ACROSS THE POND
British Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap election for June 8, as her government begins negotiations to leave the European Union. Ms. May says she wants a solid mandate from voters as she heads into bargaining -- more solid than the slim majority the Conservatives currently have in the House. Her Tories are currently enjoying a wide 20-point lead in the polls, but who knows what will happen in the campaign. Here is her speech announcing the election call, annotated.
CANADIAN NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Toronto Mayor John Tory are meeting today to talk housing. Specifically, what to do about too-hot real estate prices in cities such as Toronto. One option the provincial government is looking at is a new tax aimed at speculators.
Canadians are not impressed with the Liberals’ second budget, according to a Nanos Research poll commissioned by The Globe. A slight majority had a negative view of the overall fiscal plan, and four-in-five were concerned about mounting deficits.
The Canadian Press obtained Omar Khadr’s criminal record and, apparently, it contains some oddities. “There’s not such a being as a criminal youth court in Guantanamo,” said Dennis Edney, Mr. Khadr’s lawyer.
And Canada’s spies are learning to be more forthcoming with judges.
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B.C. ELECTION UPDATE
British Columbia's New Democrats are appealing to class as they campaign for the May 9 vote, telling voters that a vote for the NDP would represent a strike against the wealthy. It's a message that has worked elsewhere, as politicians promise to help the middle class while punishing the rich. But what's wealthy? The NDP platform singles out people who make more than $150,000 a year, who would find themselves in a higher tax bracket. That's a lot higher than the province's median income -- $76,770 in 2014 -- but experts point out picking any income is subjective, particularly in pricey Vancouver.
The BC Liberals campaigned in 2013 on a promise to match every British Columbian with a family doctor, but it hasn't worked out that way. At the time, the Liberals estimated 200,000 people in the province didn’t have a family doctor and promised to fix that by 2015 -- but they've since admitted they missed the target. The NDP are pointing back to that failed promise as the Opposition party proposes urgent care centres to fill the gap. The Liberals, meanwhile, are promising money for new hospitals and new long-term care beds.
The health of the province's film industry is drawing out promises from both major parties. The Liberals are taking credit for a recent boom while vaguely promising to attract more business from the United States and Asia; the New Democrats want to extend tax credits so they apply to the work of B.C. writers.
U.S. NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW
U.S. President Donald Trump will sign an executive order today in Wisconsin that promotes policies that “buy American and hire American.” The executive order is an attempt by Mr. Trump to carry out his ‘America First’ campaign pledges and puts Canadian companies directly in the crosshairs by limiting the loopholes that enable U.S. companies to procure products from Canada. The hire American portion of the order targets the H1-B visa that is popular among tech companies and allows them to recruit and retain elite foreign talent. The Trump administration’s previous immigration crackdowns, including a ban on citizens of Muslim-majority countries, had Canadian tech executives saying such actions would be ‘a boon’ for their industry.
Tensions continue to escalate in the Korean Peninsula. North Korea accused the U.S. of creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment.” Vice-President Mike Pence told North Korea that the “era of strategic patience is over” and that “all options are on the table.” Need to get caught up on the situation? We’ve broken down what’s happened so far, and what could happen next.
Few topics get Mr. Trump more giddy than the thought of bringing manufacturing back to its heyday, however implausible it may be given the rising force of automation. One way he’s promised to do that, however, is by reopening NAFTA, saying that the three-country trade deal is a major reason why jobs in the industrial heartland have left. A new Scotiabank report says that when it comes to the auto sector, however, the U.S. would be better off keeping the status quo. There are roughly two million people employed across the tightly integrated supply chains that cross North American borders and any disruption, in the form of rewriting NAFTA, could serve to put more jobs on the chopping block.
And there’s a Congressional special election today. All eyes are on the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, where the seat vacated by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price has drawn national attention. The leading Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has broken fundraising records in a district that his party typically raises $100,000 for — one caveat, however, is that 95 per cent of the contributions are from out of state. If no candidate is able to get 50 per cent + 1, then the top two finishers will head to a runoff. All signs point to the race being a bellwether that may indicate if grassroots Democratic opposition in the Trump era can be converted into electoral success.
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LUNCHTIME LONG READ
Amid a push by federal and provincial governments to fund massive infrastructure projects, residents of Hamilton, Ont., remain divided about the almost $1-billion proposal to build a light-rail train system through the city. Supporters see the best chance to develop the city in a generation and revitalize the downtown core. Opponents say that construction will turn one of the city’s main thoroughfares into a traffic nightmare and that the project will be a disaster. A generational divide is also at play, with those under 45 showing the strongest support and people older than 55 the most opposed. The Globe’s urban transportation reporter Oliver Moore explores what a billion-dollar LRT line means for Hamilton, and what impact it might have on similar projects across the country.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators won last night and lead their respective playoff series, while the Calgary Flames lost and are on the brink of elimination.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
Anne Perkins (The Guardian): “There will be no obligation on [Theresa May] to reflect the views of the minority position. She will leave the remainers of England disempowered. She has made a Scottish referendum inevitable, and a border poll in Northern Ireland infinitely more likely. She is resetting politics in a way that will entrench division. We will all rue this day.”
John Rentoul (The Independent): “Theresa May has turned out to be good at politics. Labour is heading for a historic drubbing.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail): “On one vital issue, the jury is still out. Foreign policy under the Trudeau government has broadly cleaved to the principles established by Stephen Harper: a strong commitment to NATO and to free-trade agreements, caution in dealing with trade and human-rights issues in China, and stern disapproval of Russian ambitions in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe. But the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President changed the game. Keeping the Canada-U.S. border open, successfully renegotiating the North America free-trade agreement and preventing a crippling import tax from applying to Canadian exports are the most important priorities for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Her success or failure could define this government.”
Margaret Wente (The Globe and Mail): “The road to legalization is paved with good intentions – and also massive potholes. With more urgent matters on his plate, Mr. Trudeau might well be wondering whether the hassle is worth the price.”
Jodie Emery (Ottawa Citizen): “The Liberal government finally introduced its highly anticipated marijuana legalization legislation. But this proposal is not legalization – it is continued criminalization, with new harsher laws designed to punish even more people.”
David Berman (The Globe and Mail): “Major stock market indexes are struggling for direction and typical haven investments are on the rise, suggesting investors are giving the market-driving optimism that greeted 2017 a long, hard look. The S&P 500 has been zigzagging for the past six weeks, despite Monday’s strong rally, while U.S. Treasury yields are well off their recent highs and gold is among the world’s hottest commodities – all of which points to an uptick in anxiety. It has many sources.” (for subscribers)
Written by Chris Hannay, Mayaz Alam and James Keller.
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