualified, we’d be talking about the team. After 2014 Sochi champion Ryan Fry & Co. had 30 to 40 beers, plus shots, and then made a show of themselves out on the sheet in Red Deer, Alta., last weekend, we’re talking about the sport. That’s the undercurrent of all the coverage – Curlers! Drunk! Again! How droll. The story has caught global attention because it is so on the nose, and so Canadian.” - Cathal Kelly (for subscribers)

What swimming taught Catherine McKenna about confronting a challenge

“I asked Ms. McKenna how she avoided getting totally depressed about the uphill battle she faces, about the war that many have declared on her climate plan. ‘What choice do I have?’ she told me. ‘You just have to wake up in the morning and keep pushing forward. Some days are harder than others but you just keep focused on your goal, keep grinding away.’ Stroke after stroke after stroke.” - Gary Mason

LIVING BETTER

Public-health officials in Canada and the United States are warning against eating romaine lettuce while they investigate an outbreak of E. coli that has made 50 people sick, including 13 who were hospitalized. They are advising people to get rid of any romaine they have and sanitize refrigerator drawers and shelves where it’s been stored. That includes whole heads, hearts, bags, mixes and Caesar salad. But the Canadian warning extends only to people in Ontario and Quebec, while the U.S. alert is country-wide. Read more about what you need to know here. Lucy Waverman weighs in on how to safely prepare raw vegetables.

LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE

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I am a woman who travels alone – why couldn’t the U.S. border guard understand that?

"To the border guard whom I encountered that June morning, such luxurious autonomy was apparently cause for great suspicion. He spoke in the tone of a hardened Hollywood hero lazily identifying a criminal on the run. “Your story doesn’t add up,” he kept saying. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and something just doesn’t add up here.” Eventually, he sent me inside for further questioning. I drove forward, and another guard motioned me into a parking space with a casual wave of his machine gun. Inside the office, I clutched my passport with a hand that seemed suddenly glaringly white. My privilege astonished me. This, I knew, was nothing.

“What caught me most off guard, aside from the ridiculous imbalance of power that the border official so clearly relished, was being asked to justify my freedom. It was probably a good exercise for me; I take my mobility far too much for granted. I am a white, middle-class, Canadian woman; the only way I could move more easily around the world is if I were a man. But that was precisely the limitation I was pushing up against here. I am all for caution in regulating international travel, but this guard’s staunch unwillingness to accept my solitude laid bare an assumption that disturbed me deeply: that to travel alone –and especially, I think, to travel alone as a woman – could only possibly be a last resort, because I had absolutely no one to go with me.” - Laura Cameron

Soybeans sow the seeds of a new trade balance as China pushes back on U.S. demands

The humble soybean has joined the front lines of the trade war between the United States and China, Nathan VanderKlippe writes. (for subscribers) Since the Sept. 1 start of the 2018-19 market year, the flow of U.S. soybeans to China has effectively stopped, down 96 per cent from last year, the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show.

Even though they have at times in recent weeks been cheaper than Brazilian-produced supplies, Chinese buyers are nonetheless refusing to buy U.S. soybeans. They have joined forces in an effective embargo that offers a window into how Beijing is using the economic levers at its disposal – using the immense government sway over the country’s corporate sector – to punish Washington far beyond the mere imposition of tariffs.

The conflict shows how China is exercising influence despite a trade imbalance that gives the U.S. a significantly larger volume of trade to tax. For the United States, there’s a growing risk that China will settle into new trade patterns that increasingly exclude its products.

Evening Update is written by S.R. Slobodian If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

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