Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
The first member of the Conservative Fund to speak publicly about the use of donations to cover private-school tuition fees for some of outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s children says he doesn’t believe the rules were followed. Louis Leger, who is also the chief of staff to New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, was asked today by The Globe and Mail whether he agreed that proper protocols were followed. He answered, “no,” Marieke Walsh reports. Leger said he had not known that party funds were being used for private-school tuition and said the chair of the fund, former senator Irving Gerstein, also didn’t know about the payments.
Context: The Conservative Fund has seven members, including Leger, Gerstein and former prime minister Stephen Harper. It is a not-for-profit organization that raises and spends money for elections, the leader’s travel and general expenses.
Timeline: Scheer announced his resignation on Dec. 12. The next day, Conservative executive director Dustin van Vugt was fired by former prime minister Stephen Harper and other directors of the Conservative Fund. Last week, van Vugt defended the use of party money for tuition, saying in a statement that "all proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people.” A source close to a member of the fund’s board, told The Globe that Harper and others had dismissed van Vugt for fear of backlash from donors.
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Cineplex agrees to be acquired by U.K.'s Cineworld
U.K.-based movie-theatre owner Cineworld Group plc. is buying Cineplex Inc., Canada’s largest cinema chain, for $2.8-billion in cash and assumption of net debt. The deal is subject to approval by shareholders of both companies and is expected to close in the first half of 2020, reports Susan Krashinsky-Robertson. Movie goers in Canada can expect some changes – and new options – for their trips to the cinema. Cineworld is the second-largest chain in the world and operates a subscription service in some of their markets that offers subscribers unlimited screenings. Users pay a monthly fee and can see any film at any time, though there are restrictions, such as extra charges for 3D or VIP screenings. Cineworld plans to offer the service in Canada within roughly six months of the deal closing. Cineplex has a 76-per-cent share of the market in Canada, with 1,695 screens in 165 theatres across the country.
Boris Johnson expected to introduce Brexit bill on Friday
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is wasting little time after his party’s landslide victory in last week’s U.K. election and is preparing his first step toward pulling Britain out of the European Union. As Paul Waldie reports from London, Johnson is expected to introduce legislation on Friday that implements the withdrawal agreement he struck with the EU in October. Johnson’s efforts to pass the bill last year were hampered by the Conservative’s minority in parliament. However, after the largest Conservative victory since 1987, and having a signed pledge from every Conservative candidate to support the agreement, it all but guarantees a smooth passage through the House of Commons. The law clears the way for Britain to formally leave the bloc, and includes a transition period during which the U.K. will remain within the EU’s single market and customs union but will not participate in EU institutions. During the transition, the two sides will negotiate a trade agreement.
Public pensions, new spending put pressure on federal budget’s bottom line
Finance Minister Bill Morneau released the government’s fiscal update today, which shows a large spike in the government’s employee pension obligations and has economists saying there will be little room left to announce new spending the budget coming in the new year. The spike has added billions to the projected size of the deficit, which is projected to be $28.1-billion in 2020-21, $22.1-billion in 2021-22, $18.4-billion in 2022-23 and $16.3-billion in 2023-24. Additionally, the fiscal update accounts for the Liberal platform’s largest election promise, a tax cut to gradually increase the basic personal amount that individuals can earn before taxes are owed. The update did not include announcements of new spending.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Hallmark reverses decision on pulling same-sex ads: Hallmark Cards CEO Mike Perry has apologized and said the company would reverse an earlier decision to pull TV ads featuring same-sex couples from the wedding registry and planning website Zola. Those lending their voices to the public outcry over pulling the ads included Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg and comedian Ellen DeGeneres.
House Judiciary panel releases report accusing Trump of betraying nation: The lengthy report details the panel’s rationale for impeachment on charges that Trump acted for his own political gain. The House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on the impeachment articles. The vote is all but certain to result in Trump’s impeachment, though he’s expected to be acquitted in a Senate trial.
Telecom pricing drops for Canadians, CRTC says: The price of television, telephone, internet and mobile services dropped by 11 per cent in two years to an average of $191 per month as of 2018. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says the decrease is primarily attributable to lower prices for mobile services.
Netanyahu challenger gaining traction: Veteran Israeli politician Gideon Saar officially launched his bid to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as head of the ruling Likud party amid rising support.
Netflix details Canadian revenue and subscriber numbers in regulatory filing: The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company raked in $780-million (US$593 million) of revenue from Canada during the first nine months of the 2019 financial year, according documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The close: More record highs for Wall Street
U.S. stock markets set new record highs while the TSX also made gains to start the week on a broad-based rally induced by optimism over trade deal between the U.S. and China. The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 53.23 points at 17,056.36. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 100.51 points at 28,235.89. The S&P 500 index was up 22.65 points at 3,191.45, while the Nasdaq composite was up 79.35 points at 8,814.23. All three markets closed at record highs after posting new intraday records. The Canadian dollar traded for 76.09 cents US compared with an average of 75.86 cents US on Friday.
Looking for investing ideas? Check out The Globe’s weekly digest of the latest insights and analysis from the pros, stock tips, portfolio strategies and what investors need to know for the week ahead. This week’s edition includes supercharged renewable energy stocks, buy and hold winners and should you cash out now?
Trudeau takes steps to insulate himself from political risk
“A new operating procedure is taking shape. Ministers will be seen handling files and speaking to issues more, and Trudeau less. There will be layers of insulation between the Prime Minister and any misstep.” - Campbell Clark
Tiger Woods now exists in a realm above golf. He’s become an icon
“In taking his own name off the list, Woods did something he hasn’t often been accused of – showing humility. That it worked out only added to the meaningfulness of the gesture.” - Cathal Kelly
China’s ‘magical reality’ is a growing threat
"Beijing has responded to months of demonstrations in Hong Kong not by addressing people’s grievances that their freedoms are being eroded, but instead by claiming that foreign governments were behind the demonstrations.' – Maya Wang is a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The 10 most overlooked, underrated and unfairly dismissed movies of 2019
Yes, it’s the time of year for reflection (in the form of top-10 lists). But we love them. Right? Anyway, Barry Hertz, shunning the obvious top-10 best of the year, instead suggests a collection of the most overlooked, underrated and unfairly dismissed films of the year.
Looking for last-minute holiday gift ideas?
You’ll look stylish and savvy giving these home, fashion and beauty items. Globe staffers have come up with a list of products they love. They include fun and affordable goodies that are easy on the planet too, such as a solid dish soap block and bars of shampoo and conditioner that do away with plastic containers.
LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE
‘He was just starting’: The exceptional life and artistic legacy of Matthew Wong
Matthew Wong arrived in the evenings, after supper, and sat by himself at a red booth bathed in dim yellow light. He was very tall and thin and elegant in understated designer clothes, a striking figure walking into a bustling restaurant in downtown Edmonton to have a coffee and dessert alone, while around him music blared and beautiful people chattered and laughed.
The staff there didn’t know that his paintings were held in the collections of some of the art world’s most prominent and powerful people. They didn’t know that, only 35 and still very early in his career, he was being hailed as a rare talent, a visionary and even a genius. They didn’t know that, in the early fall of 2019, the Toronto-born artist was working on a show that promised to be a breakthrough in a career already marked by an exceptional and meteoric rise.
Like many others, they would only learn about Matthew Wong later, after he was gone.
“He really was that spectacular, and it really is that huge of a loss,” says Brendan Dugan, an art dealer who represented Wong in New York. “Nobody knew in Canada who Matthew was, particularly in Edmonton. And now I think people are starting to realize that you had this really remarkable person who was living and working there. He was exceptional.” Read Jana G. Pruden’s full story here.