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Canada Morning Update: Canada’s recycling problem; Trump set to bar Huawei equipment

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Canada’s recycling industry is in crisis mode. Here’s why

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For decades, we’ve tossed our recyclables in blue bins and never looked back. But China’s recent move to stop buying the world’s scrap plastic has exposed a problem: A lot of what we put in those bins isn’t getting recycled. Now, Canada has nowhere to send those items.

The China problem: A year ago, Beijing banned the import of 24 types of recyclables, partly because many of the materials were “contaminated,” in filthy condition and effectively garbage. China’s decision has pushed up recycling costs by as much as 40 per cent.

The blue-bin problem: Only nine per cent of Canada’s 3.2 million tonnes of plastic waste is recycled, a recent study found. Put another way, as much as 24 CN Towers-worth in weight ends up in landfills. Plastic bags, labels and candy wrappers are extremely hard to recycle. Used cardboard, meanwhile, is often soiled with food waste.

Proposed solutions: One way to reverse current trends is to make large companies like Unilever and Walmart pay for and manage recycling, to motivate them to design more recycle-friendly products. B.C. has already adopted a system like this, and other Canadian regions are looking to follow suit. The European Union has voted to ban some single-use plastic items, a move Canada has been reluctant to adopt at a national level.

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Canada, the U.S. and China: What’s going on with Huawei and trade

Huawei: President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order this week that will lead to a ban on Huawei equipment. Broadly, the order would bar U.S. companies from using equipment made by firms posing a national security risk; Washington has warned that China could use Huawei as a conduit for surveillance operations. The U.S. has been urging allies like Canada to bar Huawei from their 5G networks, though it had not formally banned the company itself.

Trade: The Huawei move comes amid an already heated U.S.-China trade spat. With discussions between Washington and Beijing at a standstill, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is headed south to meet with U.S. officials in a bid to end tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. Both Canada and Mexico are threatening to refuse to ratify the revamped North American free-trade agreement until the tariffs end. (for subscribers)

Here’s Lawrence Martin’s view on the state of U.S. relations: “With his foreign-policy failures piling up, and with his support level below what he needs to win the election next year, Trump may decide he needs a sharp change of course. As his hawks are surely telling him, a surefire way of diverting attention from other perils and of jacking up support numbers is to go to war.” (for subscribers)

MPs unanimously passed a motion apologizing to Mark Norman

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left the House of Commons before the vote, with his office saying he had to fly to Hamilton. Tory deputy leader Lisa Raitt proposed the motion to apologize and “express regret for the personal and professional hardships” the vice-admiral endured during his legal conflict, which came to an end last week when the charge against him was dropped.

Alabama’s Senate has passed a bill banning nearly all abortions

That leaves the final decision to the state’s Governor, a strong opponent of abortion. Governors in four U.S. states have signed bills this year banning abortion if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected. But the Alabama bill goes further: It bans abortions at any time and says those who perform abortions could face anywhere from 10 to 99 years in prison. Alabama’s legislation is certain to face legal challenges.

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Supreme Court Justice Clément Gascon says his disappearance last week was the result of a panic attack

Gascon said he was affected by his “difficult and heart-rending” decision last month to retire this summer as well as a change in medication. “For over twenty years, I have been dealing with a sometimes insidious illness: depression and anxiety disorders. This is an illness that can be treated and controlled, some days better than others,” he wrote.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Vancouver drivers can expect already high gas prices to jump even higher ahead of the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend. A big reason for the growing gap between gas prices in the Lower Mainland and other places in Canada is tight supply, according to a new report from the National Energy Board.

NBA playoffs: The Raptors will be looking to carry forward the momentum of Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beating bucket when they kick off their series against the Milwaukee Bucks on the road tonight (8:30 p.m. ET). Just getting on the Raptors bandwagon? We’ve got you covered.

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And while the Toronto-Milwaukee series will be widely broadcast in Turkey, the same can’t be said for the Western Conference finals. Turkish-born Enes Kanter, who plays on the Portland Trail Blazers, is an outspoken critic of the Erdogan government and has been accused of having terrorist links – a charge he denies.

Global stocks bounce fades on grim China data, Italy woes

A global equity bounce stemming from softer rhetoric by U.S. President Donald Trump on the trade dispute with Beijing waned on Wednesday as grim China data and fresh Italian debt woes cast a shadow over global markets. Around 5:20 a.m., Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.28 per cent while Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC were down 0.14 per cent and 0.34 per cent, respectively. Japan’s Nikkei finished up 0.6 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5 per cent. On Wall Street, futures pointed to a weak start to the trading day.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

A big earthquake near Vancouver is almost inevitable. Are we ready?

Globe editorial: “Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that “people should feel confident” about the city’s readiness. They should – to an extent. But Vancouver and the entire West Coast are not as ready as they could be. Depending on how big an earthquake eventually hits, and where, that lack of readiness could be costly. If, for example, a magnitude 7.3 quake hits close to Vancouver, the provincial emergency-response plan forecasts as many as 10,000 dead and more than 100,000 injured.”

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How Canada helps advance global corruption

James Cohen: “Canada tries to portray itself as a good neighbour on the world stage: We like to talk about ethical and values-based practices in our global conduct, including signing on to global anti-corruption initiatives. … [But] in recent months, Canadians have been exposed to explanations of how dismal our track record is in tackling companies committing corruption abroad and in preventing dirty money from landing in Canada.” James Cohen is the executive director of Transparency International Canada.

Look at all the lonely people: A lack of connection is a public-health problem

Aya Mahder-Bashi and Rachel Savage: “While loneliness may seem an unlikely candidate to top political agendas, news headlines around the world have started to warn of its dangers and call for action. A 2015 report in the peer-reviewed academic journal Perspectives on Psychological Science found that loneliness is as harmful to our health and longevity as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even more dangerous than obesity.” Aya Mahder-Bashi is a practicum student at Women’s College Research Institute. Dr. Rachel Savage is a post-doctoral fellow at Women’s College Research Institute.

TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

(David Parkins/The Globe and Mail)

The Globe and Mail

LIVING BETTER

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Why Rick Steves wants you to see travel as a political act

Since 1976, Steves has been encouraging people to travel through tours, shows and columns. Here’s why he recently put out an updated version of his 2009 book, Travel as a Political Act: “after Trump got elected, things really changed. You got Brexit, you got Erdogan, you got Viktor Orban, you got Trump and you got a new dynamic in Central America. People ask me ‘Should I go to England? Is it okay?’ Americans just never get a grip on what is the real risk of things. Americans are so fragile from their world view because they haven’t travelled.” (for subscribers)

MOMENT IN TIME

First pair of nylon stockings sold

(Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

May 15, 1940: When the first pair of nylon stockings hit the market, the response from consumers was immediate. Over the course of four days, four million pairs were sold. It had been a long time coming: As hemlines rose through the 1920s and ’30s, stockings became wardrobe staples for women. But those early pairs, made from silk or rayon, were fragile and prone to runs. So, when nylon was first developed by DuPont, an American chemical company, it only made sense to introduce it to the world, at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, in the form of a pair of stockings. Made from a fully synthetic fibre, they were cheap, durable and sheer compared with previous versions. Production took a hit, however, during the Second World War when it was largely diverted toward the war effort. The material was famously used to the replace silk in parachutes and for creating ropes and netting, earning it the title of the “fibre that won the war.” (The shortage forced women to turn to the black market for the stockings, with some crafty entrepreneurs rerouting their shipments of the raw material.) At the end of the war, nylon stockings made a fierce comeback, and have been delicately covering legs ever since. – Danielle Edwards

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If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

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