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Morning update newsletter: Ontario housing; Trump on trade; Paris attack

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is joined by Finance Minister Charles Sousa, left, and Housing Minister Chris Ballard in Toronto on Thursday, April 20, 2017, to announce details of the government’s plan to curb real estate speculation.

Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

Rentals, speculators, vacant homes: Ontario's new measures

Ontario unveiled a slew of measures yesterday aimed at combatting the hot housing market. Here's a glimpse at what's being done:

Foreign buyers: The province is implementing a 15-per-cent foreign-buyers' tax aimed at speculators. It will be levied on non-residents and companies not based in Canada who buy property anywhere between the Niagara region and Peterborough.

Rentals: All apartments will now be bound by rent-control measures. Before, only buildings built before November, 1991, had to follow that rule, which led to some landlords increasing monthly rents by hundreds of dollars. Now, rent hikes will be capped at 2.5 per cent a year.

Empty homes: Ontario is pledging to work with Toronto and other municipalities to implement a vacant-home tax. Vancouver just started the process of introducing a tax on empty homes; a recent study there found 6.5 per cent of the city's housing stock is vacant.

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Trump blasts Canada's dairy, energy and lumber sectors

Donald Trump called out Canada's dairy, energy and lumber sectors yesterday, before promising to address those issues in North American free-trade negotiations (for subscribers). "Canada, what they've done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace," Trump said. He proceeded to call NAFTA a "disaster" for the U.S. He said he would reveal plans to overhaul the trade deal within the next two weeks. That probably means a letter to Congress with his demands, which would kick off a 90-day countdown to the start of talks. Justin Trudeau warned that a strong protectionist stance from the U.S. would hurt Americans as well. As for Canadian dairy, Trudeau said Trump's attacks ignore the fact that the U.S. protects its farmers too.

Attack in Paris leaves police officer dead, others injured

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a shooting in Paris yesterday that left one police officer dead and three other people injured. A gunman targeted officers on the city's famed Champs-Elysees boulevard, before he was shot and killed by police. The attack came just days before the first voting round of France's presidential election, set for Sunday.

Alberta to pay for abortion pill

Women in Alberta will be getting free access to the abortion pill, the province said yesterday. But a date for when public funding will start has yet to be decided. The news came the same day the influential Common Drug Review panel released a report endorsing Mifegymiso, a two-drug medical abortion kit. Alberta is now the second province, after New Brunswick, to say it would pay for the medication, which is priced at $300. Other provinces said they need more time to make a decision. Mifegymiso became available in Canada in January, but those wishing to use it need to pay out of pocket unless their insurance covers it.

WestJet to launch low-cost carrier

WestJet Airlines is launching a low-cost carrier that is set to start flying by the end of the year. The decision comes shortly after the launch of discount ticket reseller NewLeaf, as well as a few carriers that are planning to start up. Many Canadians also head to border towns such as Buffalo and Bellingham, Wash., to save on flight costs. With an initial fleet of 10 planes that will have high seating density, WestJet is hoping to convince some of those people to fly with them instead. Destinations are expected to include both Canada and the U.S.


The Edmonton Oilers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks in dramatic fashion. After scoring with only a few minutes to go in the third period to tie things up, David Desharnais put in the game-winner in overtime. The Oilers will have a chance to win the series when Game 6 goes down in San Jose tomorrow.

The Montreal Canadiens are on the brink of elimination after they lost 3-2 to the New York Rangers in overtime last night. The series now heads to the Big Apple for Game 6 on Saturday.

The Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks to complete a surprise sweep of the the Western Conference's top team. The Preds will face the winner of the St. Louis-Minnesota series in the next round.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 49 saves and the Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Penguins won Game 5 handily by a score of 5-2. They'll play either Toronto or Washington in the Eastern semifinals.


Global markets were mixed early Friday as investors awaited the first round of France's closely fought presidential election taking place over the weekend. French bond yields hit a three-month low and the euro was treading water. Tokyo's Nikkei gained 1 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.1 per cent, and the Shanghai composite inched higher. In Europe, the Paris CAC 40 was down 0.6 per cent by about 5:45 a.m. (ET), London's FTSE 100 was down 0.1 per cent, and Germany's DAX up 0.1 per cent. New York futures were little changed, and the Canadian dollar was above 74 cents (U.S.). Oil prices edged lower and were on course for the biggest weekly drop in a month over doubts that an OPEC-led production cut will restore balance to an oversupplied market.


Gay men are being persecuted in Chechnya – but Canada says it's not our problem

"Only weeks ago, gay Chechen men were living quietly, if furtively, in their native land. Suddenly, they were rounded up, thrown into detention centres and beaten day after day, then taken to their families, who were told the victim was a pervert. Or they heard of all this happening and knew they could be next. Fearing for their lives, they fled Chechnya and now are more or less in hiding in Russia, while many wait to be transported to a country they had never thought of immigrating to before. At this point, it appears that country won't be Canada. Maybe other countries will take them in. Maybe they will just learn to survive in Russia. Maybe they'll do okay. Maybe they won't." – John Ibbitson

Wynne rides to the rescue on housing ... and makes things worse

"So, will the Wynne [housing] treatment work? In fact, rent controls will make things worse. Rent controls are among the most destructive housing policies ever devised. This isn't me saying so. This is practically every economist on the planet saying so. New supply will dry up in a nanosecond, and existing rental units will deteriorate. Will a foreign-buyers' tax depress prices? Not likely. After the tax was imposed in Vancouver, sales volumes went way down. But the effect on prices turned out to be temporary. After an initial dip, the price of single-family houses is pretty much back to where it was before. The real problem in the GTA isn't demand. It's supply." – Margaret Wente


Seniors turning to cannabis for relief

More and more Canadian seniors are trading in pharmaceutical drugs for cannabis to ease chronic pain, insomnia, depression and anxiety. While baby boomers are rediscovering weed, many in their 70s, 80s and 90s are trying marijuana for the first time. But it's important to understand the distinction between THC and CBD; pure CBD has medicinal properties that don't induce a high.


Queen Elizabeth II is born

April 21, 1926: Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary – Lilibet, as she was known as a child – would have been just another lesser royal if fate hadn't intervened. How she rose to the solemn duty imposed upon her by circumstance will always be the central narrative of her life. Her father, Prince Albert, was the spare to the heir. For the first 10 years of her life, she had the perks of being a royal but not the pressure of a certain future. It was her uncle who would become monarch when her grandfather, King George V, died in 1936. But then, the shock. King Edward VIII abdicated so he could marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. Princess Elizabeth's father became King George VI, putting her next in line to the throne that she has occupied for 65 years, the longest-reigning monarch in British history. – Sarah Hampson

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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