These are the top stories:
Suu Kyi defends Myanmar’s generals, calling genocide testimony ‘misleading’
Opening Myanmar’s defence against accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, leader Aung San Suu Kyi said that the court had been given “an incomplete and misleading factual picture of the situation” in Tuesday’s testimony. Rather than a genocide, she said, what had happened in Rakhine was an “internal armed conflict” between Myanmar’s army and an insurgent force, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. She said ARSA had instigated the fighting by repeatedly attacking police and army posts in 2016 and 2017.
“Please bear in mind this complex situation and the challenge to sovereignty and security in our country when you are assessing the intent of those who attempted to deal with the rebellion,” Ms. Suu Kyi told the court. “Surely, under the circumstances, genocidal intent cannot be the only hypothesis.”
Hamida Khatun was one of the Rohingya refugees in attendance at the hearing yesterday. Her mother was shot and killed in Myanmar’s military operation in 2017. She believes her husband died in detention. “I feel very sad to see Aung San Suu Kyi here. She is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, but she is here as a shield for our military, which committed genocidal acts against us.”
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Opposition parties have voted to create a special China committee
In the first defeat for the Liberals in the minority Parliament, MPs voted 171 to 148 in favour of a committee that will examine all aspects of Canada’s relations with China. That could include everything from consular cases such as the arrests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to security issues such as decisions around Huawei and 5G technology.
Meanwhile, an American scholar who studies Chinese repression says Canadians could be buying clothes made with coerced labour. More than 80 per cent of China’s cotton originates in Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs have been detained. “People are literally being moved from camps into factory spaces adjacent to the camps or sometimes inside the camp space and put to work making garments,” Darren Byler said.
Anger over the oil industry’s image has hit Alberta’s classrooms
A Grade 4 lesson about the oil sands prompted a Facebook debate among parents, where threats were levelled that resulted in a call to the RCMP and the cancellation of a school holiday dance.
The events took place in Blackfalds, a community between Calgary and Edmonton. A teacher there showed students two oil-sands videos, one from the Alberta government and the other from Greenpeace. The principal said there was nothing inappropriate about the lesson.
Nevertheless, the news made it to Facebook, where comments included the possibility of a confrontation at the dance.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has warned of attempts to “smuggle” left-wing politics into the education system. The head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association says the government’s rhetoric undermines educators.
Chevron is looking to sell its stake in a B.C. LNG project
The planned Kitimat liquefied natural gas project just received regulator approval for a 40-year export licence. But Chevron now plans to shop around its 50-per-cent stake in the northern B.C. project it co-owns with Australia’s Woodside Petroleum.
There were more than 20 proposals for LNG projects in B.C. in 2013, but only one is under construction today.
Royal Dutch Shell is building an $18-billion LNG terminal in Kitimat on traditional Haisla territory. It sees LNG as a way to reduce overall global carbon emissions, should coal-dependent countries like China switch to Canada’s natural-gas exports.
But “LNG is hardly clean,” Eric Reguly writes. “While it may be true that gas has a lower carbon intensity than coal, you have to consider the whole production process.”
In Washington, a revised trade deal is signed as the impeachment battle ramps up
The U.S. has reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico on a revised trade pact, bending to some Democrat demands. That includes tougher dispute-resolution provisions and weakened protections for big pharmaceutical companies – both victories for Canada. With the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement deal, Campbell Clark says some trade relief is here at last.
On the same day, Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump. They accuse him of abusing his power in Ukraine dealings, and obstructing congressional efforts to probe his actions. A vote in the Democrat-controlled House will come by Thursday, and should it pass, a trial in the Senate next year.
“It’s almost surreal,” said political scientist Daniel Shea. “We are witnessing elected officials working with the President to enhance trade while many of the same officials are working to end his presidency.”
Britain’s election is a day away – and the Brexit saga is upending party loyalties
The working-class coastal city of Grimsby has been held by the Labour Party for 74 years. But the town voted 71 per cent to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum amid economic frustrations. And as Boris Johnson’s “get Brexit done” message rings out, Grimsby could flip Conservative.
The fate of Brexit could be decided tomorrow, when Britons head to the polls. A Tory majority would give Johnson the mandate he needs to push through his exit deal with the European Union.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to take a firm position, saying he would negotiate a new Brexit deal and put that to a second referendum.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Pharma firms won’t be allowed to pay doctors IV fees: A new ethical code prohibits pharmaceutical companies from paying Canadian doctors for overseeing intravenous infusions of their medications. Some experts said the practice gave doctors an inappropriate financial incentive to prescribe those drugs.
Multiple fatalities after plane crashes on Gabriola Island off B.C. coast: Sophie Wistaff of the Transportation Safety Board said three investigators will be on site Wednesday morning to begin gathering information to determine what happened. Few details were immediately available about the size or type of the plane or the number of passengers.
Second one-day Ontario teachers’ strike: High schools in nine boards, including Toronto, are set to close today as the teachers’ union seeks to ramp up pressure on the government in contract talks. Educators have also taken additional action in their work-to-rule campaign.
Hootsuite shakeup: The entire executive team at the Vancouver-based social-media management company is departing after a tumultuous year. The move follows founder Ryan Holmes’s announcement that he would vacate his role as CEO to become executive chairman.
European stocks slip as trade deadline looms: European shares fell on Wednesday as the deadline approached for new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, while two major central banks held policy meetings. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.1 and 0.3 per cent by about 4:45 a.m. ET, with Germany’s DAX down marginally. In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.1 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8 per cent and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.2 per cent. New York futures were down. The Canadian dollar was at about 75.5 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Liberals’ ‘middle class tax cut’ is not a tax cut at all
Andrew Coyne: “A policy that pays out to people making as much as $214,368 may be many things, but it is not a middle-class tax cut. If the richest are excluded, moreover, so are the poorest. ... What we are left with is a $6-billion handout to just about everybody except those who need it most.”
New Brunswick, and the rest of Canada, should fully privatize cannabis sales
Rita Trichur: “Sadly, putting consumers first isn’t the Canadian way. Turns out, New Brunswick plans to replace its government monopoly with a private one. Open markets be damned.”
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
TIFF’s Top 10 Canadian films of 2019 skews young, adventurous and Indigenous
This year’s ranking of feature films and shorts compiled by the Toronto festival’s programming team and industry experts is mostly filled with up-and-coming artists.
Three titles are directorial debuts: Nicole Dorsey’s Black Conflux, Heather Young’s Murmur, and Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century.
The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is co-directed by first-timer Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, who is one of four Indigenous filmmakers on the list.
MOMENT IN TIME
Haida Gwaii becomes the new name for the Queen Charlotte Islands
Dec. 11, 2009: Ten years ago today, B.C. premier Gordon Campbell announced a historic pact between his government and the Haida Nation. Building on a 2007 land-use deal, the reconciliation agreement introduced joint decision-making about development and a process for resolving land claims, but its most visible effect was a name change. As of June, 2010, the Queen Charlotte Islands would be called Haida Gwaii, recognizing the remote archipelago as the ancestral home of the Haida, who had never signed a treaty with the Crown. That name, which translates as “islands of the people” in the Haida language, had been developed in the 1980s to recognize the First Nation’s claim to the islands off the coast of northern B.C. (Archeological evidence of human habitation on Haida Gwaii dates back as far as 13,000 years.) For a period, the province used both names, creating the ungainly Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii. The Charlottes, as they were previously known, had been named not for a queen but for a ship: In 1787, the British captain George Dixon had called the islands after his vessel, which in turn was named for the wife of King George III. – Kate Taylor