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General Dynamics warns Trudeau over Saudi deal: You break it, you bought it

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Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign-up at the bottom of the page to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

Canada has been repeatedly warned that the telecom giant Huawei poses a security threat. Yet when he talks about China, all Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers is wishy-washy platitudes, writes Terry Glavin:

He still doesn’t get it.

Either that, or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does get it, and he’s desperately afraid that the rest of us are going to figure it out. Either way, his evasions, elisions, dodges and deflections in response to the detention of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wangzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant earlier this month betray his preference to cringe and cower rather than stand up to Xi Jinping’s increasingly bellicose police state in Beijing.

Decide for yourself which is worse, but in either case you would be a fool to believe a word Trudeau has been saying. And in all his public statements since President Xi blew a gasket about Meng’s arrest, setting off the nastiest upheaval in nearly half a century of Canada-China diplomacy, the most strenuous effort Trudeau has been making is to the purpose of not saying anything of substance at all. (Maclean’s)

The dispute over Meng’s arrest is spreading. The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association said two Chinese parts makers have suspended plans to expand in Canada over the Huawei case. (CBC News)

Canada’s other dispute with an autocratic nation, Saudi Arabia, has also prompted a lobbying effort from the manufacturer of armoured vehicles destined for the Kingdom. With Trudeau declaring over the weekend that his government is looking for ways to block the $13 billion deal over the Saudi killing of a journalist, London-based General Dynamics Canada issued a warning to Ottawa: “Were Canada to unilaterally terminate the contract, Canada would incur billions of dollars of liability to General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada,” according to the statement. “We hope that we will be allowed to continue to keep building sophisticated, high-value equipment in Canada.” (Bloomberg)

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz called the prospect of an all-out U.S.-China trade war in 2019 the biggest economic concern for the year ahead. A tariff fight would lead to slower growth and rising inflation, a repeat of the stagflation of the 1970s. “It’s a no-win situation.” (Globe and Mail)

In 2019 Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will have to decide, is he a nice guy, or nice and angry?

The message the Tories took from the 2015 election was that Canadians liked their economic and foreign policy just fine, Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl says, but had grown weary of what they saw as “the vindictive nature of some of our communication.” At the same time, he argues there is a real frustration among Canadians that his party needs to respond to next year. “We need to make the case—and we need to make a strong case—of why we need to replace this current government,” he says. (Maclean’s)

The federal government laid out its plan for an airline passenger bill of rights, which could see airlines pay out up to $2,400 to passengers if they are bumped from flights due to overbooking or if their flights are delayed or cancelled, depending on the circumstances behind the delay. (Canadian Press)

Julie Payette is staying put. Well, she actually plans to move into Rideau Hall next year. But once there she says she has no plans to resign before her five-year term is up. Payette had a rocky year, with one news report describing her time in office as turbulent. “Turbulent? That’s an interesting adjective,” she says. (Canadian Press)

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Students call on University of Ottawa to implement pass/fail grading amid pandemic

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OTTAWA — The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) is calling on the university to introduce optional, one-course-only pass/fail grading for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The students’ union said nearly 5,000 uOttawa students have signed its petition supporting the grading system.

In a letter to the university, the UOSU said it is asking the school to make changes to the grading structure, including allowing one course per semester to be converted to the “pass” or “satisfactory” designation.

The UOSU also made recommendations regarding a reduction of workload and course delivery.

“The adaptation to online learning during the pandemic for students has created unique challenges and disruptions that could not have been anticipated,” wrote Tim Gulliver, the UOSU’s Advocacy Commissioner. 

“The use of flexible compassionate grading options has been introduced in other universities, such as Carleton University which includes a use of Pass/Fail which we feel could be implemented at the University of Ottawa.”

Carleton University approved the use of flexible and compassionate grading for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 terms in early November.

The UOSU also called for all grades that constitute a fail to appear as “Not Satisfactory” on their transcript, which would not be included in grade point average calculations. 

The union represents more than 38,000 undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa.

In a response to CTV News, the University of Ottawa said it is aware of the petition.

“Last spring a decision was made by the (University) Senate to allow the Satisfactory/Non Satisfactory mark to be used, given the unique circumstances of the pandemic, which hit us close to the end of the Winter 2020 semester. The University is aware of the petition and is looking into the matter.”

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OPP warn of phone scams in Ottawa Valley

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Upper Ottawa Valley OPP warn residents of a phone scam that’s been making its way through the region recently. 

Police say a scammer pretends to be from a local business and tells the person their credit card didn’t work on a recent purchase before asking the person on the phone to confirm their credit card number. 

The victim may not have even used the card at the store, but police said the scammer creates a sense of urgency. 

Police remind residents to verify the legitimacy of any caller before providing any personal information over the phone. 

Similar scams have been reported recently in the region, according to police, with scammers posing as police officers, Revenue Canada or other government agencies demanding payment for a variety of reasons. A Social Insurance Number scam has also been reported recently, where a victim is asked for their SIN number under threat of being arrested. 
 
If a scam artist contacts you or if you have been defrauded, you’re asked to contact police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit their website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

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The human history of Ottawa Valley is thousands of years old. Archeologists may have found a piece of it on Parliament Hill

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OTTAWA—Archeologists working on Parliament Hill have discovered a relic of Indigenous life that one Algonquin leader sees as a symbol of his people’s long history in what is now the heart of Canadian political power.

The jagged stone point was unearthed last year on the east side of Centre Block, but its discovery was not publicized as officials worked with Algonquin communities to authenticate the object, the Star has learned.

Stephen Jarrett, the lead archeologist for the ongoing renovation of Parliament’s Centre Block, said this week that while such an object is “not an uncommon find,” the stone point joins just a small handful of Indigenous artifacts ever discovered on Parliament Hill.

“It’s about the size of my palm, and it could be used as a knife or a projectile,” Jarrett said this week in response to inquiries from the Star.

He said the point is made of chert, a type of sedimentary stone most often used for implements of this type. And while the point was unearthed in what Jarrett calls “disturbed soil” — earth that has been dug up and moved, most likely during construction of Parliament — the soil it was in “is natural to the site.”

That means “it came from a source nearby, but finding exactly where it came from is impossible,” Jarrett said.

For Douglas Odjick, a band council member responsible for education and culture with the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, this artifact of “an original world” is a testament to the longevity of his Algonquin nation in an area they still claim as unceded and unsurrendered territory. Based on the assessment of Ian Badgley, the top archeologist with the National Capital Commission, Odjick said the stone point is likely 4,000 years old and dates to a time when the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau Rivers — along with all their tributaries that stretch out into the surrounding area — served as a great hub of regional trade activity.

“It symbolizes who we are and how long we’ve been here,” Odjick said, comparing the area to an ancient version of a busy hub like New York’s busy Grand Central Station.

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