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The Brand Trudeau international PR machine does it again

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There is “extreme concern” among allies about what China is up to,  Canada’s top soldier, Jonathan Vance, tells Paul Wells. “Is it antagonizing? Is it painful for this country? Yes.” (Maclean’s)

Don’t kid yourself, Canada isn’t immune from populism, write Frank Graves and Michael Valpy:

We’ve learned more and more about the populism that has fuelled this complicated moment as the fracture in America races like wildfire throughout Western democracies. It is the biggest force reshaping democracy, our economies and public institutions. It is the product of economic despair, inequality, and yes, racism and xenophobia. It is an institutional blind spot, largely denied or ridiculed by the media, and by the more comfortable and educated portions of society.

It is very much alive in Canada. In fact, our populist explosion has already had its first bangs and is likely to have a major impact on next year’s federal election. (Maclean’s)

The security review of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s controversial trip to India landed in Parliament Monday, and as expected it delivered some surprises. For one, the RCMP knew that would-be political assassin Jaspal Atwal planned to independently join Trudeau during the trip, but didn’t bother to tell Trudeau’s security minders. From the report: “The RCMP had information that Mr. Atwal had a serious criminal record and a history of involvement in violent acts, issues which should have been identified as security risks to the Prime Minister and his delegation. The RCMP recognizes that it erred in not providing that information to the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail.” (CBC News)

It’s almost like the RCMP and Trudeau have a communication problem.

Statistics Canada has delayed its plan to compel banks to hand over private financial records of 500,000 Canadians. It has also suspended its searches of personal credit files from rating agency TransUnion. Both practices have drawn heavy criticism from privacy experts, not to mention opposition MPs. (Globe and Mail)

Speaking of stats, it’s #ChartWeek at Maclean’s. Each year we ask economists, academics, analysts and investors to pick one chart they think will be important in the year ahead, and explain why. There are charts on rising interest rates, fiscal policy, slowing household credit, China-U.S. trade tensions, Alberta’s oil price crisis, business competitiveness and more—more than 70 charts in all. (Maclean’s)

After Trudeau’s seemingly offhand tweet to Daily Show host Trevor Noah on Sunday offering $50 million for a charity, critics pounced that this was another example of the Liberals’ flippant attitude toward spending. Turns out it was just another example of the Brand Trudeau’s international PR machine in action. The government’s decision to give $50 million to Education Cannot Wait, a charity that supports education for children impacted by conflict and natural disasters, was actually made several weeks ago as part of an earlier-announced $400-million initiative. But the big reveal  was carefully timed to coincide with Noah’s appearance at a poverty-fighting event in South Africa.  “We always look for hooks to release the funds,” a spokesperson for International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said. Noah graciously obliged, displaying Trudeau’s tweet on a screen at the event. (Global News, Twitter)

This next item isn’t a political story. That doesn’t matter. It’s the final chapter in a wrenching tale that Maclean’s writer Shannon Proudfoot, along with countless thousands of readers, has followed for the past three years: the all-too-rapid decline of Jo Aubin, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at  just 37. Aubin passed away at age 42 on Nov. 29:

For the last days of his life, there was a pack of people around Jo at all times. They listened to music, they talked, they made highly inappropriate jokes. They were loud. It was beautiful and exactly right for Jo. “I loved it, even though I hated it,” one of them said later. To another, it seemed like Jo gathered them all together and kept them like that long enough to make sure they would be okay.

Early one morning, a week and a half after Jo stopped eating, he peacefully exited the world with the people who loved him most by his side. He had not spent a single day in a hospital or long-term care facility.

Two days after he died, those same people gathered with dozens upon dozens of others to celebrate Jo. They did it exactly as he wanted.  (Maclean’s)

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City committee votes to name Sandy Hill Park after Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook

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OTTAWA — Ottawa city councillors have voted to rename a Sandy Hill park after celebrated Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook.

The community and protective services committee approved a recommendation to rename the park at 240 Somerset Street East the “Annie Pootoogook Park.”

Pootoogook was an award-winning artist who lived in Ottawa. She died in 2016 at the age of 47 when she fell into the Rideau River. Ottawa police investigated her death, but it was ruled non-suspicious.

Stephanie Plante submitted an application to the city to commemorate Pootoogook by renaming the park after her.

Plante says she met with Veldon Coburn, the adoptive father of Pootoogook’s eight-year-old daughter, and reached out to Pootoogook’s brother in Nunavut to discuss the idea.

“Women matter, the arts matter, and most importantly Inuit people matter,” Plante told the committee.

“As of today, it’s quite possible an entirely new generation will write Annie Pootoogook Park on birthday party invitations, t-ball sign ups, dog park meet ups, soccer registration forms, summer camp locations.”

Alexandra Badzak, director of the Ottawa Art Gallery, told the community and protective services committee the arts community supports honouring Pootoogook.

“Those of us in the arts in Ottawa, across Canada and internationally know of the importance of Annie Pootoogook’s work,” said Badzak. “Who’s pen and pencil crayon drawings drew upon the legacy of her famous artistic family.”

The head of the National Gallery of Canada said Pootoogook’s artistic legacy is remembered across Canada.

“There’s absolutely no question that Annie Pootoogook is deserving of having Sandy Hill Park named in her honour,” Sasha Suda told the committee Thursday morning.

“She was an unbelievably bright light. Despite the briefness of her career, she leaves an incredibly strong legacy through her art work and in the ways that she changed the art world.”

Coun. Mathieu Fleury told the committee plans are in the works to set up an exhibit space in the Sandy Hill Community Centre to highlight Pootoogook’s work. The city is also working to set up programming for Inuit and artists in the park.

Council will vote on the proposal next week.

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City aces legal dispute over Kanata golf club

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An Ontario court judge has upheld a 40-year-old agreement that says the Kanata Lakes Golf and Country Club must remain open space and not be redeveloped into a housing community.

The decision is a big win for the city, Kanata North Coun. Jenna Sudds and her constituents, who have spent two years trying to prevent property owner ClubLink from turning the course into a 1,500-home development with its partners Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes.

Sudds, who said she burst into tears over Friday’s decision, called it “terrific news” for the community. As many as 500 homes back onto the course and more than 1,000 households use the grounds for recreation, she said.

“The green space, the golf course itself, which really is right in the middle of our community here, is used by the community quite frequently,” said Sudds, who recently moved the neighbourhood. “I see people out all hours of the day throughout the winter. It’s amazing to see all the tracks snowshoeing and skiing and dog-walking.”

40-year-old agreement ‘valid’

ClubLink, which bought the 50-year-old course in 1997, announced in December 2018 that it planned to redevelop part of the property.

Local residents, along with the newly elected councillor and the city’s own legal department, argued that the development shouldn’t go ahead due to a 1981 legal agreement between then City of Kanata and the developer. That agreement called for 40 per cent of the area in Kanata Lakes to be open space in perpetuity.

“The 1981 Agreement continues to be a valid and binding contract,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Marc Labrosse wrote in his 44-page decision.

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Ottawa residents remain pro-Trump Avenue

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It appears Donald Trump still has a home in Canada’s capital, even if he has departed Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year, residents on Trump Avenue, in Ottawa’s Central Park neighbourhood, put the possibility of changing the name of their street to a vote following the former president’s tumultuous time in office.

The neighbourhood has several streets named after icons of New York City and Trump was a famous real estate mogul before he was elected.

In order to change the name of a street, the city requires 50 per cent plus one of all households on that street to be in favour.

There are 62 houses on Trump Avenue, meaning at least 32 households would have had to vote to change the name.

The city councillor for the area, Riley Brockington, said Wednesday that 42 households voted and the neighbourhood was divided, 21 to 21. 

Without the required margin to enact the change, Brockington says the matter will not proceed any further. 

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