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

RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson speaks during a news conference in in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Paulson has apologized to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees for alleged incidents of bullying, discrimination and harassment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
October 06, 2016 - 1:18 PM

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, Oct. 6

RCMP COMMISSIONER APOLOGIZES: RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson apologized Thursday to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees who were subjected to alleged incidents of bullying, discrimination and harassment dating back 42 years. Paulson made the apology as he announced a settlement of two class-action lawsuits stemming from the harassment allegations, some of which date back to September 1974. "To all the women, I stand humbly before you today and solemnly offer our sincere apology," Paulson said. Paulson did not immediately disclose the terms of the settlement, which will provide financial compensation for the women and pave the way to end potential class-action lawsuits brought forward by former RCMP members Janet Merlo and Linda Gillis Davidson.

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CANADIAN ADVISORS IN IRAQ SEEING ACTION: A senior military officer says Canadian special forces troops are spending more time on the front lines in Iraq and have engaged in a number of gunfights with Islamic insurgents. Brig.-Gen. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of the special forces, says the additional time on the front lines is a result of Kurdish allies needing less training. Dawe says in recent months his soldiers are helping and mentoring the Kurds as they launch attacks against forces from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Dawe says Canadian troops have fired back on a number of instances either to protect themselves or friendly forces. Canada has about 200 special forces soldiers helping Kurdish forces fight ISIL in northern Iraq.

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HURRICANE MATTHEW MENACES FLORIDA: Leaving more than 100 dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Matthew steamed toward heavily populated Florida with terrifying winds of 140 mph Thursday, and two million people across the U.S. Southeast were warned to flee inland. It was the most powerful storm to threaten the U.S. Atlantic coast in more than a decade. The hurricane gained fury as it closed in Thursday, growing from a possibly devastating Category 3 storm to a potentially catastrophic Category 4 by late morning. It was expected to scrape nearly the entire length of Florida's Atlantic coast beginning Thursday evening. From there, forecasters said, it would most likely push along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina before veering out to sea.

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GENERAL SAYS CANADIANS EXCHANGE FIRE WITH ISIL: Canadian special forces troops are spending more time on the front lines in Iraq and have engaged in a number of gunfights with Islamic insurgents in the last few months. Brig.-Gen. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of the special forces, says the additional time on the front lines is a result of Kurdish allies needing less training. Instead, Dawe says his soldiers are helping and mentoring the Kurds as they launch attacks against forces from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Dawe says Canadian troops have fired back on a number of instances either to protect themselves or friendly forces. He says no Canadian soldiers have been killed or injured in the recent battles.

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ASSISTED DEATHS UNDER NEW FEDERAL LAW: About 200 Canadians have received help killing themselves since legislation authorizing medically assisted suicide came into force in June, new figures obtained by The Canadian Press show, but those numbers do not paint the whole picture. To date, 87 people have taken advantage of the law in Ontario, while the total in British Columbia is 66, the provinces' coroner's offices reported Thursday. Alberta has tracked at least 23 deaths, Manitoba has had 12, while Saskatchewan has had fewer than five cases. Figures from elsewhere were not immediately available. There are little data on how many people have requested help but have been refused, the medical conditions prompting such requests, those who have made requests but changed their minds, and the number of people who have died before the request could be granted.

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COPS 'CONFIDENT' THEY'RE RIGHT ON BEER TOSSER: Toronto police said Thursday they are confident they've identified the correct person as the fan who tossed a beer can at a Baltimore outfielder during a dramatic Blue Jays playoff game, as speculation raged on social media over whether they had the right man. The incident took place on Tuesday, when a can hurled from the stands narrowly missed Baltimore Orioles player Hyun Soo Kim as he made a catch during the seventh inning of the game at the Rogers Centre. Police released a photograph on Wednesday evening of a man they alleged was the one who threw the can. They did not name the man, but encouraged him to turn himself in. Later Wednesday, a man who said he was the person in the photo came forward and suggested authorities may have got things wrong.

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CANADIAN DISASTER ASSESSMENT TEAM ON WAY TO HAITI: The federal government has deployed a six-member team to Haiti to assess the damage caused by hurricane Matthew and determine what assistance Canada can provide. The hurricane swept through Haiti on Tuesday, leaving at least 23 people dead and entire communities levelled, with some parts of the country cut off from outside assistance. The Red Cross is preparing to open an appeal for donations to provide emergency assistance. The hurricane is the latest in a string of natural disasters to hit the Caribbean country, the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.

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CANADIAN POLE VAULTER TESTED POSITIVE FOR COCAINE BEFORE RIO: A tryst with a woman Shawn Barber met on Craigslist led to a positive doping test for cocaine for the Canadian pole vaulter. The 22-year-old from Toronto tested positive for trace amounts of the drug prior to the Rio Olympics, but the 2015 world champion was permitted to compete in Brazil after it was determined he inadvertently ingested the banned substance. The Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) rendered its decision on Aug. 11, four days before Barber competed in Rio, but the report wasn't released until Thursday. While the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport proposed a four-year ban from competition, Barber wasn't suspended but was stripped of his 2016 national title.

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EXPORTS REMAIN UNCERTAIN: The Bank of Canada's senior deputy governor says it's still uncertain whether there will be a rebound in Canada's crucial non-resource export sectors. Carolyn Wilkins said Thursday that the future of these exports is not entirely predictable despite some encouraging signs in the numbers from July and August. Wilkins, who spoke at the Universite du Quebec in Trois-Rivieres, says the uncertainty is partly due to the future growth prospects for investment in the United States. The Bank of Canada has been waiting for the country's non-commodity exports to rebound ever since the collapse of oil prices and the dollar's slide a couple of years ago.

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CANADA CALLED ON TO CONDEMN IRAN'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD: A group of Iranian Canadians says the federal government should try to organize an international call for a war crimes investigation into Iran's human rights record. The group, which calls itself Canadian Friends for a Democratic Iran, made request at a news conference in Ottawa Thursday. Canada has already taken the lead each year since 2003 in sponsoring a resolution at the UN condemning Iran's human rights record. That was the year that Iranian-born Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was tortured and killed in a Tehran prison after she was arrested for photographing a demonstration.

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U.S. WANTS BINDING ARCTIC FISHING AGREEMENT: The U.S. wants to hammer out an agreement to ban unregulated fishing in the international waters of the Arctic Ocean. Such an agreement would be binding and include more countries than a non-binding agreement that the U.S. entered into with Norway, Denmark, Russia and Canada last year to avoid fishing in the area. U.S. officials say the issue is especially important as Arctic ice melts, making the area more open to potential commercial fishing.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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