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

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, centre, speaks during a federal, provincial and territorial health ministers' meeting in Toronto on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
October 18, 2016 - 2:58 PM

Highlights from the news file for Tuesday, Oct. 18

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CANADA TRADE ENVOY HOPEFUL ABOUT CETA: Canada's European trade envoy says he's hopeful a landmark trade agreement with the European Union will be approved later this week, despite snags that have stalled a critical vote on the deal. Pierre Pettigrew expressed his optimism after speaking to the Montreal Board of Trade on Tuesday. Overseas, meanwhile, EU officials took pains to save a pact that has been years in the making. The fate of the so-called Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) remains unclear because of opposition from Wallonia. The francophone southern region in Belgium has expressed concerns the deal could erode labour, environmental and consumer regulations.

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FEDS DISAGREE WITH MINISTERS ON HEALTH MONEY: Provincial and territorial health ministers are pushing back against Ottawa's plan to slash the rate of increase on federal health transfers from six to three per cent in April. The ministers are meeting with their federal counterpart Jane Philpott Tuesday in Toronto. Philpott has called on the provinces and territories to provide more information on accountability measures, to ensure federal money is spent on health. She also wants to hear innovative ideas in areas like mental health.

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LIBERALS UNDER FIRE FOR LACK OF INFO ON IRAQ: The Liberal government is under fire for a clampdown on information about Canada's mission in Iraq, which enters a critical stage this week as Iraqi forces attack the city of Mosul. Conservative defence critic James Bezan honed in on transparency during a news conference on Parliament Hill. He says the military provided more detail about the fight against ISIL while the Tories were in power. That included the number of troops on the ground in northern Iraq as well as how many times those soldiers had called in airstrikes and engaged in firefights with ISIL forces. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is defending the Liberals' tight grip on information, citing operational security as well as the potential threat to soldiers.

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MULRONEY SPEAKS OUT ON U.S. ELECTION: Brian Mulroney is no fan of Donald Trump's promise to rip up NAFTA, but the former prime minister says Hillary Clinton's shift to the left is bad for Canadian trade, especially if the Democrats regain control of the Senate. The former Conservative leader told the Montreal Board of Trade that Clinton's decision to accept the "wacky arguments" about trade put forward by socialist former rival Sen. Bernie Sanders is troubling. Mulroney is a fervent defender of free trade as one of the architects of the 1988 deal with the United States and subsequent extension to include Mexico. He called Trump's call to cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement "illusory" and said he would face political blowback from senators in 38 states that depend on trade with Canada to support 11-million jobs.

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CHINESE BILLIONAIRES TO PRESS PM ON BUSINESS: The head of a group of China's most-powerful business leaders says they plan to call on Justin Trudeau to open Canada's trade and investment doors even wider to the Asian superpower. Several members of the exclusive China Entrepreneur Club — which is often referred to as the billionaires club — will meet the prime minister later Tuesday for the second time in less than two months. Club president Ma Weihua tells The Canadian Press that the entrepreneurs will urge Trudeau to ease what they see as excessively rigid rules that hold back Chinese investors. Ma also says the group will voice its concerns over British Columbia's new tax that targets foreign real estate investors in the sizzling Vancouver housing market.

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CROWN SAYS TO FINE CARSON $50K FOR ILLEGAL LOBBYING: An Ottawa judge will hand down a sentence early next month in the case of former prime minister Stephen Harper's one-time close confidant Bruce Carson. The Crown contends he should be fined $50,000 after being found guilty last month of three counts of illegal lobbying. But Carson's lawyer says the once highly paid political adviser is on the verge of bankruptcy, arguing he couldn't earn an income shortly after he came under a media spotlight over allegations involving his relationship with a former escort.

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BELGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER'S TWITTER HACKED: The Belgian government says a profane Twitter message featuring a photo of former prime minister Stephen Harper is the work of hackers, not their foreign affairs minister. Someone accessed the account belonging to Didier Reynders, using it to send a meme of an angry-looking Harper telling off Canadians, complete with the F-word. The subtext of the tweet appears to be the fact that a region of Belgium is standing firm in its opposition to the Canada-EU free trade deal, known as CETA. A tweet from the department's verified account Tuesday said recent messages published on Reynders's account were not his.

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TWO B.C. CANDIDATES JOIN TORY LEADERSHIP RACE: Two candidates from B.C. are joining the Conservative leadership race. Former B.C. MP Andrew Saxton, who lost his seat in the 2015 election, is launching his campaign at an event Tuesday in North Vancouver, B.C. Saxton, who served as parliamentary secretary to two finance ministers, is highlighting his experience dealing with budgets in both government and the private sector, saying he was part of the team that helped Canada weather the 2008 recession. Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson, meanwhile, says he plans to focus on getting rid of corporate income taxes and giving more power and resources to local riding associations.

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QUEBEC HIRES EX-AMBASSADOR FOR LUMBER TALKS: Quebec has hired a former Canadian ambassador to the United States to represent its interests in the difficult softwood lumber negotiations between Canada and its southern neighbour. Raymond Chretien was named Tuesday as Quebec's representative in the ongoing talks, which could affect thousands of lumber jobs in the province. The Americans could start imposing duties on Quebec softwood by March 2017 if a deal can't be reached. Chretien, ambassador to Washington between 1994 and 2000, told reporters time is a factor in the negotiations because the United States will elect either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as president Nov. 8.

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CHEER UP, AMERICANS, SAY CANADIANS — YOU'RE GREAT: Canadians are taking to social media to keep spirits up in the U.S. during this divisive election season. Using the hashtag #tellamericaitsgreat, Canadians have swamped Twitter with compliments about American music, culture, technology and even tailgating. The outpouring of love triggered a reply — #TellCanadaThanks. It's all an effort started by the Toronto-based ad agency The Garden Collective, which chose its hashtag as a play on Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America great again." The firm's video launching the social media push has gotten over 752,000 YouTube views and the hashtag has been trending on Twitter for several days.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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