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Canada Morning Update: Trudeau says he knew about arrest of top Huawei executive; Ontario to fire three Waterfront Toronto directors

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These are the top stories:

Trudeau says he knew in advance about arrest of top Huawei executive

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he knew in advance that Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies would be arrested in Vancouver, but emphasized there was no political involvement in the case.

The arrest of Ms. Wanzhou, who was picked up by Canadian law-enforcement officials while changing flights at Vancouver Airport on Dec. 1, has sparked angry protests from Beijing and concerns about possible cyberattacks against Canada. It also comes as Canada is under intense pressure from the United States to bar Huawei from participating in next-generation 5G mobile networks (for subscribers). (Here’s what we know about Ms. Meng.)

Mr. Trudeau, whose government is seeking closer economic ties with China, said on Thursday that U.S. law enforcement authorities requested Ms. Meng’s arrest and extradition on suspicion she violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. (Here’s how extradition works in the United States.) The Americans allege she violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.

Richard Fadden and Brian Lee Crowley write for The Globe that “there are plenty of reasons why intelligence professionals are alarmed by Huawei’s involvement in our 5G networks.”

Check here for the latest developments and more background on the story.

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Ontario government to fire three Waterfront Toronto directors over Sidewalk Labs smart city partnership

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The Ontario government plans to fire the three provincially appointed directors on the board of Waterfront Toronto over frustrations about its governance, including the handling of its proposed smart-city development with Google affiliate Sidewalk Labs. The firings would be the first significant government intervention in a widely criticized partnership. The board members to be fired are chair Helen Burstyn, veteran investment executive Michael Nobrega – who is Waterfront Toronto’s acting chief executive, and University of Toronto president Meric Gertler, who were all notified shortly after 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, said a source close to the Ontario cabinet who was briefed on the plan, but was not authorized to speak on the record. All of the affected board members were appointed by the previous Ontario Liberal government. The subsequent openings will give the governing Progressive Conservatives a chance to shape their role in the agency. (for subscribers)

Premiers look to push Trudeau for help at First Ministers' meeting

The federal government and the provinces are locking horns ahead of what promises to be a tense meeting of first ministers on Friday in Montreal, with the federal government pushing for discussions on the environment and internal trade while provinces also want to tackle issues such as the oil crisis and the cost of asylum seekers. This is Justin Trudeau’s fourth meeting of first ministers and the first one since he lost Liberal allies in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick after provincial elections, which means the gathering could highlight divisions across the federation. Mr. Trudeau said he hopes all parties can “roll up our sleeves and talk constructively” about solving challenges. The agenda for Friday’s talks has been at the centre of much debate, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford threatening to walk out if more attention was not devoted to topics that are hurting provinces’ economies, including the oil crisis in the West and the looming shutdown of a General Motors plant in his province.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Ontario defends Hydro One interference after $4.4-billion Avista acquisition rejected

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Ontario’s Conservative government defended its decision to replace the board and top executive of Hydro One Ltd. after the State of Washington cited political interference as it turned down a $4.4-billion acquisition by the company, saying the “government remains unwavering in our commitment to the people of Ontario to reduce hydro rates and provide a reliable energy system.” The decision by the state’s utilities regulator to say no to Hydro One’s proposed acquisition of Avista Corp. puts the deal in serious peril and throws the utility’s growth strategy into disarray. Without the state’s blessing, the deal cannot proceed, although Hydro One and Avista can appeal the decision. If the acquisition dies, Hydro One, which is 47-per-cent owned by the provincial government, will be on the hook for a US$103-million termination fee to Avista. It has already spent tens of millions of dollars on legal and banking fees as part of the acquisition. Hydro One has been searching for a chief executive since Ontario Premier Doug Ford forced out CEO Mayo Schmidt this past summer. On the same day, the previous board of directors also resigned en mass.

The Globe’s Andrew Willis writes that Mr. Ford may have got rid of the $6-million man, but he cost Hydro One $185-million: “Those billboards that Mr. Ford put up saying “Welcome to Ontario, Open for Business” look ridiculous when the government can’t get out of its own way during Hydro One’s bid to establish itself as a leading North American utility.”

MORNING MARKETS

Stocks mixed

World stocks attempted a rebound on Friday with Asian and European markets gaining modestly after the previous day’s selloff, while oil prices fell as producers continued to bicker over the details of an output cut. Markets were also looking ahead to North American jobs data. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.8 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.4 per cent and the Shanghai Composite inched up. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.7 and 1.6 per cent by about 6:30 a.m. ET. New York futures were down. The Canadian dollar was stuck just above 74.5 US cents.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

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Finally, a meaningful definition of ‘pro-life’

Last April, a Vatican ethics conference considered what one bishop explained as a ’360-degree approach to life.' What a refreshing idea. Let’s all agree that respecting human life means ensuring secure housing, good schooling, decent jobs, freedom from violence and a stable environment, especially for women and children.” - Denise Balkissoon

B.C.'S great leap forward on climate change

Any plan that hopes to reduce GHG emissions has to have an economic imperative. There are also more measures to be announced in the next few years that will be necessary for the province to meet its targets. So it remains to be seen what is in the offing.” - Gary Mason (for subscribers)

LIVING BETTER

Holidays bring the underlying feeling of wanting to spend more and more on gifts for your family. Some of this may be due to social pressure and wanting to keep up appearances, fear of missing out and so on. But this season, give the gift of spending a little less. Rob Carrick writes about a blog post from a woman who has less to spent on Christmas this year because her husband is attending school, so her solution is to persuade her family to scale back on festivities. An alternative? Less on gifts, but more on food.

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MOMENT IN TIME

Famous image of Earth captured from space

As they sped toward the moon, the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft pointed a camera out the cockpit windows and captured the first full colour photograph of the whole Earth on Dec. 7, 1972. Dubbed “the blue marble” because to the astronauts our planet looked like a tiny glass marble, it has since become one of the most reproduced images in history. The space agency released the image to the public 16 days after it was taken by one of the three-man crew (no one knows for sure exactly who took it). For environmental activists, it instantly became a symbol of our planet’s fragile beauty, and to this day it is the most requested photo from NASA’s archives. Nearly an hour after the shot was taken, pilot Harrison Schmitt told Mission Control at Johnson Space Center in Houston, “I’ll tell you, if there ever was a fragile-appearing piece of blue in space, it’s the Earth right now.” All these years later, it still has the power to inspire a humbling sense of awe – a miracle of swirling clouds, oceans and continents that we all call home in the vast darkness of space. - Dave McGinn

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