News / Canada

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks towards the gallery, where the family of Colten Boushie watch as he delivers a speech on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights in in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks towards the gallery, where the family of Colten Boushie watch as he delivers a speech on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights in in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Highlights from the news file for Wednesday, Feb. 14

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TRUDEAU TO LAY OUT VISION FOR INDIGENOUS RIGHTS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his Liberal government plans to overhaul the way Ottawa relates to Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Trudeau tells the House of Commons the Liberals will devise a new legislative framework to help pave the way toward stronger Indigenous rights and greater control over their own destiny for First Nations, Inuit and Metis people. Trudeau says it's important to get the framework right to ensure Indigenous Peoples can enjoy lasting success in Canada at last. He says the new approach, to be developed in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, is necessary to tackle challenges like overcrowded housing, unsafe drinking water and high suicide rates. The new framework will be unveiled later this year following consultations led by Carolyn Bennett, the minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

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PATRICK BROWN CHALLENGES ACCUSERS TO PRESS CHARGES: The former leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party is accusing CTV News of defaming him. Patrick Brown stepped down from the role last month amid allegations of sexual misconduct made by two women in a CTV report. In late January, CTV reported that one woman, who is now 29, claimed she was still in high school and under the legal drinking age when Brown allegedly asked her to perform oral sex on him. Another woman said she was a university student working in Brown's constituency office when he sexually assaulted her at his home, CTV reported. Late Tuesday, CTV reported that the first accuser now said she had not been in high school or under the legal drinking age during the alleged incident. The woman said the altered timeline did not change the core of her allegations and noted she had been subject to demeaning and misogynistic comments online since the story broke. In a statement on Facebook on Wednesday, Brown urged the two unnamed women to contact police so the accusations can be dealt with through the legal system. CTV says it stands by its reporting, which has not been independently verified by The Canadian Press.

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NO PAROLE FOR 25 YEARS IN ALBERTA TRIPLE MURDER: An Alberta judge has ruled that two men found guilty of murdering three family members will not have to spend additional time in prison before they can apply for parole. Jason Klaus, who is 42, and 32-year-old Joshua Frank have instead been sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years — which is automatic under the Criminal Code for first-degree murder. Justice Eric Macklin told court in Red Deer, Alta., that the factors in the case were not particularly uncommon compared with other murder cases and did not warrant consecutive sentences. The bodies of Klaus's father and sister were found in their burned-out farmhouse near Castor, Alta., in December 2013. His mother's body was never found but police believe she also died in the house. The Crown had argued that the two men deserved the maximum of 75 years without hope of parole for what the prosecution called a "contract killing of sorts.'' The defence said the murders weren't as gruesome as other cases that resulted in consecutive parole ineligibilities. There are provisions in the Criminal Code to have sentences served one after the other for multiple murders, but Macklin said delaying parole for Klaus and Frank would be "a decision out of the ordinary."

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TORY SENATORS BALK AT SPEEDING UP POT BILL: Conservative senators are balking at an attempt to speed up consideration of a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, which the Trudeau government hopes to have in place this July. Sen. Larry Smith, who leads the Conservative caucus in the Senate, insists his senators aren't being obstructionist but they are determined to do their duty, which is to provide "constructive evaluation" of legislation. The government's representative in the Senate, Sen. Peter Harder, says he wants second reading debate on C-45 wrapped up by March 1, after which it would go to committee before returning to the Senate for a final debate and vote. If the various Senate factions don't agree to that timetable, Harder says he'll move a motion to impose time allocation to cut off debate — a tactic he's avoided using before now. Smith says he's got 17 senators who want to speak during second reading on the complicated bill. He says he hopes Harder will agree to be "flexible" about the March 1 deadline.

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MISSING FIREFIGHTER FOUND IN CALIFORNIA HAS MEMORY LOSS, COPS SAY: A Toronto fire captain who was found at a California airport six days after vanishing from a New York state ski slope likely sustained some sort of head trauma along his puzzling journey across the country, American authorities said Wednesday. Constantinos (Danny) Filippidis was unable to provide officers with many details about his route from Lake Placid, N.Y., to the Sacramento, Calif., airport other than that he believed he travelled most of the way in a transport truck and was not the victim of any crime, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department said a day after the firefighter was found. Filippidis, a 49-year-old captain with Toronto Fire Services, was on an annual ski trip with friends and colleagues when he disappeared from Whiteface Mountain.

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HEDLEY SAYS SEXUAL MISCONDUCT CLAIMS 'UNSUBSTANTIATED': The Junos have dropped Hedley from the televised awards bash as the rockers face allegations of sexual misconduct that they call "unsubstantiated." Organizers of the annual music show say it was a joint decision with Hedley "after careful consideration of the situation." The move by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences came as band members issued a statement addressing claims of impropriety involving young fans. "We realize the life of a touring band is an unconventional one," reads the statement, which was issued mid-afternoon Wednesday, minutes before the Junos announcement. "While we are all now either married or have entered into committed, long-term relationships, there was a time, in the past, when we engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock 'n' roll cliches. However, there was always a line that we would never cross." The statement followed a flurry of claims on Twitter from anonymous users who alleged inappropriate encounters with the band. Some social media users called on the Juno Awards to drop Hedley as a performer at the upcoming show.

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UNDERCOVER TAPES PART OF TINA FONTAINE MURDER CASE: The man accused of killing Tina Fontaine told an undercover officer there are three rules in crime: deny, deny, deny. Raymond Cormier, who is 55, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of the 15-year-old Indigenous girl whose body was found wrapped in a duvet filled with rocks in the Red River in August 2014. Court heard that Cormier was given a free apartment in Winnipeg and it had been bugged by police. The undercover officer moved into a suite on the same floor and became friends with Cormier over about six months. In recorded audio played in court, Cormier told the undercover officer he wanted to have sex with Tina the first time he met her. Cormier also said he regretted telling Tina to jump off a bridge when they got in a fight over her bike.

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DEAL WITH RACISM IN PRISONS, SENATORS URGED: The chairwoman of the Senate's human rights committee says Canada needs to deal with systemic, anti-black racism in its prisons and help inmates better integrate with society after they're released. Nova Scotia Sen. Wanda Thomas Bernard says the committee's hearings have shown a need for systemic and structural changes to prevent former prisoners from getting back into trouble with the law. As part of a special meeting to look at the experiences of black female inmates, the committee heard that pardons for past crimes would help some inmates find work. Black Canadians make up 8.6 per cent of the population of federal prisons, even though they account for just three per cent of the overall Canadian population. And while their numbers have declined, the corrections watchdog's most recent annual report found that black inmates were more likely to be in maximum security, placed in segregation and disproportionately involved in violent incidents.

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FEDS TO STUDY POT HABITS BY TESTING SEWAGE: The federal government is taking a somewhat noxious approach to studying just how much pot Canadians are consuming: researching our sewage. Statistics Canada will spend up to $600,000 a year for a contractor to regularly test waste water from 15 to 20 municipalities across the country for traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and other drugs. The survey could be the best way to collect precise data on the amount of pot Canadians consume, according to Anthony Peluso, an assistant director at Statistics Canada. Peluso said that by using the same methodology from sewage analysis surveys in Europe that have proven accurate in the past, Statistics Canada believes it will be able to fill some of its information gap that way. After cannabis is metabolized by the body, traces of THC are left behind in human waste. Samples of waste water from sewage treatment plants can then be collected and tested for the substance.

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