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Morning Update newsletter: Purdue OKs settlement; Home Capital future uncertain; Oilers lose

A $20-million proposed national settlement caps a legal battle that began a decade ago between Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and lawyers representing as many as 2,000 Canadians who got hooked on the drug after their doctors prescribed it. ((Michelle Siu For The Globe and Mail)

Purdue agrees to settle OxyContin suit

Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical giant behind the blockbuster pain pill that triggered Canada’s deadly opioid crisis, has agreed to pay $20-million to settle a long-standing class-action lawsuit. The proposed national settlement caps a legal battle that began a decade ago between Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and lawyers representing as many as 2,000 Canadians who got hooked on the drug after their doctors prescribed it. The country’s opioid epidemic traces its roots to the introduction of the prescription painkiller 21 years ago. From 2000 to 2015, more than 6,300 died in Ontario alone from overdoses related to opioids.

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Future of Home Capital uncertain as bankers explore options

Talks about the fate of Home Capital Group Inc. are picking up steam among other financial institutions, as investment bankers test the waters for interest in a possible asset sale while the lender tries to navigate a funding crisis. In recent days, the investment-banking arms of both Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada, hired by Home Capital to explore its options, have been contacting financial institutions to gauge their interest in a possible sale, according to sources. At the same time, some of those same financial institutions have talked to each other about the feasibility of pooling resources to purchase assets from Home Capital. (for subscribers)

Ontario takes a chance on a controversial idea

Ontario will spend $150-million on a three-year trial to see whether a guaranteed income will provide people the freedom to find better jobs and lead healthier lives. The concept of providing a basic income has become popular in recent years, as governments around the world face a growing digital economy that has displaced workers from more traditional jobs. Critics see basic income as a disincentive to work, not to mention unsustainable, while supporters see it easing the burdens on the health-care system, as well as a necessity in a world without jobs.

Sajjan faces new criticism over ‘architect’ blunder

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has apologized for embellishing the role he played in a significant battle in Afghanistan, but opposition MPs say the mea culpa was insufficient and that Mr. Sajjan’s fabrication has punched holes in his credibility. Mr. Sajjan said during a speech in India in April that he was the “architect” of Operation Medusa, a land battle between NATO and 1,400 Taliban in the late summer of 2006. The Minister conceded on Saturday that he had “made a mistake” in describing himself as the operation’s key planner.

Retroactive softwood lumber duties hit bulk of Canadian producers

Hundreds of Canadian sawmills, already hit by new U.S. tariffs for fresh shipments of softwood lumber, must shoulder the additional burden of paying duties retroactive to late January. Preliminary countervailing duties for new Canadian exports of lumber, averaging nearly 20 per cent, took effect on Friday. In addition, retroactive duties cover the vast majority of Canadian producers, according to the fine print in U.S. Department of Commerce documents. The duties are being imposed as the United States retaliates for what it calls unfair subsidies in Canada. (for subscribers)

NHL PLAYOFF ROUNDUP

Oilers fall to Ducks, Predators best Blues

The Edmonton Oilers gave up three goals in the first period, including one a mere 25 seconds into the game, before scrambling back to tie it up at 3 before the halfway mark of the second. The Ducks responded by scoring another three goals, this time unmatched by the Oilers, to take Game 3 of their series 6-3 in Edmonton. The Oilers still lead the series two games to one. In Nashville, the Predators scored once in each period to outlast the St. Louis Blues 3-1. The Predators now have a two-games-to-one lead in that series.

MORNING MARKETS

Stocks climb

Trading volumes were lower than average Monday due to holidays in most of Europe, China, India and Mexico, and a forthcoming three-day break in Japan. The yen weakened with bonds, while stocks and U.S. futures climbed, as a tentative deal by the U.S. Congress to avert a government shutdown offset weaker economic data from China and America. U.S. House and Senate negotiators reached a tentative bipartisan agreement Sunday night on a $1.1-trillion bill to keep the government open through the end of September. New York futures were up 33 points at 6:45 (ET). Brent oil dipped below $52 a barrel as rising crude output and drilling the U.S. countered OPEC-led production cuts aimed at clearing a supply glut.

THE LOOKAHEAD

Corporate profits set for solid gains as resource sector shows rebound

The rebound in Canadian corporate profits will face a big test through the busiest stretch of earnings season this week. The wave of financial results will include first-quarter reports from one-third of the companies on the S&P/TSX composite index. Canadian first-quarter earnings are tracking toward an increase of 29 per cent over last year, with almost 70 per cent of those already reported having come out ahead of expectations, according to a Thomson Reuters report. The Canadian profit rebound is being led by runaway growth in resource sectors.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Two Tory leadership hopefuls could beat Bernier — if they don’t beat each other first

“Erin O’Toole and Andrew Scheer stand the best chance of keeping Maxime Bernier from becoming leader of the Conservative Party on May 27. But since both these potential king-slayers seem determined to fight each other as well as the front-runner, neither might succeed. … Mr. O’Toole believes he can win by being everyone’s second choice. Mr. Scheer believes likewise. Both believe that Mr. Bernier’s strongly libertarian views, coupled with questions of personal judgment, will limit his second-choice support. But both could simply split the vote, ensuring Mr. Bernier’s victory.” – John Ibbitson

Yes, 13 Reasons Why glorifies suicide. You should watch – and talk to your kids

“The suicide scene in 13 Reasons Why – and the series more generally – breaks all the rules, such as the guidelines published by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Be that as it may, the series is out there, and it’s being gobbled up by young people. At this point, the genie cannot be stuffed back into the bottle. The single best thing parents and educators can do is actually talk openly with young people about 13 Reasons, about the issues it raises, about its flaws, and about how to get help if they need it.” – André Picard

Ottawa has no Plan B if Trump comes after dairy supply management

“Donald Trump isn’t alone in taking aim at Canada’s dairy industry. Maxime Bernier, the apparent front-runner to become the next Tory leader, has made dismantling supply management a centrepiece of his campaign. And Dominic Barton, who is advising the Trudeau government on how to rev up the economy, similarly worries that the regime is thwarting vast food-export opportunities. There is talk that the Trump administration may dangle a deal on softwood lumber in exchange for a bigger piece of Canada’s protected dairy sector. … In spite of these external pressures, there is no serious thinking going on in Ottawa or provincial capitals about what a world without supply management would look like. Without a Plan B, Ottawa risks getting forced into wrenching change by the United States, without properly laying the groundwork.” – Barrie McKenna (for subscribers)

Basic income is an opiate for the masses, not a sustainable solution

“If a group of undiluted communists and capitalists were to join forces and concoct a recipe for a Utopian society, they might produce a socio-economic system anchored by a basic, or guaranteed, annual income. The communists would love it because it would insulate the poor and unemployed from grinding, miserable poverty. … The capitalists would love it for more or less the same reasons. They could fire with abandon, knowing that the basic income would shelter the newly unemployed. … No wonder the idea of basic income has at least some appeal to the left and the right, the poor and the wealthy – your first clue that the notion is both unworkable and unhealthy for society. If everyone likes it, it’s too good to be true.” – Eric Reguly (for subscribers)

Bad news about Great News – this news satire sucks

“People watch a lot of TV news. There is, in turn, a lot of news on TV. Some of it gripping and insightful, a lot of it shockingly shallow. That’s why many viewers actually hate-watch the news on TV. And it’s why a TV newsroom has so often been the setting for satire. The workplace sitcom Great News (Tuesdays, NBC, 9 and 9:30 p.m.) is set in the newsroom of a TV station. … But exactly what is happening on Great News is a mystery to me and, one suspects, everybody involved. Great News is bizarrely unpredictable, swinging wildly from satire to schmaltz, which is problematic, given the talent involved. Also, NBC is airing two consecutive episodes every week, which suggests the show is being burned off so that it comes and goes rather quickly.” – John Doyle

Ottawa gets it right on funding for disaster mitigation

Lost in all the talk and analysis of the most recent federal budget was a landmark investment of $2-billion for disaster mitigation funding – the largest infusion of dollars dedicated to disaster mitigation in Canada’s history. The investment is designed to reduce the almost $9-billion spent by the federal government in unbudgeted disaster relief expenditures from 2005 projected through 2020. Many commentators completely missed the significance of this investment. However, Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry noticed. We noticed because we have been encouraging governments to shift their investments toward disaster mitigation, particularly flood mitigation, for several years now.” – Don Forgeron

HEALTH PRIMER

Leslie Beck: Lettuce rethink our approach to spring salad

Two months ago, I didn’t much feel like eating a green salad for lunch or dinner. Now, I’m craving one. Perhaps it’s the warmer weather that’s making me choose salad greens over sautéed kale or roasted Brussels sprouts, my go-to veggies in the winter. If you think I’m taking a nutritional hit by eating lettuce instead of cooked greens, think again. Sure, kale and spinach are often heralded as “super foods,” but they’re not the only nutrient-packed greens on the block. Eating a healthy salad is an easy way to up your vitamin and mineral intake. A small bowl of greens, for example, can deliver plenty of vitamins A and K, folate and potassium along with disease-fighting antioxidants. All that for fewer than 20 calories.

MOMENT IN TIME

Chicago workers strike for an eight-hour day

May 1, 1867: The Globe reported on unrest in Chicago, where the labour movement was lobbying for an eight-hour day, a change from the exhausting 10 or 12 hours most people were expected to work. New state legislation mandated a shorter work day, but the law had loopholes and was ignored by employers. On the first of May, a general strike broke out, shutting down Chicago’s economy. The militia intervened and the strike collapsed after a week. The Globe, which was against the eight-hour day, accused the protest’s leaders of intimidation and violence: “Armed with clubs, brick-bats, stones and pistols, they went around and drove away from the shops, elevators and timber yards all who attended to work.” Protests continued for years, although it was decades before the eight-hour day became standard for workers in the United States and elsewhere. – Richard Blackwell

Morning Update is written by Steven Proceviat.

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