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The death of an Indigenous teen and the state of Canada’s child welfare system

Devon Freeman’s death by suicide at 16 years old is a “horrifying” national tragedy symbolic of the “staggering level of negligence that children that end up in the system face,” NDP Indigenous youth critic Charlie Angus says.

Angus put forward a motion in the House of Commons that passed unanimously calling on the federal government to comply with a human-rights tribunal ruling ordering compensation for discriminatory practices against First Nations children.

The Trudeau government is in Federal Court fighting the tribunal ruling but says it shares the same goal of adequate compensation for those children.

Freeman went missing in October, 2017. But the body of the teen from the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation wasn’t found for nearly seven months, no more than 35 metres from his group home, lawyers and his grandmother say. His community is urging the Ontario Coroner’s Office to call an inquest into his death.

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Alberta will force 26,000 patients to switch to cheaper medications

Those on government-sponsored drug plans will be required to switch from expensive drugs known as biologics to near-copies of the medications. The move, which will take effect by next summer, is expected to save the province up to $380-million over the next four years.

Alberta will join B.C. as the only two provinces to stop covering some of the brand-name biologics that have contributed to increases in prescription-drug spending across Canada.

The Alberta measures will limit those with rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease who are starting biologics for the first time. Health Canada has said biosimilars are as safe and effective as the originals, but some groups have expressed concerns.

Canada’s new Environment Minister faces a big decision on the future of the oil sands

Jonathan Wilkinson is making his global debut as Environment and Climate Change Minister at a conference in Madrid this week. A key goal of COP25 is to create a global emissions-trading market and put a price on carbon. Progress has been limited.

But he faces an even bigger challenge at home, where he’ll have to decide by the end of February whether to approve a major Teck Resources oil sands project or refer it to the wider Liberal cabinet. Either way, Eric Reguly says, “it will be a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t moment that will be instrumental in defining the federal government’s carbon-reduction trajectory and its relationship with Alberta.”

In other climate news, New Brunswick has struck a deal with Ottawa on a carbon tax. The province had initially fought the national carbon-pricing plan but switched gears after the federal election. Still, New Brunswick will cut its provincial gas tax as a way to blunt the impact on consumers.

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Canada looks to support Myanmar genocide case: Canada and the Netherlands will work together and could consider intervening directly in the genocide case, Ottawa’s special envoy to Myanmar Bob Rae said. The two countries have emerged as the biggest international backers of the case over the mistreatment of Rohingya Muslims.

Squamish development gets approval: Members of the First Nation overwhelmingly voted in favour of the 11-tower, 6,000-unit Senakw project on Vancouver’s central-city waterfront. “This is designed to be a cash-flow stream for multiple generations,” Squamish’s CEO Toby Baker said.

Opposition parties criticize new NAFTA: The Bloc, Tories and NDP all took aim at the Trudeau government for the latest version of the trade pact that they say doesn’t sufficiently protect Canada’s aluminum sector. He’ll need the support of at least one of those parties to pass the deal in a House of Commons vote.

Weinstein reaches tentative deal with accusers: Harvey Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film studio have received preliminary approval on a settlement that would pay out $25-million to dozens who have alleged sexual harassment, rape and misconduct. The terms wouldn’t see Weinstein admit wrongdoing or pay anything himself.

China imprisoned 48 journalists in 2019: That’s more than 47 in Turkey and 26 each in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. China’s crackdown in Xinjiang led to dozens of arrests, the report said. At least 250 journalists were jailed worldwide this year.


Stocks test record highs, pound braces for British election: World shares took a fresh run at record highs on Thursday, as all the right messages from the U.S. Federal Reserve set traders up nicely for a packed day of milestone central bank meetings and a Brexit-defining election in Britain. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.4 and 0.6 per cent by about 5 a.m. ET. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.1 per cent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.3 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.3 per cent. New York futures were up. The Canadian dollar was just shy of 76 US cents.


Democrats risk it all on a wobbly impeachment strategy

Konrad Yakabuski: “Let us pray that the Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who last week insisted that she always prays for the man her party wants to remove from office, knows what she is doing by risking the 2020 election on an impeachment strategy that could backfire badly.”

Peloton’s controversial television ad didn’t have the negative effect everyone thinks

David Goldreich: “Social media exploded last week over a television commercial for Peloton exercise bicycles. ... The most wildly off-base narrative, picked up in headlines around the world, was that Peloton’s market value dropped by US$1.5-billion because of the controversy.” David Goldreich is a professor of finance at the University of Toronto.


(Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


The streaming service you’re missing – cerebral, eclectic and fun

Critic John Doyle says under-the-radar Acorn TV offers a nice alternative to the offerings from Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Disney. “Acorn relies a lot on British content, but not exclusively,” he writes. “You want Scandinavian noir with subtitles? It’s there. A hammy comedy from Australia that seems to be a familiar format, but isn’t? That too.”


Frank Sinatra is born

A 1949 portrait of Sinatra. (Keystone/Getty Images)Keystone/Keystone/Getty Images

Dec. 12, 1915: Francis Albert Sinatra did not come into this world easily but, as he would later sing, that’s life. He was born to Sicilian immigrants in the kitchen of their apartment in Hoboken, N.J. He weighed 13 pounds and had to be delivered with forceps, a procedure that caused scarring to his neck, cheek and ear. Thought to be stillborn, he was placed on the counter and the doctor looked after his mother. After Sinatra’s grandmother ran him under cold water and slapped his back, he finally started breathing. Because of the difficult birth, Francis’s baptism was delayed for several months. When the ceremony finally happened, he was supposed to be named after his father, Martin. But the priest mistakenly named him after his godfather, Frank. His parents decided to go with it. The nickname, Old Blue Eyes, came later. The perforated ear drum he suffered at birth caused him no trouble when it came to carrying a tune. Sinatra became not only one of the most popular singers of his time but of all time. His birth was out of his control but from that moment on he did it his way. – Dave McGinn

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