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Freeland questions U.S. leadership, says Canada must set own course

The current state of U.S. politics means Canada will go it alone on the world stage, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a major speech yesterday. "The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts in sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course," she said. "To say this is not controversial: It is a fact." On the same day, former U.S. president Barack Obama emphasized the need to "sustain our alliances" during a speech in Montreal. Neither mentioned Trump by name, but the target of both of their speeches was clear.

Boosting funding for Canada's military was a key focus of Freeland's address; those details are expected to be laid out on Wednesday. Freeland also stressed the benefits of free trade, and reiterated Ottawa's frustration with Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

Here's John Ibbitson's take on Freeland's speech: "This may be the bluntest repudiation of Trump and his policies yet delivered by a Western government, and it is high-risk. … But the Liberals no longer seem to care. They have decided that the only solution to dealing with Trump is to wait him out. For the first time in our country's history, Canada's foreign policy is essentially opposed to the foreign policy of the United States. Who would have thought we would live in such times?"

This is the daily Morning Update newsletter. If you're reading this on the web, or if someone forwarded this e-mail to you, you can sign up for Morning Update and all Globe newsletters here.

Saudi 'power play' leaves Qatar facing two difficult options

Trump is expressing support for Saudi Arabia's decision (in tandem with Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates) to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar. The U.S. President said his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, where he called on Arab and Muslim leaders to address terrorism, was "already paying off." But Trump's comments have also thrown a wrench into his country's foreign policy, since Qatar hosts U.S. military and aircraft. And the true reason for Saudi Arabia's move appears to be a regional "power play" that was enabled in part by Trump's visit, Middle East expert H.A. Hellyer said. Qatar is now left with two options, according to Hellyer: Tow the Saudi line and abandon support for the Muslim Brotherhood, or forge a closer alliance with Iran.

U.S. business lobby joins call to uphold NAFTA

A major U.S. business lobby is arguing that the North American free-trade agreement should be updated, rather than tearing it apart and starting over. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is joining its Canadian and Mexican counterparts in forming an alliance in support of NAFTA. The group's aim is to push for tweaks that keep markets open, as well as ensuring the renegotiations remain trilateral. Garnering the support of the U.S. business lobby sends a "very strong signal within the United States to the U.S. administration that NAFTA is good for all three countries," Canadian Chamber of Commerce head Perrin Beatty said.

The Globe is hosting a panel discussion on the future of NAFTA this morning. Subscribers: You can tune in live or catch up later.

Canadian opioid overdose data provides only a partial picture of death toll

Almost seven people a day died from an opioid-related overdose in Canada last year, according to a new federal report. It's the first official attempt to track the impact of opioids on overdoses, but the data doesn't include totals from Quebec, and Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador's numbers are from 2015 – before illicit fentanyl became more widespread. The data, which totaled at least 2,458 opioid-related deaths in 2016, didn't break down the totals by province.

Federal Health Minister promised last November to improve tracking measures in order to better understand the breadth of Canada's opioid crisis. B.C., which releases monthly reports, found 136 people died from illicit opioids in April of this year, up from 69 deaths in April, 2016.

Caution takes hold across world markets ahead of 'triple-threat Thursday'

Caution set in across global markets Wednesday as investors looked ahead to a trio of potentially market-moving events the following day. So-called 'triple-threat Thursday' will see testimony from former FBI director James Comey, voting in Britain's snap election and the latest policy move from the European Central Bank. Tokyo's Nikkei gained marginally, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1 per cent, and the Shanghai composite rose 1.2 per cent. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 and the Paris CAC 40 were up by between 0.2 and 0.4 per cent by about 5:30 a.m. ET, with Germany's DAX down 0.1 per cent. New York futures were down slightly, and the Canadian dollar was at about 74.5 cents (U.S.). Oil prices were lower.


Will Comey take down Trump?

"Here comes Comey. The former FBI director with an ego almost the size of Donald Trump's takes the stand Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee probing Russian collusion with the Trump team in the election. The President had best beware. Playing the role that John Dean did in the Richard Nixon Watergate drama wouldn't bother James Comey. He's become the architect of White House fate. He torpedoed Hillary Clinton's bid to become president. He could now torpedo Mr. Trump as President. Or help save him. Don't bet on the latter." – Lawrence Martin

Freeland's speech: A lot of nice words, but no practical action

"Canadians don't like to think of themselves as confrontational, and Freeland certainly drew on episodes in Canadian history in which being the reasonable peacemaker worked wonders. But if the world is indeed different today, and governments and social movements that are hostile to ideas such as democracy, gender equality, ethnic and religious tolerance, free expression and individual rights are gaining momentum, then we need to talk about more than simply spending more on our military. We need to talk about what we are willing to do to create the world we want to live in – and what price we are willing to pay." – Simon Palamar, research associate at the Centre for International Governance Innovation

Trump presents a political opportunity for the NDP

"In an environment with a resurgent anti-Trump NDP and a renewed Conservative Party, grounded in fiscal conservatism and social values, the Liberals could very well be squeezed in the middle by trying to appease Canadians but not satisfying anyone. Today's comfortable Liberal lead in the polls could turn quickly ahead of and into the next federal election. Governments with big leads in the polls can get complacent and arrogant. Elections are times for governments to account for their actions and to demonstrate how Canada is a better place under their leadership." – Nik Nanos, executive chairman of Nanos Research


Downsizing? What to look for in an age-friendly community

When it comes time to downsize from a house as you get older, there are important things to consider. Picking a place that has easy access to a grocery store, pharmacy and swimming pool, for example, can make it easier to stay independent for a longer period of time.


From Prince to the 'Love Symbol'

June 7, 1993: On this date, Prince pulled what is still considered one of the boldest moves in music history: Changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol. The act was less a rebirth and more a rebellion against his music label, Warner Bros., which thought the artist was producing too many records and flooding the market. His new name – called the "Love Symbol" – combined the astrological signs for Venus and Mars, which the artist described as "tuning in 2 a new free-quency." Unable to pronounce or reproduce it, journalists started calling him "the artist formerly known as Prince." It was a logistical nightmare for Warner Bros., who had to mail floppy disks to the press with the new symbol font. When his contract with the label expired in 2000, "The artist formerly known as Prince" became Prince again. But the "Love Symbol" remained a prominent feature in Prince's set design, album covers and guitars. – Sherrill Sutherland

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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