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PM spoke to Wilson-Raybould after prosecutors refused SNC deal

Court documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show that Canada’s top prosecutor had rejected a settlement with SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. nearly two weeks before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with then-attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould about the matter. Kathleen Roussel, director of public prosecutions, had informed SNC-Lavalin on Sept. 4 that she intended to proceed with a prosecution on bribery and fraud charges. Until now, publicly available information had indicated that the Prime Minister spoke to Ms. Wilson-Raybould before prosecutors made their decision, announced by SNC on Oct. 10. In fact, they spoke two weeks after the Sept. 4 decision, when the only remaining question was whether Ms. Wilson-Raybould would publicly instruct prosecutors to instead cut a deal.

And a Globe review of lobbying records shows SNC-Lavalin had 19 contacts with the PMO since the start of 2017, placing it near the top of the list of nearly 700 groups that met at least once with the PMO during that period. Only 13 other organizations had more meetings with the PMO than SNC-Lavalin in that time frame.

In the midst of this controversy, a poll conducted by Leger for The Canadian Press shows that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is taking a personal hit over the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Overall, 41 per cent of respondents believed the Prime Minister had done something wrong involving the Montreal engineering giant and former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould; 12 per cent believed he hadn’t, and 41 per cent said they weren’t sure.

Meanwhile, a Quebec judge has dismissed fraud and bribery charges against a former SNC-Lavalin vice-president over unreasonable delays in the case. This is the second time in two weeks that a criminal case against one of the engineering company’s former executives has been halted.

For all of the background and context you need to understand the myriad threads in this evolving story, read our two explainers: What is the PMO, who works there and what does it do? and SNC-Lavalin, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau’s PMO: The story so far. They lay out why SNC-Lavalin is facing prosecution, what happened to Ms. Wilson-Raybould, and how the PMO was involved and what the reaction has been so far.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford has suspended MPP Randy Hillier from caucus over ‘disrespectful comments’ to parents of autistic children

Doug Ford suspended the MPP indefinitely from caucus on Wednesday after parents of autistic children told reporters Mr. Hillier had dismissed their concerns by saying “yada yada yada” at the end of question period. Mr. Ford said in a statement that Mr. Hillier’s comments “crossed the line.”

The parents were attending Ontario’s legislature to protest the government’s recent changes to the autism program.

Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, repeatedly defended the changes in question period, which she said will make the system more fair and equitable. But some parents say the new program is anything but fair, leaving little money for treatment and services.

B.C. budget predicts end to real estate correction, increase in revenues

The British Columbia budget tabled Tuesday is forecasting that the real estate correction that drove down sales and prices in 2018 is over, and that property tax revenues will rise this year to help fund new benefits for families and students, climate action programs and revenue sharing with Indigenous communities.

The balanced fiscal plan includes no new taxes, but anticipates government revenues will rise by $2.4-billion, with some of the largest increases provided by the rising carbon tax, and growing revenue from property taxes.

CIBC predicts the loonie is set to fall to 15-year lows

“Given the limited scope of relying further on mortgage and consumer debt, Canada will need to produce better outcomes from exports and business spending to fuel growth," CIBC economists Avery Shenfeld and Royce Mendes said Tuesday in a report. But relatively weak productivity is hampering the nation’s businesses, making them higher-cost producers than their U.S. counterparts, they said. The end result may be slower growth compared with the U.S., which will keep the Bank of Canada from raising rates as high as they are south of the border and lead to a weakening of the country’s currency.


World stocks rose on Wednesday, hitting a four-month high on hopes for progress in trade talks between the United States and China, and a supportive backdrop from major central banks also helped push risk assets higher. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index rose 93.80 points, or 0.59 per cent, at 16,031.24. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 63.12 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 25,954.44, the S&P 500 gained 4.94 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 2,784.7, and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.30 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7,489.07.


Gary Mason on British Columbia’s time to shine as Canada’s new economic powerhouse. “On Tuesday, B.C.'s NDP government introduced its second full-fledged budget since taking power in 2017, and barring some economic catastrophe, it will be the province’s seventh straight budget to post a surplus. ... B.C. is now becoming comfortable at the top of the economic heap in this country, a spot that once seemed perennially reserved for its neighbour. Not any more. And without a new pipeline, it could be some time before Alberta is there again.”

Globe editorial points to the serious underfunding of the Toronto Transit Commission and stresses the importance of more money and less politics. “As the Doug Ford government negotiates plans for rejigging transit in the Greater Toronto Area, including a proposal to “upload” the Toronto subway to the province, don’t get distracted by fights over the shape of the TTC’s org chart. Keep your eyes on the prize. Follow what matters: the money. If uploading the subway leaves the TTC with more money for transit and more autonomy to build the right transit, then it should be cheered.”

Ti-Anna Wang writes about her ordeal being detained at a Chinese airport in January while trying to visit her father for the first time in 10 years. She argues the silver lining in souring diplomatic relations between China and Canada is that Canadians know the truth about the ruthless Chinese government. “Behind the obvious disregard for human rights, such as the imprisonment of my father and the arbitrary detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, there is a lesser known cost to the callousness of the Chinese government.”


Britain has stripped citizenship from teenager who joined Islamic State in Syria

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In this file photo taken on February 22, 2015 Renu Begum, eldest sister of Shamima Begum, holds a picture of her sister while being interviewed by the media in central London.LAURA LEAN/AFP/Getty Images

The British government has stripped a teenager who travelled to join the Islamic State of her citizenship on security grounds, triggering a row over the ramifications of leaving a 19-year-old mother with a jihadist fighter’s child to fend for herself in a war zone. The fate of Shamima Begum, who was found in a detention camp in Syria last week, has illustrated the ethical, legal and security conundrum that governments face when dealing with the families of militants who swore to destroy the West.


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Fitts Village is located on the tranquil west coast of Barbados, approximately 20 minutes by car from Bridgetown.Andre Denis

If you’re planning a vacation to get you through to the end of winter, consider ditching the all-inclusive resorts for a DIY tropical vacation. One travel writer rented a seaside cottage in Fitts Village, Barbados – a tiny fishing town on the island’s west coast, and quickly learned you can have fun in Barbados without a swim-up bar.


Who’s in the PMO?

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Katie TelfordGlobe and Mail

With the resignation of Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts, Katie Telford, is now the most senior political operative in the PMO. Here’s a profile of Ms. Telford from 2016. After co-chairing Mr. Trudeau’s election campaign, Ms. Telford became the second woman ever to hold the chief of staff’s job, after the brief tenure of Jodi White under Kim Campbell’s prime ministership in 1993.

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Today’s Evening Update was written by Shannon Busta. 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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