These are the top stories:
Donald Trump faces an impeachment vote today
The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote today on two articles of impeachment against the President – and Democrats are expected to have the numbers to approve the historic action.
Trump is casting the vote as a political ploy, sending a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denouncing the “vicious crusade against him.” All House Republicans are expected to vote against the measure, which will then move to a trial in the GOP-controlled Senate next year.
David Shribman says despite near-certainty on the votes, there are still major questions at play.
On the 2020 election: “Will [the Democrats’] zeal to impeach only empower Trump to win another four-year term in November? Conversely, did the Republicans’ lock-step support of a President many of them privately distrust and disdain tar them as sycophants and lead them to defeat at the polls?"
On its place in history: “Will this impeachment be the end of the national dispute over what constitutes the truth or the beginning of a long national colloquy on this vital question?”
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Labrador’s permafrost is melting – but scientists don’t know how quickly
The realities of climate change can be seen in everyday life for residents of Nain, the northernmost community in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“There’s no point in putting blocks under the store any more, because it just keeps sinking,” said Dorman Webb, who owns the town’s only beer store.
Permafrost is a concrete-like combination of soil, rocks and sand held together by ice that remains frozen year-round. But warming temperatures are causing the ice to melt, in turn leading to erosion and shifting grounds that can destroy houses, roads and infrastructure.
In Nain, those issues played a role in the cost and construction of a new $18-million cultural centre: Special piles reaching down two dozen metres to bedrock sit below the building, with huge pillars able to move as the ground thaws.
Ottawa will review provincial calls for an expanded transfer program
Finance Minister Bill Morneau is asking his department for a quick analysis of a rework to the stabilization program that provides federal funds when a province is in an economic downturn. The tight timeline could mean Morneau will factor it into his decisions on the 2020 federal budget.
Alberta has been vocal in pushing for retroactive changes dating back to 2015, which could result in the province receiving a $2.4-billion payment. Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador would also likely qualify if the program is expanded retroactively.
The provinces and territories also asked for increases to federal health transfers. Morneau emphasized limits on new spending a day after releasing updated 2020-21 budget figures expected to come in $8.4-billion higher than initial projections.
In other federal politics news, Kate Purchase is departing from her role as executive director of communications for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, is setting up a blind trust to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
LifeLabs paid a ransom after a cyberattack affecting up to 15 million Canadians
Canada’s largest lab testing company paid an undisclosed sum to retrieve data after the theft of 85,000 Ontario lab tests and the personal information of up to 15 million. Most customers are in B.C. and Ontario.
The company has hired cybersecurity experts to assess the damage, and it said they “have not seen any public disclosure of customer data as part of their investigations, including monitoring of the dark web and other online locations.”
While there has been a spike in large-scale cyberattacks worldwide, the theft from LifeLabs is a rare hack of a health-care body.
The company is offering concerned customers one year of data protection, including dark web monitoring.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
CAMH implementing recommendations: Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health will adopt all 12 recommendations from an external review launched after several high-profile patients went missing. Those changes include a secure outdoor area, better communication with police and electronic management of passes to reduce disappearances.
Guelph track coach dismissed: Dave Scott-Thomas has been terminated by the University of Guelph over professional misconduct, with the school declining to answer questions about his actions. Scott-Thomas won dozens of coaching awards and helped train runners who went on to compete for Canada at the Olympics.
Ontario delays new autism plan: The program won’t be fully implemented until 2021, despite initial plans to have it in place by April of 2020. Until that time, parents won’t be able to get the funding for therapy based on the needs of their children. The province says more limited one-time payments will be available.
Vancouver couple sue private school: The lawsuit alleges Crofton House School failed to protect their 13-year-old daughter from online bullying that led to her suicidal thoughts. Uwe and Natalie Boll allege the school blamed their daughter for behaviour that arose from being a victim of bullying.
World stocks hovered just off record highs on Wednesday after climbing for five straight sessions, while Britain’s pound nursed heavy losses in the wake of renewed Brexit uncertainty. Earlier, Asian shares had drifted lower, with Japan’s Nikkei dipping 0.6 per cent, while China’s stocks slipped even after Beijing trimmed another short-term interest rate. U.S. equity futures barely budged.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Farewell, constantly declining debt-to-GDP ratio, we hardly knew ye
Andrew Coyne: “Year after year, budget after budget, update after update, the [Trudeau] government keeps producing finely drawn graphs showing the D-to-G majestically curving downwards into the future, hoping no one notices the curves themselves keep shifting upwards.”
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
Home for the holidays: This B.C. father reached out for a family on social media
After a difficult year, Paul Balog felt isolated from family and friends. So he posted online asking whether a household of strangers might be willing to host him and his two children for Christmas dinner.
Within 12 hours, he received 20 invitations. They’ve now got plans to share a meal with Lynn Millar and her two kids.
“People are really wanting to help. If you can make someone’s day a bit easier, why not?” Millar said. “That’s what Christmas should be about. That’s what I want my daughters to learn.”
MOMENT IN TIME
Violin maker Antonio Stradivari dies
Dec. 18, 1737: Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari’s creations are collected, stolen and, by a few lucky artists, played. The luthier, who died on this day in 1737 at the age of 93 in Cremona, Italy, began making musical instruments in his 20s. Stradivari departed from the accepted designs of the day, changing the bridge and making the body shallower, forging a design that other makers adopted. But unmatched, his acolytes say, is the tone of a Stradivarius. They fetch millions at auctions and are regarded as the finest violins made. About 600 of his violins are believed to have survived, in the hands of wealthy collectors, museums and foundations. Scientists have studied the violins inside and out to uncover what makes them sound the way they do. Maybe it’s just the mystique. But some point to the cooler climate of the day that produced trees with denser grain or the varnishes he formulated. Others attribute the acoustical properties to the master and his skill at crafting an instrument that vibrates in a way that allow a musician to wring from it a bright note undiminished over 300 years. – Eric Atkins