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Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks to the media on the first day of the Liberal government's cabinet retreat in London, Ont., on Jan. 11, 2018.


Good morning,

The Liberal cabinet continues its retreat in London, Ont., today, but the talk is still about what's going on south of the border. Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters last night that Canada's wide-ranging complaint to the World Trade Organization was about showing the United States strength. "When people see that you're firm, you get respect," Mr. Champagne said. Sources tell The Globe that, when talks resume on the North American free-trade agreement in Montreal later this month, Canada will offer compromises on auto content and dispute resolution.

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The United States and Canada can work together, too: the two countries will cohost a summit in Vancouver next week on how to persuade North Korea to end its nuclear program. And the Canadian government is pitching its infrastructure bank to the Trump administration as a way to help fund major cross-border projects.

Canada's new Ethics Commissioner, Mario Dion, says he expects to chart a different course from his predecessor. "We're not bound by what Mary Dawson has interpreted in the past. You start from scratch essentially, from a legal perspective," he told The Globe.

The national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women has lost another staff member. Debbie Reid has stepped down as executive director after replacing someone in the role in October.

Public servants who overpaid due to problems with the Phoenix pay system say phone lines have been jammed and they are having difficulty reporting the extra money by the government's deadline.

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And a global Pew Research study suggests Canadians are some of the most satisfied people in the world when it comes to how the country's media covers its politicians.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the North American free trade agreement: "This is the week that concerns over Mr. Trump's trade agenda morphed into NAFTA-danger syndrome, when people started to notice the risk and big-money bets were won and lost in the market."

Robyn Urback (CBC) on Justin Trudeau's town halls: "Politicians always earn extra cred by submitting themselves to the lion's den, and the PMO's decision to not screen the questions...only bolsters the perception that the prime minister is making himself available and accountable to concerned Canadians. His answers generally invalidate that perception, what with few of them being of any real substance, but the impression the whole exercise leaves is one of a leader willing to face his critics. And impression is pretty much all that matters here."

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on a $100-million donation to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: "Mental health has always been the orphan of medicare. Starved of funds because of stigma and hopelessness, donations have tended to go to where there is the most crying need: community groups trying to plug the gaps in care. That use of funds is in stark contrast to conditions such as cancer, where billions get pumped into research into new treatments and the search for cures."

Stephen Maher (Maclean's) on Senator Lynn Beyak and her support of residential schools: "The only thing that can explain this kind of callousness is racism. If white Canadians had been subjected to the same kind of treatment, nobody would talk this way about their suffering. That same racism leads to a reluctance to honour the treaties. Beyak proposes that the government buy its way out of its treaty obligations by providing each Indigenous person with a one-time payout after which 'we all become Canadians together.' The terrible social problems in Indigenous communities are not the result of the treaties, they are the result of the Crown failing to honour them."

Vicky Mochama (Metro) on pay equity: "Why is the onus on women, who are decidedly underpaid and often overworked, to take radical actions? Why must we make the same arguments repeatedly, often not to be heard?"

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