Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Ottawa matches U.S. with up to $13-billion in subsidies to land Volkswagen EV battery plant
The federal government will provide Volkswagen with up to $13-billion in annual production subsidies for its new electric-vehicle battery plant – nearly double the estimated $7-billion cost of building the facility in St. Thomas, Ont.
Ottawa’s backing is by far the most generous support that Canada has provided for an automaker to locate a factory here. It’s meant to match the subsidization that Volkswagen would have received through U.S. President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, had it decided to build the factory in the United States instead.
The arrangement will be formally announced at an event in St. Thomas on Friday, but was confirmed by a federal official on Thursday.
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SpaceX rocket explodes after launch from Texas
A giant rocket from Elon Musk’s SpaceX exploded four minutes after blasting off on its first test flight and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. It carried no people or satellites.
Images of the liftoff showed several of the 33 main engines were not firing as the rocket climbed. The booster was supposed to peel away minutes after liftoff, but didn’t. After separating, the spacecraft was going to try to circle the Earth.
It was the second launch attempt after Monday’s try was scrapped because of a frozen booster valve. In the weeks leading up to the flight, Musk gave 50-50 odds that the spacecraft would reach orbit.
University of Montreal won’t return Chinese businessmen’s 2016 donation
The University of Montreal says it will keep a large donation given to its faculty of law in memory of Pierre Elliott Trudeau by two wealthy Chinese businessmen at the centre of an apparent attempt to influence Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.
Unlike the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, which returned a $140,000 donation to the Chinese benefactors last week, University of Montreal rector Daniel Jutras says what remains of the amount received from Zhang Bin and Niu Gensheng will be redirected to other projects that contribute to “developing knowledge of democracy around the world” and fund international travel for students.
The university said the remaining sum is $506,791.19.
Why GDP per capita is becoming the indicator to watch
A growing number of analysts are tempering their enthusiasm for Canada’s recent economic performance for a simple reason: Strong population growth is boosting the numbers.
Last week, the Bank of Canada projected that real gross domestic product would increase by 1.4 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 1 per cent, with the surge in population as a key factor. Canada’s population rose by more than one million people in 2022, an annual increase of 2.7 per cent that was the largest since the late 1950s.
For that reason, some economists say they’re paying more attention to growth in real GDP per capita – or economic output per person, adjusted for inflation – than they used to. And on that front, Canada’s economic performance is decidedly weaker: Per capita output in 2022 was roughly the same as in 2017.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Day 2 of public service strike: Picket lines and negotiations have continued a day after members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada walked off the job, causing delays for Canadians who need to renew a passport, get a boating licence, cross a border or file taxes, among other things.
Opinion: Federal workers’ strike shows how far Ottawa has come from sunny ways – John Ibbitson
NATO chief in Kyiv: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has defiantly declared that Ukraine’s “rightful place” is in the military alliance and pledged more support for the country on his first visit to Kyiv since Russia’s invasion just over a year ago.
Ottawa falling short on protecting species at risk: Recovery strategies for at least four species are as much as 17 years overdue, according to findings among five reports by the environment commissioner released today.
Rogers announces new executives: Rogers Communications unveiled the team charged with combining two of the country’s largest telecom companies by welcoming one senior executive from Shaw Communications and recruiting former federal Industry Minister Navdeep Bains.
Alec Baldwin charges dropped: New Mexico prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against the actor in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western movie “Rust” in 2021.
Cuts at BuzzFeed: BuzzFeed says it will shut down its news division and will cut another 15 per cent of its staff across the company, adding to layoffs made a few months earlier.
K-pop singer dies: Moon Bin, 25, a singer from South Korean boyband Astro, has been found dead at his home in Seoul. According to media reports, police are investigating but have so far found no signs of foul play.
Major U.S. stock indexes ended lower after disappointing quarterly reports from companies including Tesla and AT&T, while investors sought clarity on the path of interest rates. Canada’s main stock market also fell as lower oil prices weighed on energy shares.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 110.39 points or 0.33 per cent to 33,786.62., the S&P 500 lost 24.73 points or 0.60 per cent to end at 4,129.79, and the Nasdaq Composite slid 97.67 points or 0.80 per cent to 12,059.56.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index declined 50.14 points or 0.24 per cent to 20,630.69. The loonie traded at 74.20 U.S. cents.
Will Pierre Poilievre ever move his message beyond anger?
“The Conservative Leader is smart, talented, articulate. But as orchestrated by adviser Jenni Byrne, who specializes in gutter politics, he deliberately lowers his intellect so as to microtarget and fire up his hard-right populist base.” – Lawrence Martin
Doug Ford’s plan to move the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place ruins them both
“Ford would concentrate more jobs, spending and tourist activity – all of it heavily car-oriented – in the downtown. Does this make any sense? Will tourists want to visit a waterpark before a concert and after the science museum?” – Alex Bozikovic
Sportsnet tries to give its audience a Maple Leafs fairy tale. Too bad it’s by the Brothers Grimm
“If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, you’ve likely been in a state of arrested development since 2004, when the team last won a playoff series – if not 1967, when the Leafs won it all. Your stunted emotional state isn’t entirely your fault.” – Simon Houpt
The Canada Revenue Agency has made it clear: Striking federal workers is not leading to an extension of the tax filing deadline this year of May 1. If you haven’t filed yet, here are the the top six mistakes to avoid when you do.
TODAY’S LONG READ
An Algonquin service-member was a UN peacekeeper in Croatia. Thirty years later, she’s being honoured in a portrait by a prominent war artist
Wendy Jocko, an Algonquin member of the Canadian Armed Forces, serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force in Croatia in the early 1990s, has a long family history in the military.
Her ancestor is Pierre Louis Constant Pinesi, an Algonquin grand chief, who fought alongside the British in the War of 1812. Four of Ms. Jocko’s great-uncles enlisted to fight in the First World War, and then, her father and five of his brothers in the Second World War.
She joined the Canadian Forces when she was 19 and served for 23 years, before taking up other vocations, including as the chief of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation. Her son was in the military, as well.
Several years ago, in an effort to highlight their service, the Canadian war artist Elaine Goble began painting Indigenous veterans, including a portrait of Jocko. Read the full story by Marsha McLeod and Catriona Koenig.