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Politics Briefing: Canada’s seniors are working longer

Income for seniors can offer some degree of protection against the rising cost of living.

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Good morning,

The final release of the 2016 Census, out this morning, sheds light on the country's education, employment and commutes. Read our big take for more.

But here is one point worth pulling out for policy makers: Canada's seniors are living longer – and working longer.

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In 1995, about 10 per cent of Canadians over the age of 65 were working, either part-time or full-time. In 2015, that's nearly doubled to just under 20 per cent. Or, put another way, there are now more than one million seniors working, the highest number Statistics Canada has recorded in at least 40 years.

The question is whether those Canadians are working out of choice – either to keep active or supplement other income – or necessity. The numbers seem to suggest the latter.

For seniors who worked full-time in 2015, more than seven in 10 said their employment income was their primary source of money, and that number has risen with each survey.

As well, StatsCan notes, the percentage of Canadians with a private pension plan has declined over the years. According to today's release, Canadians without private retirement savings were significantly more likely to still work compared to those who had plans – suggesting that they weren't continuing to come into work past 65 just for the fun of it.

No doubt the Liberal government, which moved to enhance the Canada Pension Plan as one of their first major policy moves in office, will be reading these new numbers with interest.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa, Mayaz Alam in Toronto and James Keller in Vancouver. If you're reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce today a new justice of the Supreme Court, sources tell The Globe. It will be one of three women he was recommended by an advisory committee, but he is not expected to announce who the new chief justice will be.

Mr. Trudeau stood in the House of Commons yesterday and delivered an apology for the prosecution and persecution of LGBTQ Canadians by their government in recent decades.

Mr. Trudeau is set to travel to Beijing this weekend, where he will meet with top Chinese leaders and announce Canada-China trade talks. Before he goes, though, a Canadian woman is urging the Prime Minister to help her parents, who have been detained for more than a year over a customs dispute.

The government says it will help a Canadian woman and her two young children who recently left the Islamic State, and are being held by Kurdish forces in Syria. Officials aren't sure yet if she will be charged when she returns to Canada.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Conservative critic Pierre Poilievre took their spat outside...the House of Commons. Before Question Period, Mr. Morneau said he would sue Mr. Poilievre if he repeated certain allegations outside of the protective space of the House. Mr. Poilievre obliged an hour later, but by that time Mr. Morneau had left Ottawa to speak to a group of corporate directors in Toronto.

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Canada is taking its softwood lumber fight with the U.S. to the World Trade Organization. It's the second appeal launched in the span of two weeks against protectionist measures by the U.S. Earlier this month, the federal government took its battle to NAFTA's dispute settlement mechanism.

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly says the recent closing of dozens of local newspapers is due to "cynical" business decisions by the owners.

The year 2017 is shaping up to be an excellent one for Canada's economy. 2018? Not so much, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Growth is expected to drop down to 2.1 per cent, as slower wage growth, higher interest rates and a cooling housing market takes its toll.

While much of the debate about housing in B.C. has focused on Vancouver, rental markets in some of the province's smaller cities have become among the tightest in the country. New data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. shows cities such as Kelowna and Abbotsford have vacancy rates near zero and rental prices are increasing at a faster pace than the national average.  Still, Toronto and Vancouver remain the most expensive cities for renters — with rental rates in some cases double the national average.

Alberta's NDP government is citing tens of thousands of new jobs as evidence its economy is gaining momentum, but experts caution those gains might not be benefiting out-of-work Albertans. That's because some of those gains are being outweighed by population growth, while other jobs are fly-in-fly-out positions that aren't being filled by people living in Alberta. The result? An employment rate that has barely budged since the bottom of the recession.

In B.C., the province's latest economic figures show the new NDP government is on track to end the current year with a razor-thin surplus, but only because it dipped into its forecast allowance.

And in Prince Edward Island, the PEI Green Party has doubled its seats. Hannah Bell, a businesswoman from Charlottetown, won a by-election with 35.3 per cent of the vote and joins leader Peter Bevan-Baker as the second Green in the 27-member legislature.

Tony Keller (The Globe and Mail) on Patrick Brown's pragmatism: "Mr. Brown's 78-page, 147-promise document, the so-called People's Guarantee, is pragmatism squared and on steroids – equally comfortable borrowing good ideas from across the political spectrum and bad policies from the other side of the aisle. As a result, the new PC platform contains several excellent proposals. But, for pragmatic electoral reasons, it also promises that a PC government will in some areas be more Liberal than the Liberals."

Lorne Dawson (The Globe and Mail) on foreign fighters who return to Canada: "After experiencing clusters of youth leaving to fight in Syria – or trying to do so – Montreal, Calgary and Toronto initiated their own different programs to counter and prevent radicalization, but all these and other efforts in Canada are still relatively new and fragmented. The need is much more immediate. The geo-political conditions that spawned Islamic State are not fundamentally changing, and the factors leading youth to radicalize locally persist. We should now plan better for the future and invest nationally in developing preventive and rehabilitative programming."

Dave Bidini (The Globe and Mail) on local newspapers: "On Monday, two media monoliths – Torstar and Postmedia – traded 41 local newspaper properties before eviscerating most of them, gutting small presses from across Canada, but mostly Ontario. Hundreds of jobs were lost, including men and women who'd devoted themselves to reporting the nature of business and politics, sport and art, in their communities, the kind of important micro-writing that 'you stick with tape to your fridge until it falls off,' which is something that Bruce Valpy, publisher of the Yellowknifer in the Northwest Territories, liked to say about the metric of success. This is also the kind of writing that holds polluters and developers accountable in small towns. In large swatches, it is no more."

Greg D'Avignon (The Globe and Mail) on the Site C dam: "Strategic assets like Site C can make us leaders in the supply of the world's lowest-carbon goods, natural resources, technologies and services. We are the blue hard hats and blue lab coats of this century's challenge – global climate change – in the same way Canadians have donned blue berets as peacekeepers amid human conflict."

Tim Harper (Toronto Star) on Canada 150: "The lessons from 2017 are the things that Canadians have quietly embraced apart from the government-sponsored events. It is a country more comfortable in its own skin, not in the need of the validation it gave itself on its 100th birthday, a country which has likely never looked better compared to its southern neighbour. It is a country much more comfortable with the long overdue tenets of true gender equality and enduring Indigenous reconciliation."

Ira Wells (Walrus) on Professor Jordan Peterson: "As a strategy to excite hysteria over the collapse of Western values, Peterson's tack is effective: It provides a veneer of academic rationale for the widespread anti-intellectual suspicion that a class of decadent, ivory-tower elites who are intoxicated by European ideology are leading the way to cultural suicide. As a description of what the "postmodern" thinkers actually wrote, it is very flawed."


In South Sudan – a country born in 2011 amid great expectations – the dream of a prosperous and harmonious society disintegrates into a civil war that has witnessed untold brutality. Tanya Birkbeck reports for The Globe from the capital Juba on the hundreds of women who were preyed upon – and the babies born of rape, who have become the forgotten victims of war.

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed close to Japan, its first such strike since mid-September.

Canada will host a meeting of foreign ministers in the coming months to discuss North Korea. Last week, the U.S. relisted North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, which allows more sanctions to be imposed on the rogue state. "Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now. The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea," U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as Kenya's president and vowed to unite Kenya after months of turmoil following an aborted election. Amid the ceremony, however, several people were killed  in clashes between police and opposition supporters.

Ireland's deputy prime minister, bogged down by scandal, resigned yesterday. Frances Fitzgerald stepped down and in the process, helped avert a political crisis as the opposition party in the minority government threatened to call a snap election.

And the U.K. and the European Union are close to an agreement on a Brexit divorce bill.

Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan spoke emotionally after a formal government apology for anti-LGBTQ discrimination The Canadian Press
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