News / Canada

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

Over one million dollars worth of drugs including flaps of the deadly fentanyl drug destined for a Victoria drug trafficker's address was seized by Victoria Police after being alerted by the Canada Border Services Agency. Bags of methamphetamine, spits of crack cocaine and $8,425 in cash was also seized and on display during a press conference at Victoria Police headquarters in Victoria B.C., Thursday, December 1, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Over one million dollars worth of drugs including flaps of the deadly fentanyl drug destined for a Victoria drug trafficker's address was seized by Victoria Police after being alerted by the Canada Border Services Agency. Bags of methamphetamine, spits of crack cocaine and $8,425 in cash was also seized and on display during a press conference at Victoria Police headquarters in Victoria B.C., Thursday, December 1, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, Dec. 1

———

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS PROPORTIONAL VOTING SYSTEM: A special all-party committee is recommending that the Trudeau government design a new proportional voting system and hold a national referendum to gauge how much Canadians would support it. The long-awaited report of the electoral reform committee also recommends that the government not proceed at this time with mandatory voting or online voting. In a dissenting report, however, the committee's Liberal members — the party does not support a referendum — are essentially recommending that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau abandon his promise to change the system before the next election.

———

MASSIVE FENTANYL BUST MADE IN B.C.: Police in Victoria say a package intercepted by the Canada Border Services Agency at Vancouver's airport contained enough fentanyl to cause 725,000 overdoses. The package with 1.45 kilograms of the deadly opioid originally came from China and was en route to an address in Victoria. Police say the fentanyl was mixed with heroin and that nine people recently died within 11 days on Vancouver Island from the opioid that has killed hundreds of people across the country.

———

AIR MILES CANCELS REWARD EXPIRY POLICY: The Air Miles loyalty points program says it is cancelling plans to implement an expiry policy and collectors won't lose their miles at the end of this year. Air Miles collectors would have seen miles they haven't claimed within five years expire on Dec. 31 this year. But LoyaltyOne, the company that runs Air Miles, says it decided to change its position due to uncertainty with provincial governments proposing or considering legislation to prevent the expiry of rewards points. In Ontario, a private member's bill sought to make it illegal for companies to allow points to expire only due to the passage of time.

__

REPORT SAYS CANADA'S WEALTH IS STAGNANT: A report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development says Canada's true national wealth has been stagnant for decades and is too heavily dependent on housing and oil and gas. IISD president Scott Vaughan says this week's federal government approval of the expansion of two oil export pipelines makes it "imperative" that Canada use its resource wealth to diversify the economy. Many in Alberta's oilpatch have expressed concern that incoming U.S. president Donald Trump will make it harder for Canada to compete for global investment.

———

MINISTER SAYS EI SYSTEM IN NEED OF REFORM: The federal minister in charge of the employment insurance system says the program needs a serious redesign in the next few years to meet changing economic and social conditions. In a roundtable interview with The Canadian Press this week, Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says he believes the EI system should be simplified, include better work incentives and improve the quality and the availability of services that people expect. Duclos said the EI system is overly complex.

———

QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT LIBERALS' SUPER HORNET PURCHASE: National Defence has removed a report from its website that raises questions about the government's plan to buy "interim" Super Hornet fighter jets. The department says it took down the report, which was originally published by the department's research arm in June 2014, because of concerns it contained classified information. But others are asking if it was removed for the same reason more than 200 federal officials working on replacing Canada's CF-18s have been sworn to a lifetime of secrecy: it poses a threat to the Liberals' plan to buy Hornets.

———

DION SAYS CANADA-U.S. MUST WORK TOGETHER TO FACE RUSSIA CHALLENGE: Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion says Canada wants to work with the United States to face the "challenge" posed by Russia. Dion steered clear of commenting directly on Donald Trump's campaign statements in which he praised Russian President Vladimir Putin. But he says the two countries have a shared interest in dealing with Russia through military deterrence and diplomacy. Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014 and its backing of separatist rebels in the country's east have caused NATO to bolster its military footprint in Eastern Europe.

———

EX-LAVAL MAYOR PLEADS GUILTY: Gilles Vaillancourt, once one of Quebec's most influential municipal politicians, was sent to prison Thursday for his role in a scheme that defrauded public coffers of millions of dollars. The former longtime mayor of Laval, Quebec's third-largest municipality, pleaded guilty to three charges — conspiracy, fraud and breach of trust — and was incarcerated after defence and Crown lawyers agreed to a six-year prison term. Crown prosecutor Richard Rougeau estimated the fraud totalled several dozen million dollars between 1996 and 2010.

———

WHALE DEATHS BEING INVESTIGATED: A necropsy has been completed on the latest humpback whale to drown while trapped underwater by fish-farm equipment off the British Columbia coast. Fisheries experts say it could take much longer to determine why these creatures are becoming entangled. Fisheries and Oceans Canada marine mammal co-ordinator Paul Cottrell said preliminary results of the necropsy should be available in a few weeks, but a final report could take months, depending on the tissues studied. An investigation was launched Nov. 26, a day after the juvenile humpback was entangled and drowned.

———

HOLLANDE WON'T SEEK ANOTHER TERM: French President Francois Hollande says he will not seek another term when France holds its election next year. Hollande says he wants to give his Socialist party a chance to win "against conservatism and extremism." Hollande is the most unpopular president in France's modern history. He had repeatedly said he would seek re-election only if he was able to curb the unemployment rate, which has hovered for years at 10 per cent.

———

SPACE STATION SUPPLY SHIP CRASHES: An unmanned cargo ship en route to the International Space Station has broken up in the atmosphere and crashed over Siberia. Russia's space agency says the craft was operating normally before it stopped transmitting data about six-and-a-half minutes after the launch. Experts are looking into what caused the malfunction. NASA successfully sent up supplies to the space station in October, and a Japanese cargo space ship is scheduled to launch a full load in mid-December.

———