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Canada Morning Update: Alberta crude soars as global oil prices climb; PMO responsible for inviting Atwal to events in India

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Alberta crude soars as global oil prices climb

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Western Canadian crude prices surged a day after Alberta announced a production cut to oil, while Premier Rachel Notley again pressed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday to provide support for the industry. At a cabinet meeting, Ms. Notley suggested the federal Liberal government was paying only lip-service to her pleas for aid. She characterized the depressed Canadian crude prices as a crisis for the entire country, and said the inability of successive federal governments to get new pipelines built was largely responsible for the glut of oil as production has soared above the capacity of overburdened pipelines. (for subscribers)

Economists, meanwhile, predicted the cuts would shave about 0.2 percentage points off 2019 real gross domestic product growth, which had been forecast at about 2 per cent. However, they also said the production cuts will be felt much harder in the first quarter of the year when they come into force – and will have a much harsher effect on Alberta’s economy. (for subscribers)

Oil prices rose more than 2 per cent on Tuesday, extending gains ahead of expected output cuts by producer cartel OPEC and the mandated reduction in Alberta. Brent crude oil rose $1.55 or 2.5 percent to a high of $63.24 by 5 a.m. ET. U.S. light crude was $1.25 higher at $54.20.

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Security experts question political influence of Toronto developer with ties to Beijing

Ted Jiancheng Zhou, a wealthy Toronto developer with close ties to Beijing’s ruling Communist Party who has condominium projects in China and Canada, has become a donor to federal, provincial and municipal politicians – raising concerns among security experts about the influence he may be wielding in Canadian politics. The Globe and Mail reported in November that Mr. Zhou, who is a permanent resident, recently set up 10 non-profit organizations aimed at helping the federal Conservatives win support within the Chinese-Canadian community before next year’s general election. The Liberals and New Democrats have asked federal Election Commissioner Yves Côté to investigate the relationship between the Conservative Party and Mr. Zhou’s organizations for possible breaches of election spending laws.

Prime Minister’s Office responsible for inviting Jaspal Atwal to events in India, report says

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A heavily redacted report released on Monday found that the RCMP failed to transmit information about Jaspal Atwal and his criminal record throughout the police force and to other relevant agencies before the first event in India that he was invited to by the Prime Minister’s Office. The report said RCMP officials went over the invitations and became aware of Mr. Atwal’s criminal record, but did not notify their team on the ground in India. Mr. Atwal, a B.C. man convicted of trying to kill an Indian cabinet minister in 1986, attended the first event on Feb. 20, but his invitation was rescinded for the second event. The report said there was no systematic vetting of the guest list.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

‘I’m astonished by what I’ve seen’: Canadian arrives at ISS in action-packed day for country’s space program

Canada’s newest celestial traveller, David Saint-Jacques, fulfilled a childhood dream to go to space Monday when he greeted fellow astronauts upon arrival at the International Space Station. After launching from the Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan, the Quebec-born astronaut spent a little over eight hours travelling to what will now be his new home for the next six months. Also on Monday, an unmanned NASA probe called OSIRIS-REx – which carries a Canadian-built measuring tool that uses laser light to scan the asteroid’s boulder-strewn surface – reached a small asteroid named Bennu, currently located about 122 million kilometres from Earth.

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Celebrated journalist vows to fight tax charges seen as harassment of a critical voice in the Philippines

Maria Ressa, founder and executive editor of Rappler, an news website in the Philippines, surrendered to a Manila court and posted a cash bail on Monday, fighting tax charges she called an attempt to silence a media voice that has been critical of the country’s leadership under President Rodrigo Duterte. Ms. Ressa, called a “crusading editor and digital trailblazer” by the International Center for Journalists, is fighting to maintain a news organization that has challenged the power of Mr. Duterte. A dozen journalists have been killed since Mr. Duterte became President in 2016 and attempts have been made to kill a further seven. At least a dozen reporters have been hit with libel cases.

MORNING MARKETS

Markets sink

Deflating hopes of a swift resolution to the Sino-U.S. trade war knocked world stocks off three-week highs on Tuesday, while growing fears the U.S economy could be headed for recession sooner than expected weighed on the greenback. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 2.4 per cent, though Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.3 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 0.4 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.6 and 0.7 per cent by about 6:55 a.m. ET. New York futures were also down. The Canadian dollar was just shy of 76 US cents. Oil prices rose more than 2 per cent, extending gains ahead of expected output cuts by producer cartel OPEC and a mandated reduction in Alberta supply.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

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Ottawa can protect Canadians from hate crimes better. Here’s how

“Canadians would be right to redouble our vigilance. At stake is something much broader than hatred of Jews, the rise of which can serve as a warning sign of deeper societal challenges. What happened in Pittsburgh, where the assailant had a history of promoting and consuming hate online, is a microcosm of a dangerous, global phenomenon.” - Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

“The fentanyl epidemic is a new kind of foreign-policy challenge for us. China is refusing to act responsibly, something that is literally killing Canadians. We need tougher talk from the Prime Minister, but we also need sustained and co-ordinated follow-up by a range of departments, agencies and jurisdictions, something that isn’t our strong suit. We need to get better at this, and quickly.” - David Mulroney, Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012

LIVING BETTER

Is this really the most wonderful time of the year? While the holidays bring people together, they can also be overwhelming and demand a lot of your time and money. To handle the stresses of hosting, socializing, gift-giving and travelling, The Globe put together a guide that helps you solve those holiday problems.

MOMENT IN TIME

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Omar Khayyam, game-changing Persian mathematician, dies

Dec. 4, 1131: For a man of such renown – as a mathematician who worked to unify geometry and algebra, as an astronomer who reset the calendar of the Seljuk Empire – Omar Khayyam remains an ambiguous figure at best. That’s because, unfortunately, he’s best known as the author of a collection of quatrains – rhyming stanzas translated in the 1850s by English poet Edward FitzGerald, at the height of the West’s obsession with “Orientalism,” as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The verses question the nature of reality and the divine, leading some scholars to characterize him as a skeptic, a nihilist, resigned to enjoying the pleasures of the material world – strange, as Khayyam considered himself a student of Avicenna, the Persian luminary and devout Muslim who wrote a highly influential treatise on the existence of God. Others, though, point out that phrases such as “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and thou" are not to be taken literally, as wine is a common metaphor of Sufi poetry. But neither side in the debate can claim Khayyam as one of their own: There’s no solid proof that he wrote the quatrains. Their ideas may just be clinging to the great man’s reputation. - Massimo Commanducci

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