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Canada Evening Update: Top Conservative aide seen speaking to Rebel Media; Canadian pot stocks jump after Diageo reportedly discussing deal

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Top Conservative aide seen speaking to Rebel Media, which is banned from party convention

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s national campaign manager was seen speaking with members of Rebel Media outside of the party’s convention in Halifax, Laura Stone writes, even though the far-right website is barred from covering the event for being an “activist” group. Hamish Marshall was spotted speaking to members of the outlet – including contributor Sheila Gunn Reid and two others, but not founder Ezra Levant – on a restaurant patio yesterday.

But it was Quebec MP Maxime Bernier who grabbed the spotlight as the convention kicked off, criticizing the Conservatives and announcing he is quitting to create a new party. “He didn’t just quit the Conservative caucus to lick his wounds as an independent," Campbell Clark writes. “He jabbed his fingers into the painfully sensitive areas of the Tory body politic.” (for subscribers)

Canadian cannabis stocks jump after Diageo reported to be discussing deal

Marijuana stocks including Aphria, Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis jumped in Toronto after BNN Bloomberg TV reported Diageo is holding discussions with at least three Canadian cannabis producers about a possible deal.

The British spirits maker has met companies in the past month as it considers a possible investment or alliance to make cannabis-infused beverages, the station said on its website, citing people close to the situation who it didn’t identify.

Even before today’s developments, Canopy Growth was getting bigger by the day, becoming more valuable than some iconic Canadian companies. On Tuesday, its market value leapt past Canadian Tire, Matt Lundy writes, and on Wednesday, it rose above Bombardier.

Today in Trump: social-media attack, escalating Sessions feud, another immunity deal revealed

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U.S. President Donald Trump called out social media today – perhaps not seeing the irony of doing so in a tweet – saying without evidence that they have silenced “millions of people” in an act of censorship. He did not mention any companies by name. On Tuesday, Facebook, Twitter and Google parent Alphabet removed hundreds of accounts tied to an alleged Iranian propaganda operation, while Facebook took down a second campaign it said was linked to Russia.

Also on Twitter, Trump pressed Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to investigate his perceived enemies. Responding to Sessions’s declaration that he would not be influenced by politics, Trump tweeted that Sessions must “look into all of the corruption on the ‘other side,’" adding: “Come on Jeff, you can do it, the country is waiting!” It’s the second day of a highly public smackdown by Trump – the latest in a dispute that has simmered since Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.

Separately, U.S. federal prosecutors have granted immunity to Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg in a probe involving Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, The Wall Street Journal reports. Cohen, who arranged hush-money payments before the 2016 U.S. presidential election to at least two women who had alleged having sex with Trump, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to campaign finance violations and other charges. Yesterday, news media reported that long-time Trump ally David Pecker, CEO of tabloid publisher American Media Inc., reached an immunity deal in the probe.

Canadian real-estate boards expected to overhaul sales-data policies in wake of court decision

Toronto-area home buyers are gaining greater access to transaction records for properties, and to track records for agents, Shane Dingman writes, after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the Toronto Real Estate Board over a federal Competition Tribunal order on the restriction of home-sales data.

The decision means the country’s largest real-estate board cannot limit how brokers use the data in its multiple-listing service. Consumers will benefit from more information on everything from price trends to listing histories and even the sales volumes and selling prices for specific agents. The decision is also expected to compel real-estate boards across the country to re-examine anti-competitive policies and practices.

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MARKET WATCH

The benchmark S&P 500 index clinched its longest-ever bull market run today, closing above its previous January high, as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell affirmed the U.S. central bank’s current pace of rate hikes. The S&P 500 gained 17.71 points to close at 2,874.69, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 133.37 points to 25,790.35, and the Nasdaq Composite ended at 7,945.98, 67.52 points higher. Stocks also rose in Toronto, with the S&P/TSX composite index up 29.26 points at 16,356.05.

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WHAT’S TRENDING ON SOCIAL

U.S. Republican Senator John McCain, who announced last year he was battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, has decided to stop medical treatment, his family says. “John has surpassed expectations for his survival,” the family said, adding that the disease’s progression and his age, 81, were factors.

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TALKING POINTS

Maxime Bernier’s party of one won’t go far

“Mr. Bernier has always had a hard time with compromise, which is a reflection of both his own lack of political maturity and an inability to share the spotlight. He has had several opportunities to prove himself, as industry minister and foreign affairs minister in Mr. Harper’s first government, as small business minister in the last Harper administration and as a leadership contender. Each time, he has failed to show that he is more than a stuffed shirt.” – Konrad Yakabuski

Donald Trump may have finally reached the beginning of the end

“There seems now a sense that this dark chapter in American history might pass. At moments this long and disturbing period has felt inescapable, and the rule of law impotent, in its ability to hold someone like Donald Trump accountable. People have suffered, our bedrock principles seemed endangered, our institutions appeared to have failed. But there is hope now that, like a city having been consumed by flood, the waters will eventually recede.” – Jared Yates Sexton, author and associate professor at Georgia Southern University

Is Trump finished? No, not by a long shot

“So what we’ve really learned this week is that Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with a sleazy gang of grifters and con men, and ordinary Americans don’t care. And why should they? Far away from the fever dreams of Washington and New York, armies of deplorables are enjoying a housing boom and a remarkably sunny economy. The truth is that other than a coronary on the golf course, there really is no way Mr. Trump can be dislodged from office before 2020.” – Margaret Wente

Parenting has become a competitive sport rather than a communal responsibility

“Parenthood offers the opportunity to engage in a deeply intimate relationship with a human who is dependent on you for all of his or her physical and emotional needs. It demands patience, sacrifice, compassion and humility. It stretches us in ways not many experiences can. But at the same time, I’ve begun to wonder if there is something about it that makes people worse or, at least, worse to each other – worse neighbours, worse citizens, worse friends. More and more, we seem to have embraced the idea that protecting children is an individualistic pursuit, and parenting a competitive sport rather than a communal responsibility.” – Kim Brooks, author of Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear

LIVING BETTER

When selling a home, people often hire stagers to refurnish, redecorate and repaint in hopes of getting top dollar for the property. But savvy owners can save money by doing it themselves. Here are some tips from the pros: Declutter your home and remove personal items, so prospective buyers can imagine themselves living there. Transform rooms that you use for storage into an office or another bedroom. Give away or move big pieces of furniture to make rooms look bigger. If you need to stow, shop around for a storage company that offers low rates for short-term rentals. You may not need a full locker: Some companies will pick up, store and return items for as little as a few dollars a month.

LONG READS FOR A LONG COMMUTE

How do I get my three adult children to leave the nest?

“I was stunned. I thought 25-year-olds were adults. Had I missed a memo? It was then that I realized [my daughter] and her siblings had what I call ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ – a refusal to grow up. Most of their friends suffered from the same condition. It’s like the sign on the highway saying Welcome to Toronto had been replaced by one that said Welcome to Neverland! If 60 is the new 40, then I guess 30 is the new 10! When did the natural order of things become living with your parents until they retired and downsized! Sometimes, I think we’re going to have to move out and leave them behind instead of the other way around.” – Howard Gaskin

In Alberta, ‘downsizing’ has a different meaning

Baby boomers across Canada were asked about their plans to downsize from the homes they have raised families in and transition to housing for the first stages of their retirement. The survey of 1,000 boomers last month by Royal LePage found major regional differences in attitudes, with the hotter markets of Ontario and British Columbia at odds with the softer market in Alberta.

In general, Albertan respondents told researchers they want to renovate and stay in their current homes over the next five years rather than downsize – and many noted they are still waiting for their children to leave. (Royal LePage calls these children, somewhat cheekily, “Peak Millennials.”)

But while this puts Albertans more or less in line with others of their generation (aged between 54 and 72) in the rest of Canada, they differed in that they told researchers they plan to own their next property rather than rent it, with 94 per cent noting they believe real estate remains a good investment.

Evening Update is written by S.R. Slobodian. If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

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