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Canada Morning Update newsletter: The push for a swift NAFTA deal; Pride’s message to Toronto police

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

The White House is pushing for a swift NAFTA deal while Trump threatens to kill it

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U.S. officials are reportedly pushing for a deal on a revised North American free-trade agreement to be reached by mid-April, a timeline Canadian officials say is ambitious but possible. But over the weekend, President Donald Trump once again tweeted out a threat to kill the agreement. And these negotiations are taking place under increased trade tensions between the U.S. and China, after Beijing retaliated to tariffs on steel and aluminum with levies of its own on American products. And on North American soil, Ontario punched back at New York State’s Buy American provisions with regulation that effectively mirrors the U.S. state’s legislation. Fears of a global trade war played a role in hammering stocks on Wall Street yesterday.

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A Quebec town’s street-name change is forcing a confrontation with history

The name of Sir John Colborne is set to be removed from a street and park in Chambly, a town near Montreal. The British military officer played a role in suppressing a French-Canadian rebellion 180 years ago. And while he’s regarded by historians as an able commander, he’s remembered much differently in Quebec. Chambly’s mayor has said having his name on signage is like having a street named for Hitler in Israel, according to a local media report. But the local historical society says this is an attempt to whitewash the past. Chambly, noted the society’s president, is named for a French army officer who was sent to Quebec to exterminate the Iroquois.

Canada has offered to resettle nearly 2,000 African asylum seekers from Israel

Federal officials say the deal is still on the table despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s quick turn-about on a United Nations agreement to relocate thousands more to Western countries. The Canadian offer, which was pitched independently by Ottawa, came two months ago after Israel said it planned to deport African migrants to third-party countries in Africa. After that expulsion plan was met with legal obstacles, Israel worked out a deal with the UN to relocate 16,250 of about 39,000 people from Eritrea and Sudan. But hours after Netanyahu announced the deal, he said he was freezing it because of backlash from Israelis upset that 18,000 migrants would stay in the country temporarily.

Meanwhile, Israel’s military has rejected fresh allegations that its army used excessive force against unarmed Palestinians during Gaza protests that left 18 dead. Netanyahu’s government has defended the army’s actions, with the defence minister saying “our troops deserve a medal.” Here’s Doug Saunders’s take on the Gaza violence: “By removing the promise of a Jerusalem capital from its scanty collection of bargaining chips, Washington no longer appears to have much leverage to bring Netanyahu to compromise with the Palestinians – and his response on the weekend made that abundantly clear.”

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Pride Toronto doesn’t want Toronto police marching in this year’s parade

Pride issued a statement calling on the Toronto police to withdraw its application to march over the force’s handling of missing-persons cases from the city’s Gay Village, many of which have since been linked to alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur. Pride said the LGBTQ community’s concerns were dismissed by officers who already had a strained relationship with marginalized people. This isn’t the first time Pride has been at odds with the Toronto police: In 2016, Black Lives Matter interrupted the parade with demands that included an end to uniformed police participation.

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Anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died at age 81

South Africans responded to her death with an outpouring of emotion and the announcement of a state funeral. But Madikizela-Mandela was no stranger to controversy: In a speech during the final years of apartheid she advocated for the killing of suspected apartheid informers by placing burning tires around their necks. Her political views were much more radical than Nelson Mandela’s, her husband of 38 years. Globally her reputation suffered over the years, with Canada denying her an entry visa when she tried to visit. But at home, her rhetoric has become more mainstream among many South Africans frustrated by inequality.

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Wall Street eyes rebound

World markets battled to regain their poise on Tuesday after another round of tech and trade war worries had clobbered shares and oil prices tumbled on signs of rising Russian supply and Saudi price cuts. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.5 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.8 per cent, though Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.2 per cent. In Europe, where markets were closed Monday, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.5 and 1.1 per cent by about 6:30 a.m. ET. New York futures were up, though. The Canadian dollar was at 77.74 US cents.


How intolerant are Canadians, really?

“We should take racism seriously. We should also be able to distinguish between an occasional racist or sexist outburst and the type of overt discrimination that is truly harmful. We should also think carefully about how to tackle the challenges posed by our remarkable diversity. Should we split each other into a bunch of identity groups squabbling over the spoils? Or should we stress our common values and do our best to make sure that everybody has a fair shot? Must we claim, as lots of people do, that Canada is rotten with every kind of “ism” and phobia? Or can we acknowledge that we really are a pretty fair and just society that’s trying to do better? Maybe I’m prejudiced. But I believe the way forward should be rooted in pride and confidence, not accusations and shame.” – Margaret Wente

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A sham election keeps al-Sisi in power in Egypt

“Another dictatorship, another bogus election. In mid-March, it was Vladimir Putin rigging the Russian vote in order to secure his re-election as president. Last week it was the turn of Egypt, where President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was re-elected with 97 per cent of the vote. … The sole concern of Mr. al-Sisi and Mr. Putin was avoiding a low turnout. Russians and Egyptians were offered money and prizes if they voted – a blatant effort to add a veneer of respectability to a predetermined outcome. It’s a thin veneer. Mr. Putin, Mr. al-Sisi and strongmen like them crave the legitimacy that falls to the leader who lets democracy run its course uncorrupted, but they lack the courage or support to let that happen. Elections like theirs are a sham. They may hold power, but they will never know democratic legitimacy.” – Globe editorial

What should and shouldn’t be covered by medicare?

“The inconsistent coverage of mental health care (and psychological services in particular), home care and prescription drugs has been the subject of much debate, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. If we are going to have a semblance of a national health system across 13 provinces and territories – without forgetting the large federal health system – it’s important to have equitable (not equal) access for all Canadians. Yet, the variations in coverage between jurisdictions have never been more pronounced. Having a transparent way of determining what is covered by medicare is also increasingly urgent, especially with the influx of costly but unproven drugs and treatments like gene editing.” – André Picard


Why our insatiable appetite for wellness isn’t helping in the long run

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We live in a culture obsessed with wellness, which has turned into a US$3.72-trillion industry. The problem, though, is that while most of the products and services on offer won’t harm you, they may not do much to help you either. A new book titled Wellmania: Extreme Misadventures in the Search for Wellness explores the pitfalls of everything from detox to psychotherapy and Ayurvedic retreats. As author Brigid Delaney put it: “Many of these things aren’t realistic. They cost thousands of dollars and innumerable hours that most people don’t have. We have lives. We have jobs. We have families. We have obligations.”


TV Guide starts publishing in the U.S.

April 3, 1953: Television in the 1940s was an era of excitement and chaos. The medium was growing exponentially – new shows, new stars, new networks – far faster than the casual viewer could keep up. Want to know if Our Miss Brooks is on? Tough luck, pal, check your TV every night. A huge gap in the marketplace existed, and on April 3, 1953, one publication arrived to fill it. The first issue of TV Guide even contained a scoop: the first photo of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s baby. More important, its listings allowed people to plan their TV watching in advance, all in one handy, digest-sized publication. The weekly magazine was an immediate hit. The circulation peaked at 20 million by 1970, and in 1977 a Canadian version was launched. Eventually, with the rise of the internet in the 1990s, readers could find TV listings everywhere – and at no cost. It was the beginning of the end for TV Guide Canada, which stopped printing in 2006. The U.S. magazine, however, continues to limp along. But when TV shows are available online at any time, there’s no longer a risk of missing your favourite. It may be time to pull the plug. – Ken Carriere

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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