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Canada Evening Update: Onex shakes up Canada’s airline industry with deal to buy WestJet; China escalates trade war with U.S.

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Onex shakes up Canada’s airline industry with all-cash deal to buy WestJet

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Private equity firm Onex is buying WestJet Airlines for $3.5-billion in a friendly deal they announced this morning.

Onex will pay $31 a share for Canada’s second-biggest airline, a 67-per-cent premium over Friday’s closing price of $18.52. It plans to take the airline private, but keep its headquarters in Calgary.

This is not Onex founder Gerry Schwartz’s first attempt to buy a Canadian airline. In 1999, Onex offered $1.8-billion in a bid to acquire and merge Canadian Airlines and Air Canada. The plan was dropped after being ruled out of line by a Quebec court.

Here’s a closer look at what you need to know about Onex, and its deal-making CEO, Mr. Schwartz (for subscribers).

This is the daily Evening Update newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for Evening Update and more than 20 more Globe newsletters on our newsletter signup page.

China escalates trade war, elevating tariffs on $60-billion of U.S. goods

China has hit back at the United States in a new round of escalating tariffs, triggering an immediate fall in stock markets as hope continues to fade for quick resolution to the damaging trade war between the world’s two largest economies (for subscribers).

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Beijing will raise tariffs on US$60-billion in goods imported from the U.S., effective June 1. Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump ramped up tariffs to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on US$200-billion worth of Chinese goods – on top of US$50-billion of products subject to the same levies since last year.

The Chinese government said it was holding out hope of a resolution in the trade dispute, but warned it would not be pushed around by Mr. Trump.

The latest on Canada-China relations: detainee Michael Kovrig meets with consular officials

Global Affairs Canada says detained Canadian Michael Kovrig has received another visit from consular officials in China.

The former diplomat and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor were detained in China on Dec. 10 in apparent retaliation for the Dec. 1 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S.

Neither Canadian has had access to lawyers or been formally charged, and Ottawa is calling for their immediate release.

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Meanwhile, Huawei has launched a major lobbying and public-relations campaign to boost its reputation in Canada as it tries to avoid being banned from supplying equipment to 5G wireless networks (for subscribers). Another key goal is to support its legal effort to free Ms. Meng, who is awaiting extradition proceedings.

Ms. Meng has penned an internal company letter published by the Global Times, a newspaper owned by China’s Communist Party, saying she has been left “in tears” by the support of the tech giant’s staff.

Nearly two-thirds of Canadians oppose provincial governments spending taxpayers’ dollars to battle federal carbon tax, poll says

Nearly two-thirds of Canadians oppose provincial governments spending taxpayers’ dollars to battle the federal carbon tax, says a new poll released today as the Ontario government launched a new TV ad slamming the levy.

About 64 per cent of respondents also said it is unacceptable for provinces to opt out of the federal effort to combat climate change, including the carbon tax.

Opinion: "Traffic flow is a problem on Ontario highways, but a 10km/h raise in speed limits isn’t going to fix it. The move is nothing more than a distraction from a much bigger problem: The transportation sector is the main contributor of greenhouse gases in this province.” - Naomi Buck

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Felicity Huffman pleads guilty in college admissions scandal: Actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty today to paying to rig a college-entrance exam for her daughter, part of a wide-ranging scandal in which wealthy parents used bribery and fraud get their children into prominent U.S. universities. Prosecutors recommended a four-month prison sentence and a US$20,000 fine.

Actress and singer Doris Day dies at 97: Doris Day, the sunny blond actress and singer whose frothy comedic roles opposite the likes of Rock Hudson made her one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1950s and ’60s and a symbol of wholesome American womanhood, has died at 97.

Also: Peggy Lipton, a star of the groundbreaking late 1960s TV show The Mod Squad and the 1990s show Twin Peaks, died Saturday of cancer at 72. Jim Fowler, who with the zoologist Marlin Perkins introduced generations of TV viewers to wild animals in their natural habitats on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, died from complications of a heart ailment at 89.

Sweden reopens Julian Assange rape investigation: Sweden reopened an investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and will seek to extradite him from Britain (for subscribers).

June Jones leaves Tiger-Cats: Offensive co-ordinator June Jones is leaving the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats to take head coaching job in the XFL. Receivers coach Tommy Condell has been promoted to replace him.

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Global stock markets tumbled today as the trade war between the United States and China escalated (for subscribers).

Wall Street’s main indexes tumbled more than 2 per cent. “The market has been looking around for an excuse to correct. We were straight up from Christmas,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 617.38 points to 25,324.99, the S&P 500 lost 69.53 points to 2,811.87 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 269.92 points to 7,647.02.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was closed down 104.14 points at 16,193.41, as five of its 11 major sectors finished in the red.

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Kawhi Leonard delivers on Toronto’s gamble – and exorcises the ghost of Vince Carter – with series-winning shot over 76ers

“This is a good moment to step back and applaud not only the team’s performance, but the enormous gamble that made it possible. ... Though it looks golden now, the Leonard trade could have been an epic disaster.” - Cathal Kelly

Hit anti-vaccination forces where it hurts: social media

“Anxiety and mistrust spread like wildfire online. The swapping of gossip and tall tales that used to happen at the playground and after church, now happens on a much grander scale in Facebook groups, on YouTube and on Twitter.” - André Picard (for subscribers)

So what just happened? A cheap twist mars Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode

“Maybe this abrupt change of tack makes sense in whatever two forthcoming (ha!) GoT novels are still floating around in [author George R.R.] Martin’s head, but jammed into the course of the past five episodes, it feels beyond rushed. It is cheap, it is ugly and it is unearned.” - Barry Hertz


With so many people avoiding sugar, so-called natural alternatives such as honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and monk-fruit sweeteners are becoming popular. But some of these sweeteners aren’t as natural as you think (for subscribers). Stevia sweeteners come from a plant that grows in South America. Sounds natural, but in fact they’re highly processed. And when it comes to calories and carbohydrate content, there’s little or no difference between more natural surgars and white sugar.


The return of the lunch hour

At one time, lunch was considered the main meal of the day – having worked up an appetite over the course of the morning, a substantial sit-down meal was in order to fuel up for an afternoon’s labour – but in this work-anytime and-everywhere age, solitary cubicle lunches have become de rigueur. Most lunches are taken to-go, eaten in offices, on park benches and in cars.

And yet changing cultural attitudes about food and the act of eating has elevated our expectations of both the eating-in and dining-out experience, even when the meal in question comes from home via a paper bag. A more culturally and nutritionally savvy population with access to unlimited ingredients and ideas via cookbooks, print and digital publications, cooking channels and social media has elevated possibilities and expectations around our daily meals.

But beyond the menu itself, mealtimes are opportunities to step away from the screen and interact IRL. Rather than isolating ourselves with lunch for one, sharing a meal with the people you share a workspace with can strengthen relationships that not only lead to a more positive and productive work environment, but an improvement in long-term health. Globe subscribers, read Julie Van Rosendaal’s full story here.

(iStock photo)

Marko Pekic/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

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