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Good morning, and welcome to the weekend.

Grab your cup of coffee or tea, and sit down with a selection of this week’s great reads from The Globe. In this issue, Clare O’Hara and Jeff Jones report on how the worsening impact of climate change is making it harder for Canadians to protect their homes and businesses.

The story took O’Hara to three separate parts of Halifax that had all endured natural disasters this year, where she spoke to insurance companies, residents and families who were struggling in the aftermath of floods, fires and storms. In some areas, she said it was difficult to find people willing to go on the record, due to ongoing fears about being misrepresented. But after interviewing dozens of sources, O’Hara noticed glaring discrepancies from insurers when it came to Canadians who filed claims.

“I always knew that there was a growing gap of Canadians who were losing coverage in floods because they were sitting in floodplains,” she said. “What I didn’t realize until I literally started knocking door to door in Halifax is the discrepancies in some of their coverage.”

On the West Coast, we look at one of B.C.’s major problems from two perspectives.

The global toxic drug crisis vexes B.C. as much as any other jurisdiction and, as Gary Mason writes, it represents an intractable public policy dilemma for which a proposed solution – decriminalization of narcotics – faces long odds. Worse, any conversation about it is steeped in rancour and division.

In the case of Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, there isn’t much to report on this front after a year on the job. But as Frances Bula finds out, the slow pace of problem solving on this file seems to be intentional.

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Climate change is making insurance coverage more expensive and more limited – and it’s only going to get worse

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Charles Brindamour, chief executive at Intact, Canada’s largest property and casualty insurer, has become a leading advocate for how industries and communities can adapt to climate change.Abbie Trayler-Smith/The Globe and Mail

Disaster claims in Canada have more than quadrupled over the past 15 years, accounting for $3.1-billion of insured losses in 2022, up from just $40-million in 2008. Worsening disasters have already meant higher premiums and difficulty getting the necessary protection for homes and businesses, threatening to send ripples through the economy as rates increase and a growing number of Canadians struggle to protect their homes. But as bad as things are, Clare O’Hara and Jeff Jones report that it’s only going to get worse. Read the full story.

Alex Shnaider, famed as a ‘Russian-Canadian’ oligarch, says he’s been Ukrainian all along

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Alex Shnaider appears during an interview with The Globe and Mail in October, 2007, before the official ground-breaking for the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto.Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail

Alex Shnaider has built a reputation as Canada’s most famous oligarch. For decades, as Shnaider and his business interests weaved in and out of the limelight, the tycoon was content to be called Russian-born. He was widely described as a “Russian-Canadian oligarch” as he brought a Trump Tower to downtown Toronto and Formula-1 racing to Red Square in Moscow. Now, however, he says a crucial part of that story was never true: He wasn’t Russian, even though his Canadian passport listed his birthplace as St. Petersburg. He now wants it to be known that he was, and has always been, Ukrainian. Mark MacKinnon reports.

The drug crisis is the greatest social ill facing Canada. As B.C. has discovered, decriminalization is not a cure-all

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Protesters rally in Vancouver on Nov. 3 in support of safer drug supply programs.ETHAN CAIRNS/The Canadian Press

Calls for decriminalization in B.C. span decades, as the province, and more specifically the city of Vancouver, has long struggled with a drug problem. Vancouver was the first Canadian city to open a supervised injection site in 2003. Then, this January, a three-year decriminalization experiment began in the province. Gary Mason writes on what he describes as “arguably the greatest social ill we confront at this time,” and the intractable public policy dilemma, as well as the rancour and division enveloping any conversation about it. Read the full story.

Cheap and easy-to-use drones are making wars deadlier

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A kindergarten building shows damage suffered after Russian drone strikes in Kyiv on Nov. 25, 2023.VALENTYN OGIRENKO/Reuters

Drones have been a feature of war for several decades, but recent conflicts such as the Israel-Hamas war and the Ukraine war show how the technology is changing modern combat. Ever more powerful drones have become cheaper and easier to fabricate and deploy. Terrorist groups and even criminal enterprises have invested in drone technology, which makes it easier for them and other non-state groups to attack and wage war on more powerful states. As William C. Banks writes, today drones are everywhere, and their use as weapons of war and advanced surveillance are making conflicts more lethal, with escalating human and economic costs. Read the essay.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim says he wants city to have ‘more swagger’ as he marks first year in office

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Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim has focused on using his personal clout to salvage victories for small but symbolic projects that he maintains are a way for Vancouver to get its mojo back, such as salvaging the Stanley Park Christmas train for this year.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

It’s hardly unusual for opposing city councillors to criticize a new mayor’s record after a year on the job. But in this case, even the mayor himself says that citizens “may not see the effects” of his actions in the first year. Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, who inherited a host of large problems such as the toxic drug crisis, homelessness and unaffordable housing, has barely moved the needle on the major issues. But to hear him tell it, the first year has gone according to plan, with a focus on smaller wins designed to give the city back its “swagger.” As for solutions to the tough problems? Sim has an eye on reducing red tape as a first step. Frances Bula reports.

It might be time for pro sports to cut its ties to Musk’s X

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Elon Musk speaks during the annual DealBook summit hosted by the New York Times on Nov. 29, 2023 in New York City.Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Morality clauses are standard in any pro sports contract. Athletes and executives are let go all the time for inappropriate conduct, because it brings the threat of reputational harm to their companies. And while the sports conversations and memes on X are often as entertaining as the games themselves, it’s getting harder all the time to ignore the toxicity of X and its outspoken owner, Elon Musk. In fact, Simon Houpt argues, it might be time for pro sports to put X on the sidelines, like an athlete guilty of poor conduct.

A life surrounded by books is the only way to live

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A lifetime of collecting books has shaped Dawn Promislow’s home, and a look through her bookshelves can tell you a lot about her history. Every room in her house, except for the bathroom, has books in it – and she’s never been able to bring herself to remove any of them, ever. Her house has more books in it than it has cups, or plates, or forks and spoons, or ornaments, or pictures, or towels and sheets, or even clothes. As she discusses her lifelong obsession, Promislow explains why the feelings of comfort and energy she derives from books can be traced up her maternal family line. Read the full story.

Finally, take this week’s arts quiz to test your knowledge of arts and culture news.

Sample question: The television adaptation of Lessons in Chemistry cast the wrong type of dog, Sophie Vershbow argued this week. Which breed did they cast?

a. Golden Retriever

b. Great Pyrenees

c. Pug

d. Goldendoodle

  • Did you know we also have weekly quizzes for business and news readers?

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