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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

Ringed seals, a bellwether species of the Arctic, now deemed at risk

Ringed seals, a species of seal whose life cycle depends on sea ice and that is important to Indigenous peoples across the high Arctic, have been recommended for listing under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. The recommendation, announced Monday by scientists who inform the federal government on wildlife status across Canada, is notable, writes Ivan Semeniuk, given that ringed seals are currently abundant with an estimated population of two million. But it underscores the rapid change that has already begun for a species that depends on sea ice for its survival. Because they are able to maintain breathing holes in thick sea ice, a gradual loss of the type of sea ice that is present year-round in the Arctic has raised fears that the species could see population declines in the near future. Ringed seals are the primary prey of polar bears and are a subsistence food source for coastal communities across the Canadian North.

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The report from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada also declared extinct a fish population that was once abundant in the St. Lawrence River, and warned that official assessments may be underestimating the impact of pollution on many species at risk.

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Premiers agree to ask Ottawa for more cash

Canada’s premiers, who will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as early as January, have agreed to press the federal government for billions of extra dollars for health care, write Queen’s Park reporters Jeff Gray and Laura Stone.

The 13 provincial and territorial leaders met at a hotel near Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Monday and according to a joint statement they are asking for health transfers to rise by 5.2 per cent a year, faster than the current rate of 3 per cent. The premiers also said that any proposed national pharmacare plan “must be developed in partnership with provinces and territories.”

The premiers are also calling for:

  • Changes to the fiscal stabilization program, which provides cash to provinces facing economic hardship by removing a cap on the per capita limit on aid, and making changes to allow the program to provide more help to provinces, such as Alberta, suffering from declines in their resource industries.
  • The continuing development of Canada’s natural resources “in a responsible manner,” and for Ottawa to work with the provinces on improvements to its environmental assessment regime.
  • Expanding international trade to allow resources to get to global markets.
  • For Ottawa to work to eliminate U.S. protectionist measures on softwood lumber and infrastructure.

Restrict vaping flavours and advertising to youth, Toronto health report urges governments

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Toronto Public Health has called on federal and provincial governments to tightly restrict the vaping industry, including a ban on the sale of flavoured e-cigarette products with the exception of the tobacco flavour and restrict e-cigarette advertising. The report, which is in response to rising youth vaping rates, also calls on governments to introduce caps on the amount of nicotine products can contain. As Carly Weeks reports, Toronto’s medical officer of health, Eileen de Villa, said these measures are needed to discourage young people from the health risks of using e-cigarettes. Although it is not known what the long-term health problems linked to e-cigarettes are, some research suggests the products can damage blood vessels. There are also numerous reports of lung illness tied to nicotine-containing e-cigarettes.

House impeachment report to be unveiled ahead of landmark hearing

The House impeachment report on President Donald Trump was to be unveiled Monday behind closed doors as Democrats push ahead with the inquiry despite the White House’s declaration it will not participate in the first Judiciary Committee hearing. The Democrats say the report, based on weeks of testimony, will lay out what House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff called evidence of “wrongdoing and misconduct” by Trump over his actions toward Ukraine. The report is being made available to committee members to review ahead of a vote Tuesday to send it to the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The Judiciary Committee will call on legal experts, whose testimony, along with the report from the Intelligence Committee, could lay the groundwork for possible articles of impeachment.

On Sunday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone denounced the “baseless and highly partisan inquiry.” In a letter to Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, he also declined the invitation for the President’s counsel to appear before his panel Wednesday.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Law to speed up Canada’s justice system creates chaos due to lack of clarity: There have been at least 25 court hearings across Canada that have addressed a single question: Do jury-selection rules that took effect on Sept. 19 apply only to charges laid after that date, or to all cases already in the system in which a jury has not yet been chosen? The confusion means that some jury verdicts of guilt, including in at least one murder case in Ontario, could be thrown out. New trials would almost certainly have to be held in those cases.

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Prince Andrew accuser asks U.K. public for support: Virginia Giuffre, American woman who says she was forced to have underage sex with Prince Andrew, says she is telling the truth. she was trafficked by the disgraced late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends, including the British royal when she was 17 years old.

Manitoba First Nation seeking class action over long-term boil water advisories: Tataskweyak Cree Nation Chief Doreen Spence says in a statement of claim filed last month that people have gotten sick, are unable to do traditions and have moved away due to decades of unacceptable drinking water. The community has been under an official boil water advisory since 2017.

Thousands of protesters block Maltese PM Joseph Muscat from leaving parliament: Up to 4,000 demonstrators gathered near parliament’s entrance Monday, effectively blocking the prime minister and his party’s lawmakers from exiting the building.

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou says she has learned to ‘accept’ her restrictions: A year after her arrest in the Vancouver airport, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive Meng Wanzhou says she has experienced “moments of fear, pain, disappointment, helplessness, torment and struggle” in Canada.

MARKET WATCH

Global stock markets fell on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would restore tariffs on some imports from Brazil and Argentina, while a drop in new U.S. factory orders in November to their lowest since 2012 deepened the decline. Wall Street stepped back from last week’s record highs on Monday, with disappointing U.S. manufacturing data and fresh trade worries keeping buyers on the sidelines. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 264.97 points, or 0.94 per cent, to 27,786.44, the S&P 500 lost 26.84 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 3,114.14 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 97.48 points, or 1.12 per cent, to 8,567.99.

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Canadian manufacturing activity expanded in November for the third consecutive month as production climbed at a faster pace and new orders continued to grow, but the momentum was subdued compared to historical levels. Canada’s main stock index fell on Monday, tracking global stocks, shrugging off a jump in oil prices following strong data from China. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 58.73 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 16,981.47.

Looking for investing ideas? Check out The Globe’s weekly digest of the latest insights and analysis from the pros, stock tips, portfolio strategies and what investors need to know for the week ahead. This week’s edition includes unanimous TSX stock ‘buys,’ high-flying utilities and which banks are expected to hike dividends.

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TALKING POINTS

To make corrupt leaders pay, we should seize and repurpose frozen assets

“Earlier this year, I tabled a bill in the Canadian Senate that would hold accountable corrupt foreign leaders who have been party to creating displacement. Many of these kleptocrats have enriched themselves and likely have stashed their money in safe havens, such as Canada. Some have been named to the Magnitsky list and under the Canadian Magnitsky legislation, their assets are frozen. But that is all we do: Freeze their assets.” – Ratna Omidvar is an independent senator for Ontario

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The sole premier to stand up against Bill 21

“Only one premier, Brian Pallister of Manitoba, has spoken out strongly and consistently against Bill 21. ... [His opposition] springs from a unique Prairie conservatism that combines libertarian individualism with progressive societal values of community.” – David McLaughlin was campaign manager for the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party in 2016 and 2019.

On cusp of digital revolution, ‘do no harm’ is key principle for regulators of digital infrastructure

“We have grown increasingly concerned that Canadian policy may be about to change direction, prioritizing short-term savings on consumers’ monthly bills over the tens of billions in investment needed to enable the digital revolution.” – Vadim Gouterman, Lawrence Kuo and Keith Halliday are with the Toronto office of Boston Consulting Group.

LIVING BETTER

What you need to know about debt and how to manage it

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Credit cards, mortgages, lines of credit, loans – debt can be convenient but also dangerous if it gets out of control. Here’s The Globe and Mail’s guide to help you make smart decisions about borrowing with what you need to know about debt and how best to manage it.

Should you switch from whole wheat to sprouted whole-grain bread?

Nutritionists Leslie Beck tackles the question of whether sprouted whole grain bread is healthier than regular whole grain bread. Sprouted grains are found in tortillas, hamburger and hot dog buns, crackers, frozen waffles and dried pasta as well as loaves of all varieties made by bread makers such as Stonemill Bakehouse, Food for Life Baking Co., or Dave’s Killer Bread. Sprouted grains are often touted as being healthier than their unsprouted counterparts because they have higher vitamin and mineral levels, she writes. However, the nutrient differences, though, may not be as great as you might think.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

Some of the world leaders who will be attending the NATO summit in London in 2019.

The Associated Press, AFP/Getty Images, The Canadian Press

Cracks in the alliance: NATO leaders meet Tuesday amid growing tensions over Syria, spending

A 70-year-old military alliance already strained by three years of Trump foreign policy is now being tested by Turkey’s unpredictable behaviour and opposing views about Europe’s relationship to Russia, writes Mark MacKinnon. These divisions will be prevalent as leaders gather for a two-day summit starting Tuesday in London, for what is supposed to be a demonstration of solidarity. However, based on recent comments from NATO leaders, it will more likely to showcase the growing splits within the military alliance. Donald Trump has been a critic since before the 2016 election, prompting French President Emmanuel Macron to say the 29-member group is “experiencing brain death.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Macron have exchanged heated words and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been critical of Macron’s “disruptive politics.” And of course, watching it all, is Vladimir Putin, who has strengthened military ties with Turkey.

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