News / Canada

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

Francesco Spertini holds a chunk of chrysotile asbestos with his bare hands at the now closed Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Que., in an August 10, 2016, file photo. The federal government is banning the use of asbestos in products. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Francesco Spertini holds a chunk of chrysotile asbestos with his bare hands at the now closed Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Que., in an August 10, 2016, file photo. The federal government is banning the use of asbestos in products. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, Dec. 15

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FEDS BAN ASBESTOS IN CANADA: The federal government is banning the use of asbestos in products.  It says it's moving to phase out the manufacture, use, import and export of asbestos in common items such as building materials and brake pads. This year, about 2,300 new cases of asbestos related cancer were diagnosed across the country.

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TRUDEAU SAYS PROGRESS BEING MADE ON TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION REPORT. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is making progress on acting on the majority of the recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Report. Trudeau marked the anniversary of the report's release by meeting with the leaders of three national indigenous organizations in Ottawa on Thursday. He says progress is underway on 41 of the 45 recommendations that are under federal or shared jurisdiction. He says while more must be done, progress is being made.

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TRUDEAU SAYS HE'S HAPPY TO TALK ABOUT FUNDRAISERS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he's prepared to field questions from ethics commissioner Mary Dawson about his party's controversial fundraising tactics. Trudeau has been under fire in the Commons for weeks over a series of private Liberal party fundraisers with well-heeled donors. The Globe and Mail says Dawson has agreed to question Trudeau on the issue to determine whether a more comprehensive investigation is warranted. Trudeau says he wants to retain public confidence and maintain high ethical standards and will work with the ethics commissioner and anyone else who has questions of this government.

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FIVE DIE IN ONTARIO HOUSE FIRE: The chief of a southwestern Ontario First Nation says five members of the same family are believed to have died in a house fire in what he is calling a "tremendous" loss for the tight-knit community. Chief Randall Phillips of the Oneida Nation of the Thames says the fire that engulfed the residence Wednesday morning is a "terrible tragedy." Phillips blames lack of housing funding -- adding the federal government rejected a proposal for funding to repair 50 local homes. Fire officials say the bodies of an adult and a child have been located in the burnt-out home so far.

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INMATE DIES IN SASK PRISON RIOT: Corrections officials say an inmate was killed in a riot at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary. They say Jason Leonard Bird suffered serious injuries after being assaulted by other prisoners in Wednesday's riot and died in hospital. Two other inmates were injured. A spokesman for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said the trouble began when inmates in a medium-security unit refused to be locked up as part of their normal routine and then started barricading the entrance to the unit.

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INMATE ADVOCATE CALLS FOR ACTION ON PRISON VIOLENCE:  Canada's outgoing prisoners' ombudsman says the federal government should make good on promised reforms that might dampen a rising wave of violence in Canada's penitentiaries. Howard Sapers says the prison environment has become harsher and the result is increased inmate assaults and use of force by staff. Sapers says he has hopes there will be reforms based on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mandate letter to his justice minister, which calls for a review of the criminal justice system.

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CENTRAL BANK PREDICTS MORTGAGE RULES WILL COOL MARKET: The Bank of Canada says new mortgage rules will curb rising household debt and rising home prices in some markets. The central bank warned Thursday that climbing debt levels have left Canada exposed to economic shocks, such as an event that leads to a significant drop in employment. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says he expects stricter housing finance rules introduced in recent months to gradually ease household indebtedness and improve the quality of future borrowing.

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REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION PREDICTS HOME SALES WILL DROP:  The Canadian Real Estate Association says it expects a 3.3 per cent drop in home sales next year as deteriorating affordability, a shortage of supply and new mortgage rules slow the red-hot Toronto and Vancouver markets. Cailey Heaps Estrin, a Toronto-based sales representative with Royal LePage, says the stricter mortgage rules introduced by Ottawa — including increased stress tests for insured mortgages — will cause the Toronto market to cool next year.

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CANADIAN MILITARY ON FACT FINDING MISSIONS IN MIDDLE EAST: A pair of Canadian military teams are in Lebanon and Jordan examining whether measures are needed to keep the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from spreading into those countries.  ISIL's hold on the Iraqi city of Mosul is expected to be broken soon but senior military commanders fear that defeat in Iraq and Syria will see the group attempt to spread into the surrounding region. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada is looking at how it can help prevent any "spillage" of ISIL into the surrounding region.

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JURY CONVICTS ROOF IN CHURCH SHOOTINGS: A jury has convicted Dylann Roof of all 33 counts in the racially motivated slaughter of nine black church members last year in South Carolina. The jury took less than two hours to reach its verdict Thursday. Family members of victims held hands and squeezed one another's arms as the verdicts were read. One woman nodded her head every time the clerk said "guilty." Jurors convicted Roof of hate crimes, obstruction of religion and weapons charges.

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