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Canada Evening Update: Transat agrees to be bought by Air Canada for $520-million; Ontario PC MPP’s father hired as adviser to former Ford cabinet minister

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Transat agrees to be bought by Air Canada for $520-million

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Airline and travel company Transat AT has agreed to be bought by Air Canada in a $520-million deal between Canada’s largest and third-biggest carriers.

The $13-a-share deal comes following a period of exclusive talks between the two airlines. It still requires the backing of two-thirds of Transat investors, as well as court and government approvals.

The news follows public criticism from large Transat shareholders that the bid was too low and ill-timed.

Earlier in the week, Group Mach, a real estate developer proposing a rival bid of $14 a share, said it had waived the finance conditions attached to its offer and dropped a requirement of support from two large Quebec investors.

Opinion: “Who will protect consumers? Over the past several decades, the Competition Bureau has proved to be staggeringly ineffective at the job. To jumpstart competition, Ottawa needs to take more drastic action. Specifically, the federal government needs to open the domestic market to foreign airlines, and slash hefty taxes and fees that drive up ticket prices.” - Rita Trichur

In other airline news: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has identified a new risk that Boeing Co. must address on its 737 MAX before the grounded jet can return to service.

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Ontario PC MPP Kinga Surma’s father hired as policy adviser to former Ford cabinet minister

Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Kinga Surma’s father got a job working for a minister in Premier Doug Ford’s government just weeks after the 2018 provincial election, sources say.

Miroslaw Surma is a policy adviser for the Minister of Economic Development, according to a government directory. He began working for then economic development minister Jim Wilson last July, a month after the Tories came to power, according to government sources.

One source said staff inside the Premier’s office were upset that Dean French, Ford’s former chief of staff, had asked for the hire.

French resigned last week amid a patronage scandal. Ford has pledged the government will review pending and some past appointments, but critics are calling for an independent assessment.

Kenney opens Western premiers’ meeting amid tensions with B.C.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called on his peers in the Western provinces and the territories to work together to responsibly develop their resources as he opened a meeting that is overshadowed by his province’s deepening dispute with British Columbia.

The premiers of the four westernmost provinces and the three territories are in Edmonton for their annual gathering, which comes two weeks before a meeting of all of Canada’s premiers in Saskatchewan next month.

It is also Kenney’s first meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan, whose opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has made him a prime target for Kenney.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Chinese jets reportedly buzz Canadian ships: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arrived in Osaka, Japan for the G20 leaders’ summit, with a contact between Chinese fighter jets and Canadian ships in the Taiwan Strait adding a new tension between the two countries.

Michigan sues Enbridge over pipeline: Michigan’s attorney-general has filed a suit against Enbridge, following through on her threat to pursue legal action to halt the flow of oil through the company’s Line 5 pipeline “as soon as possible.”

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Canadian lobbying firm’s Sudan deal: Lobbying firm Dickens & Madson (Canada) Inc. has signed a US$6-million deal to seek government funds and diplomatic recognition for a notorious Sudanese military leader whose forces have been accused of massacring protesters in Khartoum, U.S. documents show.

Order of Canada honour roll: Scientists, teachers, filmmakers, philanthropists and beer brewers are among this year’s appointees to the Order of Canada. See the complete list here.

Métis self-governance agreements signed: The first-ever Métis self-governance agreements have been signed with the federal government, marking a significant step toward independence and self-determination for a prominent group of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Gasol to stay with Raptors: Toronto Raptors centre Marc Gasol has accepted a one-year player option on his contract for the 2019-20 NBA season.

MARKET WATCH

North American stock markets were mixed today ahead of the G20 summit, where a much-anticipated meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may lead to a truce in the U.S.-China trade war.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 10.24 points to 26,526.58, the S&P 500 gained 11.14 points to end at 2,924.92 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 57.79 points to 7,967.76.

Canada’s main stock index slipped lower. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 4.49 points at 16,307.73.

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TALKING POINTS

As election looms, Liberals tout a tough-guy Trudeau

“After taking a beating over the SNC-Lavalin affair, the Liberals probably found that their other tacks – such as running ads about the environment – helped change the subject but didn’t win back voters. But saying you will stand up to Mr. Ford and Mr. Kenney might unite a lot of left-leaning voters.” - Campbell Clark

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Housing should be affordable, period

“Too often, we glorify home ownership and believe that it is the sole path to financial security. Where is the discussion about the risks it entails?” - Evan Siddall, CMHC CEO

Canadian War Museum displays 51 of George W. Bush’s propagandistic paintings

“The paintings themselves are embarrassing, and the effect of the project is propagandistic, eliding U.S. battles in Afghanistan or Kuwait with those in Iraq and portraying the former U.S. president as an empathetic and grateful leader. So why are some of these portraits about to be unveiled at the Canadian War Museum of all places?” - Kate Taylor

LIVING BETTER

Canadians looking to enjoy soon-to-be-legalized pot-infused edibles could get hit with higher insurance premiums – depending on the size of their appetite. Many insurers no longer treat cannabis users as cigarette smokers – who pay much higher premiums due to the high-risk activity – provided there is no tobacco or nicotine in the products they use. But to avoid paying more, people using cannabis must stay below a set number a week, and many insurers count any kind of pot, whether it is smoked or sipped or chewed.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

A star is born: Allen Lau’s Wattpad wants to become the next Disney

Shrieks fill the lobby of the Pacific Theatres at the Grove in Los Angeles as the stars of the young-adult romance film After arrive to walk the red carpet. Inside the theatre, one teenager starts to freak out as she realizes she’s standing in the same room as Anna Todd, the author whose books served as the source for the movie.

Six years ago, Todd was an aimless 24-year-old military wife living in Texas when she began tapping out After on her smartphone in a Target checkout line. It started as a piece of fan fiction based on the boy band One Direction, and it made her a publishing superstar. Cosmopolitan has called Todd “the biggest literary phenom of her generation.”

But this night in early April really belongs to the Toronto company that exposed Todd’s story to the world in the first place: Wattpad Corp. After is the first Hollywood film adapted for the big screen from a story published on Wattpad’s online platform, which connects writers with readers. Since its launch in 2006, Wattpad has become a social networking star, with more than 70 million users, predominantly young women from 13 to 35.

That’s just a start. By using artificial intelligence algorithms to mine that data, Wattpad believes it can determine which of its stories could hit it big as books, movies or shows. Read Sean Silcoff’s full story here.

Wattpad co-founder Allen Lau, left, with Aron Levitz of Wattpad Studios. (Photo by Sandy Nicholson for The Globe and Mail)

Sandy Nicholson/Fuze Reps

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