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Canada handled the coronavirus outbreak better than United States, PM Trudeau says

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada handled the novel coronavirus outbreak better than many of its allies, including the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, in a rare public comment on the faltering U.S. effort.

Canada – with a population one-tenth the size of the United States – has so far recorded 8,711 deaths and 106,167 cases and Trudeau said the situation was stabilizing, although some hot spots remained.

In contrast, the United States has recorded more than 3 million cases and 131,336 deaths. Authorities have reported alarming upswings of daily case loads in roughly two dozen states over the past two weeks.

“We were able to control the virus better than many of our allies, particularly including our neighbor,” Trudeau told a briefing, saying Canada’s success would help efforts to restart the economy.

Canada and the United States have blocked nonessential travel between the two nations since March and are discussing whether to extend the ban when it expires on July 21.

Canadian health officials said the death toll could hit 8,900 by July 17.

Deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo said the outbreak was largely under control, while stressing measures such as contact tracing and quarantine would still be essential.

“If we relax too much or too soon, the epidemic will most likely rebound, with explosive growth as a distinct possibility,” he told a separate news conference.

Although Trudeau’s relations with U.S. President Donald Trump have been good over the last 18 months, he skipped a Washington meeting on Wednesday to herald the start of a new continental trade agreement with the United States and Mexico.

Trudeau, who would have had to enter a 14-day quarantine period on his return, repeated concerns about the possible imposition of U.S. tariffs on Canadian exports of aluminum.

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World News

Trudeau spurns Trump summit with Mexican president

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not attend talks in Washington this week to mark the start of a new North American trade deal, but Mexico’s president said the two will talk by telephone later on Monday morning.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday, on his first trip outside of Mexico since taking office. Lopez Obrador had publicly urged Trudeau to join him in Washington.

The Canadian leader will be attending cabinet meetings and a sitting of parliament in Ottawa, his office said in a statement.

“We wish the United States and Mexico well at Wednesday’s meeting,” the statement said, noting that there had been discussions about the possible participation of Canada.

Trudeau previously said he was not sure about attending, citing tensions over possible U.S. tariffs on Canadian aluminum.

Related Coverage

  • Mexican president says Trudeau to visit Mexico as soon as possible

Lopez Obrador on Monday told reporters Trudeau was invited to Mexico and that they would speak at around 0930 local time.

The Canadian statement did not mention the telephone call.

Lopez Obrador added that he will do a coronavirus test before leaving Mexico, and was prepared to do another in the United States if he was required to do so.

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Canada suspends its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, eyes immigration boost

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in the wake of new Chinese national security legislation and could boost immigration from the former British colony, top officials said on Friday.

China imposed the legislation this week despite protests from Hong Kongers and Western nations, setting what is a major financial hub on a more authoritarian track.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would continue to stand up for Hong Kong, which is home to 300,000 Canadians.

Canada will not permit the export of sensitive military items to Hong Kong, he told reporters.

“We are also suspending the Canada-Hong Kong extradition treaty … we are also looking at additional measures, including around immigration,” he said. He did not give details.

Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne condemned the “secretive” way the legislation had been enacted and said Canada had been forced to reassess existing arrangements.

“This is a significant step back in terms of freedom and liberty … we had been hoping Beijing would listen to the international community and reverse course,” he said by phone.

German and British leaders also expressed concerns about the new law.

“(There’s) a deep reflection in many capitals around the world as to how best to deal with China and its assertiveness,” Champagne said.

China’s embassy in Ottawa was not immediately available for comment. The two nations are locked in a dispute which erupted in late 2018 after Canadian police detained Huawei Technologies Co’s chief financial officer on a U.S. warrant.

The new law has prompted a jump in inquiries from families looking to relocate to Canada, immigration lawyers said.

Possible measures Ottawa could take include favoring Hong Kong residents who have family in Canada and allowing more people to apply for a work program that is a step towards gaining citizenship, lawyers say.

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Economy

WRAPUP 1-Canadian stocks post best quarter since 2009 as investors see past GDP slump

    * The TSX closes up 0.8% on the day, nearly 16% for the
quarter
    * Canadian GDP falls by a record 11.6% in April
    * The Canadian dollar rises 0.6% against the greenback
    * Canadian bond yields rise across a steeper curve

    By Fergal Smith
    TORONTO, June 30 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock market
index on Tuesday capped off its best quarter since the global
financial crisis with additional gains, as investors focused on
the speed of economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis
rather than data showing a record decline for monthly GDP. 
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
          closed up 0.8% at 15,515.22. Since the end of March,
the TSX has climbed nearly 16% to notch its biggest quarterly
advance since the second quarter of 2009. It plunged 21.6% in
the prior three months.
    "It has been a remarkable quarter," said Mike Archibald, a
portfolio manager at AGF Investments. "I would expect that on
the back half of the year, as economic conditions improve, stock
markets continue to move a little bit higher."
    "There still continues to be a mountain of cash on the
sidelines, waiting for the market to pull back to get in,"
Archibald said. 
    Canada's real GDP is likely to grow 3% in May, bouncing back
from a record decline of 11.6% in April, Statistics Canada said
in a flash estimate, as businesses across the country began to
reopen following coronavirus-linked shutdowns.                 
    The economically-sensitive and heavily-weighted financial
services sector gained 0.8%, while gold stocks climbed 2.1%
along with higher gold prices       . For the second quarter,
the gold index was up 46.7%.
    Shares of Cineplex          fell nearly 19% on Tuesday to a
three-and-a-half-month low after reporting a hit to
first-quarter results from the COVID-19 pandemic, while the
price of oil       , one of Canada's major exports, settled 1.1%
lower at $39.27 a barrel as investors worried that rising
COVID-19 cases would hurt demand.             
    Still, oil has rallied more than 90% since the end of March.
That has been supportive of the Canadian dollar.
    The loonie        was trading 0.6% higher at 1.3577 to the
greenback, or 73.65 U.S. cents on Tuesday, having touched its
strongest intraday level since June 24 at 1.3566. For the
quarter, it was up 3.6%, its biggest gain since the third
quarter of 2017.
    Canadian government bond yields rose across a steeper curve,
with the 10-year yield             up 2.2 basis points at
0.532%. Canada's bond market, as well as the TSX, will be closed
on Wednesday for the Canada Day holiday.

 (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Sonya
Hepinstall)
  

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Canada: Protests across Quebec against racism, police brutality

After the march ended, demonstrators gathered near police headquarters where officers used tear gas to disperse them.

Protesters in Montreal were tear gassed as thousands gathered across Quebec to demonstrate against racism and police brutality in the French-speaking Canadian province.

Demonstrators marched peacefully in the centre of the city on Sunday for the second time in a week as part of a global wave of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed in US police custody when a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

More:

  • Mapping anti-racism solidarity protests around the world

  • ‘Justice for George Floyd’: US protests in pictures

  • What happened the day George Floyd died in police custody?

After the march ended, some of the protesters gathered near police headquarters where officers used tear gas to disperse them, Radio Canada reported. Last Sunday’s protest also ended in clashes in the evening.

During the march, protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter”, “No justice, no peace”, “Je ne peux pas respirer” (I can’t breathe) and “Il faut que ca cesse” (this has to stop).

Organisers gave speeches before the start of the march slamming Quebec’s Premier Francois Legault for claiming a few days earlier there was no “systemic racism” in the province.

Protester Madani Ba, a 28-year-old musician and artist, said he once was subjected to two different identity checks within five minutes on the same street.

“There’s a lot of racial profiling, ask anyone of colour and they will tell you the same thing. It’s unbelievable and it has to change,” he said.

‘A lived reality’

Jessica Francois, 29, said she came to the protests to show “the colour of your skin does not justify the inequalities we can see, for instance, in Quebec”.

Demonstrators marched peacefully and were asked to stop several times to kneel in memory of Floyd.

While many protesters wore masks, it was hard for them to maintain social distancing of two metres (six feet), particularly while waiting for the march to begin.

More protests took place in Sherbrooke, east of Montreal, and in the provincial capital Quebec City. Other demonstrations occurred on Saturday in Toronto and other cities across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined thousands in Ottawa on Friday. He knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same length of time that police officer Derek Chauvin had kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.

“Over the past weeks, we’ve seen a large number of Canadians suddenly awaken to the fact that the discrimination that is a lived reality for far too many of our fellow citizens is something that needs to end,” Trudeau said.


The Stream

Is Canada respecting indigenous land rights?

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Economy

PRESS DIGEST-Canada – June 25

June 25 (Reuters) – The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Canada’s WestJet Airlines said more than 3,000 employees will permanently lose their jobs and announced head office changes to ensure that the Calgary-based carrier can compete when the COVID-19 pandemic eases. tgam.ca/31c72cl

Trade confidence among Canadian exporters is at a historic low as most companies with markets abroad report declining sales and are bracing for an economic recession they predict will last well into 2021, according to a new survey by Export Development Canada. tgam.ca/2Zc86Ks

NATIONAL POST

Ratings agency Fitch downgraded a measure of Canada’s sovereign debt by a notch on Wednesday citing “deterioration of Canada’s public finances in 2020 resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.” bit.ly/2B8x7yi

Canadian venture-capital investment has skidded during the coronavirus pandemic, but some of the biggest VC deals getting done involve companies that could help the fight against COVID-19, according to the audit firm KPMG. bit.ly/31hbl6i (Compiled by Bengaluru newsroom)

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Economy

CANADA FX DEBT-Canadian dollar falls as rising coronavirus cases pressures stocks

 (Adds strategist quote and details throughout; updates prices)
    * Canadian dollar falls 0.5% against the greenback
    * Fitch downgrades Canada's rating to "AA+" from "AAA" 
    * Price of U.S. oil decreases 5.9%
    * Canadian bond yields trade mixed across a steeper yield
curve

    By Fergal Smith
    TORONTO, June 24 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened
against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday as signs of
acceleration in coronavirus cases worried investors and Fitch
lowered Canada's sovereign rating to below AAA for the first
time since August 2004.
    Global shares          fell as a rising number of
coronavirus cases in the United States, China, Latin America and
India dampened hopes of a swift recovery in the global economy.
                
    The loonie's decline "today is related more to global
capital flows than domestic events," said Colin Cieszynski,
chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.
    Canada runs a current account deficit and is a major
producer of commodities, including oil, so the loonie tends to
be sensitive to the flow of trade and capital.
    U.S. crude        prices settled 5.9% lower at $38.01 a
barrel, pressured by record-high inventories as well as worries
about a second wave of the pandemic.             
    Fitch downgraded Canada's sovereign rating for the first
time, to "AA+" from "AAA," citing deterioration of the country's
public finances in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
                
    The Canadian dollar        was trading 0.5% lower at 1.3607
to the greenback, or 73.49 U.S. cents. The currency, which
traded on Tuesday at its strongest intraday level in nearly two
weeks at 1.3482, traded in a range of 1.3527 to 1.3617.
    Canadian house prices will rise at a much slower pace this
year than predicted only three months ago and will fall in 2021
as the coronavirus pandemic pushes up unemployment, curtailing
immigration and the demand for homes, a Reuters poll showed on
Wednesday.             
    Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a steeper
curve, with the 30-year yield             up 1.8 basis points at
1.031%.

 (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter
Cooney)
  

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