These are the top stories:
The impact of deforestation in Canada is worse than we know, an analysis reveals
Roads, pits and other “logging scars” in Canada’s boreal forest aren’t being properly accounted for, according to new research that raises questions about the country’s true carbon footprint.
“When you drive around up north and see all the trees whipping past you endlessly, you don’t really have a good idea of what’s going on,” said Trevor Hesselink, director of policy and research for the non-profit Wildlands League. His research in northwestern Ontario found treeless patches and scars account for 10.2 per cent to 23.7 per cent of the area of forests that have grown back after logging.
But that type of deforestation isn’t being fully assessed by governments – and it’s not being factored into calculations of how much carbon Canada’s forests are storing. Ottawa uses those numbers for international reporting on its climate commitments.
In other environmental news, the leaders of 26 organizations and companies are urging Ottawa and the provinces to step up efforts on climate change. Signatories on a letter to the Prime Minister and premiers include executives at Shell Canada and RBC.
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Cracks in the NATO alliance have widened amid tensions over Turkey and Russia
A new NATO plan to defend Eastern Europe against possible Russian aggression could be blocked by Turkey during today’s meeting. Unanimous approval is needed, and Turkey wants to first see the rest of the alliance support its designation of a Syria Kurdish militia as a terrorist group. France and other countries reject that idea.
Meanwhile, a video emerged Tuesday that appeared to show Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joking with other world leaders about the behaviour of U.S. President Donald Trump. In the video, Mr. Trudeau is heard commenting on Mr. Trump’s penchant for long, rambling press conferences. Mr. Trump had not responded to the video as of Wednesday morning.
Mr. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron had a heated exchange of words during a bilateral meeting yesterday. Trump suggested the U.S. could send captured Islamic State fighters to France, a retort over their different assessments of the situation in Syria. “Let’s be serious,” Macron responded.
B.C. health authorities have intervened in three China-owned senior care facilities
Reports of neglect and issues around chronic staffing shortages at three care homes on Vancouver Island have prompted health authorities to impose outside management.
All three care homes belong to Retirement Concepts, a chain that was sold to China’s Anbang Insurance Group in a deal approved by the federal government in 2017. That approval came despite widespread concerns about how foreign ownership might affect the quality of care.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the decision to bring in outside staff is an extraordinary move but that “urgent action” was taken out of concern for residents.
An investigation by the area health authority found complaints at one facility ranging from neglect to physical abuse were substantiated.
Huawei’s founder is dismissing criticism that his technology enables human-rights abuses
Ren Zhengfei said his company bears no responsibility for how buyers use its “seamless surveillance” technology.
Huawei has partnered with police in places such as Xinjiang, where authorities and tech companies have built a surveillance state as part of a crackdown on Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. Ren said China has nothing to apologize for in Xinjiang. (The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill yesterday urging sanctions over China’s treatment of Uyghurs.)
Huawei has denied accusations its technology could be used by the Chinese government for spying purposes. The company, however, continues to produce tools for governments to monitor and manage their populations.
The Democrat-led impeachment inquiry is accusing Trump of sweeping abuse of power
In a report that is set to form the basis of any impeachment charges, Democrats have levelled numerous allegations against the U.S. President, including:
- That Trump solicited foreign interference to boost his re-election chances, saying he withheld military aid to Ukraine in a push for an investigation into the Bidens.
- That he conducted an “unprecedented” campaign to obstruct Congress by refusing to provide documents and testimony from his top advisers while intimidating witnesses participating in the inquiry.
If the House of Representatives eventually votes to approve formal charges, a trial would be held in the Republican-controlled Senate. A two-thirds majority is needed for a conviction.
Separately, a U.S. court has directed banks to turn over Trump’s financial records to House Democrats. Trump is expected to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Food prices set to rise in 2020: The average Canadian family will spend about $480 more on groceries next year, according to a new report. Climate change and trade tensions played a role in the forecast of a 4-per-cent increase.
Ontario high school teachers stage one-day strike: Public high schools across the province are set to close today as teachers protest a lack of progress in contract talks with the Ford government.
Toronto unveils sweeping housing plan: The city says the plan will help nearly 350,000 households over the next decade, but it still needs to secure a total of $15-billion from the provincial and federal governments. More affordable rental units and interest-free loans for households facing eviction are among the pledges.
B.C. ride-hailing fees spark shortage concerns: Municipalities across the Lower Mainland are imposing separate licence fees for every ride-hailing vehicle on their roads, prompting concerns that compounding costs will deter drivers from participating. Burnaby will charge $510 per vehicle, while Vancouver’s fee is $100 and New Westminster’s is $203.
World stocks in tentative rebound after Trump’s trade war scare: European stocks opened higher on Wednesday, recovering some of the losses made in the previous session when U.S. President Donald Trump surprised world markets by saying a trade deal with China could wait until after the 2020 presidential election. London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.2 and 1.2 per cent by about 4:45 a.m. ET. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.3 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite slid 0.2 per cent. New York futures were up. The Canadian dollar was above 75 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Significant start made on getting Trans Mountain built but Albertans will be wary until the oil is flowing
Kelly Cryderman: “Will the start of the construction clock put a stop to the theories that the federal Liberals bought the project just to let it stall? Will it convince Albertans the Liberals are willing to give up even more political capital to see the project built, even in the face of what will surely be fierce protests in B.C.? Probably not until the oil is flowing.”
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
The best special-occasion destinations
New Year’s: Madeira, in Portugal, is famous for the world’s largest New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
Valentine’s Day: The tiny French town of Saint-Valentin holds an annual three-day festival where roses are everywhere and couples plant a tree in the Garden of Love.
Halloween: Transylvania, Romania, is home to forests and medieval towns, with one hosting a Halloween party in a castle linked to the legend of Dracula.
Go here for more unconventional travel ideas.
MOMENT IN TIME
The first Grey Cup
Dec. 4, 1909: The Grey Cup was supposed to be a hockey trophy. Commissioned in 1909 by British nobleman Albert Grey, Canada’s governor-general wanted to donate it for the country’s senior amateur hockey championship. However, philanthropist H. Montagu Allan beat him to the punch, so the fourth Earl Grey instead offered up his $48 chalice as the prize for the Canadian amateur rugby football championship. And so, on a cool December Saturday, 3,807 fans watched as the University of Toronto Varsity Blues defeated the Parkdale Canoe Club 26-6 at Toronto’s Rosedale Field. Hugh Gall led the Blues, opening the scoring by kicking a 65-yard rouge, and followed that with the game’s first try. In all, Gall kicked eight singles, still a record. Since then, the Grey Cup game has been contested annually (except for three years during the First World War), and the Earl’s mug has been broken numerous times, stolen twice and even held for ransom. It also survived a 1947 fire. Eleven days ago at the 107th Grey Cup, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hoisted the storied trophy after crushing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 before 35,440 fans at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium. They later broke it in two. – Darren McGee