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Canada Morning Update: Bell, Telus warn of 5G delays, higher costs if Huawei banned; U.S. Defence Secretary Mattis resigns

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Bell, Telus warn of 5G delays, higher costs if Ottawa joins peers in banning Huawei

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Executives at BCE Inc., and Telus Corp. are pressing the federal government not to block them from using Huawei equipment, warning that a ban on the Chinese company would force them to spend more for technology from other vendors, which could lead to higher prices for consumers or job cuts at the companies. The increased costs and potential need to rebuild parts of current networks could also slow deployment of next-generation technology. The companies argued that security concerns related to Huawei can be addressed by testing its equipment and restricting gear to non-sensitive parts of their networks.

This comes after a third Canadian, Sarah McIver, was detained in China for working illegally. Ms. McIver’s detention does not appear to be further retaliation the Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

One of the other Canadians detained, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group, is being denied legal representation and is not allowed to turn the lights off at night, people familiar with the situation said. (for subscribers)

Canada joins U.S., Britain in calling out China for state-sponsored hacking campaign

Canada joined major allies including the United States and Britain in identifying China as the country responsible for a state-sponsored hacking campaign to steal data from military service members, government agencies and private companies in the U.S. and nearly a dozen other countries. Canada’s statement from the Communications Security Establishment was not as strong as the disapproval registered by some allies. The Americans called it “outright cheating and theft.” Canada’s statement merely named China as responsible saying that it is “almost certain that actors likely associated with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Ministry of Security State (MSS) are responsible for the compromise.”

U.S. Defence Secretary Mattis resigns in protest of Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria

Jim Mattis announced he was resigning as U.S. Defence Secretary on Thursday after two years of disagreements with U.S. President Donald Trump. The announcement came the same day the U.S. announced it was pulling about 7,000 troops out of Afghanistan and a day after Mr. Trump disregarded Mr. Mattis’s advice against pulling troops out of Syria. Mr. Mattis, a highly respected foreign policy official in the Trump administration, will leave by the end of February. Many of Mr. Trump’s allies also expressed fear and concern over Mr. Mattis’s decision, believing him to be an important moderating force on the President. This has left military leaders scrambling to devise a swift, but safe, departure of troops from Syria without Mr. Mattis’s direction.

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B.C. voters reject proportional representation for a third time

British Columbia voters rejected proportional representation, with 61.3 per cent voting to retain the first-past-the-post voting system in a referendum. The vote, which saw a turnout of nearly 43 per cent, was B.C.'s third referendum on proportional representation. The first was in 2005 and the second came in 2009, and both resulted in no change. In 2005, voter turnout for the referendum was 61 per cent. About 57 per cent of ballots were cast in favour of proportional representation, but it did not meet the threshold of 60 per cent to make it binding on the government. Four years later, voter turnout was 55 per cent; 61 per cent voted in favour of first past the post.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

McKenna sees path to reaching Paris climate target but report questions plan (for subscribers)

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says Canada is on track to meet its Paris climate target, despite a report from the Environment and Climate Change department that says the government still does not have a clear path to reach the goal. The report says policies in place will equate to about three-quarters of the emission reductions required to meet the Paris target of 513 megatonnes, equivalent to a 30-per cent reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 to 2030. However, 79 megatonnes of reductions will have to come from Canadians' adoption of new technology or in measures such as massive investments in public transit that are both under way and being planned − the impact of which is uncertain.

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MORNING MARKETS

Stocks sink, loonie slips below 74 cents

Financial markets are looking to close out the pre-holiday week on what’s definitely not a holiday note. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 1.1 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite fell 0.8 per cent, though Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.3 and 1 per cent by about 5:15 a.m. (ET). New York futures were also down. The Canadian dollar was trading at 73.90 US cents ahead of the North American open.

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WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

The United States reverses course in Syria – and that’s a problem in the making

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“It is deeply premature to speak of any enduring normalization of the Syrian situation on the ground. Knowing the United States will pull out might only embolden the Assad government and trigger another assault on Idlib. It might also give new hope to remaining Islamic State fighters holed up in areas still under their control in Syria.” - Bruce Mabley, director of the Mackenzie-Papineau Group

Are you oppressed by Christmas? Blame the patriarchy!

“Still, there’s a good question here. Why, after 40 years of feminism, has so little changed? The feminist explanation is that patriarchal oppression extends its stranglehold down through the generations. My explanation is that too many women are masochistic perfectionists.” - Margaret Wente

After all that soul-searching, will the Democrats really send a white man to face Trump?

“If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of intersectionality, you obviously haven’t been listening to many progressive politicians lately. The idea that minority women, for example, experience a unique form of oppression that arises from the intersection of racism and sexism is a legitimate one. Whether it should be the defining issue of the 2020 campaign is another matter altogether.” - Konrad Yakabuski (for subscribers)

LIVING BETTER

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How to argue with people: A holiday guide to not ruining everything for everyone

Arguing well is surely one of the great secrets for a life of comfort and ease. Yet, we are generally terrible at it, prone to ranting and raging, easily fooled by bluffs and cheats – when we are not ourselves bluffing or cheating. How can reason win if we cannot be reasonable? We can do better, the experts say. We can achieve our true goals, possibly change a few minds, and keep our friends. Indeed, the scholars of argumentation theory propose that if we understand the true nature and value of argument, we can win when we think we lose; we can hold all the power by simply shutting up. Read Erin Anderssen’s piece on how to argue with people better – especially over the holidays.

MOMENT IN TIME

First crossword published

Dec. 21, 1913: The first crossword puzzle sent readers of New York World in search of synonyms for “pigeon,” “talon” and other clues. Published on this day in 1913, Arthur Wynne’s crossword quickly caught hold, and soon the word games could be found in most newspapers. In language that damned and, no doubt, inspired any word nerd, the London Times in 1924 branded crosswords “a menace … making devastating inroads on the working hours” of people in trains, factories and offices “cudgelling their brains” for answers. The crossword has lasted and evolved, even into the digital age, spawning forms that include the simple American-style puzzle, and the cryptic. The answers to Wynne’s puzzle are “pretty much dictionary clues,” said Fraser Simpson, constructor of The Globe and Mail’s cryptic crossword. Today’s puzzle writers, using computerized grid fillers and word lists they compile and carefully guard, offer themes, puns or phrases to test and delight a word-lover’s brain, “sort of like a good novel would. They are supposed to make you think of things,” Simpson said. “I think the reason it has endured is because of those innovations.” - Eric Atkins

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