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

November 06, 2017 - 2:10 PM

Highlights from the news file for Monday, Nov. 6

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CANADA SEEKING TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP CHANGES IN 3 YEARS: Canadian negotiators are pushing for three key changes to the original Trans-Pacific Partnership as leaders of the remaining countries interested in reviving the controversial treaty prepare to meet this week. A senior government official says Ottawa's negotiating team is seeking modifications to the original TPP deal in many areas — but primarily in the intellectual-property provisions, its approach on cultural exemptions and Canada's supply management system for dairy, poultry and eggs. The 11 remaining TPP economies have moved ahead with talks in recent months in an effort to resurrect the Pacific Rim deal after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew earlier this year.

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NEW MONTREAL MAYOR WANTS TO GET GOING ON PROJECTS: Montreal's new mayor says she wants to get going quickly on projects with the provincial and federal governments, including the creation of a 29-stop subway line. "We can't wait five, 10 years — the (infrastructure) money is there now," Valerie Plante said Monday, a day after causing a major surprise by winning more than 51 per cent of the vote to defeat incumbent Denis Coderre. Plante is promising open and transparent government and noted her leadership style is starkly different from Coderre's. Plante, 43, said she was "honoured" at becoming Montreal's first female mayor. Her campaign promises included improving public transit and lessening road congestion, as well as adding green spaces and social housing.

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TEXAS CHURCH ATTACK STEMMED FROM DOMESTIC SITUATION: The gunman who opened fire in a small Texas church, killing 26 people during worship services, sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law before the attack and had been confronted about domestic violence at least twice in the last five years, authorities said Monday. The deadliest mass shooting in state history claimed multiple members of some families, with the dead ranging from 18 months to 77 years old, and tore gaping holes in a town with a population of just 400 people. The massacre, which happened Sunday morning, appeared to stem from a domestic situation and was not motivated by religion, Texas Department of Public Safety regional director Freeman Martin said.

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LAWYERS FOR ONTARIO ACTRESS CAN'T FIND WEINSTEIN: A lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein alleging the Hollywood mogul sexually assaulted an Ontario actress nearly two decades ago is being allowed to proceed even though lawyers have not been able to track him down. A Toronto court gave the woman's lawyers permission to file a statement of claim Monday despite their failure to serve Weinstein and his former assistant, who is also named as a defendant, with legal documents. Alex Smith, who represents the actress, said they tried and failed to serve Weinstein at his home in Westport, Conn., and believe he could also be in Phoenix, Ariz., or somewhere in Europe. The court issued an order Monday for substituted service, meaning lawyers can take other means to serve the defendants with the lawsuit instead of doing so in person.

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CHRETIEN, BRONFMAN DENY OFFSHORE TAX HAVEN LINK: A former Liberal prime minister and the party's top fundraiser are firing back at reports that raise questions about their connections to offshore tax havens. Former prime minister Jean Chretien and businessman Stephen Bronfman both say reports suggesting they were involved in any tax avoidance scheme are false. The pair are among more than 3,000 Canadian individuals and entities whose names come up in a leak of some 13.4 million financial records, dubbed the Paradise Papers, that outline details of offshore accounts that could be used to avoid paying high tax rates. Neither the CRA nor any court has determined the Canadians did anything wrong. Among the leaked records is a register of investors in Madagascar Oil, which lists Chretien as having received 100,000 stock options. Chretien says Madagascar Oil was a client of Heenan Blaikie, a now-defunct Canadian law firm. As a lawyer with the firm, Chretien said he did some work for Madagascar Oil but all fees were billed by and paid to the law firm itself.

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FAMILIES LOSING PATIENCE FOR NO-FLY KID WOES: A gaggle of young constituents — and their parents — descended on Parliament Hill on Monday to press politicians to resolve ongoing airport hassles children face due to security list snags. Ten families from the group known as the No Fly List Kids planned to make their case to MPs and ministers with the aim of ensuring that funding for a new computer system to fix the problem is included in the 2018 federal budget. Parents of children who have repeatedly endured nerve-wracking airport delays because a youngster's name matches one on a no-fly list say federal security legislation now before Parliament will do nothing in the short term to ease their woes. The government is proposing an amendment to the Secure Air Travel Act that would allow the public safety minister to tell parents that their child is not on the Canadian no-fly list, meaning the name simply matches that of someone who is actually listed. The government says this would provide assurance to parents about their child's status.

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B.C. TO INCREASE PENALTIES FOR DISTRACTED DRIVERS: Distracted drivers are facing higher penalties in British Columbia. The provincial government says it wants to designate distracted driving as a high-risk behaviour under the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia's driver risk premium program. That means a driver with two tickets for distracted driving over a three-year period will see their total financial penalties rise to as much as $2,000, an increase of $740 over existing penalties. The changes will take effect March 1. It says distracted driving is a factor in more than 25 per cent of car crashes fatalities in B.C. and kills an average of 78 people annually.

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TRIAL HEARS OF WINNIPEG LETTER-BOMB AFTERMATH: Members of a police bomb squad have testified about the aftermath of an explosion at a Winnipeg law office that cost one lawyer her right hand. The officers told the trial of Guido Amsel about searches that were done in July 2015 after a bomb went off inside the office of Maria Mitousis and caused her severe injuries. Const. Rommel Vianzon geared up in a bomb suit and went in after the blast to check for other explosives, and to see whether there were body parts such as fingers that could be recovered for surgery. Amsel, who is 51, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder. Mitousis had represented Amsel's wife in the couple's divorce — undetonated bombs were found at Amsel's former wife's workplace and at a law firm that had represented Amsel.

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NEXTBLOCK SCRAPS PLANS TO GO PUBLIC IN WAKE OF CONTROVERSY: A blockchain-focused venture capital fund headed by a Toronto-based expert is abandoning plans to go public amid reports alleging it made misleading statements in its marketing materials. NextBlock Global, whose chief executive is business author Alex Tapscott, said it is "no longer doing a go-public transaction" and is in the process of reaching out to investors to discuss next steps, including the return of their original investment. NextBlock had aimed to go public via a reverse takeover of Nobelium Tech Corp., which is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. The fund's statement on Sunday follows reports that NextBlock Global's investor presentation allegedly incorrectly named four people as its advisers. Last week, Forbes reported that NextBlock in its efforts to raise $100 million named four blockchain advisers, who told the publication they had not signed on in that capacity.

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DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY CAMPAIGN AIMS TO BAN 'SORRY': The Canadian Down Syndrome Society wants to educate people about how to act when a family member or friend gives birth to a baby with the genetic condition — especially avoiding the word "sorry." The society has launched a campaign called "Anything But Sorry" that includes a YouTube video called "The 'S' Word." The video begins with a question: "What do you say to parents who just had a child with Down syndrome?" The answers are provided by people with Down syndrome, who offer up suggestions of what people can say to new parents using every inappropriate phrase they know except "sorry." The video project also gives the cast a platform to express their sense of humour and personalities.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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