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Theresa May’s government found in contempt as Brexit debates begin

British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered setbacks today at the start of five days of debate over plans to leave the European Union ahead of a Dec. 11 parliamentary vote.

Her government was found in contempt of Parliament, and then a group of her own Conservative Party lawmakers won a challenge to hand more power to the House of Commons if her deal is voted down.

Ms. May wants to secure Parliament’s approval for her deal to keep close ties with the EU after leaving in March, but opposition is fierce, with Brexit supporters and opponents wanting to thwart or derail her plan.

Separately, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney hit back at critics of the bank’s analysis of the impact of Brexit, saying some of it had been “entirely unfair” and that the bank had drawn on nearly 200 experts to compile the report, Paul Waldie writes. (for subscribers)

He faced a flurry of criticism last week from many hard-Brexit backers after the bank issued a report that concluded the Britain’s economy could shrink by 8 per cent if the country left the European Union in March without any agreement on future economic relations.

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‘Hyper-concentration’ of jobs seen in Toronto’s downtown

A fundamental economic shift is “hyper-concentrating” new knowledge-economy jobs in Toronto’s downtown as traditional manufacturing employment evaporates across much of southern Ontario, according to a new report.

The study, funded by the Ontario government, says the lopsided job growth is a permanent change, not a cyclical pattern. It warns Toronto’s transit system will be placed under further strain and argues smaller communities outside the city should seek to attract the jobs of the future, rather than cling to dying industries.

Dow plummets nearly 800 points amid renewed jitters over trade

Stocks fell sharply today on Wall Street as traders worried that the United States and China made less progress than originally thought on defusing their trade dispute. Canada’s main stock index also fell, led by healthcare and energy shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 799.36 points, or 3.1 per cent, to 25,027.07. The S&P 500 lost 90.31 points, or 3.24 per cent, to 2,700.06 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 283.08 points, or 3.8 per cent, to 7,158.43.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite Index was down 211.39 points, or 1.38 per cent, at 15,063.59,. The healthcare sector fell 4.6 per cent, the most among the 11 major sectors, with cannabis producer Aphria down 21 per cent.

U.S. senators briefed by CIA blame Saudi Crown Prince for Khashoggi’s killing

Leading U.S. senators said today they were more certain than ever that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was culpable in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after receiving a CIA briefing on the matter.

“You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters, referring to the Crown Prince by his initials.

Mr. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had been critical of the Crown Prince, was killed and dismembered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Prime Minister’s Office responsible for inviting Jaspal Atwal to events in India, report says

The Prime Minister’s Office was responsible for inviting Jaspal Atwal to two events featuring Justin Trudeau in India this year, a parliamentary committee has found. Its heavily redacted report also points to the RCMP’s failure to transmit information about the B.C. man’s criminal record throughout the police force and to other relevant agencies before the first event.

Campbell Clark calls it a Made In Canada farce: “The report is a tale of an embarrassment created by the Prime Minister’s Office, missed by CSIS because they didn’t get the RCMP’s message and by the RCMP because a voice mail was left for an officer on holiday, and blown up into an international incident by a senior official jumping to conclusions.”

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The average Canadian family will pay about $400 more for groceries and roughly $150 more for dining out next year, an annual food-price report predicts. (for subscribers)

Bank of Montreal hiked its dividend as it reported a fourth-quarter profit that jumped 38 per cent compared with a year ago and beat analyst estimates. Still, the stock closed down 3.55 per cent in a negative market.

Pro hockey is coming to Seattle, as NHL’s 32nd team was unanimously approved in a vote and will begin play in 2021-22.

Some Canadian radio stations are pulling from rotation Baby, It’s Cold Outside as the holiday favourite, written in 1944, faces renewed scrutiny over what some say are inappropriate lyrics in the wake of the #MeToo movement.


Why are Canada’s oil patch CEOs changing their minds on carbon pricing?

“Oil sands companies have embraced the need to act on climate change not because it might make them look better, but because the risk of not acting has proven to be so great – a fact made clear to the industry almost daily since the name “Keystone XL” first hit the international political radar. Oil sands companies know they have no viable future unless they can find a way to be welcome and profitable in a low-carbon economy.” - Chris Turner

Brian Mulroney’s eulogy for George H.W. Bush rooted in long-lasting friendship

“Mr. Mulroney had a close relationship with [Ronald] Reagan but a far closer one with Mr. Bush, whom he visited repeatedly at the Bush seaside retreat in Kennebunkport, Me., oftentimes using the grey clapboard Walker’s Point home as a base for manic fishing expeditions that sometimes had a madcap aspect – a broken-down boat that required a Coast Guard rescue, for example, and a fish hook planted firmly in the president’s ear, an episode for which Mr. Mulroney did not exactly dispute responsibility.” - David Shribman

How Ontario can future-proof its manufacturing industries

“The answer is simple: innovation and efficiency. Innovation, whether product, process, material or back-office based, is what attracts customers. Customers want great technology that solves their problems and is cost effective, high quality and reliable. Innovation is the key to that. Efficiency is equally important: it drives improvements in every area, every single day with the ideas of every single team member.” - Linda Hasenfratz, Linamar CEO


When a cost-conscious investor wants to bail on mutual funds, the usual solution is to try exchange-traded funds, Rob Carrick writes. For DIY investors who need a road map, here’s a quick and dirty plan for moving into ETFs from mutual funds (for subscribers). First, choose an online broker, then pick your ETFs. ETFs are traded like stocks, so learn the machinery: Go to your broker’s equity order screen and play around with it. And don’t forget to set up a regular investment plan.


‘It opens up an underworld:' How a drug plea has exposed a Mafia network in Hamilton

Domenico Violi was born in Hamilton, attended Catholic high school and studied business in college. He got married, had two children and moved to a nice house in the suburbs. On paper he’s a successful if unassuming coffee, pasta and hardwood floor salesman, Molly Hayes and Greg McArthur write. He has a large extended family and a wide circle of friends in the city’s Italian-Canadian community. He raises money for charity and donates turkeys to a local shelter at Christmas.

The 52-year-old husband, father and community leader is also a high-ranking Mafioso – the self-described underboss of a Buffalo crime family.

In a packed Hamilton courtroom yesterday, he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of drug trafficking and was sentenced to eight years in prison. The judge allowed him a moment to hug his wife and kids goodbye, and as Mr. Violi was led away, his supporters gave him a round of applause.

His sentencing marks the most significant conviction yet in Project OTremens, a multiyear cross-border investigation by the RCMP that provided a rare glimpse into the structures and ambitions of organized crime groups just as the Toronto-Hamilton area appears to be in the throes of a full-fledged mob war.

Open this photo in gallery:

Items seized by police last November from the home office of Domenico Violi as part of Project OTremens. Court exhibit file

An iconic Toronto building gets a facelift

The metal scaffolding on the corner of Toronto’s Queen and Yonge is cold and narrow. The thin planks underfoot offer little assurance. The space is tight, high above the teeming sidewalks below and the subway underground, Guy Dixon writes.

We are examining the damage up and down the outer wall of the once stately building at 2 Queen St. W. in Toronto, on the northwest corner of perhaps the most historically significant retail intersection in Canada.

Yet, the decay is extensive. Project manager Annabel Vaughan of ERA Architects points out section after section of cracked yellow-beige brick. Further along the wall, large swaths of the store’s original exterior terracotta detail have been brutally scraped off, not just by a century of winters and downtown pollution, but by decades of architectural abuse.

Now, the current landlord Cadillac Fairview is hoping, at a hefty expense, to restore the building to its original, 1896 prominence, renewing the welcoming curved brick entrance hugging the sidewalk and turning the building into an upscale retail space connecting to the Toronto Eaton Centre.

Open this photo in gallery:

A late 19th-century photo showing 2 Queen St. W. when it was the Philip Jamieson Clothier shop is the best guide available to the heritage experts restoring the façade. Toronto Archive

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