These are the top stories:
One in four postsecondary students in Ontario lack basic literacy and numeracy skills, a study has found
About 25 per cent of first-year and graduating students scored below “the minimum required for graduates to perform well in today’s work world,” the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario said. And another 45 per cent only met that minimum requirement. The test was not measuring whether students can read or do arithmetic, but whether they can take written or numerical information and use it to solve problems. The head of the agency behind the research said the findings should prompt a more critical look at how schools teach those skills.
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Alberta is eyeing royalty incentives to address the province’s oil glut
Premier Rachel Notley is examining changes to royalty payments along with a proposal from some in the industry calling for the province to impose across-the-board production cuts (for subscribers). Notley says the steep drop in crude prices is costing the Canadian economy $80-million every day. She has already asked the federal government to subsidize the costs of buying rail cars to move more crude, and said she would go ahead with that measure regardless of whether Ottawa assists. The proposal to mandate supply cuts has exposed a rift in the traditionally vocal pro-free-market industry. Producers such as Cenovus want the plan to go ahead, while rivals including Suncor are opposed because their refining operations benefit from cheap crude.
Raj Grewal questioned federal agencies on the way they investigate money laundering
His queries as a Liberal MP on the House of Commons finance committee came at the same time the RCMP was probing his multimillion-dollar gambling activities and sought to determine the origin of the funds, records and sources say. Grewal announced his retirement from the House of Commons last week, with the Prime Minister’s Office saying he was leaving to deal with a gambling problem and significant personal debts.
Until Sept. 19, Grewal was a member of the finance committee, which conducted a review of Canada’s regime against money-laundering this year. His questions to law-enforcement officials piqued the interest of members of the RCMP, since the force had already been alerted to his gambling activities.
Plant closings: Trump threatened GM while Trudeau sought to reassure workers
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone and vowed to work together to help auto workers affected by General Motors layoffs – but their tones in public were vastly different. Trump lashed out on Twitter at GM for cutting jobs in the Midwest, where he has promised a manufacturing rebirth. The White House threatened to cut all GM subsidies, including for its electric-cars program. The Prime Minister’s communications director said the federal government’s focus is on assisting those set to lose their jobs. Unifor president Jerry Dias, meanwhile, is calling for high tariffs on Mexican GM cars as well as mass employee walkouts, a pressure tactic the U.S. union representing auto workers has no plans to proceed with.
Barrie McKenna says the wall-to-wall media coverage of the GM news overstates the economic impact of the closings: “yes, the looming plant closure is undeniably terrible for the city of Oshawa, the affected workers, its vast network of suppliers and the tens of thousands of people who depend on the economic spinoffs. And it’s certainly not a good omen for Canada’s shrunken auto sector. But Oshawa is not the ‘engine’ of Canada’s auto industry. It used to be, but it hasn’t been for at least a decade. Oshawa has become a symbol of its past, rather than its present.” (for subscribers)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Canada isn’t on track to meet emissions targets, let alone tougher ones set in the Paris accord
That’s according to a new United Nations report, which said even meeting Paris targets would leave the world facing rising seas, widespread species extinction and other threats to human health and livelihoods. The UN urged governments to adopt policies including higher carbon taxes and a reduction in tax breaks for oil and gas production. “We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach,” the UN Environment Programme’s deputy executive director Joyce Msuya said.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Canada is on track to hit its Paris targets. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing increasing pressure from those on the right to abandon his carbon-tax plan, while those on the left say he must end his support for the fossil-fuel industry.
Hopes for a thaw in U.S.-China trade relations at the upcoming G20 summit helped global shares inch to a one-week high on Wednesday, though fears of a no-deal outcome weighed on European bourses and kept the U.S. dollar firm for the fourth day in a row. Tokyo’s Nikkei and the Shanghai Composite each gained about 1 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.3 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was down 0.1 per cent by about 6:35 a.m. ET, with Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 up by between 0.1 and 0.3 per cent. New York futures were also up. The Canadian dollar was at 75.05 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
A hot mess at the B.C. legislature
Imagine showing up for work one day and, about mid-morning, you and a colleague are summoned into the boss’s office. You’re told that you’re both being placed on leave and, oh yeah, you’re also the subject of an RCMP investigation. When you ask what it’s all about, the boss says he can’t say. You’re then ordered to turn in your company phone, computer and other possessions and are marched out of your place of employment by police – in front of friends and colleagues and the media, which is chronicling every humiliating second of your ordeal. Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz, the two most senior, non-partisan officials at the British Columbia Legislature, had this happen to them last week. … There is little question that some of the information that has emerged in the wake of last Thursday’s dramatic events is concerning – and none of it is related to the conduct of the two legislative staff members.” – Gary Mason
In academia, censorship and conformity have become the norm
“A new academic journal, titled The Journal of Controversial Ideas, launching in the new year, will be peer-reviewed and offer a diverse range of viewpoints, calling upon liberals, conservatives, as well as those who are religious and secular, to submit their work. Most notably, it will allow academics to publish under pseudonyms. Much of the response to this journal has been criticism alleging that only academics with hateful ideas would require the option to publish under a pseudonym. In truth, facts today are deemed controversial if they deviate from accepted narratives, and professors must self-censor out of fear of being condemned and losing their jobs.” – Debra Soh, writer with PhD in sexual neuroscience research from York University
The Brexit chaos explained via British TV
“British TV has made a fetish of Britain’s decline and played upon nostalgia for an earlier, often imagined, time. A pre-European Union time. When British stories end up having a significant impact in the international marketplace, that means something. A sense of strength in a traditional Britain, one not allied with Europe, but separate, is forged. There is an arc connecting Downton Abbey to The Great British Bake-off to The Crown that celebrates a recent past as good, stable and, really, a lost utopia, and stands in stark contrast to any picture of a contemporary Britain that is more European and globalized. The sheer amount of time, effort and money spent by Netflix in fetishizing the Royal Family in The Crown is a signifier of inflated importance placed in traditional British institutions.” – John Doyle
Winter isn’t an excuse to lose your fitness regimen: Adjust your workout routine for the season
The biggest determinant to keeping a consistent fitness routine is your proximity to the gym, writes personal trainer Paul Landini. And if there are no options close by, consider setting up a home gym with just a few pieces of equipment. And be sure to spend at least 10 minutes warming up before lifting weights: When it’s cold, joints get stiff and blood flow to the muscles decreases.
MOMENT IN TIME
Football Hall of Fame opens in Hamilton
Nov. 28, 1972: More than 40 years ago, Hamilton became a place to commemorate the greatest achievements in Canadian football. A temporary space was originally awarded to the city in June, 1963, but the official Canadian Football Hall of Fame was built and opened in November, 1972, in downtown Hamilton on Main Street, between Bay and McNab streets. The city was hosting the 60th Grey Cup that year, and the new glass-and-marble structure opened as part of the week’s festivities. The Hall went on to include displays for the CFL, Canadian university football and Canadian junior football history, and host induction ceremonies for players such as all-star Willie Pless, seen here in 2005 looking at busts of former CFL heroes who had been honoured before him. Because of financial concerns, the Hall closed on Sept. 19, 2015. In an effort to keep the HoF in Hamilton, the league and the city partnered to relaunch the exhibit this year at Tim Hortons Field, the home of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 10 minutes away from original building. The iconic Touchdown statue, which stood outside the Hall’s old location for almost 50 years, was relocated outside Gate 3 on Melrose Avenue. – Shelby Blackley