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Canada Morning Update: Trump backs Putin; Tories sway on sex-ed curriculum

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These are the top stories:

Trump sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies on election meddling

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U.S. President Donald Trump accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election − even though U.S. intelligence agencies have drawn the opposite conclusion.

Trump took Putin at his word: “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” he said at Monday’s summit in Helsinki, Finland.

In one of the defining moments of his presidency, Trump did not raise Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, or the state of Russia’s own democracy. Both leaders dismissed questions from the international media about their alleged collaboration during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

For Putin, the summit will go down as a remarkable success, writes Mark MacKinnon. The West’s policy of isolating Russia – launched by Mr. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama – has collapsed.

Trump’s remarks were met with shock and outrage across the U.S. political spectrum – including condemnations from senior Republicans such as Paul Ryan – and a contradiction from the head of the U.S. intelligence community. Daniel Coates, the director of national intelligence, said his agency was clear in its assessments of Russian meddling and that it would continue to provide “unvarnished and objective” intelligence.

Doug Saunders writes a good U.S.-Russia summit was possible, but this was not it: “ Whether it was a uniquely treasonous betrayal of his country’s people and interests, or just the latest in Donald Trump’s self-aggrandizing displays, it did nothing good for the United States, for Russia or for the world.”

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Mistaken for an illegal immigrant, a Canadian is suing after a eight-month ordeal

Olajide Ogunye is suing the federal government for $12.5-million, alleging he was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned. Ogunye was arrested last June after being mistaken for an illegal immigrant. Despite showing his citizenship card, he was taken to offices of the Canadian Border Services Agency, fingerprinted, and told his prints matched those of Oluwafemi Johnson, a failed refugee claimant who was deported in 1994. Then he was held in Canada’s migrant-detention system, which is not supposed to ensnare the country’s citizens even for one day. His detention lasted eight months.

In February, the federal government acknowledged it was “more likely than not” that he really was Olajide Ogunye, and he was released. Ogunye is now suing the Canadian government for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and breaches of his constitutional rights.

Ogunye’s lawyers say his ordeal points to deep flaws in the immigration enforcement system; above all, they say, those who decide whether people will be detained or set free tend to take the CBSA’s allegations at face value.

The Tories are swaying on Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum, leaving a teaching plan up in the air

Last week, the Progressive Conservative government drew an outcry when it announced it would be ditching a three-year-old sex-ed curriculum and go back to a teaching plan last updated in the late 1990s.

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On Monday, Education Minister Lisa Thompson appeared to backtrack on that decision by saying Ontario students will still learn about topics covered in the new curriculum, including consent, cyber safety and gender identity, when they return to school this fall.

However, in a statement from her office later on Monday, Thompson signaled a full retreat from the most recent curriculum. Thompson said “We are reverting to the full health and physical education curriculum that was last taught in 2014. This curriculum leaves ample space to discuss current social issues.” The consultations on the new curriculum will not begin until fall.

Some argue Ontario’s sex-ed backlash isn’t about children’s safety: “The backlash is emblematic of a disdain for those who lean right politically, and a desire to rally against Mr. Ford for the sake of political divisiveness. This is evident in the number of media outlets and individuals on social media, angrily pointing the finger at social conservatives.”

Others say a sex-ed program that erases trans and queer students will cost lives: “This fall, kids will learn from the same curriculum I did. Queer and trans youth will hear not that they belong; they won’t be discussed at all. For those teachers unwilling to bring in their own materials, LGBTQ youth will continue to be othered, and they will be made easy targets.”

The U.S. launched a WTO case against Canada and others for retaliating against Trump’s tariffs

The United States has filed complaints against Canada and four other countries at the World Trade Organization for retaliating against President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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Trump’s trade chief, Robert Lighthizer, announced five parallel WTO complaints Monday against Canada, the European Union, China, Mexico and Turkey. In a statement, Lighthizer’s office claimed that Trump’s tariffs “are justified” but the retaliation of the other countries is “completely without justification.”

The U.S. continues to cite “national security” as the reason for imposing its tariffs: Lighthizer claims that he has to keep foreign steel and aluminum out of the country in order to build up the U.S.’s domestic metal-making capacity so that it can make its own steel and aluminum in the event of a war. He argues that this justifies the tariffs under international rules, and contends that the other countries’ retaliation is illegal because they did not go through the WTO.

Canada has argued that the national security rationale was merely an excuse the Trump administration came up with to impose tariffs for reasons of pure protectionism. The U.S. Commerce Department will hold a hearing Thursday to discuss the prospective tariffs.

Need a refresher on the NAFTA saga so far? Read our guide to trade, the talks and Trump.

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Jeff Bezos topped $150-billion, becoming the richest man in modern history

Amazon Inc. founder Jeff Bezos’s net worth broke US$150-billion in New York on Monday morning. That’s about US$55-billion more than Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest person.

Bezos crossed the threshold just as Amazon prepares to kick off its 36-hour summer sales event, Prime Day. His net worth has soared by US$52-billion this year, which is more than the entire fortune of Mukesh Ambani, the newly crowned richest person in Asia. It also puts Bezos’s personal fortune within spitting distance of the Walton family’s US$151.5-billion, which is the world’s richest dynasty.


Markets mixed

World stocks recovered some ground on Tuesday as oil prices stabilized, while the U.S. dollar edged lower and most other markets were subdued before Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies to the U.S. Congress. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 04 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.3 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.6 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were up by 6:05 a.m. ET, though by less than 0.1 per cent. New York futures were mixed, and little changed. The Canadian dollar was hovering at just above 76 US cents.

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That was treason, Donald Trump. We all saw it

“He stood on the world stage and sided with a man who has murdered dissidents and interfered with global democracy multiple times, and cast his lot with him over the country he’s supposed to serve. Donald Trump aided and abetted a foreign adversary.” − Jared Yates Sexton, an associate professor at Georgia Southern University and author of The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage.

Donald Trump humiliated himself and his country in Helsinki

A performance this craven and anti-American is hardly out of the ordinary for Mr. Trump when Russia is involved, but the President’s comprehensive failure to stand up for U.S. interests while standing next to one of its main antagonists still manages to stun. Yes, the world wants the United States and Russia to “get along,” as Mr. Trump says – but not at the cost of acquiescence to every Russian goal and position, and not if it means a weak Washington and a resurgent Moscow. − Globe editorial

Pardoning Robert Latimer is not justified

“Sometimes, caring for someone who is ill or who has disabilities can be overwhelming; at times, it may feel desperately hopeless. None of those emotions is a licence to kill. How we treat the most vulnerable in society – in the health system, the justice system and elsewhere – is a litmus test for our compassion and humanity. Mr. Latimer was treated fairly by the justice system – with kid gloves, even. He served his time and deserves to get on with life, but that does not mean his record should be expunged or his actions forgiven.” − André Picard


Yes, hot yoga is awesome. Science says so

For some, there’s nothing like a vigorous, sweaty yoga session in a sultry room. These yogis embrace their sweat stains: hot yoga is awesome, after all. Turns out, the latest research agrees. Scientists recently revealed that Canada’s national women’s field hockey team experimented with hot yoga during their (ultimately unsuccessful) efforts to qualify for the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio – and gained measurable performance benefits. The results suggest that hot yoga is a useful tool for heat adaptation, which can be helpful for endurance training. How’s that for sweating for a cause?


July 17, 1918: Exactly a century ago, in the middle of the night, the bodies of the Russian imperial family were taken to the woods. It was five months after the beginning of the Russian Revolution, and their assassination by Bolsheviks set off a narrative that would fascinate the world for decades to come. In the basement of mansion in the city of Yekaterinburg, Czar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra were shot in the head. But in the ensuing smoke and noise, the executioners fired wildly at the children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei. Wearing bodices inlaid with diamonds, they had to be shot and bayonetted several times. All told, the killings took 20 minutes, but it would be more than 70 years before their deaths were officially confirmed. Despite rumours, the Bolsheviks maintained for decades that the czar alone had been killed. Only in 1991 did an amateur historian’s discovery lead to a state investigation and the exhumation of the czar, his wife and three of their daughters. After seven decades of state propaganda dedicated to erasing the facts around the revolution’s brutal beginnings, the surviving Romanovs, and those who grew up under Soviet rule, could finally learn the truth. – Jack Hauen

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