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The Global Security Reporting Program, a unit within the department of Global Affairs that collects intelligence on security in countries such as China, needs the same legislative oversight as Canada’s other national security agencies, intelligence experts say.

Phil Gurski, a former senior strategic analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said GSRP diplomats have put the lives of people at risk in dangerous parts of the world, calling the unit a “very amateurish way of foreign affairs trying to create a mini-spy agency within the department.”

The Globe and Mail has reported that Canadian Michael Spavor alleges China arrested and imprisoned him and Michael Kovrig, a diplomat who worked for GSRP, because he unwittingly provided information on North Korea to Kovrig that was shared with CSIS and Five Eyes intelligence partners.

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People hold signs calling for China to release Canadian detainees Michael Spavor, left, and Michael Kovrig during an extradition hearing for Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, March 6, 2019.LINDSEY WASSON/Reuters

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Freeland to deliver $15-billion in rental housing loans in slimmed-down fiscal update

In a trimmed-down fall economic statement, the federal government will announce several housing-related measures that will aim to address affordability concerns that are now central to the Canadian political debate.

The measures will include $15-billion in 10-year low-cost loans that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. will provide to builders of new rental properties, and a “Canadian mortgage charter” aimed at helping homeowners navigate a looming payment shock over the next three years as Canadians face a wave of renewals at much higher rates.

The statement to be released by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will also take into account a spike in long-term borrowing costs and a significant slowdown in economic growth, both of which are squeezing federal finances.

Inquest jury sees video of Soleiman Faqiri’s final moments at Ontario jail

An Ontario coroner’s inquest jury saw video footage yesterday of the final minutes of Soleiman Faqiri’s life. Faqiri was a 30-year-old mentally ill man whose 2016 death after a physical altercation with correctional officers became a rallying cry for advocates of prison reform across the country.

His death has been the subject of three police investigations and a lawsuit brought by his family. Though earlier probes found that Faqiri, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder after a 2005 car accident, had sustained at least 50 injuries during his fatal scuffle with correctional staff, no criminal charges were ever laid.

The inquiry will focus on two major questions: What precisely happened in segregation cell B-10 at Ontario’s Central East Correctional Centre that led to Faqiri’s death? And why was a man experiencing such a profound mental breakdown in a jail rather than a hospital?

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Also on our radar

Canadian inflation figures for October out today: The annual inflation rate was 3.8 per cent in September and economists expect the new report to show inflation cooled in October as gasoline prices fell and the rise in food prices slowed. Follow our live updates.

OpenAI facing backlash after CEO’s ouster: OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT, was thrown into turmoil yesterday after Microsoft hired its ousted CEO and many employees threatened to follow him in a conflict that centred in part on how to build artificial intelligence that’s smarter than humans.

London tries new approach to homelessness: Like many Canadian cities, London, Ont., has a growing homeless encampment problem. But it is trying something different – instead of clearing tent dwellers out, the city has built portable toilets and washing stations, and given people resources to keep their shelters clean and safe.

Hamas chief says truce deal with Israel is ‘close’: The chief of Hamas said the Palestinian militant group was near a truce agreement with Israel, even as the deadly assault on Gaza continued and rockets were being fired into Israel.

Windsor police expecting hundreds of Koreans to work at EV battery plant: Around 1,600 Korean workers are expected to arrive in Windsor, Ont., police say, to work at a heavily-subsidized new electric-vehicle battery plant that was celebrated by the federal government as a major employer of Canadians.

First Quantum facing Panama mine shutdown: Vancouver-based First Quantum Minerals says it will likely suspend production at its copper mine in Panama as it faces protests and a referendum on whether to repeal the law that legalized its latest mining contract.

Morning markets

European shares were holding near a 5½ week high today while the U.S. dollar languished near its lowest in 2½ months on expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve is likely done with interest rate hikes.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was little changed on the day at 455.98 points. In early trading, Germany’s DAX was eking out a 0.16-per-cent gain, while France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.25 per cent and Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.50 per cent.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 0.1 per cent at 33,354.14 but remained close to the 33-year high it touched yesterday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.25 per cent to 17,733.89.

What everyone’s talking about

Editorial: “The most important lesson is one of humility. The Liberals’ environmental ambitions are valuable but their instincts to always try to do too much has led to unnecessary losses.”

Tony Keller: “If you want to understand why the number of visa students at Canada’s universities and colleges – particularly in Ontario, and particularly at colleges – has risen so sharply in recent years, follow the money.”

Today’s editorial cartoon

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Illustration by David Parkins

Living better

Share the holiday gifts that are worth the money with The Globe

The Globe and Mail wants to know: What’s the best bang-for-your-buck gift you’ve ever given or received? This could be a large purchase where splurging was worth it, or something small and affordable that brought endless delight. Whatever it is, both the giver and the receiver felt that rare combination of feelings – true gratitude, and zero buyer’s remorse. Share your gift with The Globe.

Moment in time: Nov. 21, 1950

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Scene of the disaster, Nov. 21, 1950, Canoe River, Valemount, B.C.

Trains collide head-on in Canoe River crash

Travelling through British Columbia’s mountainous terrain, a westbound train carried 315 Canadian soldiers and 23 officers headed for deployment in the Korean War. A Canadian National Railway cross-country passenger train was heading east on the same stretch of tracks. On this day in 1950, the two trains collided head-on at Canoe River, B.C., killing 17 soldiers and the two-person crew on each locomotive. John (Jack) Atherton, a CN telegraph operator on the route, was charged with manslaughter for transmitting a train order incorrectly, causing the crash. John Diefenbaker, a lawyer and member of Parliament for Prince Albert, Sask., defended the 22-year-old, saying the wooden cars of the troop train were responsible for the soldiers’ deaths. By this time, passenger trains no longer used wooden cars. “Everyone in the CNR is running away from responsibility for what appears to have been a grievous disregard for human lives,” wrote Mr. Diefenbaker in his memoir. His defence got Mr. Atherton acquitted and Mr. Diefenbaker went on to become the 13th Prime Minister. Daniel Reale-Chin

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