Morning Update

January 23, 2019

Morning Update: Soaring demand for $100 bills; Canada’s money laundering problem
Morning Update: Soaring demand for $100 bills; Canada’s money laundering problem - Also: Pride Toronto voted by a thin margin to keep uniformed police officers out of the parade

Arik Ligeti

Good morning,

These are the top stories:

Demand is soaring for $100 bills despite Canadians going increasingly cashless

Federal officials are unsure what is accounting for the surge, but some experts – including the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund – say the main reasons are tax evasion and organized crime (for subscribers).

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The B.C. government is currently urging Ottawa to step up the fight against money laundering, warning criminals are able to walk out of Vancouver casinos with bags full of cash. Federal minister Bill Blair is pledging to improve how law enforcement agencies share information, but Ottawa won’t commit to B.C.’s recommendations to tackle laundering (for subscribers).

The Bank of Canada has no plans to phase out $50 or $100 bills, saying it’s working with other jurisdictions experiencing the same trend to better understand the root causes.

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Pride Toronto voted by a thin margin to keep uniformed police officers out of the parade

In a rejection of a decision made by Pride’s board of directors, members voted 163-161 against allowing police to march in their uniform or use vehicles as floats at the annual parade and festivities.

In October, Pride’s executive director said the board would welcome an application from police to march in 2019. But that decision was met with backlash, with some members saying they hadn’t been consulted.

Federal funding of $450,000 has been allocated for a Pride Toronto initiative aimed at improving relations between Toronto’s LGBTQ2+ communities and the criminal-justice system.

B.C.’s Speaker says the legislature must address a lack of spending oversight

MLAs are now vowing to launch an external audit after Speaker Darryl Plecas alleged Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz improperly expensed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Among the purchases highlighted in the report is a lightly used $3,200 log-splitter, which was delivered directly to James’s personal residence but materialized on legislature grounds some time after the pair were suspended with pay in November.

Plecas’s report says flaws in the existing patchwork of policies enabled the alleged spending abuses. “There appears to be too much power and too little accountability in the Office of the Clerk," he wrote, noting that “expenses which appear to have no conceivable business rationale could still be formally approved under prevailing systems.”

Gary Mason writes that “the report prompts many questions, among them being just how long this type of activity was going on, if it indeed was.

Australian novelist and political commentator disappears in China amid tensions with Canada

An Australian novelist and political commentator has disappeared in China, raising alarm that Beijing is using harsh methods against other Canadian intelligence allies as it seeks the release of a Huawei executive arrested in Vancouver.

Yang Hengjun, a writer and former Chinese diplomat who recently worked as a visiting scholar at Columbia University, landed in China’s southern city of Guangzhou early Jan. 19 with his wife and step-daughter.

The key takeaways from Canada’s new food guide

From four food groups to three: Eat more plants, and less meat and dairy. That’s the message behind dropping the separate meat and dairy groups in favour of a general “proteins” category that emphasizes things like tofu and chickpeas. The other two groups are “fruits and vegetables” and “whole grains.”

A less prescriptive approach: Gone are specific recommendations to eat a certain number of serving sizes. Instead, the message is to eat a diet made up of roughly half fruits and vegetables, and half of the remaining two categories.

Drink water: Canadians are being encouraged to make water their “beverage of choice.” The guide also discourages consuming sugary drinks – a label that now applies to 100-per-cent fruit juice. Experts say the sugar recommendations could influence school nutrition programs.

Fewer processed foods: Instead of just telling us what to eat, the new guide also says what we shouldn’t eat: processed and prepared foods that are high in sodium, free sugars and saturated fats.

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The value of the Sahota-owned Regent Hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has plummeted by $9-million. The shuttered rental property, which the city is targeting for expropriation after bylaw violations, has dropped in value from $12.1-million last year to $3.1-million this month. (for subscribers)

Former Toronto Blue Jays star pitcher Roy Halladay has been posthumously voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Halladay was a six-time all-star and won a Cy Young award over his 12 seasons in Toronto. He died in a plane crash in November, 2017, at the age of 40.


Markets mixed

U.S. stock futures pointed to a rebound after the previous session’s sharp losses on strong earnings from consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co. and equipment maker United Technologies Corp. World markets put in a choppy session on continuing worries about U.S-China trade and global economic growth, with MSCI’s all-country index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, slipping 0.1 per cent. On Bay Street, futures were higher alongside firmer crude prices. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 0.1 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng eked out the tiniest gain and the Shanghai Composite rose by less than 0.1 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was down 0.3 per cent by about 8:05 a.m. ET, with Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 up by between 0.2 and 0.4 per cent. New York futures are up. The Canadian dollar is at 75.14 US cents.


The confrontation between the Covington students and Nathan Phillips is America, laid bare

“The video of Phillips and student Nick Sandmann went viral. Some called it a ‘face-off.’ I call it America. North America. North America, a place in which Indigenous peoples, time and time again, refuse to stop being who we are but are mocked, belittled and demeaned for it. North America, a place in which groups of people arrive from far-off places, bringing their conflicts and fights, while we remind them that there are people and laws here too. North America, a place in which an American boy can mock the very person who enabled him to wear the hat he wears so proudly.” – Niigaan Sinclair, who is Anishinaabe and a columnist with The Winnipeg Free Press

With Meng affair, China shows its true face to the world

“The regime wants other countries to know that they will pay a price if they cross Beijing. The message received has been somewhat different: This is how Beijing will behave as its influence and power increase. The lesson to be taken from the arrests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and from the death sentence given to Robert Schellenberg, is plain: Countries that defy Beijing may face reprisals, including having their citizens detained and maltreated.” – Globe editorial

This year’s Oscars race is now certified as the wildest – and ugliest – in recent memory

“As with most years, the 2019 Academy Awards are not about singling out what the ‘best’ pictures are. They’re a glitzy referendum on the state of the industry, a star-studded weather report on which way the winds are blowing. And this year, there’s a hurricane headed toward the Dolby Theatre.” – Barry Hertz (for subscribers)


Five ways you’re being unintentionally annoying on a plane

For starters, don’t use mediocre headphones. Make sure to test them to make sure the sound isn’t bleeding, in turn forcing your seatmates to hear whatever show or song you have queued up. Second, your seat pocket is not for garbage. The person in front of you will feel that Pringles can jabbing into their back. Subscribers can go here for more flying no-nos.


Edvard Munch dies

Self-Portrait with Cigarette, 1895, detail
(National Gallery, Oslo/Bridgeman Images)
Jan. 23, 1944: The artist Edvard Munch died peacefully in his 81st year in Norway during the Nazi occupation. After creative and controversial years in Paris and Berlin, followed by a complete breakdown in 1908, he had been living quietly outside Oslo, but not without significant anxiety. The Nazis had labelled his work “degenerate art” in the 1930s and while sympathetic collectors had hidden some pieces, he lived in fear that authorities would seize and destroy the vast horde of paintings and drawings he kept in his house. Despite their earlier disdain, the Nazis decided Munch’s death was an opportunity for propaganda and, ignoring the artist’s request for a private funeral, draped his coffin in swastikas and marched it down Oslo’s main street. Friends and eventually biographers were left to explain that, while Munch helped launched German Expressionism during his Berlin stint in the 1890s, the connection did not turn him into a Nazi sympathizer. Fifteen months after his death, Europe was liberated and Munch’s collection was donated to the Norwegian government. The artist, who had been painting gentler nudes and self-portraits in his later period, would be remembered for the brooding psychological studies of his German years, in particular The Scream. – Kate Taylor

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online comments
From the comments: ‘Makes a healthy diet look like punishment.’ Readers respond to Canada’s revamped Food Guide
Today, readers are discussing Canada’s new plant-focused Food Guide and Leslie Beck’s column Canada’s revamped Food Guide has finally caught up with scientific evidence

Page from Canada's Food Guide
It’s somewhat amazing that, despite all of our technological achievements, we’re still figuring out what food we should eat. - Joe.Blough

You would need to be a good cook with some good ideas (and a few broken rules) to even have a hope of making that plate appetizing. It's a diet plate, really. I know the image is just to explain the types of foods, but it still boils down to nibbling salad and fruit most of the time. Most of us aren't vegetarian recipe experts which you'd need to be with those recommendations. - Toulouse Lautrec

In response to Toulouse Lautrec:

That’s the thing about meat, milk, etc. it makes it easy to get the necessary protein, fats, etc. Using other sources means a lot more work and planning. - JC12345

I will be 76 shortly! I think the Canada's Food Guide is catching up to the way my mother used to feed us (with a few tweaks). We ate real food - much of which we grew ourselves. - Pops10

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