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    Maple Leafs trade veteran Patrick Marleau to Hurricanes for 2020 pick

    VANCOUVER - The Toronto Maple Leafs took a big step towards getting some salary cap relief about an hour before the NHL draft resumed Saturday.The club shipped veteran forward Patrick Marleau, a conditional first-round pick and a seventh-round selection in 2020 to the Carolina Hurricanes for a sixth-rounder next year.The move helps clear cap space for Toronto by removing Marleau's US$6.25-million salary and increases the likelihood star winger Mitch Marner, who is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, will remain with the club.If Toronto's first-round selection in 2020 is a top-10 pick, the Hurricanes will instead receive a first-round selection in 2021.Marleau, who turns 40 in September, had to waive his no-movement clause for the deal to go through.The trade should also help Toronto's efforts to re-sign forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, who like Marner are set to become RFAs.The Leafs now have roughly $61.5 million committed to 16 roster players next season. The salary cap ceiling, which should be announced this weekend following consultations between the NHL and the league's players' association, is expected to fall between $81 million and $83 million in 2019-20.Marleau issued a statement via his wife Christina's Twitter account moments after the trade was announced, thanking the Leafs and their fans."It was an honour to play with the iconic Maple Leaf on my jersey, and to be a part of Leaf nation," Marleau wrote. "There are so many incredible experiences we had while in Toronto, things my boys will remember and cherish for their entire lives."But the very best I will take away from my time there are the people that we all met."Marleau also singled out a pair of young teammates - Marner and Auston Matthews - in the post."You will always have a spot at our dinner table and extra sticks in our hockey room," he added. "I'll miss seeing you at the rink everyday. Never forget how good you guys are. Thank you again, Leafs nation. I think you all are in pretty good hands."Marleau scored 16 goals - the fewest since his rookie campaign in 1997-98 - and 37 points in 82 games during the 2018-19 regular season, and added a pair of assists in seven playoff outings. He signed a three-year, $18.75-million contract with the Leafs in the summer of 2017 after 19 seasons with the San Jose Sharks.Marleau, who had 84 points in two seasons with Toronto, appeared to lose a step in his 21st professional campaign.The Aneroid, Sask., native has appeared in 1,657 career NHL games with San Jose and Toronto, recording 551 goals and 615 assists.Marleau was originally drafted second overall by the Sharks in 1997.The 22-year-old Marner led the Leafs with career-bests in points (94) and assists (68) in the regular season, and also set a new personal high-water mark in goals (26).General manager Kyle Dubas said after Toronto was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Bruins for the second straight spring back in April that getting Marner signed was "priority one," but the clock continues to tick towards July 1.The Leafs were the only Canadian team not to make a selection in Friday's first round at Rogers Arena.Toronto traded the 19th pick, minor-league forward Carl Grundstrom and the rights to defence prospect Sean Durzi to the Los Angeles Kings for veteran blue-liner Jake Muzzin back in January.The draft continued with rounds two through seven on Saturday.___Follow @JClipperton_CP on TwitterJoshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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    Stephen Curry: Stakes of next presidential election are 'extremely high' after last four years

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    China Would Fight Trade War ‘to the End,’ State Media Says

    (Bloomberg) -- China has the strength and patience to withstand the trade war, and will fight to the end if the U.S. administration persists with it, China’s state-run People’s Daily said in an editorial Saturday.The U.S. must drop all tariffs imposed on China if it wants to negotiate on trade, and only an equal dialogue can resolve the issue and lead to a win-win, the newspaper said.The paper, a mouthpiece for China’s ruling Communist Party, said the U.S. had failed to take into account the interests of its own people, and they are paying higher costs due to the trade dispute. “Wielding a big stick of tariffs” also disregards the condition of the U.S. economy and the international economic order, according to the editorial.U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan next week to discuss the trade war between their two countries. Trump has repeatedly asserted that tariffs on Chinese imports are paid by China, not U.S. consumers -- in defiance of the consensus of economists.If the U.S. chooses to talk, “then it must show some good faith, take account of key concerns from both sides and cancel all tariffs,” the paper said.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Amanda Wang in Shanghai at twang234@bloomberg.net;Evelyn Yu in Shanghai at yyu263@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sofia Horta e Costa at shortaecosta@bloomberg.net, Finbarr Flynn, Dave McCombsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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    ‘Everyone is so sad and so shocked’: Friends, family grieve after woman fatally struck by vehicle in Regent Park
     
     
     
     

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    Judge orders special prosecutor to examine Smollett probe

    CHICAGO - A judge decided to appoint a special prosecutor Friday to investigate the decision by Cook County prosecutors to dismiss all charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of lying to the police by claiming he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago in January.In a ruling that leaves open the possibility that Smollett could be charged again, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin suggested that the county's state's attorney, Kim Foxx, mishandled the Smollett case by appointing a top aide to oversee it after she recused herself.Foxx had been in contact with a relative of the actor and had been approached by former first lady Michelle Obama's one-time chief of staff on behalf of Smollett's family, and she explained at the time that she was recusing herself to avoid "even the perception of a conflict" of interest.In his ruling, Toomin said he had no problem with Foxx's February recusal, but that it should have included a request for a special prosecutor to take over the case. He said she had no right to hand it off to someone from her office, which he said amounted to naming her own special prosecutor."State's attorneys are clearly not meant to have unbridled authority to appoint special prosecutors," he said. "She appointed (her top assistant) to an office, to an entity, that has no legal existence. There isn't an office of the 'acting state's attorney.' It existed only ... in the imagination of Ms. Foxx.""The unprecedented irregularities identified in this case warrant the appointment of independent counsel to restore the public's confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system," the judge said.Toomin also left open the possibility that the special prosecutor could charge Smollett again - either with the original charges accusing him of lying to police or with other counts.The Chicago Police Department, which has never disguised its anger over the decision to drop the charges, vowed to assist the special prosecutor."We stand firmly behind the work of detectives in investigating the fabricated incident reported by Jussie Smollett & ChicagoPolice will fully co-operate with the court appointed special prosecutor," department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted.In a written statement, Foxx took issue with the ruling and explained that she "followed the advice of counsel and my then Chief Ethics Officer" to recuse herself.Smollett's attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Foxx has been under fire for her handling the investigation, including from the Chicago Police Department and the former mayor. Her office charged Smollett with 16 counts of disorderly conduct after police concluded that Smollett had staged the early-morning Jan. 29 attack on himself and had paid two acquaintances to help him pull it off. But it stunningly dropped all of the charges weeks later, prompting an outcry from police and leading a former state appellate judge, Sheila O'Brien, to call for a special prosecutor.In filing a petition requesting a special prosecutor, O'Brien said it appeared to her and others that Smollett had "received special treatment" from Foxx's office.Foxx has defended her handling of the case and said Smollett was treated no differently than thousands of other defendants in low-level cases whose charges have been similarly dropped since she took office. And Foxx, who has publicly wondered if her being black has anything to do with the criticism she has received, said she would welcome an independent investigation. But her office opposed such a special prosecutor, explaining that the investigation would just duplicate the efforts of a county inspector general's office probe that is already underway.Toomin is now required by law to ask the state's attorney general's office or the state appellate prosecutor to serve as special prosecutor. If they decline, he must make the same request to elected state's attorneys throughout Illinois. That is what happened in the case of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager, Laquan McDonald. The case was ultimately prosecuted by Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon after Foxx's predecessor, Anita Alvarez, recused her office. McMahon won a second-degree murder conviction against Van Dyke.If none of those prosecutors agree to take the case, the city can hire a private attorney to handle it.Toomin's ruling adds yet another layer to an already complicated case. Weeks after the charges were dropped against Smollett, the city sued him in an attempt to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars the police department spent investigating the case. There was even a defamation lawsuit by the two brothers who allege that Smollett paid them to help him stage the attack on himself.Fox Entertainment announced in April that Smollett would not appear in season six of "Empire," which is its last season.Don Babwin, The Associated Press

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    Mexico’s Other Border Is Rattled by Armed Crackdown Along River

    (Bloomberg) -- The rafts, made of plywood planks lashed to fat inner tubes, float back and forth all day, piloted by camareros who push poles deep into the riverbed to guide their vessels in a rough echo of Venetian gondoliers.The cargo depends on the direction. From Mexico to Guatemala, it’s usually cans of cooking oil or bags of rice, cases of Corona and cartons of eggs. It’s mostly people going the other way, many headed for the U.S. All of it, technically speaking, is illegal, but the customs and immigration officials on the international bridge never paid much mind, allowing the Suchiate River crossings to build into the cornerstone of a thriving economy in an impoverished region.The possible end to it all reared up last week, with the arrival of a few of the thousands of troops Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is sending to the border. “The soldiers came with their M-16s and told us that they didn’t want us to work,” said a 31-year-old who goes by the nickname Rooster. He has been making a living with his raft for more than a decade. Like the hundreds of other camareros (Spanish for tubers, though the word can also mean waiters or stewards), Rooster can earn as much as $39 a day, decent money in Ciudad Hidalgo, a town of about 15,000 that spreads out from the river.The new show of force on the border is meant to stem the stream of migrants escaping violence and poverty in Central America, a move made to appease President Donald Trump after he threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican imports to punish the country for failing to control the masses trying to make their way to the U.S.But the ripple effects could be devastating in the state of Chiapas, the poorest in Mexico, and in the administrative district of San Marcos in southwestern Guatemala, where almost two-thirds of people live in poverty. A network of suppliers and couriers pedaling tricked-out tricycles on the Mexican side keeps the camareros stocked with products that are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive in Guatemala - Ace detergent, Nivea skin cream, Nescafe instant coffee, mayonnaise, PediaSure nutrition drinks, toilet paper, McCormick spices and on and on. Rafts have been known to ferry washing machines across.While the river trade has existed for generations, it exploded over the past five years as the Mexican peso lost one third of its value against the Guatemalan Quetzal. There are no official statistics on the value of the commerce, but according to locals it’s the biggest, and almost only, business around.“This industry maintains the tricycles, the raft operators, the taxis, buses, everyone lives off of this. What happens if it’s gone?” said Bertha Alicia Fuentes, 71, who has been running a supply store in Ciudad Hidalgo for four decades, selling mostly yogurt and milk for river-export to Guatemala. “Forget it. Everyone would be poor.” She shook her head and lifted her hands in exasperation. “The merchandise needs to continue to flow."AMLO has acknowledged that there are 68 points on Mexico’s 700-mile frontier with Guatemala and Belize that aren’t well policed and has promised to secure them. Maximiliano Reyes, undersecretary of foreign relations for Latin America and the Caribbean, said on a recent trip to the area that the Suchiate rafts “are one of the primary points of irregular immigration” and that they are “something we’ll need to be looking at.” Francisco Garduno, the new head of the national migration agency, went further and said the raft traffic would be stopped.Rooster, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisal, said he understands what the president and troops are up against. “The soldiers are workers, just like us, and they need to do their duty,” he said, leaning against a crate of beer in the shade of a tarp. And “AMLO did what he had to do,” under pressure from Trump.What the policy makers in Mexico City might not comprehend, though, is what a diligently patrolled border with Guatemala would really mean, Rooster said. “This town and Tapachula would be bankrupt. The majority of the people who buy here are Guatemalans.”Stores in nearby Tapachula, a city of more than 300,000 that’s the largest near the southern border, could be hurt. They include Walmart, Sam’s Club and Chedraui, all popular with Guatemalans who can afford to raft over - the 5-minute trip usually costs about $2 - to stock up.Mexico’s frontier with Guatemala has been porous or even undefined for centuries, and Rooster is a typical free-flowing resident of the region. He is Guatemalan but lives on the Mexican side. His parents took him to the U.S. when he was 4 and he grew up in California, where his mother still lives. He said he joined a gang as a teenager, was arrested on drug-possession charges and deported when he was 20.He switches seamlessly between English and Spanish. He is married to a Mexican and they have a 9-year-old son. His wife voted for AMLO; she religiously watches broadcasts of the president’s daily news conferences. They approve of his proposals to pay higher pensions to the elderly and give more scholarships to students. Like many expert observers, they don’t have confidence that his troops-to-the-border strategy will work.Enrique Vidal Olascoaga, a lawyer at the Fray Matias Human Rights Center in Tapachula, said he sees just downsides. “The only thing that a militarization of the border is going to do is make the crossing of people more dangerous and expensive.”Maynor Guillen, a skinny 19-year-old from Honduras who had just come over the river, said the lawyer is right: Guillen was making his second attempt to reach the U.S. and has no intention of giving up. “I’ve read that they’re going to send more soldiers to keep us from crossing,” he said, standing outside outside the Tapachula office of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid. “But I’m not afraid.”There’s concern in Guatemala too, even though the river trade hurts businesses there and the government collects no taxes on the contraband that’s floated over. If the rafts were grounded, “there would be consequences,” said Paulo de Leon, the economic director for Central American Business Intelligence, an analysis firm in Guatemala City. So many people depend on the Suchiate economy, he said, that there might be a “blood bath” if the river crossing was actually closed.Rooster said he has hopes for a peaceful solution. “But if they’re forceful with us,” he said, “we will need to be forceful as well.” \--With assistance from Michael McDonald.To contact the author of this story: Eric Martin in Mexico City at emartin21@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anne Reifenberg at areifenberg@bloomberg.net, David PapadopoulosFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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    Hannity and Manafort’s Gushing Text Messages Revealed: ‘We Are All on the Same Team’

    Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo GettyThroughout Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution of Paul Manafort, he found a willing and enthusiastic ally and confidant: Fox News host and presidential pal Sean Hannity. On Friday, a D.C. federal judge released dozens of pages of private text messages between the former Trump campaign chairman and Hannity, who at one point offered “anything I can do to help.”The messages show Hannity apparently reached out shortly after the FBI raided Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia apartment in August 2017. Hannity checked in on Manafort throughout the course of the special counsel’s investigation and prosecution of him, asking if he was OK. Like many other higher-ups in Trump’s orbit, Manafort maintained a friendly relationship with Hannity during the 2016 election and kept in touch after he left the Trump campaign in August 2016.  The Special Counsel’s Office charged Manafort with tax and bank fraud counts in Virginia and tried him in a separate case in Washington, D.C., for acting as an unregistered foreign agent, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Trump to Hannity: You’re ‘Not Really’ a Patriot, You Just Want ‘Great Ratings’Hannity spent large portions of his texts with Manafort discussing (and rehashing) episodes of his own television show. He complained about never-Trumpers, Hillary Clinton, and the special counsel’s investigation. Hannity also repeatedly invited Manafort on TV, saying it would give him a chance to defend himself against Mueller’s prosecutors. Hannity told Manafort to connect him with his lawyer to get information on important developments. Manafort repeatedly declined, citing a court gag order restricting him from publicly discussing his case. But the text messages were perhaps the most blatant behind-the-scenes look at how cozy the host was with Manafort, the subject of hours of news coverage on Fox and Hannity’s show in particular.Hannity in one instance declared he was “NOT a fair weather friend,” and told Manafort how unfairly he believed he was being treated. “We are all on the same team,” he said. Manafort also had plenty of compliments for Hannity, saying he was on “fire,” “great” on radio, and declared that “in a fair world, you would get a Pulitzer prize for your incredible reporting.” He said he loved Hannity’s interview with former Trump adviser Roger Stone, and in one instance, Manafort said he watched the show with his three-month-old grandson, who was apparently mesmerized.“I swear to God. He was totally focused. Your audience is growing demographically,” he said.“You help me keep my hope and sanity,” Manafort said on another occasion. And throughout the investigation and trial, Hannity repeatedly publicly called for the charges against Manafort to be dropped. Hannity even hinted at insider knowledge of attempts to retaliate against those involved in the Russia investigation. When Manafort said he hoped that then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions would appoint a new special counsel to investigate the Russia inquiry, Hannity texted “He has to [do] it [or else] he is gone. Talked to a friend.” While it’s unclear who Hannity was talking about, he often speaks to Trump.After the text messages were revealed on Friday, Hannity appeared to shrug them off, writing on Twitter that his views on the Russia investigation and Manafort “were made clear every day to anyone who listens to my radio show or watches my TV show.” Manafort is currently serving a 7.5-year prison sentence after he was found guilty of financial crimes by a Virginia jury and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and defraud the United States in a separate D.C. case.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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    Toronto Raptors happy to grab Dewan Hernandez with second-last pick of draft

    TORONTO - Having barely taken a breath after winning his first NBA championship last week, Toronto Raptors general manager Bobby Webster was back to work scouting players ahead of Thursday's draft."We asked Golden State (Warriors) how do you do this five years in a row,” he quipped.Throughout the Raptors' championship run, Webster and scouts held workout sessions with draft-eligible players. The Raptors, who traded away their first-round selection earlier, had to wait until the second-last pick to take centre Dewan Hernandez 59th overall.The former University of Miami player was ineligible to play last season after he was one of 19 players named in an agency scandal. It was alleged that Hernandez entered in an agreement with his agent where he would receive monthly payments.NCAA students are not allowed to receive any payment while collegiate athletes. Although the charges were never proven, he was not allowed to play for the Hurricanes last season."To some extent, we got lucky that he didn't play last year, he kind of flew under the radar," Webster said. "Had he had a full season, we feel like he wouldn't have been available at 59."Hernandez was the Raptors' first draft pick in two seasons, having traded away both of their selections in 2018 to the Brooklyn Nets along with forward DeMarre Carroll in exchange for centre Justin Hamilton, who was then waived.The lack of top picks didn't hurt the Raptors. They became the first NBA team in the modern era to win an NBA title without a lottery pick. Fred VanVleet, an undrafted free agent, was signed by the Raptors and turned into a key player in their title run, including earning one vote for Finals MVP.The Raptors hope Hernandez can blossom, despite being a late pick. "We're always trying to find the next Fred. It's not easy,” Webster said. "We have a good plan for these guys."The Raptors hope to get a better sense of their roster for next year in the coming weeks. Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is expected to opt out of his current contract and make a decision on whether he wants to stay with the team on a new deal or leave, with the Los Angeles Clippers reportedly a possible destination.Leonard can start negotiating with teams as a free agent on June 30."We're comfortable with the pitch we've made," Webster said. "Throughout the year, we’ve been talking about the things that we can offer and what has made this season so special. We'll just continue with that."Raptors centre Marc Gasol, like Leonard, also has a player option which expires on June 27."He's earned the right to think about this," Webster said. "Obviously, we'd love to have him back."David Alter, The Canadian Press

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    Exclusive: Exxon's $53 billion Iraq deal hit by contract snags, Iran tensions - sources

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    The World Can’t Handle a Stronger U.S. Economy

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Politicians and pundits spend lots of time talking about how to generate faster economic growth in the U.S. But the Federal Reserve’s actions this week and the past six months show that it is quietly responding to global concerns instead. Central bankers know that the world can't handle a stronger U.S. economy, and at the moment it’s more in the world’s interest to focus on weakness elsewhere rather than worry about the potential of domestic overheating.Think back years to when the Federal Reserve started on its path to exiting some of the unconventional monetary policy put in place during the financial crisis. In 2013, the Fed signaled its intention to begin "tapering" its purchase of financial securities as it looked to start winding down its quantitative easing program, leading to a "taper tantrum" in fixed-income markets with yields on Treasuries shooting higher as market participants started pricing in future interest-rate hikes.As the U.S. economy continued to strengthen in 2014, the timing of those interest-rate increases drew nearer, and in response the dollar started appreciating against foreign currencies. Between the middle of 2014 and early 2015, the Bloomberg dollar spot index increased by 20%. This coincided with a plunge in the price of oil and other commodities.This created strains on emerging-market economies, which were suddenly battling declines in the price of key commodity exports and declines in the value of their currencies. To stave off capital flight required raising interest rates to match the hawkishness of the Federal Reserve, with that tightening of monetary policy creating more negative ripple effects for already weak economies.Investment in commodity exploration and production plunged in response to falling prices. Industrial companies that made equipment for commodity producers saw drops in orders. Emerging-market currencies weakened against the dollar, and credit spreads widened as nervous investors worried about the prospect of defaults. As spillover effects came back to the U.S., it turned out to be the largest decline in year-over-year industrial production in history that did not coincide with a recession.This global cycle hit bottom in early 2016, leading to a rebound that lasted through 2018 and the early part of President Donald Trump's first term. The tailwind from that cyclical rebound, perhaps combined with improved business sentiment following his election and the prospect of tax cuts, gave the Federal Reserve the confidence to ramp up interest rate hikes in 2017 and 2018, with the Fed increasing the overnight funds rate by 1.75% over the course of those two years. But as the rebound began to flatten in early 2018, the continuing increases in interest rates from the Federal Reserve started putting upward pressure on the dollar again, once again straining economic growth in the rest of the world.The Fed's abrupt course change over the past six months can be seen as bowing to those global pressures. Global data is weak, business confidence in the U.S. has turned down, and tariff uncertainty persists - but the U.S. consumer remains strong. It’s not clear how much the global weakness and negative business sentiment will ultimately mean for growth domestically.This whole dynamic raises an uncomfortable question for those trying to engineer faster growth in the U.S. If the result of faster growth in the U.S. is somewhat higher inflation, a stronger dollar and higher interest rates, the rest of the world, which is trapped using the dollar as a funding currency given that it's the global reserve currency, would probably find this an unwelcome development. That long-awaited “Infrastructure Week” in the U.S. could lead to an economic crisis in Latin America.The Fed is fortunate in a way to have been unable to generate above-target inflation, and to have a sclerotic Congress unable to implement much in the way of fiscal stimulus to generate faster growth. That has given U.S. central bankers the breathing room to defer to global jitters. In a world where there's both above-target inflation domestically and global problems resulting from the world's reliance on the dollar, the Fed may be forced to focus on its domestic mandate at the expense of global financial stability.To contact the author of this story: Conor Sen at csen9@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Gray at philipgray@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Conor Sen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a portfolio manager for New River Investments in Atlanta and has been a contributor to the Atlantic and Business Insider.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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    Did Quebec take a populist turn with its new religious symbols law?

    For the past week Premier François Legault has been on a victory lap of sorts, doing the rounds of big media outlets in Quebec, talking up the accomplishments of his freshman year in office.Not surprisingly, Legault was asked repeatedly to defend his government's last act before the National Assembly's summer break: invoking closure to ram through a law that strips public-school teachers, among other civil servants, of their right to wear a religious symbol at work.Legault's go-to response to these questions is to invoke the desires of the majority. Sure, he told Radio-Canada recently, listening to the concerns of minorities is important."But you can't forget the majority either," he added. "The majority was asking for secularism, and they were ignored. Now they feel listened to."Taken by itself, this is a routine statement from a politician whose party was given a solid majority in the last election and, according to most polls, still enjoys a wide measure of popularity over its rivals.Yet there is nothing routine about his government's anti-religious symbols law, not in its content (a first in North America) nor in the way it was passed (requiring the legislature to sit for more than 12 hours on a Sunday).To put the matter simply: Legault's government suspended normal legislative procedure to pass a law that deprives minorities of a fundamental right, and did so in the name of the majority.Moreover, the government included a notwithstanding clause in the law, which is designed to prevent those affected by it from appealing to the usual constitutional safeguards. There is a word that is often used when governments elsewhere have engaged in similar behaviour.The word is loaded, wildly overused and highly contested. But perhaps the time has come to consider whether populism is an appropriate term to describe the recent turn in Quebec politics.Defining populismSince coming to power, the Legault government has shown a stubborn commitment to its campaign promises, regardless of what evidence or expert advice says.On the campaign trail, for instance, the Coalition Avenir Québec promised to build another link - either a bridge or a tunnel - between Quebec City and the suburbs on the other side of the St. Lawrence River.The government is pushing ahead with the multi-billion dollar plan, even though research suggests traffic is relatively light in Quebec City. And it is insisting on building the link east of the city, ignoring conclusions of a government-commissioned study that said it would be better placed on the west side.On the campaign trail, the CAQ also promised to cut immigration levels by 20 per cent. Business groups and economists alike said "don't do it," worried the move will aggravate the province's chronic labour shortage.But it was one of the first things the CAQ did after winning the election.This devotion to campaign promises could be described as either smart politics or foolhardy governing, depending on your level of sympathy for the CAQ's goals.It does not, though, qualify as populist, at least in the way the word is used by more esteemed scholars of the subject.Populism has generally involved some sort of denunciation of the "elites." That's not a word that Legault, or any of his ministers, use often.They may steer clear of evidence-based policy, but they don't suggest a cabal of experts and intellectuals is actively gaming the system.But also fundamental to populism is the notion of "the people" as the supreme source of power. What often follows from that is a willingness to bypass institutions that seem to get in the way of what "the people" want.It is on these two dimensions that the Legault government is more vulnerable to the claim it tilted toward populism this spring.When majority = the peopleWhen Legault speaks about the religious symbols legislation, the difference between "the majority" and "the people" gets fuzzy.Just a few days before the law was passed, Legault said it would enable "our people" to "find their pride again."He added that it "allows us to send a message that we want to protect our values, our way of life in Quebec."And when the bill was first tabled in March, he issued a YouTube defence that ended with the defiant statement: "In Quebec, this is how we live."These are rhetorical constructions that flatten the diversity of opinion in a province that is cosmopolitan. And they risk further marginalizing minority groups in the province.Then there is the issue of the CAQ government's impatience with current democratic norms, those unwritten rules that enable a smooth functioning democracy.This impatience was expressed, first, by the inclusion of the notwithstanding clause in the religious symbols law.Is this constitutional? In a strict sense, yes, but scholars have questioned whether it violates the spirit in which the clause was intended."There is a worldwide standard that holds you only suspend constitutional rights, provisionally, in exceptional or emergency situations," Maxime St-Hillaire, a law professor at the Université de Sherbrooke, wrote recently.Second, there was Legault's use of closure to cut short debate on the law. To be sure, he is hardly the first premier to use the mechanism. Lucien Bouchard used it 53 times in his five years in power.But consider, too, the message that using closure sends within the context of Legault's repeated appeals to the will of the majority.Closure silences the elected opposition in the National Assembly; it suggests minority voices need to be curtailed when they get in the way of the majority.And third, as he announced his intention to use closure, Legault mused about reforming parliamentary rules to reduce the amount of time MNAs spend studying bills.The problem, he said, is that speeches made by the opposition are often "not constructive."The guardrails of democracyAt the risk of stating the obvious, ignoring democratic norms is not the same thing as brazenly flouting the Constitution. The CAQ is flirting with the former, not the latter.But there are reasons why this has caused alarm in some circles.In their recent book, How Democracies Die, political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt argue that the slide toward authoritarianism has, in recent years, not been the product of a coup or a revolution, but rather the slow decomposition of democratic norms. They are the "soft guardrails" of democracy.Without these guardrails, democracy in Quebec faces a wobbly future so long as Legault continues to talk about his majority in populist terms.

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    Biden’s 36 Years in the Senate Become a Drag on His Presidential Bid

    (Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden has enjoyed front-runner status since joining the presidential race, but now he is encountering the same pitfalls as other ambitious senators who have found that their experience and record can be a liability.His struggles to defend his remarks this week about finding common ground with two segregationists is an early sign of the trouble he could have explaining a complicated voting record and his nostalgia for the cloakroom collegiality that has steadily diminished since he first was elected in 1972.The former six-term Delaware senator’s comments set off a wave of criticism from fellow Democrats -- including two African-American Democratic rivals, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker -- that is showing no signs of abating. His refusal to apologize was just the latest instance in which his decades on Capitol Hill and his reluctance to concede any mistakes have collided to create problems for his 2020 campaign.“I think what’s going on here is he believes fundamentally he’s coming from a good place. The problem he’s having is refusing to acknowledge that things have changed not only in just the Senate but in society as a whole," said Jim Manley, a former aide to Democratic Senators Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy and George Mitchell, and who’s known Biden for decades. “Until that changes, he’s going to continue to have these problems.”Biden has already been assailed for his years-long reluctance to apologize to Anita Hill for treating her dismissively when she testified in the hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court in 1991. He called her for the first time to ask forgiveness before launching his campaign this year.Biden has also faced widespread criticism within his party for his confident assertions that he’d be able to make deals with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans. And his record is full of landmines that could detonate in the Democratic primary or in a general election against President Donald Trump.‘Looking Forward’“The vice president has no problem talking about his record as a senator in the United States Senate, but we’re looking forward,” Biden senior adviser Symone Sanders said Thursday on CNN.Biden is a creature of the old Senate, a clubby institution of backslapping, backroom deal-making where senators called each other “my friend” and for whom working across the aisle was a virtue, but often led to messy compromises. Those relationships at times aided President Barack Obama, who would give his vice president the job of chatting up Republican senators, though Biden sometimes came under fire from liberal lawmakers for being too quick to agree to Republican demands.The flare-up over comments Biden made at a fundraiser suggests that his rueful fondness for the Senate as it worked when he first arrived there in 1973, could be problematic for him.The trouble began Tuesday, when Biden told donors at the fundraiser that Democratic Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, a segregationist, “never called me boy, he always called me son.” Another segregationist, Senator Herman Talmadge, a Democrat from Georgia, he added, was “one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys” but “at least there was some civility.”He’s since tried to clarify what he said, explaining that while he disagreed with the Southern Democrats’ views on race, he was able to be civil with them and many others with whom he shared little common ground on policy. But he’s also been unwilling to heed Booker’s call for an apology for using the “boy” language or to admit that an example elevating two segregationists was tone-deaf coming just as the House held a hearing on reparations for slavery.Biden’s discussion of the segregationists has also prompted reporters and critics to dredge up his opposition to the busing of children to help achieve racial integration in schools, a position that put him on the other side of the issue from civil rights leaders.Senate RecordBiden is far from the only sitting or former senator to find that their time in the world’s greatest deliberative body did not serve them well when seeking the presidency. Obama was the first to go directly from the Senate to the Oval Office since John F. Kennedy half a century earlier and benefited from being on Capitol Hill for just two years before he began his 2008 presidential campaign.Hillary Clinton’s Iraq war vote hurt her as she and Obama went head-to-head in the final months of that race, and Bob Dole, a Kansas Republican and Senate majority leader, resigned in 1996 so he could focus on his campaign against President Bill Clinton.The seven sitting senators also running for president may hit some of the same obstacles around their records, though they’ve all been in the chamber for significantly less time than Biden was. Vermont’s Bernie Sanders has been on Capitol Hill since 1997, but he’s only been in the Senate since 2007. Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar took office the same year and the other five have all been there for less time, hewing more closely to the model set by Obama.Brian Fallon, a former adviser to Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, said senators who’ve spent less time in office, including Booker, Harris and Elizabeth Warren, could be better suited for the realities of a polarized Republican caucus.“They’re more willing to shake things up and not be at the mercy of some of these norms and protocols of an institution that is really stacked against our side,” he said. “What’s going to be required for the next president to be successful is going to be a willingness to not be a slave to the customs and niceties of the Senate, which is not working for us.”Free Trade VotesBiden, like Hillary Clinton, has come under fire for several votes that are controversial or unpopular among Democrats. He voted to authorize the war in Iraq, for free trade deals including the North American Free Trade Agreement, and he was a key backer of a bankruptcy overhaul sought by credit card companies. He’s flip-flopped on his long-held opposition to federal funding for abortion, and backed crime legislation that increased sentences that many in his party now want to roll back.“He is going to need to contend with the consequences of those votes and then more recently his unforced error of a gaffe,” said Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. Yet many in the Senate, even as they largely hold off on making endorsements, still have his back, she added. “There’s a lot of people who say they love Joe Biden around here.”Richard Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said Biden will face attacks for some of his votes but that his time on the Hill remains an asset. “There are some votes I wish I could do over,” he said. “But the other side of that coin is experience. ‘I’ve been there, I know how the Senate works and how the House works, I can be an effective president.’”Yet some veterans of recent presidential campaigns are skeptical of whether Biden will be able to overcome his record.“On the merits, no individual vote should be disqualifying. but the constant fixation on exploring that stuff and the need for his campaign to reconcile these things may cumulatively be a drag,” Fallon said. “All of these things collectively may contribute to an overall vibe that he’s generationally out of step with the current political moment.”James Wallner, a lecturer at American University and former aide to Republican Senators Pat Toomey, Mike Lee and Jeff Sessions, said that the “kind of personalities that develop in the Senate have not necessarily been conducive in this modern age to run for president.”Successful recent presidents, he said, benefited from “their ability to be popular leaders, to transcend the nuance and detail of policy issues” while “senators tend to go down into the details.”To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Epstein in Washington at jepstein32@bloomberg.net;Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Max Berley, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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    Canadiens take American winger Cole Caufield 15th overall at NHL draft

    VANCOUVER - Cole Caufield isn't concerned about his size.At five-foot-seven, 163 pounds the right-winger from Wisconsin wasn't the biggest player taken in the first round of the NHL draft on Friday, but the 18-year-old is confident his game is just as strong as any other prospect's."I don't think I'd be the player I am today without my size," Caufield said after he was picked 15th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. "I can't do anything about it so I think I've used it to my advantage my whole life and I'm going to continue to do that because it hasn't slowed me down yet and I don't think it will going forward."Caufield spent last season with the U.S. under-18 team where he put up 72 goals and 100 points in 64 games.The teen's known for having a lethal shot but said he's looking forward to helping the Habs any way he can."There's a lot of things I do other than score goals, too," he said. "I'm a big competitor, I hate to lose. I'll do anything to win."Caufield was ranked eighth amongst North American skaters by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau heading into the draft and said he wasn't disappointed to be picked 15th."I'm just happy right now. I don't really care what happened before that," he said. "Really everything else in my mind has gone away. I'm just the happiest kid in the world."The Canadiens have nine other picks this year, starting with the 46th selection.Last year, Montreal used the third overall pick to draft Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The Finnish centre had 11 goals and 23 assists in his rookie season before having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in April to correct what Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin called a "chronic, minor injury."Kotkaniemi wasn't the only young star to impress in Montreal this year, however.Ryan Poehling, picked 25th overall by the Canadiens in 2017, joined the team for its last game in April after wrapping up a successful NCAA career at St. Cloud State University. The 20-year-old centre scored a hat trick in the outing, helping the Habs to a 6-5 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.Montreal narrowly missed the playoffs, finishing just two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 44-30-8 record.One of the team's leading scorers was Jonathan Drouin, who came to the Canadiens in exchange for a top prospect.Montreal had picked defenceman Mikail Sergachev ninth overall in 2016 and the Russian spent a single season with the organization, mostly playing for the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires before he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning in June 2017. Drouin, a 24-year-old left winger, tied a career high with 53 points last season, but was critiqued for putting up just three points in his final 18 games.Montreal is set to host the 2020 draft.Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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    Indigenous drummers lead pipeline protesters on 22-kilometre march in Victoria

    VICTORIA - The government approval of the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion won't stop efforts in British Columbia to halt the project, protesters gathered outside Victoria's city hall said Saturday.About 300 demonstrators were adamant in their commitment to fight the pipeline twinning project, approved this week by the federal Liberal government, as they prepared to embark on a 22-kilometre march to a beach south of Victoria.Indigenous drummers led the anti-pipeline protest along the route that passed through Victoria to Island View Beach, located near Victoria International Airport. The demonstrators, some carrying placards saying, "Don't be Crude," and "What part of NO do you not understand," walked down the middle of downtown streets escorted by police vehicles with their lights flashing.Eric Doherty said he was prepared to walk more than 20 kilometres to join what he believes will be a public groundswell against the pipeline expansion."Governments approve all sorts of things and then they face the people on the street and they get cancelled," he said. "That's how societies turn around is people hit the streets."The government originally approved the expansion in 2016 but after the Federal Court of Appeal shelved the original approval last summer, a second National Energy Board review was ordered to look at the impacts of oil tankers on marine life. Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci was also hired to oversee a new round of consultations with 117 affected Indigenous communities.Ottawa bought the existing pipeline a year ago for $4.5 billion, when Kinder Morgan Canada investors decided to sell. The energy sector and Alberta argue existing pipelines are at capacity and the oil sands need more ways to get product to market.B.C. Premier John Horgan said he was disappointed with the project's federal approval and the province will continue with legal challenges. Horgan has said often increased oil tanker traffic increases the chances of a catastrophic spill on the West Coast.Victoria Indigenous leader Rose Henry told the demonstrators Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's pipeline approval decision could hurt his government's chances of re-election this fall."We can stop it," said Henry. "We can stop it by saying, "No," to this unwanted pipeline. You know in the next few months we have two elections coming up."She said she was referring to the October federal election and United States election in 2020.Environmental studies student Sadie Gibbs said she was looking forward to the 22-kilometre "casual stroll."She said the pipeline project represents ongoing developments with the potential to harm the environment and quality of life in exchange for the promise of jobs and profits for big oil companies.Gibbs, who painted her face in bright colours for the protest, said she supports economic ventures that do not threaten the environment.Gibbs wore a name tag on her dress that said: "Hello, my name is the environment."Following the demonstrators was a truck towing a tiny wood house similar to ones First Nations have built along the pipeline path in B.C.’s Interior.Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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