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Politics Politics Briefing: Rising tensions and tough calls for China, the U.S. and Canada

Good morning,

Trade tensions between the United States and China are once again on the rise as Canada grapples with new tests for its relationship with both superpowers.

The U.S. escalated its tariff war with China by raising levies on US$200-billion of goods. China vowed to strike back.

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China was a key topic on a phone call Thursday between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Prime Minister’s Office says the two leaders discussed relations with China, including the detentions of two Canadian citizens in China, and also touched on some sore points concerning North American trade.

The PMO said Mr. Trudeau repeated his call for the removal of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, and that the two leaders exchanged views on progress toward ratifying the new trade agreement reached earlier this year.

Ottawa, meanwhile, showed some flexibility this week in its position with the U.S. on the procurement of new fighter jets.

The federal government is opening up the acquisition process for its $26-billion contract, responding to threats from the U.S. government that it would refuse to sell the stealth Lockheed Martin F-35 unless Ottawa scrapped its quota for aerospace spending.

The changes to the process were presented to potential bidders this week, after it emerged the U.S. government threatened to pull the F-35 from the competition if the requirement for industrial benefits was not modified.

Under the new process, Ottawa will no longer force all bidders to commit 100 per cent of the value of the aircraft’s acquisition and sustainment on spending in Canada, reports The Globe’s Daniel Leblanc.

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Two former senior Conservative cabinet ministers who had knowledge of the naval procurement deal at the centre of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s breach-of-trust case say they spoke with the senior naval officer’s defence team and provided information about the contract.

The Senate voted to suspend Senator Lynn Beyak from the Red Chamber over her refusal to remove racist letters about Indigenous people from her website.

Bombardier Inc. allegedly used corruption and collusion to win a contract in Azerbaijan – then obstructed an investigation of the deal – according to a World Bank audit that could lead to the Montreal-based transportation giant being blacklisted from projects funded by the international financial institution.

More than $7-billion in dirty money was washed through British Columbia’s economy last year – driving up the cost of buying a home by at least 5 per cent, according to reports released on Thursday by the B.C. government.

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The Supreme Court is to rule today on whether immigration detainees have the right to challenge their detentions in person before judges.

Some of Canada’s business and political elite paid tribute to former prime minister Brian Mulroney Thursday night.

Ontario will gain an extra $13-million a year after Hydro One increased its dividend payment.

Facebook Inc. quickly rejected a call from co-founder Chris Hughes to split the world’s largest social-media company in three, while lawmakers urged the U.S. Justice Department to launch an antitrust investigation.

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to nominate Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing Co executive, as his defence secretary.

Republicans lashed out at fellow GOP Senator Richard Burr for his committee’s subpoena of U.S. President Donald Trump’s son, a move that suggested the Russia investigation is not “case closed” as some in the party insist.

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Former Brazilian president Michel Temer surrendered to the country’s federal police, marking the second time he will be jailed on allegations that he participated in a vast corruption scheme for decades.

Europe goes to the polls later this month. With the rise of the populist, Euroskeptic parties, this parliamentary election matters. Here’s a guide to what’s happening and what’s at stake.

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Canada-China relations: “Canada now finds itself stuck in a fight with China. It’s a fight Canada never asked for, but China’s nature as a totalitarian state made it inevitable. It was a matter of when, not whether. And in this fight, Canada is at a clear disadvantage. But Ottawa can’t simply roll over. If it does, China will know that when it pushes, we will cave in.”

Ken Hansen (The Globe and Mail) on the Mark Norman case: “One day, this incident will become a case study for officers at all levels of their professional education. But it will be as a cautionary tale and not, as Vice-Adm. Norman may hope, an shining example of ethical conduct for those in the military.”

Christie Blatchford (National Post) on the Mark Norman case: “In lieu of PM Justin Trudeau, Bill Blair, the border security minister, was in the House of Commons Thursday, bloviating on in reply to Opposition questions about the Norman case about how the defence had praised prosecutors, how there was no political interference in the PPSC decisions, etc., etc. But what there was, sir, was plenty of ineptitude, obfuscation, stalling, delay and cat-and-mouse gamesmanship from the DOJ, the PCO, the Prime Minister’s Office — and, from the Department of Defence.”

Jen Gerson (Maclean’s) on Jason Kenney: “Premier Kenney seems, already, to be destined to cut an aggressive figure on the national stage. He will be as polarizing as Klein and Lougheed. Villain or hero will be up to history—but depending on which side of the ideological and geographic divide you sit, probably both.”

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Andrew MacDougall (Ottawa Citizen) on Trudeau and climate policy: “Now Trudeau needs to sell a marquee tax on an issue of low public importance from a point of low personal approval, in the teeth of a sustained revolt against increases to the cost of living. And he must do it after a mandate spent angering and disappointing environmentalists and the resource sector – without bleeding support to progressive alternatives.”

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