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Canada Morning Update: Alberta’s oil crisis; calls to suspend Russia from Interpol

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Alberta’s oil crisis: What Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau are saying

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Premier Rachel Notley is calling on Ottawa to help move more of the province’s crude by rail, a measure Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped short of endorsing during a visit to Alberta (for subscribers). Trudeau told a crowd at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce that the depressed crude prices, sparked by a backlog due to a lack of space on pipelines, are “unacceptable” and that the energy sector is facing a “crisis.” He said his top priority is building the Trans Mountain project to get more oil to market. Notley, however, said that’s not enough and vowed to buy rail cars alone to boost shipments if Ottawa doesn’t help.

Gary Mason writes that there’s no economic Plan B for Alberta: “no political leader wants to talk about what happens when the demand for the province’s oil dries up. No political leader wants to talk about the need for a sales tax to increase revenues or the massive public-sector cuts that will be required to balance the books in the absence of one. All the political and business leadership class in the province want to talk about is pipelines. One pipeline is not going to fix all that ails Alberta. And someone needs to have the courage to begin a grown-up conversation about the new reality taking place outside the province, one that is changing its future by the day.” (for subscribers)

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The principal and board president of St. Michael’s have resigned

The private Toronto all-boys institution said principal Greg Reeves and president Jefferson Thompson resigned because of a “shared desire to move the school forward without distractions.” Their exits come just over a week after news broke of an alleged sexual assault by a group of students against one of their classmates. Police are now investigating a total of six incidents: two alleged sexual assaults, three alleged assaults, and one threatening incident.

Reeves had been criticized for not immediately notifying police after he was made aware of a video depicting the first reported sexual assault. Just a day before the resignations, the board chair said the two men “continue to have our trust.” Upon their departure, the school applauded their “courageous decision” as an example of putting students “first.”

Kremlin critics are urging Canada to seek Russia’s suspension from Interpol

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Critics say Russia uses the global police force to arrest and harass political enemies as a way to settle scores. Prominent anti-Kremlin voice Bill Browder was on hand as Canada became the first country to hold hearings into the troubles facing Interpol. Browder, who has led an international campaign to adopt sanctions against Russia’s human-rights abusers, said Moscow has made seven separate attempts to use Interpol to arrest him on trumped-up charges. He said he’s lucky that the force has rejected those requests, but that other critics without the same international profile have been arrested. The RCMP’s Chief Superintendent Scott Doran played down the threat from Russia, saying Interpol has sufficient checks and balances in place.

Meanwhile, the head of the Kremlin’s military intelligence agency has died at the age of 62 after what Russia called “a serious and long illness.” Colonel-General Igor Korobov had been accused of orchestrating poison attacks against Kremlin critics. But Russian President Vladimir Putin was said to have criticized him for the handling of an operation in which former Russian spy Sergei Skripal survived a nerve-agent attack.

The B.C. legislature rejected a plan from the Speaker to replace the sergeant-at-arms with his aide

B.C. Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas proposed appointing his special adviser Alan Mullen to the position on Monday night, despite the fact that Plecas had hired his friend Mullen earlier this year to investigate Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz and Clerk of the House Craig James. Lenz and James were escorted out of the legislature by police on Tuesday and placed on administrative leave pending a criminal investigation into unspecified wrongdoing connected to their official duties. The complaint to police had been made by the Speaker. The NDP, Green and Liberal house leaders all rejected Plecas’s proposal to give Mullen the job, the Liberal House Leader said in a sworn statement.

Mullen said Thursday that former Liberal attorney-general and judge Wally Oppal has been appointed as a second special adviser to Plecas, focusing on legal issues.

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Ottawa has introduced Canada Post back-to-work legislation. Here’s what you need to know

The union representing the workers says it’s prepared to mount a legal battle should the federal government move to debate and vote on the bill. Ottawa says it is holding off for now to give a special mediator time to settle the labour dispute, but that it is prepared to push forward with the holiday season approaching. With the rotating strikes continuing, you can go here to keep track of where they’re happening. While each area is affected for only 24 hours at a time, Canada Post says the delivery backlog is as high as 30 days in some areas. If you need to send a package urgently, there are alternatives like UPS, Purolator and FedEx. Amazon, which uses Canada Post along with other carriers, says it’s monitoring the disruption and “working to minimize” delays.


World markets mixed

Global markets are mixed, with Europe up and New York poised to open down. Tokyo’s Nikkei was closed, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.4 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 2.5 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.3 and 0.5 per cent by about 5:25 a.m. ET. New York futures were down. Crude prices were lower. The Canadian dollar was trading 75.57 US cents ahead of the North American open.

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Why we should start treating floods and fires like migration crises

“Major natural disasters, especially the kind that have been experienced this century, don’t just drive people out of their homes for a few days, or even months. A large proportion are displaced for very long periods – and many never return. Sometimes, as researchers found was the case with New Orleans after Katrina, the ones who never return are the lucky ones. Disasters rupture communities in ways that aren’t easily remedied. Unfortunately, we still tend to think of these events as anomalies. We might be able to mobilize society to cope with the long-term human displacement of a single once-in-a-century catastrophe. But what if rising atmospheric temperatures and ocean levels mean that once-in-a-century catastrophes are occurring every few months?” – Doug Saunders

PSA: Black Friday is terrible

“Where Boxing Day always felt like an adventure in spending gift cards and Christmas money with friends after days of family-only extravaganzas (and still does, let me have this), Black Friday became the capitalist Hunger Games. By courting long lines to amplify the demand for extremely limited deals, stores pit customers against each other. And then, to highlight the frenzy the day ends up breeding (see footage of people running into Walmarts or Best Buys), those same customers are often videotaped and laughed at, as though trying to buy something at an affordable price is a punchline. As if the working class responding to the one day they’ve been given to buy what they’ve been told their worth hinges on is hilarious. As if the pressure we put on everyone to create the perfect holiday via rabid consumerism isn’t the result of a system that sets up the majority to fail.” – Anne T. Donahue, author of Nobody Cares

Green Book’s place within the canon of white-saviour cinema

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“After I took in the predominantly white audience’s reaction to the “feel-good” movie about a virtuosic black pianist (Mahershala Ali) touring the Deep South during the height of Jim Crow-era America with his white driver and pseudo-bodyguard (Viggo Mortensen), it seemed obvious that the film would win the Toronto International Film Festival’s coveted People’s Choice Award (which it did). … The irony, of course, being that a feel-good film about race relations during one of America’s darkest periods is an inherently antithetical concept. Director Peter Farrelly’s source material was based on the very real friendship between Dr. Don Shirley and Tony (Tony Lip) Vallelonga, but that doesn’t save his film from falling into the canon of preachy white-saviour movies that crop up every so often in American cinema. These films win audience awards and dominate the box office because they offer relief, and ease – appealing directly to white audiences who want to feel socially conscious without being challenged.” – Kelsey Adams (for subscribers)


The Big Squeeze: Inside the fight over juice in Canada’s Food Guide

The beverage industry has launched a lobbying campaign to push back against proposed changes to Canada’s Food Guide that would remove fruit juice as a substitute for whole fruits. A group calling itself the Canadian Juice Council had a booth at a nutrition conference in Halifax earlier this year. While the group’s name might give off the appearance of it being an institution disseminating impartial facts about juice, it was actually created by the lobbying arm of the beverage industry. Some observers have likened the pro-juice campaign to past efforts by tobacco lobbyists.


Doctor Who debuts on BBC

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(Sunday Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Mirrorpix/Sunday Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Nov. 23, 1963: The day after JFK’s assassination, the world’s attention lay far away from the debut of a new sci-fi series on the BBC. Doctor Who, by and large the brainchild of Sydney Newman, a Canadian who was the broadcaster’s head of drama, originally had an educational mandate. The main characters would travel through space and time visiting important moments in history. The first story showcased this concept succinctly. The main character, an alien played by William Hartnell, was accompanied by his teenage granddaughter and two of her teachers as they visited a tribe of cavemen to watch the discovery of fire. Unfortunately for Newman’s educational goal, the very next story introduced a race of evil semi-robots called the Daleks, and children were too thrilled, scared and entertained to realize they were supposed to be learning about Nazis and radiation. Viewing figures shot up, the show became a sensation across Britain, and the educational remit fell away. Today, 55 years later, Doctor Who is a global phenomenon with a cult following. Its longevity has required multiple changes or “regenerations” of the title character, and the current season is on its 13th actor (and first woman) to play the Doctor. – Ken Carriere

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