Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Trump calls Trudeau ‘two-faced’ over candid video at NATO reception
U.S. President Donald Trump described Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “two-faced” and left the NATO summit in London early after a video emerged that appeared to show Trudeau gossiping with other alliance leaders about Trump’s behaviour.
“Well, he’s two-faced,” Trump said when asked whether he had seen the video, which was recorded last night during a reception at Buckingham Palace. “Honestly, with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy. … But you know the truth is that I called him out on the fact he’s not paying 2 per cent, and I guess he’s not very happy about it.”
Yesterday, Trump said during a meeting with Trudeau that Canada was “slightly delinquent” for not meeting the alliance’s military spending target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product.
Today, Trump announced that he was cancelling a scheduled press conference with international media and left the summit early, flying back to Washington.
Opinion: “Even though the President added that the Prime Minister is “a very nice guy,” his slam cuts deeply with Trudeau as it aligns with the depiction of him by many critics as a phony.” - Lawrence Martin
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Ontario’s climate-change plan will not hit emissions-reduction targets, Auditor-General says
Ontario’s climate-change plan is “not yet supported by sound evidence,” will miss its emissions-reduction targets and is still predicated on programs – such as subsidies for electric cars – that Premier Doug Ford’s government has already cancelled, Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk said in a report today.
It’s her first report since the Ford government eliminated the province’s environmental commissioner position last year, rolling the responsibilities into her office. In her introduction, Lysyk said Ontario has not lost its environment watchdog, and her office will perform “the environmental audit work using the same high standards and proven practices that apply to all of our work.”
Separately, an oil company, a bank and a consumer-products giant are among a group of companies and civil society leaders asking Ottawa and the provinces to ratchet up efforts to tackle climate change, calling it an economic imperative.
Bank of Canada holds its key rate steady
The Bank of Canada kept its key interest rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent in an announcement today, citing signs of a stabilizing global economy and the “resilience” of Canada’s consumers.
The bank continues to hold rates steady despite a wave of cuts at other central banks around the world, designed to combat slowing growth and deep uncertainty surrounding the U.S.-China trade war.
Economists said the bank’s overall tone was more optimistic than it was in its previous rate announcement and economic outlook in October. Still, the door remains open a crack for a rate cut next year.
Constitutional-law experts summoned by Democrats testify that Trump’s actions are impeachable
President Donald Trump’s actions to prod Ukraine to pursue investigations that could benefit him politically represent impeachable offences, constitutional-law experts called by Democrats testified to the U.S. Congress today as lawmakers laid the groundwork for formal charges against Trump.
At a judiciary committee hearing featuring political theatrics, three law professors made clear that they believed the impeachable offences include abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice. Trump has denied wrongdoing.
Republican lawmakers repeatedly tried to interrupt the hearing by raising objections and points of order. Pamela Karlan, one of the three professors called by the Democrats, told the committee’s top Republican, Doug Collins, that she felt insulted by remarks he made.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Bank earnings and dividend hikes: Royal Bank of Canada saw profit slip 1 per cent in the fiscal fourth quarter, hobbled by weak returns from capital markets and insurance. Fourth-quarter profit rose 7 per cent for National Bank of Canada, as it continues to benefit from a buoyant economy in Quebec, and the bank boosted its dividend. Laurentian Bank of Canada reported a drop in profit in the fourth quarter, but also increased its dividend. RBC kept its payout steady.
Canadian food prices on the rise: Food prices are set to increase by about 4 per cent next year, according to a new report – meaning the average family will spend about $480 more on groceries in 2020.
PC coleslaw recall: Loblaws is recalling some President’s Choice coleslaw because of possible salmonella contamination. The product was distributed in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan – though it’s possible that there was national distribution.
Zimmerman sues Trayvon Martin’s parents: George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, is suing the teen’s parents, family attorney, the attorney’s book publisher and prosecutors who tried his case. He is seeking US$100-million for allegations of malicious prosecution and conspiracy..
Alberta’s credit rating downgraded: The Alberta government’s credit rating has been downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service to Aa2 stable from Aa1 negative, citing the province’s reliance on oil revenue and what it calls its high environmental risk.
Kim Jong-un rides again: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rode a white horse up a sacred mountain in his second symbolic visit in less than two months, state media reported today, as his military chief lashed out at U.S. President Donald Trump for talking about a possible military option against the North.
Canada’s main stock index broke a three-day losing run today as a jump in oil prices boosted energy shares and a report revived hopes of a preliminary trade deal between the United States and China. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 5.16 points at 16,897.34.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 146.97 points to 27,649.78, the S&P 500 gained 19.56 points to end at 3,112.76 and the Nasdaq Composite added 46.03 points to close at 8,566.67.
This shouldn’t have to be said: We need more nurses, not fewer
“In a society that does its best to deny sickness and mortality, it usually means averting our eyes from their essential work, as well as their necessity, and worth.” - Denise Balkissoon
Mike Babcock’s reputation hasn’t just taken a hit. It’s now a writeoff
“Based on the last few days and Babcock’s free-fall from the top, the code is changing. It may require a full rewrite. Players are finally waking up to the fact that the NHL isn’t junior hockey (where a coach can ruin your career)..”- Cathal Kelly
If you’re holiday shopping for the wine or spirits lover on your list, forget the novelty apparel or kitschy gadgets and get them some quality bottles they’ll enjoy – and maybe even share. Here’s wine critic Christopher Waters’s list of gifts so good, you may want to keep them yourself. They include a Canadian-made whisky-Oaxaca agave spirit blend, VSOP cognac and a Chilean red blend that’s ready to drink now or can cellar for a few years.
LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE
‘Logging scars’ show impact of deforestation in Canada is worse than we know, research finds
After years of flying across northwestern Ontario on projects related to forest conservation, Trevor Hesselink has come to know certain features well. They consist of long lines and bare patches that thread their way through the bush for kilometres. Largely invisible from the ground, they form a widespread and persistent network of scars that reveal a little-known side effect of forestry practices.
Those scars are the abandoned infrastructure – logging roads and other work sites – that remain treeless long after the work crews pack up and growth returns in the surrounding harvested area.
Hesselink is director of policy and research for the Wildlands League, a Toronto-based environmental not-for-profit. In a newly released report, he takes a big-picture look at the nature and impact of all those logging scars that can be seen from the air and arrived at a startling conclusion. Read Ivan Semeniuk’s full story here.