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Morning Update: Ottawa weighs tactics to prevent dumping of cheap steel, aluminum; Doug Ford’s first day on the job

Newly elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario Doug Ford speaks on the phone before his interview at the CP24 television station in Toronto, Monday March 12, 2018. (Mark Blinch/Globe and Mail)

Mark Blinch

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Federal government weighs tactics to forestall dumping of steel, aluminum

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The federal government is examining new measures to stop China and other countries from dumping cheap steel and aluminum in Canada as a way to skirt recent hefty U.S. tariffs. A senior government official told The Globe and Mail on Monday that Ottawa is consulting widely with industry executives on the best measures to combat an expected flood of offshore steel and aluminum. No final decision has been made, but federal actions could include the hiring of more border inspectors or possibly higher tariffs to stop unfair global dumping. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged on Monday that he personally reassured U.S. President Donald Trump last week that Canada won’t become a transit station for offshore steel and aluminum into the U.S. market. Mr. Trudeau spoke by telephone with Mr. Trump on Monday to thank him for the “special consideration extended to Canada” while stressing that the steel and aluminum industries are critical to jobs on both sides of the border, his office said in a statement. (for subscribers)

As Greg Keenan wrote this weekend, in the short term, Canada may benefit from Donald Trump’s war on cheap Chinese metal. But as a way of creating new jobs in manufacturing, it’s a risky path. (for subscribers)

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Doug Ford hits the ground running in Ontario PC bid to unseat Kathleen Wynne

New Leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Doug Ford says he is ready for a showdown with Premier Kathleen Wynne in the upcoming provincial election as he rides what he’s calling the largest wave of frustration Ontario has witnessed in a generation. “The grassroots people are rising up right now. This is a movement I’ve never seen in 30 years in politics,” Mr. Ford said during an unannounced visit to Queen’s Park on Monday afternoon. “People are frustrated. We’re going to tell them all the great things that we’re going to implement.” The new leader said he would leave parliamentary business to former interim leader Vic Fedeli and focus on the June election. His message to voters centres on fixing the province’s finances and reducing taxes, largely through cutting waste. Mr. Ford was declared the new leader late Saturday night after a chaotic convention. Members voted online in a system that let them rank the four candidates in order of preference, and Mr. Ford won on the third ballot with 6,201 electoral votes to Ms. Elliott’s 6,049. While the former Tory MPP won the popular vote and most ridings, Mr. Ford won under a system that gave points for each riding.

As Margaret Wente writes, don’t underestimate Doug Ford. He could be a stronger candidate than many people think, and “many folks will hold their noses and vote Ford, if only to get rid of the Liberals.”

As the Globe’s editorial board writes, Mr. Ford will have to work hard to convince Ontario voters that the person they know would be able to live up to the office he now aspires to.

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British PM Theresa May accuses Russia of poisoning former double agent

British Prime Minister Theresa May indicated Britain is considering action against Russia, including possible additional sanctions and seizing the assets of Russian oligarchs in London. The Prime Minister’s comments follow her assertion that Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal, a 66-year old former Russian military intelligence officer who worked for MI6 in the 1990s and identified dozens of Russian spies across Europe. Mr. Skripal and his 33-year old daughter, Yulia, fell ill a week ago after a Sunday afternoon outing in Salisbury, England, where he lived. Ms. May told the House of Commons that tests conducted by British investigators have established that the two were exposed to Novichok, a deadly group of poisons the Soviet Union developed in the 1980s. She added that the British government is now demanding that the Russian ambassador to the U.K. explain how that could have happened, suggesting it was either a deliberate attack or Russia has lost control of the chemical’s supply.

Apple buying digital magazine service Texture partly owned by Rogers

Apple Inc. is acquiring Texture, the all-you-can-read digital magazine service partly owned by Toronto-based Rogers Communications Inc. For Apple, the move to buy Texture – which gives subscribers access to more than 200 U.S. and Canadian magazines for between $10 and $15 a month – is being hailed as another way for the iPhone maker to increase its service revenue. But for Rogers, it marks the end of its ownership of what was once touted as a solution to the beleaguered magazine-publishing business model as it focused on subscribers paying for content at a time when advertiser revenue was sharply declining.

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Competition Bureau searches Postmedia, Torstar offices in review of paper-swap deal

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Officials from the federal Competition Bureau, accompanied by Toronto police, visited the executive offices of Postmedia Network Canada Corp. and Torstar Corp. on Monday morning, in connection with the companies’ deal to swap dozens of newspapers. The bureau confirmed in an e-mail that the review is continuing, and in a subsequent news release it specified that it was investigating the deal under the conspiracy provisions and the merger provisions of the Competition Act. This provision states that conspiracy occurs when competitors “allocate sales, territories, customers or markets for the production or supply of a product,” or “fix, maintain, control, prevent, lessen or eliminate the production or supply of a product,” or “fix, maintain, increase or control the price for the supply of a product.” Consequences can include fines up to $25-million, up to 14 years imprisonment, or both.


Markets rise

Global shares inched higher on Tuesday, eking out limited gains as investors kept a wary eye on a U.S. inflation reading later in the day that could offer clues on the pace of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes this year. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.7 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng just inched up and the Shanghai composite lost 0.5 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.1 and 0.6 per cent by about 5:40 a.m. ET. New York futures were also up.


We now know the arbitration positions of OMA and the Ontario government – and not much has changed

“Beyond the contract, there are fundamental questions raised here: Does the way we pay physicians make any sense? If you cut funding to doctors, does patient care suffer? How does government rein in spending if it puts no caps on spending – for doctors and elsewhere? And, most important of all, how do we ensure value for money for the health dollars? The Ontario election is in June. By agreeing to arbitration, the government managed to punt some tough decisions forward. Whatever party wins will inherit this hot mess.” André Picard

Underinvestment in critical rail, pipeline infrastructure could cost Canada billions

“Justin Trudeau loves to talk about artificial intelligence, superclusters and quantum computing. Just last week, the Prime Minister met up with TV personality Bill Nye (The Science Guy) to chat about these and other futuristic challenges. Unfortunately, Mr. Trudeau is now grappling with a decidedly low-tech crisis: getting a big 2017 grain crop to global customers over a clogged rail network. Farmers and shippers have compared the current bottleneck to 2013-14, when Stephen Harper’s Conservative government eventually ordered railways to do their job and carry more grain. This might as well be 1913. It is mind-boggling that 133 years after completion of the transcontinental railway Canada still struggles to get vital exports of wheat, canola and barley to global customers.” Barrie McKenna (for subscribers)

Why we invited Jordan Peterson to discuss compelled speech

Queen’s fully supports an inclusive and diverse campus and curriculum, and we continue to make important progress in pursuing these ideals. Diversity also extends to thought and opinion – it can’t simply be ‘diversity of the sort we happen to agree with today.’ Universities should be physically safe spaces and diverse and inclusive. But protection from disagreeable ideas isn’t safety – it’s infantilization, and robs everyone of the opportunity to reflect and grow. Students: We are there to learn with you, to have our assumptions questioned and to question yours. We will not simply reinforce your beliefs and turn them into unexamined convictions.“ Daniel Woolf


Five ways to reduce the physical harms of smartphone use

Your smartphone is no longer just a communication device – it’s public enemy No. 1, blamed for everything from destroying family mealtimes to distracting kids from exercising. The gadgets themselves are harmless, of course. It’s the siren call of the software, beckoning us to gaze at tiny screens 24/7, that’s wreaking havoc on our vision, posture, soft tissues and sleep. Fortunately, with a few adjustments and some moderation, it’s easy enough to avoid the physiological downsides of a smartphone habit. Here are the fixes for five potential health risks.


March 13, 1927: Old age pensions established in Canada

Canada’s work force changed after the Great War, as industrialization and an urbanized labour force offered younger workers new prospects. Seniors were living longer, but many jobs they had known were fading away, made obsolete by machinery, and some older Canadians were desperately poor. By the 1920s, the issue of government assistance for the elderly had grabbed the political spotlight. Although the government gave pensions to survivors of 60,000 soldiers killed in the First World War, and to those who returned disabled, desire for a national system was mounting. A special committee studied the pension question starting in 1924, but it wasn’t until 1927 that William Lyon Mackenzie King’s Liberal government passed the Old Age Pensions Act. The support it provided was hardly generous: British subjects aged 70 or over who had lived in Canada for 20 years could claim a maximum of $240 a year – equivalent to about $3,436 today. Eligibility was capped by a strict means test some considered humiliating, and Status Indians were excluded. But it marked a first attempt at providing nationwide benefits to help lift elderly Canadians out of deepest poverty, laying a foundation for modern-day Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan. — James Bradshaw

Morning Update was written by Kiran Rana and SR Slobodian.

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