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Aecon road crews work on Highway 407, near Highway 427 in Toronto, in this file photo

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Canadian construction firms are lobbying against a Chinese takeover

The federal government is currently reviewing a deal that would see a state-controlled Chinese firm acquire Aecon in a $1.5-billion deal. But other major Canadian construction companies are calling on Ottawa to block the takeover on the grounds that China Communications Construction Co. has a poor record on safety and corruption, and also isn't suited to work on projects with security concerns.

The Chinese government has a 63-per-cent stake in CCCC. In recent years, the company has helped Beijing assert sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea. National security agencies in Canada and the U.S. have warned that companies under Beijing's control aren't just commercial operations and could potentially pass along information that would hurt Canadian interests.

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Rex Tillerson says it's 'time to talk' with North Korea about defusing nuclear tensions

But first, Kim Jong-un's regime must stop its "threatening behaviour" for a sustained period of time, the U.S. Secretary of State said. His comments came at the conclusion of a foreign ministers summit in Vancouver that examined how to better enforce economic sanctions on North Korea. "We cannot stand by as this threat persists and worsens," Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said. China and Russia have backed the sanctions but criticized the Vancouver meeting, which they didn't attend, as counterproductive.

Here's John Ibbitson's take: "The Canadian government, in concert with what is left of the U.S. State Department, brought the old allies from the Korean War together in Vancouver on Tuesday, for no particularly good reason other than to remind North Korea that it has more to fear than the tweets of Donald Trump, and to remind the world that Canada remains among the last true defenders of the old global order." (for subscribers)

The Trump administration is arguing that the immigration system 'jeopardizes' national security

The statement followed a fresh White House report highlighting instances of terrorism-related offences committed by foreign-born residents. It's the latest effort by the White House to portray refugees and immigrants as potential threats to public safety. At the same time, legislators have been trying to hammer out a deal to resolve the status of "Dreamers" – immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Friday is the deadline for passing a spending bill to avert government shutdown and Democrats have said they wouldn't vote in favour of new spending without a fix for Dreamers. Donald Trump rejected a bipartisan immigration proposal last week during a meeting in which he reportedly referred to "shithole" countries in Africa. Trump has since said he didn't use that exact language.

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Meanwhile, the doctor who performed Trump's medical checkup said the President did "exceedingly well" on a cognitive test and is in "excellent" overall health. However, Trump weighed in at 239 pounds, with a body mass index of 29.9 – just shy of the 30 mark that is considered obese. His cholesterol levels were also higher than recommended. Trump, now 71, is the oldest person to ever be elected president.

A lender is seeking foreclosure on properties owned by a Vancouver family renowned as problem landlords

The Sahota family is already facing hundreds of charges from the city of Vancouver over the decrepit state of their buildings. Now, a lender has filed foreclosure proceedings on two of their rental apartment complexes on the city's east side. One of the properties, which was bought by the family in 1977 for $1.77-million, was recently assessed at $9.65-million. The other was purchased in the 70s for $810,000 and has recently been assessed at $33-million. A different building owned by the Sahota family, the Balmoral Hotel in the Downtown Eastside, was ordered closed by the city last year over safety concerns.


Stocks mixed

Global shares pulled back from record highs on Wednesday, set for only their second day of losses in the new year, as lower commodity prices and a string of downbeat updates from companies dampened the mood in global markets. Tokyo's Nikkei lost 0.4 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.3 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.2 per cent. In Europe, London's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.2 and 0.3 per cent by about 6 a.m. ET. New York futures were up, and the Canadian dollar was just shy of 80.5 cents (U.S.) in advance of the Bank of Canada decision. Oil prices weakened following early gains, but remained underpinned by tightening supply and strong global demand.

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FYI: The Globe now provides all users access to real-time stock quotes for both Canadian and U.S. markets. Go here to find out about the major changes to our Globe Investor site.


Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will carry Canada's flag at the Winter Olympics

Virtue and Moir first rose to stardom at the Vancouver Games in 2010, when they won gold in ice dancing. The duo followed that up with two silvers at Sochi in 2014. After that, they retired from the sport but returned again in 2016. This is their final push for gold: After the Pyeongchang Games, they plan on retiring once more. You'll be able to spot them on your TV screen when the Olympic opening ceremony takes place on Feb. 9.


You're either with Trump or you're a reasonable person

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"Can we stop pretending now? Can we agree objectively on the character of the man who occupies the presidency of the United States? Because he is, by his own actions and statements, a racist, a misogynist, a narcissist and a fool. He is also an apologist for neo-Nazis, a hater of nations and peoples who do not resemble him and a near-moron in his written and spoken expression. None of this is news. It isn't gossip. It doesn't have anything to do with best-selling insider books or accounts offered by disaffected former associates. Nor is it "fake news" generated by partisan opponents. At a moment when powerful men are falling like tenpins for their sexual harassment, where one of my university colleagues is disgraced for an inept joke tinged with racial overtones, Mr. Trump stands ascendant, secure in his various perfidies. How is this possible? There are, it seems to me, three reasons – and none of them are creditable or valid, let alone worth the support of sane people." – Mark Kingwell, professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto

Abdoul Abdi case: A test of Canada's commitment to rules and compassion

"He was born in Saudi Arabia to a Somali mother, spent four years in a refugee camp in Djibouti, and landed in Canada at the age of six with his sister and two aunts. By seven, child-protection services had taken Abdi into custody and he became a permanent ward of the state shortly thereafter. He was never adopted and was instead shuffled between 31 placements while 'in care,' most of which were group homes. His aunt became a Canadian, but was blocked from applying for Abdi's citizenship because she was no longer his legal guardian. Child-protection services – his legal parent – never applied on his behalf even though he was eligible. As a non-citizen with a criminal record, the 24-year-old Abdi is now facing deportation to Somalia – one of the most dangerous countries on Earth. In Somalia, he has no family and no connections." – Samer Muscati and Audrey Macklin, of the International Human Rights Program


Canadian researchers are testing a new stem-cell therapy for diabetes

About 40 patients, including in Vancouver and Edmonton, are participating in an experimental stem-cell therapy that could lead to the "potential reversal" of Type 1 diabetes. "This is basically what everybody has been waiting for," said Dr. David Thompson, who is overseeing the Vancouver trial. Three tiny packets of cells are being implanted under the skin of the abdomen, with the hope that those cells produce insulin, the hormone that those with Type 1 diabetes currently need to inject every day to stay alive.

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First sitting of the Supreme Court of Canada

Jan. 17, 1876: They sat. And then they stood. It was an inauspicious debut for the Supreme Court of Canada on Jan. 17, 1876. There were no cases to be heard until June. "There being no business to dispose of, the Court rose," the transcripts from that first session say. The six-member court was lacking in diversity, even of first names. Three were named William (justices Ritchie and Henry and the chief justice, William Richards). The three others were Samuel Strong, Jean-Thomas Taschereau and Télesphore Fournier. There were no Beverleys, Rosalies or Andromaches. The court was an afterthought and a vagabond. Initially, it met in the Railway Committee Room in the Parliament buildings, and later, in different rooms depending on availability. (It moved into its own building in 1882.) And it was not even a final court of appeal. Upset litigants could run off to the mother country – to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain. Prestige? Not really. But still. For the court that would, more than a century later, become the guardians of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, setting the stage for – well, lots of stuff that probably seemed unimaginable in 1876 – it was a start. – Sean Fine

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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