News / Canada

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

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett, left, and Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott speak to reporters after meetings with the family of Colten Boushie, in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett, left, and Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott speak to reporters after meetings with the family of Colten Boushie, in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Highlights from the news file for Monday, Feb. 12

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BOUSHIE'S FAMILY MEETS FEDERAL MINISTERS: Much needs to be done to fix the way First Nations people are treated within Canada's criminal justice system, but it would be "completely inappropriate" to comment on the specifics of the Colten Boushie verdict, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday. Speaking in the House of Commons during question period, Trudeau said First Nations people are underrepresented on juries and overrepresented in the prison population — a situation he said his government is committed to solving. On Friday, a jury found Gerald Stanley, 56, not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2016 killing of Colten Boushie, a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation. In the wake of the Stanley verdict, Wilson-Raybould tweeted Saturday that Canada "can and must do better." Boushie's relatives met Monday with federal ministers in Ottawa, where they said they hope to build relationships with people who have the power to change the way Indigenous people are treated in the justice system. The Boushie family is scheduled to sit down Tuesday with Wilson-Raybould and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

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QUEBEC INDIGENOUS INQUIRY SITS IN MONTREAL: An inquiry that has been examining discrimination experienced by Indigenous Quebecers at the hands of the public service began hearings in Montreal on Monday, with a high-profile Saskatchewan court ruling looming large over the proceedings. Sedalia Fazio, a Mohawk elder originally from Kahnawake who presided over the opening prayer, said the timing of the hearings was difficult given the verdict in the Colten Boushie case. A jury deliberated 13 hours before finding Gerald Stanley not guilty last Friday of second-degree murder in Boushie's slaying. Fazio said the Boushie case made her own presence at Monday's hearing difficult, "when my people are hurting so bad, when we feel such injustice right now." The Quebec inquiry, announced in December 2016, was mandated to look into the way Indigenous Peoples are treated by the police, the province's youth protection agency, the public health department as well as the justice and correctional systems. It came on the heels of allegations of mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples living in northwestern Quebec.

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NDP NOT PLANNING PROBE OF STOFFER COMPLAINTS: The federal NDP is not planning to launch an investigation into how the party handled allegations of sexual misconduct against former MP Peter Stoffer — at least not right now. NDP spokeswoman Sarah Andrews says the party is committed to strengthening its anti-harassment policies, and that leader Jagmeet Singh has opened his door to anyone who wants to share their experiences. But while Andrews left the door open to a future investigation, she says the party does not have any current plans to dive into the complaints against Stoffer. Several women who worked for the NDP have come forward over the past week alleging Stoffer acted inappropriately toward them while he was serving as MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore between 1997 and 2015. At least one says the issue was raised with party leaders, but that her concerns were essentially ignored. Stoffer has acknowledged some of his actions may have caused discomfort, but he has denied sexually assaulting or physically abusing anyone.

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CABINET STEPS UP REVIEW OF AECON DEAL: The Canadian government is stepping up its national security review of the proposed takeover of Canadian construction company Aecon Group Inc. by a Chinese state-owned business. Toronto-based Aecon said the minister responsible for economic development informed the company that cabinet has ordered a further investigation of the deal under the Investment Canada Act, which will take more time. A spokesman for Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said cabinet issued the order, which is the next step in the "rigorous" review process. "Based on the advice we have received from national security agencies we believe that there is a potential injury to national security," said Karl Sasseville, spokesman for Bains. He declined to specify what prompted security agencies to make this recommendation. Chris Murray of AltaCorp Capital Inc. said he believes the government's primary concern may be Aecon's telecom infrastructure group, which builds significant core communications networks for several major Canadian carriers. The government's approval is the last major hurdle that Aecon must clear to close the $1.5 billion deal.

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TRUMP THREATENS NEW FOREIGN 'RECIPROCAL TAX': U.S. President Donald Trump is complaining about Canadian trade practices while threatening a tax on international imports, indicating Monday that the idea of some form of border fee remains alive. Trump made the remarks at the White House while unveiling a long-awaited infrastructure plan. During a lengthy session with reporters, he complained about countries considered allies of the U.S. He mentioned the one directly to America's north. "Canada does not treat us right in terms of the farming and the crossing the borders,'' said Trump, according to a release from the White House press pool. ''We cannot continue to be taken advantage of by other countries.'' It's unclear what he was referring to, although he has complained in the past about Canada's dairy controls and softwood lumber. Administration officials have also expressed anger over Canada's wide-ranging attack at the World Trade Organization on the U.S. system for imposing duties.

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WEINSTESIN'S EX-ASSISTANT CHALLENGING PART OF LAWSUIT: A lawyer for a former assistant to Harvey Weinstein is challenging parts of a lawsuit brought by a Toronto woman against his client and the disgraced Hollywood producer. Barbara Schneeweiss worked for Weinstein for approximately 20 years and is named as a defendant in the suit from a Toronto actress who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein nearly two decades ago. The actress, who cannot be named, alleges Schneeweiss set up a meeting between her and Weinstein despite having some degree of knowledge that it might lead to a sexual assault. Schneeweiss' lawyer Jonathan Rosenstein is arguing that his client's alleged acts are subject to a statute of limitations that has expired. Rosenstein also argues that the actress does not specify how much Schneeweiss allegedly knew about Weinstein's alleged sexual activities.

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BABCOCKS 'LEARNED TO HATE' AFTER DAUGHTER KILLED: The family of Laura Babcock said they have learned to hate since finding out that their daughter was brutally killed and her body was burned in an animal incinerator. Babcock's parents and her brother expressed their hatred and heartbreak in a victim impact statement read out Monday at a sentencing hearing for Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, who were found guilty in December of first-degree murder. Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., were previously found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2013 death of Hamilton man Tim Bosma, whose remains were burned in the same animal incinerator — called The Eliminator — they had used to get rid of Babcock's body. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years. The judge presiding over the Babcock case will decide, however, whether to impose consecutive or concurrent periods of parole ineligibility, a provision added by the federal government in 2011 to the Criminal Code for multiple murderers.

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ACCUSED EDMONTON ATTACKER TO ENTER PLEA IN MARCH: A man accused of attempted murder in a knife attack on an Edmonton police officer will enter a plea at his next court date in mid-March. Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 30, was in provincial court to face 11 charges related to a Sept. 30 attack on a police officer outside a football game. Some of the charges also stem from a speeding cube van that hit and injured four pedestrians in downtown Edmonton hours after the police officer was attacked. Court heard an assessment on whether Sharif could be found not criminally responsible was still not complete. Chief Crown prosecutor Shelley Bykewich told Judge Donna Rae Valgardson that some next steps should occur in the case. "The initial mental health assessment was ordered on Nov. 14," she said in court. "There's been a second order that occurred in January." Bykewich said she spoke to the doctor conducting the assessment and he has indicated he needed more time, partly because of a lack of resources and partly due to the need to arrange an interpreter for another interview with Sharif. Defence lawyer Karanpal Aujla said the case is proceeding slowly, but said they need all the information before his client enters a plea.

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LCBO PARTNERS WITH SHOPIFY FOR POT SALES: The Ontario government has inked a deal to use Shopify Inc.'s e-commerce platform for cannabis sales online and in stores as part of its plan to be the province's sole distributor of legal recreational marijuana. The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC), a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, will use the Ottawa-based company's online store software for its online and mobile sales portal Shopify's technology will also be used inside brick-and-mortar stores to process transactions on iPads and for digital screens displaying product and health information. The OCRC said Ontarians will have access to the same product information, usage guidelines and social responsibility information — which adhere to federal marketing provisions — both in-store and online. The public consultation for Health Canada's proposed guidelines for cannabis regulation — which include limits on branding elements on packaging, as well as restrictions on marketing similar to tobacco — finished on Jan. 20, with a finalized version yet to be delivered.

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CROWDFUNDED 'BLACK PANTHER' SCREENINGS A HIT: Organizers of free screenings for young black people across Canada to see the upcoming "Black Panther" superhero movie say they're elated that fundraising goals have been shattered. Community groups in several Canadian cities have already raised enough money to give hundreds of young African-Canadians free tickets to Marvel's first film featuring a predominantly black cast. A crowdfunding page for a Toronto-area screening backed by the Black Business and Professionals Association said the campaign has raised upward of $15,000, which is more than double its original goal. The additional funds are being earmarked to create programs for black youth who want to work in the film industry. The screening will be followed by a discussion to help young people identify real-life heroes within the black community, as well as within themselves, he said. The Edmonton chapter of Black Lives Matter tweeted on Feb. 1 that it had exceeded its roughly $2,700 fundraising goal in one day, and that number continues to climb on the event's crowdfunding page.

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