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Canada Morning Update: Canadian officials battle Trump on trade; Ottawa rebuffs Senate on cannabis bill

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Canadian officials rally U.S. politicians, businesses to battle Trump on trade

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The Canadian government is leading a multi-pronged effort to enlist U.S. politicians and businesses in a fight against punitive import taxes that U.S. President Donald Trump has slapped on steel and aluminum from Canada. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will meet with the U.S. foreign affairs committee this week, while Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay will host U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in Prince Edward Island. Other ministers have scheduled meetings with their American counterparts as well, or have planned meetings with state governments to warn of the damage that could be caused by the tariffs. The effort to persuade the United States to relent comes even as Mr. Trump threatened on Tuesday to escalate the burgeoning trade war. (Subscribers)

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Ottawa sets up showdown with Senate over amendments to cannabis bill

The federal government intends to reject some of the Senate’s major amendments to the legislation that will legalize cannabis. Among the rejected amendments is a measure that would have allowed provinces to prohibit the home cultivation of up to four plants of the drug, as well as a measure that would have prevented cannabis producers and retailers from using promotional material such as T-shirts and hats. By rejecting the amendments, the government is planning to use its majority in the House to send the legislation back to the Senate for final approval. (Subscribers)

Top public servant challenges Auditor-General’s report on Phoenix pay system

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick challenged a recent report issued by Auditor-General Michael Ferguson calling Phoenix, the public-service pay system, an “incomprehensible failure.” Ferguson attributed the problems with the system, which has failed to pay tens of thousands of federal public servants properly for more than two years, to “pervasive cultural problems” in the federal civil service. Wernick, however, called Ferguson’s report an “opinion piece,” arguing it contains sweeping generalizations without evidence. Implementing and fixing the ailing pay system has cost Canadian taxpayers more than $1-billion to date.

David Hutton, a senior fellow at the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University, argues that the disaster was predictable - and preventable.

The Globe takes home the Michener Award for its Unfounded investigation

The Globe and Mail won the 2017 Michener Award for its investigation into the systematic mismanagement of sexual assault cases by Canadian police forces. Robyn Doolittle’s 20-month-long investigation gathered data from more than 870 police jurisdictions that exposed deep flaws at every step of the process. The project showed that sexual-assault complaints are twice as likely to be dismissed as unfounded than complaints in other assault cases, and spurred law-enforcement agencies to review more than 37,000 cases.

The Globe was also nominated for Easy Money, an investigation into financial regulators across the country, as well as Tainted, a series that exposed how federally licensed medical marijuana was tainted with pesticides.

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Two officers are facing misconduct charges over the case of Tess Richey

Toronto Police officers Michael Jones and Alan McCullough are each facing one count of insubordination and one count of neglect of duty, according to details in a notice of disciplinary hearing today. Tess Richey went missing in the Gay Village last fall; her body was discovered in a stairwell 40 metres from the spot where the two officers had been dispatched, the notice said. Investigators say Ms. Richey was strangled to death.


Markets await Fed decision

European stocks drifted with U.S. equity futures and Asian shares slipped as markets largely entered a holding pattern ahead of the Federal Reserve rate decision. The U.S. central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates and investors will be watching for signs of further moves. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.16 per cent just before 5:30 a.m. ET. France’s CAC 40 rose 0.27 per cent and Germany’s DAX was up 0.16 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished up 0.38 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended down 1.22 per cent. Ahead of the North American open, Brent crude was trading at US$75.55 while West Texas Intermediate was at US$66.19. The Canadian dollar was lower at 76.71 US cents.


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Canada can do more to cut back on plastics

“The G7 agreement has shortcomings – it’s non-binding, and the United States and Japan didn’t sign it – but it is still a positive step. More can be done, though. In Canada, recycling and waste policy are typically questions of ad hoc arrangements between provinces and cities. It would help if Ottawa took a leadership role in establishing a national regime that put some of the onus for recovering recyclable materials on businesses that make, package and sell goods involving plastic.” -Globe editorial

Fifteen years after equal marriage - many successes, but much more work to be done

“Equal marriage did not resolve all legal issues for our LGBTQ communities. Transgender people, including Indigenous trans people and trans people of colour, experience violence at rates grossly disproportionate to their numbers. Trans people still face barriers in accessing proper identity papers, services such as health care, and even safe washrooms. Recent federal legislation may represent a step forward. But there is a long way to go, including within the provincially run bureaucracies.” -Robert Leckey, Dean of the Faculty of Law at McGill University

This Father’s Day, it’s time to rethink the daddy-daughter relationship

“Instead of being petrified by their daughters’ inevitable dating years, instead of mortifying them with talk of roughing up guys who show up at the front door, fathers such as West should invest more energy into the everyday of their daughters’ lives. When it’s time, the conversation ought to focus on what good relationships look like, not ridiculous karate chops and modest robes.” -Zosia Bielski

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Five Father’s Day finds for the modern dad

Father’s Day is less than a week away. If you have yet to buy him a gift, Jeffrey Remedios - founder of the Canadian record label Arts & Crafts - has some advice. From books to musical selections, Remedios offers the best places to buy the best presents for Dad.


40th anniversary of Grease

Kids, if you want people to like you, don’t be yourself. No, getting others to embrace you means doing as they do: smoking, drinking, wearing tight satin pants – maybe even getting a kooky beauty-school dropout to give you a perm. At least that was the message of Grease, a musical comedy set in the 1950s and starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. Newton-John was already a pop star (and almost 30) when the film premiered, starring as high-school senior and all-round good girl Sandy opposite Travolta’s thoroughly insecure bad-boy Danny. Travolta was the star of the absurdly popular TV series Welcome Back, Kotter. And the year before, with his hair and his white suit, he had starred in a little movie called Saturday Night Fever. But unlike that film, with its throbbing disco soundtrack, Greasewas an old-fashioned musical, with songs such as the Oscar-nominated Hopelessly Devoted to You and the crazy-fun Greased Lightnin’. Made on a budget of just US$6-million, the movie would go on to make almost US$400-million and, like a great hair gel, cement Travolta’s reputation as one of the most bankable stars in the world. -Massimo Commanducci

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