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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

Trump pushed for ‘crazy’ plan to trade aid for probes into Biden, impeachment probe hears

The first public hearings of a congressional inquiry into the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump has begun. William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified that Trump orchestrated a “crazy” plan to ransom US$400-million in military aid to push Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into launching investigations of political opponents, including former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden.

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In one previously undisclosed conversation, Taylor described how Trump asked one of his officials for an update on “the investigations,” and the official later confided that the President “cares more about the investigations” than about actual U.S. policy in Ukraine.

Taylor appeared at the high-stakes hearings with George Kent, a State department official whose portfolio includes Ukraine. Most of the details of their testimony had already been revealed in closed-door depositions.

What you may have missed: Here’s our full guide on what was said today and what’s at stake.

Context: Here’s a primer on Taylor and Kent, and the other witness due to testify this week, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

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Bloc Québécois says it will not help Western provinces in their dispute with Ottawa

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet says his party will not co-operate with the separatist movement in the Western provinces or help the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan in their fight with Ottawa.

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After meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Blanchet said he was looking forward to working with the Liberal Party’s minority government on issues that affect Quebeckers, such as greater financial support for the elderly and a compensation plan for dairy farmers. Trudeau meets with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh tomorrow.

Meanwhile, electing a Speaker of the House will be the first order of business when Parliament resumes on Dec. 5, and several MPs are already campaigning for the key position. They include incumbent Speaker Geoff Regan, a Liberal, but also three who have acted in the role in his absence: Conservative MP Bruce Stanton, Liberal MP Anthony Rota and NDP MP Carol Hughes.

Ontario’s Health Ministry discussed sharing health data with researchers, other third parties as part of privacy update

The Ontario government is planning to change the rules around how health data can be shared, but privacy experts are concerned some reforms could compromise the security of patient information.

A confidential Ministry of Health slide presentation from consultations last month – obtained by The Globe and Mail – proposes making such data more broadly available, partly to stimulate economic development.

Ontario is set to announce a new digital-health strategy, which will outline plans to streamline local health-care systems and make data more shareable while remaining private, a ministry spokeswoman says.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

People wade through water in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, on Wednesday. The high-water mark hit 187 centimetres late Tuesday, just short of the highest level ever recorded, 194 centimetres, during infamous flooding in 1966.

Luca Bruno/The Associated Press

Historic flooding in Venice: “Venice is on its knees,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted as the worst flooding in more than 50 years prompted calls to better protect the historic city from rising sea levels. Officials calculated hundreds of millions of euros in damage.

Greta Thunberg leaves U.S. aboard catamaran: Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has hitched a renewable-energy ride back to Europe, on a trip she hopes will get her to Madrid and the United Nations climate meeting originally scheduled for Chile, and then home for the holidays.

Cirque founder in custody: Canadian entrepreneur Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, has been taken into custody in Tahiti over allegations of growing cannabis, his company says.

Prominent donor sues UBC: Peter Allard, a lawyer and alumnus who donated tens of millions of dollars to the University of British Columbia and whose name adorns the law school, is suing the university for failing to ensure his name is also on the school’s graduate degrees.

Charge against Port Moody mayor stayed: A sexual assault charge against Port Moody, B.C., Mayor Rob Vagramov has been stayed after he completed an “alternative measures” program.

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New honour for John Legend: Grammy-winning R&B singer John Legend, who is also a voice coach on the TV talent show The Voice, has been named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine.

MARKET WATCH

Canada’s main stock index rose to a record high today, as upbeat corporate reports helped offset initial gloom arising from worries over a U.S.-China trade deal. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 48.61 points at 16,957.99.

U.S. stocks traded little changed as investors eyed an improving economic outlook. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 92.10 points to 27,783.59, the S&P 500 gained 2.20 points to end at 3,094.04 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.99 points to 8,482.10.

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TALKING POINTS

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With Don Cherry’s Fox News appearance, a national reckoning descends into embarrassing farce

“Every once in a while, it’s useful to step back and really think about the big, fundamental questions. Without meaning to do so, Cherry gave us that chance. We were too busy yelling at each other to take it.” Cathal Kelly

Quebec’s values test: Why not focus on everyday gender equality?

“Quebec’s stance on gender equality is laughable in view of Bill 21 – hijab-clad Muslim women are barred from teaching in public schools, whereas Muslim men are not. Jewish men who sport a kippa or yarmulke cannot serve as prosecutors or clerks in a provincial court, while Jewish women face no such restrictions.” Sheema Khan

LIVING BETTER

Looking for meat-free options when entertaining this coming holiday season? Check out these recipes of elegant, delicious mains, including lentil and mushroom Wellington and tomato tart with olive oil crust. Plus all the recipes can be tweaked to become vegan-friendly. There are also tips on transforming classic side dishes to vegan fare.

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(Photo by Julie Van Rosendaal)

Julie Van Rosendaal/The Globe and Mail

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

I couldn’t stand my ordinary life – so I quit and started travelling

I wanted to be a journalist. But my always-wanting-the-best-for-me parents reminded me that math makes money, so off to engineering school I went. In my postuniversity young-adult life, I’ve managed to emerge with “conventionally successful” stamped on my forehead: 24 years old, female engineer, working for a big oil company, homeowner.

My life was laid out in front of me like a long stretch of highway with no off-ramps: settle down with another engineer, who probably drives a respectable truck and spends weekends on the golf course; return to a business-casual office environment; eat quinoa salad out of a Tupperware container at my desk five days a week; take weekend trips to lake country; get a dog (probably a golden retriever); have a rustic wedding with reclaimed wood and mason jars; have two kids; retire in lake country.

The realization that the rest of my life could be measured in “volumes of Tupperware quinoa salad consumed” stifled me with the force of a wrecking ball. So, I did what any respectable 24-year-old with a history of black eyeliner and punk-rock preferences would do – I rebelled against my own life. Read Nathalie Carson’s full essay here.

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