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The Wednesday news briefing An ataglance survey of some top stories

The Wednesday news briefing An ataglance survey of some top stories

first_imgHighlights from the news file for Wednesday, May 24———TRUDEAU HEADS TO EUROPE FOR NATO, G7 SUMMITS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on his way to Brussels for the NATO leaders’ summit, the alliance’s first such meeting since U.S. President Donald Trump moved into the White House. The future of military alliances, the fight against climate change and even free trade are all expected to be on the agenda as Trump sits down with his NATO and G7 counterparts. But officials and experts expect the spotlight to shine brightly on the fight against terrorism after the suicide-bomb attack at a music concert in Manchester, England on Monday, which killed 22 people and injured 119. Much of the emphasis at the NATO summit in Brussels is also expected to be on the amount allies spend on defence. Canada spends only about one per cent of GDP, which is half of NATO’s stated target, and puts the country among the bottom third of allies. Following Brussels, Trudeau will jet to Taormina, Italy, for this year’s G7 gathering, before ending his foreign tour with a stop in Rome to meet the Italian prime minister and the Pope.———CANADA HITS NATO WITH ALTERNATE NUMBERS: The federal government has been using a secret weapon to fight back against pressure from NATO and some allies like the United States to increase Canadian defence spending. The weapon? New math. The Department of National Defence has compiled new figures to illustrate how different countries calculate their defence spending compared to Canada. The point, say government sources familiar with the endeavour, is to illustrate how much higher Canadian defence spending would be than it is now if it included the same things other NATO allies put in their calculations. Items that other countries consider defence spending — but Canada does not — include the coast guard, some veterans’ benefits, federal police forces and border guards. A spirited debate about the defence spending levels of individual allies is expected to feature prominently Thursday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits down with other NATO leaders, including Donald Trump.———FATHER, BROTHER OF MANCHESTER SUSPECT ARRESTED IN LIBYA: British security forces raided an apartment building Wednesday in central Manchester as they investigated a network of people allegedly behind the city’s concert bombing. Hundreds of soldiers were sent to secure key sites across the country, including Buckingham Palace and Parliament. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the bomber, Salman Abedi, “likely” did not act alone when he killed 22 people and wounded scores at an Ariana Grande concert Monday night in Manchester. She said he had been known to security forces “up to a point.” Abedi, a 22-year-old British citizen born to Libyan parents who grew up around Manchester, died in the attack. In Libya, authorities arrested Abedi’s father and a younger brother. The anti-terror force that took the brother, 18-year-old Hashim, into custody said the teenager had confessed that both he and his brother were a part of the Islamic State group and that Hashim Abedi had been aware of the details of the attack. The father, Ramadan Abedi, denied his son’s involvement in an interview with The Associated Press earlier Wednesday, saying “We don’t believe in killing innocents.”———QUEBEC HIT BY GENERAL CONSTRUCTION STRIKE: Quebec construction sites fell idle Wednesday after a union alliance representing about 175,000 workers launched an unlimited general strike, crippling activity on major projects such as the Champlain Bridge and a Montreal superhospital. The walkout began after construction companies and labour federations failed to sign collective agreements ahead of a strike deadline of midnight Tuesday. Work schedules and overtime are believed to be at the heart of the conflict in the industrial sector, while salaries are the main stumbling block in the residential sector. Michel Trepanier, a spokesman for the union alliance, said walking off the job was the only possible option. Trepanier said the employers’ objective is clear: they want to drag out negotiations to benefit from the fact construction workers are not entitled to retroactive pay. On Tuesday, Labour Minister Dominique Vien said the provincial government was looking at bringing in back-to-work legislation in the event of a strike.———BANK OF CANADA HOLDS INTEREST RATE AT 0.5 PER CENT: Uncertainties continue to obscure the economy’s stronger-than-expected start to the year, the Bank of Canada said Wednesday as it stuck with its trendsetting interest rate of 0.5 per cent. In explaining its decision to hold the rate, the central bank once again highlighted weak wage growth and the slowing pace of underlying inflation as examples the economy still has room for improvement. For balance, the bank’s scheduled rate announcement pointed to the surprisingly healthy start to the year in areas such as employment, consumer spending and the housing markets. In Wednesday’s statement, the bank added better business investment numbers to the list. The bank’s statement also said while recent government policy measures on real estate have contributed to more sustainable outlooks for household debt, the rules have yet to have a substantial cooling effect on hot housing markets.———U.S. HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE TO SUBPEONA FLYNN: Subpoenas for former national security adviser Michael Flynn piled up Wednesday as the House intelligence committee pressured Flynn to co-operate with its investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The prospect of new congressional subpoenas came one day after the committee’s Senate counterpart served its own subpoenas to Flynn’s businesses. The FBI also faced a deadline Wednesday to turn over memos written by former FBI Director James Comey detailing his discussions with U.S. President Donald Trump. One memo reportedly shows Trump pressuring Comey to shut down the bureau’s investigation into Flynn’s Russia ties. During a breakfast Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the House intelligence committee’s top Democrat, told reporters that Flynn declined to turn over records to the committee, and he said it will be “following up with subpoenas.” Schiff said the subpoenas will likely go out this week. He did not elaborate on what materials the committee was seeking.———NDP RETAINS LEAD IN CRUCIAL B.C. RIDING: The New Democrats are widening a lead in Vancouver Island’s crucial Courtenay-Comox riding, where the results could determine the next British Columbia government. The latest Elections BC absentee ballot count has NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard ahead of Liberal candidate Jim Benninger by 148 votes. The race between Leonard and Benninger has swung back and forth since election night on May 9 when Leonard held a 13-vote lead. The gap in the popular vote is also closing between the two major parties, showing the Liberals with 40.36 per cent support compared with the New Democrat’s 40.28 per cent. At stake is a one-seat Liberal majority if Benninger wins, but if Leonard wins, there could be a Liberal or NDP minority government with the support of three Green members in the 87-seat legislature. A judicial recount remains a possibility depending on the final outcome or the ability of either the Liberals or NDP to convince a judge to order a recount. The standings on election night were: 43 Liberals, 41 New Democrats and three Greens. A majority government would be 44 seats.———KIDS IN CARE MUST BE HEARD, YOUTH ADVOCATE SAYS: Alberta’s child and youth advocate says the suicide of a 15-year-old indigenous boy reinforces how crucial it is that children under provincial care be heard. A report by Del Graff recounts the short and troubled life of the boy, called Levi for privacy reasons. The report details a household marred by addiction, mental-health issues and violence, along with many moves between foster homes and kinship care. Graff says he has urged a more child-centric approach to decision-making in past reviews, but there has been minimal progress on those recommendations. The advocate notes there were numerous occasions over the years when Levi made it clear he did not want to be around his mother when she was drinking, but there was no indication his views were acknowledged. The report also stresses the need for the government to develop ways to identify children early-on who may be at risk of homelessness.———MINING STAFF SHOW LUNG DISEASE SIGNS, REPORT SAYS: A new medical report has found that 35 people who worked at mining properties in Labrador have signs of silicosis, a lung disease that can develop from breathing in silica dust. The report by Horizon Occupational Health Solutions monitored the effects of exposure to silica dust at mining properties in Labrador West. The audit reviewed chest x-rays from retired and active employees, with 35 suspected to have the work-related lung disorder. The review says they have been notified of their results and encouraged to follow up with their family physicians. The Horizon report includes 11 recommendations to improve silica monitoring and protection for workers, which the province has accepted. They include identifying requirements for regular audits of medical surveillance files and reviewing the Silica Code of Practice from 2006 to make sure they meet national standards.———DISCOVERY OF RARE SALAMANDERS PUTS QUARRY ON HOLD: A group of Ontario residents trying to ward off the development of a new quarry in their community say they have found two endangered salamanders that they hope will convince authorities to put an end to the project. Burlington, Ont., residents say the discovery of two Jefferson dependant unisexual salamanders should force the province to stop the project by Meridian Brick, which has had two active quarries in the area for decades. The residents say this discovery of the unusual salamander is a real coup. A sighting of a different endangered salamander last year put the project temporarily on hold as the brick company surveys the land for endangered plants and animals. Meridian is holding a meeting Thursday to tell the community about what it’s found and its plans for the future, but it is not sharing that information in advance. The province says it is waiting for a report from the company, but says Meridian will have to come up with a plan for any endangered species found on the property.———last_img read more