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After encouraging Trump meeting, firms now eyeing Canada-EU trade outcome

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Feb 14th, 2017

Feeling a sense of relief following Donald Trump’s remarks on the future of U.S. trade with Canada, business leaders are now hoping for a second wave of positive news out of Europe.

Corporate Canada is shifting its focus to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip across the Atlantic later this week.

Trudeau’s visit is expected to coincide with the European Union’s ratification vote on its free-trade deal with Canada, an agreement nearly scuttled last fall due to opposition from a small region in Belgium.

“The prime minister is now off to hopefully put (the Canada-EU free trade deal) in his pocket and bring it home from Europe, which would also be good news,” John Manley, the president of the Business Council of Canada, said in an interview.

Canada is expected to ratify the deal after the European Parliament gives its OK.

The deal will still need the approval of the EU’s 28 national parliaments as well as some regional governments. But 90 per cent of the deal is expected to come into force under what is known as provisional application.

Perrin Beatty, head of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, agreed that it’s important for the federal government to finalize the deal with the EU.

Business leaders in Canada said they were somewhat comforted by Trump’s comments Monday after his first face-to-face meeting with Trudeau.

In particular, they highlighted the president’s remark that the U.S. was in favour of “tweaking” the North American Free Trade Agreement, rather than ripping up or dramatically changing the deal, as Trump had vowed to do during the election campaign.

“We’ll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries,” Trump told reporters at a joint news conference in Washington with Trudeau.

“We will co-ordinate closely to protect jobs in our hemisphere and keep wealth on our continent.”

There are expectations in Canada that the president’s words will help lift business confidence after weeks of companies wondering what the future will hold.

But while Manley expected Canadian firms to be “somewhat placated” with regard to their concerns about the unknowns of Canada-U.S. trade, he said many key economic questions remain unanswered.

“There still has to be meat put on the bones – we don’t know what tweaking NAFTA really means,” said Manley, a former Liberal cabinet minister.

He said firms are still looking for clarity on the future of the congressional Republicans’ proposed border-adjustment tax, which could have serious negative effects on Canadian exports to the U.S.

Manley, whose group represents around 150 chief executives, also pointed to the possibility that Trump’s promised infrastructure program could be fraught with Buy America provisions, which could force Canada to respond with similar measures.

However, the joint statement from Trudeau and Trump after Monday’s meeting suggests vaguely that both leaders might be envisaging an open border when it comes to government infrastructure.

“Given our shared focus on infrastructure investments, we will encourage opportunities for companies in both countries to create jobs through those investments,” the statement reads.

Beatty said the uncertainty has created a “chilling effect” among his members, who have been telling him that they want to know the rules of the game before they make any multimillion-dollar investments in Canada.

Some of those fears have eased, he noted.

“I think that people, as of today, have confidence that the relationship is fundamentally sound,” said Beatty, who, however, expects firms to seek more clarity going forward.

“Again, I think everybody recognizes that there are contentious issues that we have to deal with between the two countries and it won’t always be easy.”

Rona Ambrose, the Conservative interim leader, said late Monday that the Liberals must make domestic changes to remain competitive.

Trump, she pointed out, has vowed to reduce energy costs, lower corporate and personal taxes and loosen regulations in the U.S.

Ambrose accused the Liberals of introducing policies that have raised costs for Canadians – from a carbon tax, to an income-tax hike for top earners, to higher payroll costs for employers through the expanded Canada Pension Plan.

“We need to reassess the fact that we are leading this country down an uncompetitive path,” Ambrose told reporters in Ottawa.

“We have to reassess what we’re doing up here, and you know, as a lot of people have said, recalibrate and think about what impact this is going to have on us and our ability to create jobs.”

When it comes to “tweaking” NAFTA, she warned that Trudeau must be careful to protect a target of U.S. officials in the past: Canada’s protectionist, supply-managed dairy sector.

Later this week, Trudeau will leave on a four-day European tour that will take him to Strasbourg, France where he will address the European Parliament, which is expected to vote to ratify the Canada-EU free trade deal.

Trudeau will also meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is arguably Europe’s most influential politician.

Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn resigns

Julie Pace, Eric Tucker and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press | posted Tuesday, Feb 14th, 2017

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President Donald Trump’s embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned following reports he misled Vice-President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia. His departure upends Trump’s senior team after less than a month in office.

In a resignation letter, Flynn said he gave Vice-President Mike Pence and others “incomplete information” about his calls with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. The vice-president, apparently relying on information from Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.

Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as the acting national security adviser. Kellogg had previously been appointed the National Security Council chief of staff and advised Trump during the campaign. Trump is also considering former CIA Director David Petraeus and Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a U.S. Navy SEAL, for the post, according to a senior administration official.

The Trump team’s account of Flynn’s discussions with the Russian envoy changed repeatedly over several weeks, including the number of contacts, the dates of those contacts and ultimately, the content of the conversations.

Late last month, the Justice Department warned the White House that Flynn could be in a compromised position as a result of the contradictions between the public depictions of the calls and what intelligence officials knew to be true based on recordings of the conversations, which were picked up as part of routine monitoring of foreign officials’ communications in the U.S.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Flynn was in frequent contact with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the day the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia for election-related hacking, as well as at other times during the transition.

An administration official and two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed the Justice Department warnings on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. It was unclear when Trump and Pence learned about the Justice Department outreach.

The Washington Post was the first to report the communication between former acting attorney general Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, and the Trump White House. The Post also first reported last week that Flynn had indeed spoken about sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

Trump never voiced public support for Flynn after that initial report and continued to keep his national security adviser close.

But White House officials sent contradictory messages about Flynn’s status. Counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump had “full confidence” in Flynn, while press secretary Sean Spicer said the president was “evaluating the situation” and consulting with Pence about his conversations with the national security adviser.

Asked whether the president had been aware that Flynn might have planned to discuss sanctions with the Russian envoy, Spicer said, “No, absolutely not.”

The Kremlin had confirmed that Flynn was in contact with Kislyak but denied that they talked about lifting sanctions. On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers mounted a fierce defence of Flynn.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, said in a post on Facebook that firing a national security adviser for his contacts with Russia is “not just paranoia but something even worse.” Kosachev also expressed frustration at the Trump administration.

“Either Trump hasn’t found the necessary independence and he’s been driven into a corner … or russophobia has permeated the new administration from top to bottom,” he said.

Kosachev’s counterpart at the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, Alexei P ushkov, tweeted shortly after the announcement that “it was not Flynn who was targeted but relations with Russia.”

Flynn’s discussions with the Russian raised questions about whether he offered assurances about the incoming administration’s new approach. Such conversations would breach diplomatic protocol and possibly violate the Logan Act, a law aimed at keeping citizens from conducting diplomacy.

Administration officials said that misleading Pence was ultimately Flynn’s downfall, though they insisted he resigned and was not fired by Trump.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Flynn’s resignation “does not end questions over his contacts with the Russians.” He said the White House has yet to be forthcoming about whether Flynn was acting at the behest of the president or others.

Flynn’s resignation comes as Trump and his top advisers seek to steady the White House after a rocky start. The president, who seeks input from a wide range of business associates, friends and colleagues, has been asking people their opinions on his senior team, including Spicer and chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Flynn was a loyal Trump supporter during the campaign, but he was viewed skeptically by some in the administration’s national security circles, in part because of his ties to Russia. In 2015, he was paid to attend a gala dinner for Russia Today, a Kremlin-backed television station, and sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the event.

Flynn apologized to Pence about the matter on Friday, according to an administration official. The official said Pence was relying on information from Flynn when he went on television and denied that sanctions were discussed with Kislyak.

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey and Matthew Daly in Washington and Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.

Should schools ban Valentine’s Day cards?

Lisa Kadane and Melissa Carter | posted Tuesday, Feb 14th, 2017

“Yes, I think schools should ban Valentine’s Day cards.”

Melissa Carter, mom of one

Maybe it’s because my son’s name, Sebastien, is nine letters long, but I’ll bet even Zoe/Ava/Kai’s parents feel the same unsentimental sense of dread when the class list of 25 names (of kids who’ve only just mastered writing them) comes home in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.

There’s nothing sweet about how stressed I get the night before the 14th, my wrist cramping up from signing Sebastien’s name and taping two-dozen nut-free treats to cards that will probably just end up in the trash (all the while trying to resist breaking open the special bottle of bubbly I’ve saved for myself for the actual day). Waking up warm and fuzzy after I’ve done the late-night work while he slept soundly—truly an act of love.

An occasion that obliges kids to exchange cards with every single one of their classmates—whether or not they actually spend time together at recess—that their parents have completed for them is, if you ask me, essentially meaningless. Even if the pressure didn’t exist and they could hand out cards to select friends (and write them themselves!), I wouldn’t love it.

Sure, kids should be encouraged to show kindness and affection for their friends, but this is a lesson best learned throughout the year and not on a single chocolate-fuelled day. In our house, I try to instill those values by regularly making lists of people to do lovely things for. We start each day with a gratitude journal and we finish every evening with lots of smooches.

Sebastien is in grade one this year. In JK he made heart-melting handmade valentines, and in SK I caved to his pleading for the store-bought superhero variety, which he couldn’t wait to pass out. But of all the cards he’s given and received, the ones that get him most excited are the ones he makes for me—and I feel that’s the only Valentine’s Day tradition worth keeping. So while the practice of card exchanges at school is a waste of my precious time and sleep, he wins because his heart is in it. And at least I have my bubbly.

“No, I don’t think school should ban Valentine’s Day cards.”

Lisa Kadane, mom of two

Confession: I still have the valentine my grade-four crush gave to me: a cartoon cat with “Hi, Tiger! Happy Valentine’s Day!” printed on it. I held on to that card as proof that my puppy-love feelings were reciprocated.

Sadly, my nine-year-old daughter, Avery, (who’s now in grade four herself) won’t have these mementos of elementary-school friendships or cute boys. Two years ago, her school sent home a notice to parents asking that kids not bring in cards on February 14. The move effectively banned the traditional exchange, and it’s a trend that’s gaining momentum. The rationale wasn’t to bolster the self-esteem of kids who might get overlooked by peers—it was done to protect the environment.

“If every child at school buys a typical box of 30 valentines, it adds up to 3,000 cards!” the memo read. “Imagine the trees we are saving by not exchanging cards in our school.” Imagine the irony since families were notified of the valentine embargo by a letter printed on paper from an unlucky tree.

Instead, students participated in a school-wide valentine craft where they each made a giant paper heart and asked friends to sign it. A similar friendship activity is planned this year.

Honestly, I wonder if the environment is really gaining from this killjoy exercise. Paper is the currency of communication and learning, and surely there are better ways to cut back beyond valentine sacrificing.

By ditching valentine cards I fear kids are losing more than just a tradition. They don’t write letters to pen pals, and they rarely write thank yous to relatives. Paper birthday invitations have been replaced by e-cards, and when was the last time they passed notes in class? (They’re too busy texting.) Valentine’s Day is their chance to pick out a cute card, pen a personal note and deliver it with excitement. It’s also a time for them to anticipate cards from others and perhaps save the special ones.

Let kids be kids; let them get caught up in the excitement of a holiday that celebrates love. After all, they have the rest of their lives to worry about the environment.

A version of this article appeared in our February 2015 issue with the headline, “Should schools ban Valentine’s Day cards?” p. 80.

Ontario school board cancels trips to U.S. due to ‘safety and equity’ concerns

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 13th, 2017

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WINDSOR, Ont. – A school board in southwestern Ontario says it has cancelled a handful of school trips to the United States due to “safety and equity” concerns.

Greater Essex County District School Board trustee Clara Howitt said Sunday that the decision has affected trips to the U.S. that were scheduled for February, as well as a trip to Washington, D.C. in April.

Howitt said the April trip was cancelled because it would have coincided with a march on Washington that is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of people to the U.S. capital.

She said the board, which covers Windsor, Ont., and the surrounding area, was worried about students’ safety because of the size of the rally.

The February trips, she said, were cancelled because of concerns about equity.

While an executive order put in place by U.S. President Donald Trump banning travel from citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries is not currently in effect — and it didn’t affect citizens and permanent residents of Canada when it was being enforced — Howitt said the board feels things are still too uncertain.

The board is being cautious because school trips have been affected before, Howitt said.

“There were buses detained for a significant period of time, and students turned away. That was shortly after 9/11,” she said. “So we’ve been in this circumstance before.”

She said the board is trying to prevent that from happening again.

Howitt said the cancellations are just an “interim” measure, and the board will re-evaluate going forward. She didn’t say when that would be.

Adele wins top Grammys, but pays tribute to Beyonce

David Bauder, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 13th, 2017

In an extraordinary moment between the music industry’s top female artists, Adele beat Beyonce for three of the top Grammy Awards – then said her competitor deserved at least one of them.

The Grammys featured memorable performances by the likes of Bruno Mars and A Tribe Called Quest, big victories by Chance the Rapper and David Bowie, and some unusual flubs Sunday, but they were overshadowed by Adele’s triumph and how she responded. The Recording Academy did nothing to calm criticism that black artists are overshadowed in major awards by more conservative white musicians.

Adele’s “Hello” won Grammys for song and record of the year and its creator flashed pride: she called it “my favourite song I’ve ever done.”

Her win for album of the year was more of a surprise. “25” was a commercial smash but Beyonce’s “Lemonade” won wider acclaim as an artistic statement. In tears, Adele thanked the academy for the award and poignantly talked about reclaiming a bit of herself after having difficulties with motherhood. Then she addressed Beyonce, praising “Lemonade” as monumental, beautiful and soul-baring.

“The reason I felt I had to say something was my album of the year is ‘Lemonade,’” Adele said backstage later. “She is my icon of my whole life.”

She told of practicing a Spice Girls song for a school assembly growing up in Britain until her friends turned her on to Beyonce’s singing on the 1997 Destiny’s Child song “No No No.”

“It’s her time to win,” Adele said. “My view is kind of what the (expletive) does she have to do to win album of the year? I felt this album showed another side to her that we haven’t seen and I felt blessed to be brought into that situation.”

If that’s how Adele felt, many Grammy Award critics are likely to chime in. One prominent black artist, Frank Ocean, did not submit his work for Grammy consideration this year and criticized the academy for giving its top album award to Taylor Swift over Kendrick Lamar last year. Kanye West and Drake did not attend the Grammys this year.

Beyonce won two Grammys and her visually arresting performance of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles” won acclaim Sunday. Perhaps sensing it would be her last chance, she took the time to explain her thoughts behind “Lemonade” upon winning the Grammy for best urban contemporary album.

“My intention for the film and album is to create a body of work that would give voice to our pain, our struggles, our doubts and our history, to confront issues that make us uncomfortable,” said Beyonce, who is pregnant with twins.

Earlier in the night, a pregnant Beyonce – dressed in a glittery gown, gilded crown and gold choker – took the stage in a lengthy performance of two songs from her critically acclaimed album “Lemonade.”

She was introduced by her mother and former stylist, Tina Knowles: “Ladies and gentlemen, with my mother’s pride, my daughter, Beyonce.”

Beyonce sang on top of a long table, even leaning back on a chair while singing “Love Drought.” She later sang “Sandcastles” while sitting down, hitting high notes.

Beyonce performs at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles. Matt Sayles/Invision/AP.

 

Blue Ivy, her five-year-old daughter with Jay Z, was a scene-stealer in her own right as she wore a Prince-inspired outfit in the audience. She slipped into a crowd of musicians when Grammys host James Corden replicated a “carpool karaoke” skit.

As usual, the Grammy show was heavy on performance. As is less usual, there were a couple of flubs that reminded the audience it was a live telecast.

Adele called a halt to her George Michael tribute, asking the band to start “Fastlove” again. “I can’t mess this up for him,” she said and apologized to the audience. She was warmly applauded at the end by fellow musicians, most of whom could relate to rough moments onstage.

During Lady Gaga’s energetic pairing with Metallica – showing a tough girl side that wasn’t on display during her Super Bowl halftime show – duet partner James Hetfield’s microphone malfunctioned and he couldn’t be heard for two verses. He kicked the mic stand over and angrily threw his guitar when the song was done.

Mars had two show-stopping numbers, his own “That’s What I Like” and a blistering Prince tribute, “Let’s Go Crazy.” On the latter, he even schooled The Time’s Morris Day, and Day’s mirror.

Impressive duets were turned in by Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, the Weeknd and Daft Punk, and Maren Morris and Alicia Keys. Several artists joined in tribute to the Bee Gees as Barry Gibb, the band’s only surviving member, was caught on camera singing along from the audience.

A Tribe Called Quest’s performance was the most overtly political, with guest Busta Rhymes criticizing “President Agent Orange.”

After Adele’s five Grammys, Bowie won four, as did Adele’s producer, Greg Kurstin. Chance the Rapper won three awards, including the coveted best new artist trophy.

Bowie, who died of cancer in January 2016, won each time he was nominated for “Blackstar,” his critically praised final album. The awards laid bare how Bowie has been neglected by the Grammys throughout his career. He won a lifetime achievement award in 2006 but before that, his only victory was for a “Blue Jean” video in 1985.

Musician Donny McClaskin, who worked on “Blackstar,” said Bowie had gotten wind before he died that the press thought highly of the disc.

“He was very pleased with how it came out artistically,” he said backstage. “I was very surprised that he’d only won one Grammy for a video.”

Besides being honoured as the top new artist, Chance the Rapper won best rap album, beating out Drake and West. It was the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy.

Twenty One Pilots won best pop duo/group performance for the hit “Stressed Out.” They removed their pants when accepting the award – an odd reference to when they watched the Grammys at home in Ohio in their boxers during pre-fame days.

Sturgil Simpson, as album of the year nominee overshadowed in that category by Adele and Beyonce, won best country album for “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.”

Associated Press writers Mesfin Fekadu, Sandy Cohen and Beth Harris contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

Because it’s 2017: Online dating the norm as Valentine’s Day approaches

CityNews | posted Monday, Feb 13th, 2017

Welcome to Valentine’s Day! (It’s a full week this year.)

We’re kicking off five days of love and sex, starting with Monday’s theme of online dating: who’s doing it, who isn’t, and how successful they’ve been.

We also want to hear your horror stories. What’s the worst online dating experience you’ve ever had? Tweet it to us using the hashtag #CitySex, and it could be featured in Monday night’s news.

On the big day, Tuesday, we’ll take a look at the secrets to love, from a couple who’s been together for decades, another couple who made it despite the odds, and a group of Grade 1 students. The six-year-olds, despite their lack of experience, were quick to offer adorable definitions of what love is.

On Wednesday, we’ll delve deep into the sheets and reveal exactly what Toronto is up to. Generation by generation, the results may be surprising. On Thursday, we’ll take a look at love after love. Whether they’re dating after divorce or death, we’ll speak to single mothers who are back on the dating scene, with a few significant changes.

Finally, on Friday, we’ll have an expert in studio who can answer your most pressing love questions, while online, a Toronto matchmaker reveals why she doesn’t use photos — and the best questions to ask a potential partner.

Enjoy, read on, and weigh in.

Dating is hard, said Kennedy, a 24-year-old woman, and being online makes it a little bit easier.

“I work for Google so I’m working a lot and I travel a lot. Online dating is the way to go,” she said.

Approaching someone in person can be intimidating, she said.

“It’s the age of technology!” she said, laughing.

“What happens if you approach someone at a grocery store? You say ‘hello’ and they look at you like ‘oh my gosh, someone’s talking to me, what do I do?’”

Behind a computer or a text, it’s easier to be yourself.

While Kennedy says she hasn’t met “the one” yet, she has made plenty of friends. That’s something Jacquie Brownridge, who runs an in-person matchmaking service, sees quite often.

Brownridge is the president of It’s Just Lunch Canada. She often sees clients who find that while they haven’t made a match, they have expanded their social network.

“We do match people based on certain attributes, and there’s a lot of great friendships that come out of this,” Brownridge confirmed.

Eva, meanwhile, was not looking for friends. She had plenty, and they were the ones who convinced her to try online dating. She met her boyfriend of two years on Tinder.

“We are long-distance. I travel every two months to Vancouver to see him,” the 28-year-old said.

She did not grow up online dating and there were two qualities that made her current boyfriend very attractive.

One thing that stood out, she said, is that he made the first move. Secondly, he didn’t say anything inappropriate.

The fear of saying something inappropriate, or pressuring a woman, is top-of-mind for 20-year-old Mayhar.

He says he was reluctant to start online dating, but was very happy with the results.

“Recently, I decided to explore the ocean. There’s fish everywhere!” he laughed.

His approach is direct, he said. After a brief message, he prefers to meet in person as soon as possible. That, he says, can go one of two ways. Either women like a direct approach, or they think he’s coming on strong.

“Just to say, ‘let’s go out’ can be a little awkward,” he said, acknowledging that some women feel he’s moving too quickly.

“That first message is either hit or miss. It’s so much pressure [for me],” Mayhar said.

Channa Bromley, a professional matchmaker at It’s Just Lunch, said that pressure kind of pressure is common for both men and women, no matter the age.

“The etiquette is so complicated! I had to tell my mom [who was looking at my profile] we don’t do that!”

“There’s a lot of intrigue, but there’s not a lot of follow-through. We see a lot of initial contact, perhaps a hook-up, and it never leads to full-blown relationship,” Bromley said.

And that’s not just for twenty-somethings, Bromley added: Everyone is online dating.

“The boomers are hooking up! I had a woman in her 70s telling me that men are looking for hanky-panky! And that’s the word she used.”

It’s not all candy and roses (we’ll leave that for Tuesday), but online dating is full of those who have found love, those who have found friendship, and those who are still looking.

Just as it was before Tinder came along and swept us (right) off our feet.

 

Anxiety running high as Trudeau holds first face-to-face meeting with Trump

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 13th, 2017

Anxiety is running high as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jets off to Washington this morning for his first face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trudeau and Trump will hold a tete-a-tet around 11 a.m. in the Oval Office, and then will be joined by other top officials for a broader meeting about Canada-U.S. relations.

Trudeau will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Freeland, Sajjan and Morneau were all in Washington last week to prepare the groundwork for today’s meeting, while Goodale and Garneau worked the phones with their counterparts.

Trump and Trudeau will then host a round-table discussion with women business leaders and female entrepreneurs, launching a task force that aims to keep professional women in the workforce – a priority, officials say, for both leaders.

The two will lunch together at the White House, and hold a joint press conference mid-afternoon.

While the summit agenda seems fairly routine, there is no guarantee that will also be the case for the actual meeting. Unlike most summits between world leaders, no one really knows what the two men will say to each other or what direction their conversations will take; and the uncertainty swirling around the outcome of their discourse has Ottawa on edge.

The two have talked on the phone a couple of times since Trump won last year’s presidential election. But the prime minister has steered clear of directly commenting on some of Trump’s controversial statements and actions, such as the ban on travellers from seven Muslim majority countries.

Last week, Trudeau said he would be respectful in broaching areas where the two men disagree, and he pointed out there are issues where he sees eye-to-eye with Trump, such as creating jobs for the middle class.

The federal Liberals have also indicated they are willing to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, responding to a campaign promise by Trump to ditch the current accord. However, the scope and timing of the talks remain far from clear.

“I am counting on having a good working, constructive relationship with the president,” Trudeau said last week in Yellowknife.

No doubt the prime minister of Australia had the same goal, but Trump lashed out at Malcolm Turnbull over an immigration matter during their first phone conversation earlier this month. Trump cut the call short.

Relations with Mexico are also frayed, with Trump persisting with plans to build a wall between the two countries to keep out unwanted migrants.

Japan, on the other hand, is likely breathing a sigh of relief after a meeting between Shinzo Abe and Trump — followed by a weekend of golf at Trump’s palatial home in Florida — went off without any major incident.

In Canada, the Opposition leader has offered to lend Trudeau a hand in dealing with the Trump administration.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose sent the prime minister a letter over the weekend proposing they work together on a bipartisan basis to build a relationship.

She noted that members of her caucus have forged strong contacts with American lawmakers and some also have experience in trade issues, a crucial area given Trump’s plan to renegotiate NAFTA.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, however, has criticized Trudeau for not being more strident.

Toronto police won’t participate in Pride Parade

CityNews | posted Friday, Feb 10th, 2017

Toronto police won’t participate in the Pride Parade, Chief Mark Saunders said in a statement Friday morning.

Saunders said the decision was made in order to try to let the current rift within the LGBTQ community to heal.

Saunders said the police will continue to work to ensure a continuing respectful relationship with that community, which includes continuing to host a Pride reception.

There have been calls from Pride Parade officials to not allow police to take part in Pride activities. Earlier this week, Halifax police said they would not be participating in that city’s parade.

Do you think Chief Saunders made the right decision, that police will not march in this year’s Pride Parade? Click HERE to vote.

Toronto’s Pride parade last summer was interrupted by a protest from Black Lives Matter and only resumed when Pride Toronto’s then-executive director Matthieu Chantelois signed a list of demands put forth by the group that included a ban on police floats in future parades.

Chantelois later said he only agreed to the demands in order to get the parade moving again.

With files from The Canadian Press

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