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Canada Morning Update: Canadians detained in China formally arrested; Conrad Black pardoned

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Two Canadians detained in China, Michael Spavor, Michael Kovrig, formally arrested

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The Chinese government has formally arrested two Canadians who were accused of violating Chinese national security and held incommunicado for months, without access to family or lawyers.

Both men have been accused of espionage-related offences, but it is not clear whether they have been formally indicted. Both were detained days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver. The two men are now being held in a formal detention centre, which is more akin to a jail. They were being held in residential surveillance, where they were interrogated up to eight hours a day and held in rooms with 24-hour lighting.

Trump signs full pardon for former media mogul Conrad Black

Trump granted a full pardon for Conrad Black. In a White House statement Wednesday evening, Trump cited Black’s former ownership of The Telegraph newspaper and biographies of past U.S. presidents that made him worthy of a pardon. Black was convicted in 2007 of fraud and obstruction of justice for misappropriation of funds at newspaper giant Hollinger International Inc. Black, a Canadian-born British citizen who is 74, served 3½ years in federal prison.

Canada says it won’t be pushed to ban Huawei after Trump signs executive order

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday declaring a national emergency and giving the government the authority to ban U.S. companies from doing business with foreign telecommunications suppliers that pose a security threat.

While the order doesn’t single out China or Huawei, it gives the U.S. commerce secretary the authority to bar specific companies in the interest of national security.

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Despite Trump’s order, The Trudeau government signalled Wednesday that it won’t be rushed into making a decision on whether to ban Huawei from the next generation of wireless networks in Canada. (for subscribers)

Canada, U.S. nearing agreement to lift steel and aluminum tariffs, cease trade war

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks to the press in front of the US Capitol after talks with U.S. officials and lawmakers in Washington DC, on May 15, 2019.


Canada is closing in on an agreement with the Trump administration to lift American steel and aluminum tariffs and end the countries’ nearly year-old trade war. Mexico, for its part, has almost reached an accord with Washington to end the levies – but opted to pause so Ottawa could have a chance to work something out with the United States. (for subscribers)

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met Wednesday in Washington with Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s trade chief, amid accelerating talks to end the tariffs, and left saying, “It was a good meeting."

Campbell Clark writes that Trudeau will play the latest twists in the U.S. tariff tale: “Trudeau’s government is now close to what it really wants – a deal to lift those tariffs. That would bring a sigh of relief from the industries and nervous workers. It would allow him to claim that he beat back Trump administration tariffs to protect jobs. It’s a gift from Mexico he can take into an election campaign.” (for subscribers)

Minxin Pei writes that Trump’s trade war with China is starting to feel like a race war: “Sooner or later, the Trump administration will realize that it actually needs the support of its allies to prevail against the Chinese. When that day comes, it would do well to abandon talk of civilizational conflict and racial rivalry, and instead offer a morally justifiable case for confronting China.”

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Ontario’s top court rules religious doctors must offer patients an ‘effective referral’ for assisted dying, abortion

In a unanimous decision, Ontario’s top court ruled that doctors who object on moral grounds to providing health-care services such as assisted dying, abortion and birth control must offer their patients an “effective referral” to another doctor. The Court of Appeal for Ontario is now the highest court in the country to rule on how the conscience rights of doctors should be balanced against the rights of patients to access publicly funded health services.

Restaurant Brands adjusts strategy for Tim Hortons in United States

The coffee-and-doughnut chain has tried for years to build a thriving business in the U.S., but the company’s president said in an interview it needs to find a new business model to succeed in that market. A strategy that includes smaller restaurants and different menu items. (for subscribers)

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NBA playoffs: The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Toronto Raptors 108-100 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday night in Milwaukee. Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is Friday night.

B.C. announces public inquiry into money laundering: The inquiry, which B.C. announced Wednesday, will examine how money laundering has corroded the provincial economy, inflated the housing market and contributed to the deadly opioid crisis.

Canadian pharma companies hit with proposed class-action lawsuit: A Toronto law firm is suing more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies, seeking more than $1.1-billion in damages. It is accusing them of manufacturing an opioid epidemic that has killed thousands of Canadians and of reaping “obscene” profits through a “false and deceptive” marketing campaign.

U.S. sanctions on Huawei send stocks reeling; yields fall

European stocks fell, government bond yields slipped and the Japanese yen firmed on Thursday after the U.S. government hit Chinese telecoms giant Huawei with severe sanctions, further straining Sino-U.S. trade ties. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.6 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched up marginally and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.6 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.1 and 0.3 per cent by about 4:45 a.m. ET. New York futures were down. The Canadian dollar was at about 74.5 US cents.

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Parenting brings out our most sexist selves

Darcy Lockman: “Men do a lot more than they used to in the home. Their involvement with their children rose as mothers’ labour-force participation increased through the recent decades of the 20th century. But the percentage of child care performed by fathers hit its peak and levelled off around the turn of the millennium without ever reaching parity.”

Hearings into Quebec’s religious-symbols bill have gone exactly as François Legault’s CAQ planned

Konrad Yakabuski: “By giving so much airtime to those who hold extreme opinions – former Liberal senator Céline Hervieux-Payette warned that “behind” the Islamic veil lay genital mutilation and forced marriages, while several intervenors called on the government to extend the religious-symbols ban to all state employees – the hearings aimed to ensure that the Coalition Avenir Québec’s Bill 21 came out looking like a reasonable compromise. For Mr. Jolin-Barrette and his boss, Premier François Legault, it was mission accomplished.” (for subscribers)

Canada continues to fail people with mental illnesses

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Globe editorial: “If someone at the top of Canadian society in terms of education, income and access to health care struggles with an “insidious illness,” as Justice Gascon put it, what does that say about the plight of the average person?”


By David Parkins

David Parkins /The Globe and Mail


How to elevate your morning coffee with the perfect mug

Even the most casual wine drinker would think twice about pouring pinot noir into a champagne flute, but many coffee and tea lovers slurp their morning brew out of poorly designed promo mugs. Experts agree there is such a thing as a wrong cup and it can make your hot drink less enjoyable. Alex McClintock sets out to find the best drinking vessels for your morning coffee or tea. (for subscribers)


Joan of Arc canonized

Louvre, Paris, France / Bridgeman Images

May 16, 1920: Sunday mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on May 16, 1920, was of particular importance. On that day, French heroine Joan of Arc was canonized, almost 500 years after her death. In the early 1400s, Joan was a peasant girl in France, who famously said she saw religious visions that urged her to lead France to victory against the English in the Hundred Years’ War. She managed to gain audience with King Charles VII, walking into the meeting as a poor girl and walking out as a soldier. She went with troops to the besieged city of Orléans and helped to end the months-long siege in nine days. The English eventually captured Joan and tried her for heresy and witchcraft, forcing her to sign a document renouncing her visions and promising to stop wearing soldiers’ clothing. She did, for a few days, until she donned the male attire once more. It cost her her life. She was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431, at 19. But 25 years later, her case was reopened by the Catholic Church and she was exonerated of all charges. Her story has since been told countless times in everything from film to music, solidifying her place in history as a feminist icon. - Danielle Edwards

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