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Canada Evening Update: NAFTA negotiators aim for summer deal; Canada’s household debt burden hits two-year low

Good evening,

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

NAFTA negotiators aim to make deal this summer, Foreign Minister Freeland says

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Continuing her trade campaign in Washington today, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says NAFTA negotiators will “make a real push over the summer” to get a deal, following a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. She said details of the negotiations have yet to be worked out. (subscribers)

This comes on the heels of an impassioned speech Freeland made while accepting Foreign Policy magazine’s diplomat of the year award last night. She used her toughest language yet on the U.S. administration’s tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium, and linked President Donald Trump’s protectionism to a broader rise in authoritarian populism that is threatening the international liberal democratic order.

“The tariffs introduced by the United States are illegal under WTO and NAFTA rules,” her speech said. “They are protectionism, pure and simple. They are not a response to unfair actions by other countries that put American industry at a disadvantage. They are a naked example of the United States putting its thumb on the scale, in violation of the very rules it helped to write.”

Canadians aren’t the only ones critical of Trump’s actions and behaviour in this dispute. Former U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson writes: “... from the American perspective – let alone the Canadian – undoing the North American free-trade agreement, imposing harsh tariffs and shouting names across the border are harming the United States’s interests in so many ways.”

Italy won’t ratify EU free-trade agreement with Canada, agriculture minister says

Canada has another sparring partner on the trade front. Italy’s new agriculture minister says it will not ratify the European Union’s free-trade agreement with Canada. All 28 EU member states must approve the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) for the agreement to take full effect. In an interview, the Italian minister said that CETA does not ensure sufficient protection for Italy’s specialty foods.

Canada’s household debt load drops from near-record levels

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Canadians’ household debt burden reached a two-year low in the first three months of this year. Statistics Canada says the burden - measured by the ratio of household credit-market debt to disposable income – fell for the second straight quarter to 168 per cent, from 169.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017. It was the biggest quarter-to-quarter decline in Statscan’s 28-year record of the measure. Three factors are seen as contributing to that decline: the tougher mortgage rules, rising interest rates and increasing incomes.

Rogers lays off one-third of its digital content and publishing team

Rogers Communications is cutting jobs in its digital content and publishing team. About 75 full-time employees have been laid off, said the company, pointing to pressures on the print industry and the loss of advertising revenues as cause for another round of deep cuts. Senior staff members are among those leaving Rogers, including Steve Maich, the senior vice-president of publishing. Lianne George, editor in chief at Chatelaine, also tweeted that she has decided to leave the magazine and Rogers.

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MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index closed higher, boosted by rising Enbridge shares and gains in the materials sector. The S&P TSX Composite Index rose 63.14 points to 16,328.96. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ ended the session higher on strong U.S. economic data and the European central bank saying it would not raise interest rates until mid-2019. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23.86 points to 25,177.34, the S&P 500 gained 6.97 points to 2,782.6 and the Nasdaq Composite added 65.34 points to 7,761.04.

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WHAT’S TRENDING ON SOCIAL

U.S. President Donald Trump was back in the news today over legal woes, as New York’s attorney general sued Trump, three of his children and his foundation. Barbara Underwood alleged “persistent illegal conduct” at the Donald J. Trump Foundation, including support for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. She asked a New York state judge to dissolve the non-profit, and impose bans on Trump, his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, and his daughter Ivanka from holding leadership roles in New York charities. “Mr. Trump ran the Foundation according to his whim, rather than the law,” the suit said. Trump took to Twitter to attack the lawsuit, blaming Democratic politicians in his home state.

TALKING POINTS

Two Trudeaus, and energy policy: Here we go again

“Present reality: The government of Trudeau the Second decides that it needs to become a direct player in the energy sector and buys the Kinder Morgan pipeline company, now a de-facto Crown corporation. No doubt its future CEO will also need to be a good Liberal and the company will be given a more politically correct name. (Some wag has suggested calling it Hinder Horgan.)” - Preston Manning

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Canada is a real threat to U.S. national security, eh?

“The obvious dangerous designs of the Canadian government were clear when, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, the Canadians provided jets to patrol and protect the American skies. Later, clear evidence of Canadian evil intentions was apparent when the Canadians sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan to support American military initiatives in the Middle East. And most recently, the pure threat Canada poses to American interests was evident when the Canadians sent troops to support the United Nations and U.S. in training Ukrainian troops after the Russian invasion of that country. Yes, the Canadian threat to U.S. national security is apparent and real — to only one person: Donald Trump.” - John de Figueiredo

Cycling should not be a contact sport. Toronto must do better for bikers’ safety

“Toronto’s cycling infrastructure needs fixing, fast. Most of the city’s too-few lanes are demarcated only by paint, with cars and trucks frequently forgetting that they are there. The few separated lanes, while an improvement, cover short distances and don’t always connect to other lanes. In all cases, there is insufficient space to accommodate the city’s many cyclists, meaning that riders must use other streets, too. In addition, many paths are on the busiest streets, meaning that cars and trucks are travelling fast right next to those on bikes. This is in stark contrast to Vancouver, for example, where the vast and seamless bike network is mainly on side streets.” - Alexandra Flynn

LIVING BETTER

Firing up the BBQ this weekend? If you are a cookout novice, here are some tips to help you grill with skill. Marinating meat, poultry or fish ahead of time can help boost flavour - out of the fridge for up to an hour before grilling, or in the fridge for longer. Oil the grill or food ahead of grilling to prevent sticking. Vegetables should be cut the same size for even cooking. Keep an eye on the food in case of flareups, and have a spray bottle of water on hand to put out the flames.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

‘Grenfell Forever in our Hearts’: Hundreds mark first anniversary of deadly London fire

Mohammed Hakim stood quietly near the back of the crowd, clutching a poster filled with pictures of his family and thinking about how he lost everyone in a matter of minutes. Hakim’s father, mother, two brothers and his sister all perished when flames and smoke filled their apartment on the 17th floor of the Grenfell Tower social housing complex on June 14, 2017. The fire had started behind a refrigerator in an apartment on the fourth floor shortly before 1 a.m. and it quickly spread throughout the 24-storey building, killing 72 people, Paul Waldie writes. On Thursday Hakim joined hundreds of people at the foot of the tower to mark the first anniversary of the fire, the worst tragedy to hit London since the Second World War.

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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