These are the top stories:
‘A shot in the dark’: Son recounts mother’s harrowing escape from Iran to Vancouver
The sons of Maryam Mombeini are speaking publicly for the first time about their mother’s “shot in the dark” escape from Iran last month. Ramin and Mehran Seyed-Emami relate how they and their mother tried to flee Iran in March, 2018, after their father mysteriously died in a Tehran prison. At the airport, they were allowed to board, but their mother was not. Ms. Mombeini, who is now 57, is a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen. Iranian officials repeatedly renewed a travel ban against her, preventing her from leaving for 582 days. But then something changed, prompting her sons to devise a risky plan to get her out of the country. And to everyone’s surprise, it worked.
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Ian Williams wins Giller Prize for debut novel
Ian Williams was honoured at a glittering Toronto gala Monday night for his debut novel, Reproduction, which is the story of three generations of family in Williams’s hometown of Brampton, Ont. He choked back tears as he took to the stage and in his acceptance speech singled out a special member of the audience. “I’ve got notes here for people I need to thank, but maybe I’ll just start with my heart first,” Williams said. “Margaret Atwood over there is the first book I bought with my own money at a bookstore in Brampton.”
Jury members praised the Vancouver-based writer for his “masterful unfolding of unexpected connections and collisions between and across lives otherwise separated by race, class, gender and geography.” The prize comes with an award of $100,000.
Ontario considers vaping flavour ban
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government is considering a ban on flavoured vaping products, but the issue is still up for debate, because many adults who use e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking enjoy the flavours. Ms. Elliott said she’s “very concerned” about the rapid increase in youth vaping rates and that the government is looking at new ways to rein in the problem. “We are still undergoing consultations. We are looking at a number of different options,” she said on Monday. Provincial governments are under growing pressure to bring in new restrictions on the e-cigarette market in the absence of action from the federal government.
Opinion: A dual challenge: Preventing teen vaping and encouraging adult harm-reduction (André Picard)
Alberta terminates election commissioner’s contract
Alberta’s United Conservative Party government is terminating the contract of the province’s election commissioner, who has spent much of the past year investigating the party’s 2017 leadership race, including allegations that involve Premier Jason Kenney. Lorne Gibson, who became the province’s first election commissioner when he was appointed last year, has handed out more than $200,000 in fines in a case that has become known as the “kamikaze candidate.” The government insists the termination is little more than an administrative change, as the position of election commissioner is moved to Elections Alberta, which handled investigations until last year, rather than remaining in a standalone agency. The chief electoral officer could rehire Mr. Gibson, although there is no timeline for filling the position and no requirement to continue any investigation.
Dresden declares a ‘Nazi emergency’ amid rise of the far-right in Germany
Amid the festive celebrations this month marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city of Dresden in eastern Germany has delivered a jolting reminder of a much darker period in the country’s past, writes Mark MacKinnon. Days before commemoration of the country’s 1989 reunification began, municipal council declared a “Nazi emergency” in the city. Dresden, which in recent years has become synonymous with the resurgence of Germany’s far right, is the birthplace of Pegida, an Islamophobic movement that has spawned branches in several Western countries, including Canada.
Who’s testifying at the impeachment hearings today
Public hearings into the impeachment probe of U.S. President Donald Trump resume today with the appearance of Jennifer Williams, a foreign-policy aide to Vice-President Mike Pence. In earlier, closed-door testimony, Williams said some of Trump’s comments on a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last summer were “inappropriate.” Also appearing are Kurt Volker, a former U.S. special representative for Ukraine, Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs at the National Security Council, and Timothy Morrison, former National Security Council senior adviser on Russia and Europe.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
U.S. softens position on Israeli settlements in West Bank: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repudiated a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”
Weather Network forecasts a long, cold, snowy winter: B.C. will see temperatures slightly above normal, but the Prairies will be in a deep freeze, and from southern Ontario to southern Quebec, people can prepare for a winter that’s colder than usual and has much more precipitation than normal.
Hong Kong University campus still under siege: About 100 protesters were still inside the sealed-off Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus on Tuesday morning, and Hong Kong’s new police chief called for the support of all citizens to end the social unrest that has disrupted the city for more than five months. Meanwhile, China’s top legislature, commenting on a ruling that said a proposed ban on face masks worn by protesters was unlawful, said Hong Kong courts had no power to rule on the constitutionality of the city’s legislation, according to state media outlet Xinhua.
Nova Scotia fatality inquiry involving Afghan war vet delayed: A long-awaited provincial fatality inquiry into a triple murder-suicide involving Afghan war veteran Lionel Desmond, which was set to begin on Monday, is being delayed because one of the families involved has retained a new lawyer. The inquiry, now set to begin in late January, will examine the circumstances that may have contributed to the deaths. Mr. Desmond killed his wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and Mr. Desmond’s mother, Brenda, before taking his own life.
‘Not a drop of sweat came off him’: A Pizza Express restaurant in the London suburb of Woking has gained international fame thanks to Prince Andrew’s insistence that he was at the restaurant on the night he is accused of sleeping with an underage girl. When asked how he can recall a specific night 17 years ago, he replied: “Because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do. I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly. As soon as somebody reminded me of it, I went, ‘Oh yes, I remember that.’” As a result, a host of cheeky online reviews began flooding Twitter.
World shares push to 22-month high as trade hopes endure: World shares touched their highest in nearly two years on Tuesday as investors maintained bets that the United States and China can reach a deal to end their damaging trade war. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost out, shedding 0.5 per cent, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.6 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 0.9 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.5 and 1.2 per cent by about 5:30 a.m. ET. New York futures were up. The Canadian dollar was above 75.5 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
We should thank Prince Andrew for his disastrous BBC interview
Elizabeth Renzetti: “Prince Andrew’s interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis is widely being described as a disaster, but it was not that at all. Quite the opposite: It was a Christmas miracle come early for the way it exposed how power clings to its own and disdains anyone it considers unworthy.”
The fix to Wexit runs through the Arctic
Irvin Studin: “To look West, Canada must first look North. Paradoxical though it may seem, the most comprehensive, sustainable response to the growing anger and alienation of Alberta, Saskatchewan and other parts of the Canadian West consists not in a pipeline or a recalibration of our equalization arrangements.”
Hache on Netflix: A heady concoction from another cultural universe
John Doyle: “Every now and then, a gloriously odd, provocative and compelling series turns up on Netflix, offering something with potency, just that far outside the usual, that you watch in mild but acute amazement that such TV content exists. Hache (now streaming on Netflix Canada) is one of those.”
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
New parenting study sheds light on ‘boys don’t cry’ stereotype
A new study in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph suggests that moms, not dads, may be the ones who want their sons to toughen up in moments of sadness. Dave McGinn reports the study is a reminder of how gender stereotypes may influence thinking, but its results may not reflect how parents actually respond to their own children in real-world situations.
Almost 600 parents from Canada and the United States participated in the study. While fathers generally showed no gender bias when it came to displaying sadness or anger, the study found that mothers favoured girls crying over boys crying and had a similar bias when it came to anger.
MOMENT IN TIME
First winner of Who Wants to be a Millionaire
Nov. 19, 1999: For a while, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was a cultural phenomenon and inescapable. Launched on ABC in August, 1999, and based on a British quiz show, interest reached an apex on Nov. 19, when a contestant actually won the million-dollar prize. For years, John Carpenter, by profession an Internal Revenue Service agent, was the single biggest winner in game-show history. The show’s intensity was its drawing card, especially the “lifelines” offered to contestants. “Phone a friend” was the one that captured the public imagination. ABC, then in the doldrums as a network, milked the show’s popularity, eventually airing it in prime time three nights a week. Interest faded after Carpenter won and it became clear few could match his success. Nobody did. The show continues as a daytime staple in the United States and Britain. As for Carpenter, he did talk shows and went back to his day job. One of his most memorable appearances was on Saturday Night Live, where it was jokingly proposed that he’d be a running mate for Donald Trump, if Mr. Trump ever wanted to run for the presidency. John Doyle