News / Canada

The Thursday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(left to right) wave after taking part in a signing ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, September 22, 2016, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(left to right) wave after taking part in a signing ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, September 22, 2016, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, Sept. 22

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CANADA AND CHINA TALK FREE TRADE: Canada and China have started exploratory talks on a free trade deal.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement at the start of a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Ottawa Thursday.  Trudeau says the two countries hope to double trade over the next decade.  Li also defended the death penalty in China saying if it were to be abolished then innocent people will lose their lives.

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FEDERAL INFRASTRUCTURE MONEY MAY BE FAST TRACKED: The federal government is musing about using this fall's economic and fiscal update as a vehicle to inject some life into Canada's stalled economy, including possibly fast-forwarding billions in planned infrastructure spending. Government insiders say it would be an overstatement at this point to call the autumn update a mini-budget, but it may evolve into that.  Sources say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau have had only a preliminary discussion so far about a range of measures which would normally wait until next year's federal budget, but which could be ready for the fall update.

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YAHOO REVEALS DATA BREACH:  A massive security breakdown at Yahoo has resulted in the theft of personal information in 500 million accounts. The breach is the latest setback for the beleaguered Internet company and dates back to late 2014. The stolen data includes users' names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and security questions. Yahoo is blaming it on what it calls a "state-sponsored actor.'' 

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FIRST NATIONS CANDIDATES FACE BARRIERS TO GET ON SUPREME COURT: Two high profile First Nations figures say the new selection process for the Supreme Court of Canada creates unfair barriers for indigenous candidates.  Sen. Murray Sinclair and Assembly of First Nations national chief Berry Bellgarde point to the bilingualism requirement.  Bellegarde says many indigenous people speak their own languages, noting the ability to speak both French and English should not stand in the way of appointing an indigenous person to the high court for the first time. Sinclair says the judges in office today were not required to be bilingual at the time of their appointments.

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MONSEF SAYS AFGHANISTAN NOT HER BIRTHPLACE: An Ontario MP widely touted as Canada's first Afghan-born cabinet minister says she recently learned from her mother that she was in fact born in Iran. Maryam Monsef says she and her two sisters never held Iranian citizenship and were always considered Afghan citizens, but she was not born in Herat, Afghanistan as she was led to believe her whole life. Monsef and her family came to Peterborough, Ont., as refugees from Afghanistan in 1996 when Maryam was 11 years old. U.S. President Barack Obama, in an address to Parliament earlier this year, made a point of noting Monsef's Afghan heritage as a sign of Canada's inclusiveness.

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KENNEY BIDS FAREWELL TO COMMONS: Conservative MP Jason Kenney has made his last speech in the House of Commons as he prepares to leave federal politics to focus on a bid to unite the provincial right in Alberta. Kenney's resignation formally takes effect Friday. Kenney says his nearly two decades in the Commons gave him great respect for Parliament and its work. Kenney is running for the leadership of the Alberta Conservative party in hopes of resurrecting the fortunes of the one-time political dynasty. Thanks in large part to the Wildrose party helping to divide opposition voters, Rachel Notley formed the first-ever majority NDP government in Alberta, ending 44 years of Conservative governance.

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FOREIGN BUYERS TRIED TO BEAT B.C. REAL ESTATE TAX: Property purchase data from British Columbia's Finance Ministry shows there was a stampede of foreign buyers trying to get in under the wire before a 15 per cent tax on purchases in Vancouver kicked in August 2nd. The data also reveals the numbers slowed to a trickle after the deadline. Figures show 55 per cent of all residential property deals in Metro Vancouver before the tax came into effect involved foreign nationals. 

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B.C. GOVERNMENT ASKED TO INTERVENE IN ADOPTION CASE: British Columbia's child advocate is calling on the provincial government to step in to delay the adoption of a Metis toddler by non-Metis parents in Ontario. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says she believes the little girl's heritage has not been given adequate consideration. The nearly three-year-old girl has been in the care of a Metis foster mother since she was two days old and the Vancouver Island woman and her husband have lost multiple court battles to adopt her. The government took custody of the girl last weekend and plans to move her next week to Ontario next week.

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ATHEIST MINISTER CLOSER TO LOSING JOB: A United Church minister has moved one step closer to potentially losing her job over her avowed atheism and disavowal of the Bible. Church officials in Toronto say they'll request a formal hearing on whether Gretta Vosper should be defrocked. Vosper was ordained in 1993 and became minister at West Hill in 1997. She has made no bones about her unorthodox views, describing herself an atheist as a way of describing her non-belief in a theistic, interventionist, supernatural being called god.

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TRUMP URGES RACIAL UNITY, ENDORSES EXPANDED 'STOP AND FRISK': Even as he urges racial unity, Donald Trump is calling for one of America's largest cities to adopt police tactics that have been condemned as racial profiling. Speaking at an energy conference in Pittsburgh Thursday, Trump said law-abiding African-Americans will suffer the most from unrest like the violent protests that have taken place over the last two nights in Charlotte, North Carolina. The unrest followed the police shooting death of a black man. He also suggested that drugs are a "very, very big factor" in those protests. Trump earlier told Fox News that Chicago should use the "stop and frisk" police tactic that a federal judge has said was used unconstitutionally in New York.

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