WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
China detains third Canadian; Trudeau says it does not appear to be retaliation for Huawei CFO’s arrest
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the detention of a third Canadian in China does not appear to be linked to two other Canadians detained last week, addressing concerns that the latest case is in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou earlier this month (Steven Chase and Michelle Zilio, for subscribers). The third Canadian has not been identified.
The news comes after the detentions of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor in China last week, days after Beijing warned Canada could face “serious consequences” over the high-profile arrest of Ms. Meng. The arrest was requested by U.S. authorities who are seeking her extradition for an alleged fraud related to violating trade sanctions against Iran, which she denies.
Police lay more charges in St. Michael’s assault investigations
Six students had previously been charged with assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon in connection to a November incident that was captured on video. Four of those students, plus one more, were charged today in an alleged sexual assault believed to have taken place in October. Two of those previously charged are also accused of assault and assault with a weapon in a third incident that allegedly took place in September.
Investigations into five other incidents were closed with no charges laid. No further charges are expected.
The alleged incidents have shaken the prestigious all-boys school, leading to the resignation of its president and principal, an independent review of its culture and the cancellation of some of its sports teams' seasons.
RBC hits back at Facebook report, says it couldn’t see users' messages
Royal Bank of Canada is pushing back on a report that alleges the lender had access to private messages sent through Facebook, forcefully arguing that it never had such rights, Tim Kiladze and James Bradshaw write. “We did not have the ability to see users’ messages,” it said in a statement early this morning.
That statement follows a report from the New York Times that alleges a number of large companies were given preferential access to Facebook user data, including private messages, through partnerships they formed with the social-media giant.
The issue is top of mind these days, as a new poll shows a strong majority of Canadians are concerned about how Facebook and political parties use the personal information they collect, Bill Curry writes.
Curious about what personal data companies such as Facebook and Google have on you? Here’s how to find out.
Separately, the District of Columbia sued Facebook today for allegedly allowing data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica to improperly access data from as many as 87 million users.
U.S. Fed raises rates, sees ‘some’ further hikes ahead
The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates today and said it was keeping the core of its plan to tighten monetary policy intact even as central bank officials said they would likely slow the pace of further rate increases next year (for subscribers).
The decision to raise borrowing costs again is likely to anger U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the central bank’s tightening this year as damaging to the economy.
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U.S. stocks fell today after the Federal Reserve’s forecast of fewer interest-rate increases in 2019 fell short of investors’ hopes of a more dovish monetary policy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 351.98 points to 23,323.66, the S&P 500 lost 39.20 points to end at 2,506.96, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 147.08 points to 6,636.83.
In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index also erased early gains with the Fed announcement, closing down 157.63 points to 14,259.26. All 11 of the index’s major sectors finished lower on the day.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
British Columbia’s Appeal Court has ruled that the RCMP entrapped John Nuttall and Amanda Korody, accused of plotting to bomb the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day 2013, condemning an undercover police investigation as a “travesty of justice.”
The Trump administration will soon withdraw all of the approximately 2,000 American troops from Syria, a U.S. official said today as President Donald Trump declared victory in the mission to defeat Islamic State militants there.
Alexander Perepilichny, 44, a Russian mafia whistle-blower who was found dead after going out for a run near his home in southern England six years ago, probably died of natural causes rather than from an elaborate poison plot, a British coroner has found.
Why equalization is not unfair to Alberta
“It’s not that Alberta pays more: high-income individuals do, regardless of where they live, and Alberta just happens to be home to a large number of them. That implicit, unavoidable transfer happens within provinces just as it does between them. But rather than unequal federal policy, it’s Alberta’s strengths, such as higher incomes and a younger population – which means fewer CPP and OAS cheques flow to Alberta – that are widening its federal fiscal gap.” – Trevor Tombe, associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary
Why Doug Ford is not Mike Harris
“Mr. Harris liked the little guy, too. His advisers jeered at what they called ‘the white wine set.’ But they were authentic, small-government, balanced-books conservatives. Mr. Ford? Not so much.” – John Ibbitson (for subscribers)
Pulling the plug on the ‘pulling the plug’ mentality
“These fraught moments cannot be distilled down to ‘pulling the plug or keeping her going.’ We go through this with you, constantly pressing for solutions, easier times, and less pain. And even when we disagree with our patients and their families on the best course of action, there is never any doubt in our minds that the objective was the same as what it has been all along: to help make things better.” – Shelly Dev, intensive care physician, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Whether buying a gift or stocking your shelves for holiday entertaining, shopping for wine can feel overwhelming. Our wine and spirits columnist Beppi Crosariol demystifies labels, reviews and pricing so you can buy with confidence (for subscribers). Wondering whether a wine is sweet or dry? One way to find out is to check the alcohol content – if a wine is 11 per cent or lower, chances are it’s at least a little sweet. But remember that higher alcohol is not an indicator of better wine. Some growing regions and grape varietals will naturally yield more alcohol. And if there’s no vintage date on the label, that’s a hallmark of budget wines and bubblies, including Champagnes.
LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE
Toronto’s Manulife Centre adds a more friendly façade
The Manulife Centre is an iconic mixed-use complex on Toronto’s most fashionable shopping street, but it’s also a creature of its time, Wallace Immen writes.
Built in the Brutalist style in vogue in the early 1970s, the three levels of retail at the base of the office, retail and residential complex focused inward and had minimal street presence. Set far back from the busy intersection of Bloor and Bay streets, it was designed as an internal galleria that people would arrive at by car, and it had little to attract pedestrians.
Making Brutalist buildings more street friendly is a trend that’s happening across Canada, says Stéphane Raymond, principal and project manager for B+H Architects, which has designed a dramatic face lift. “From a retailer standpoint, frontage on streets in urban centres is becoming more valuable.”
Retailers want more visibility to appeal to shoppers who increasingly arrive by foot or transit as populations of city cores increase, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver. Other projects B+H is involved in to increase retail visibility from the street include Rideau Centre in Ottawa and 60 Bloor West, across Bloor Street from the Manulife Centre, he says.
The North Pole comes to the Downtown Eastside
His visitors are hesitant, poking their heads in more out of curiosity than excitement, Andrea Woo writes. The large tepee that sits in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – next to an overdose-prevention site on a lot usually used as a market for street vendors – is wrapped in Christmas lights and the twinkling colours have created an unlikely scene in a neighbourhood more often associated with grief and hardship.
“Santa’s inside,” a costumed snowman at the front gate tells passersby. The tepee, erected last spring as a multipurpose community space, has been transformed. Five sparkling artificial Christmas trees, wreaths and stockings line the edges of the circular space; a table offers hot chocolate, candy canes and sugar cookies topped with green and pink sprinkles. A portable fireplace burns off to the side.
In the middle of it all sits Santa, on an old red recliner resting on wooden pallets that offer some protection from a ground dampened from days of heavy rain. He’s got a warm face, a booming laugh and waves with both hands. “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas! All Grinches get amnesty today,” says Santa, played by Joseph Konkin, a 59-year-old homeless street vendor.
This unlikely scene is the brainchild of Constance Barnes, executive director of the Downtown Eastside Market and a former Vancouver Park Board commissioner. She and her street market colleagues bought decorations, and solicited donations and sponsorships, securing free costume rentals, backpacks filled with food and wrapped children’s toys. And Ms. Barnes tapped Mr. Konkin, who had been sleeping in the tepee, to play Santa.