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

A fatal vehicle pileup north of Toronto that closed a stretch of highway in both directions south of Barrie, Ont. is shown on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
November 01, 2017 - 1:38 PM

Highlights from the news file for Wednesday, Nov. 1

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AT LEAST 3 DEAD IN ONTARIO HIGHWAY PILEUP: At least three people have been killed in a multi-vehicle pileup that sent a wave of fuel and flames rushing down a highway north of Toronto. Ontario Provincial Police said Wednesday that the number of fatalities was expected to rise as first responders combed through the burned-out wreckage of some 14 vehicles. The crash occurred in the northbound lanes of Highway 400 south of Barrie, Ont., late Tuesday night, when police said a transport truck crashed into slowing traffic, triggering a pileup that involved at least four transport trucks and two fuel tankers that spilled thousands of litres of fuel on the road. The impact caused a fireball.

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INVESTOR SAYS HBC SHOULD ACCEPT REAL ESTATE OFFER: An activist investor wants Hudson's Bay Co. to "seriously consider" a bid it values at $4.49 billion bid for the Canadian retailer's German department store chain and other real estate assets — at a value of about 40 per cent higher than its original purchase price. The unsolicited offer from European retail competitor Signa Holding for the Galeria Kaufhof chain and other properties is above HBC's 2015 $3.2-billion purchase price and stated net asset value, Land & Buildings Investment Management said in a letter sent to shareholders Wednesday. Hudson's Bay confirmed the unsolicited offer on Wednesday after trading of its shares was temporarily suspended on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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FEDS PLAN TO INCREASE IMMIGRATION: Immigration to Canada is set to increase over the next three years to 340,000 people a year, under the federal Liberal government's new multi-year approach to admissions planning. The immigration plan released Wednesday will see immigration levels climb from 300,000 people a year this year to 310,000 in 2018 and 330,000 in 2019. The increases will bring immigration to Canada to nearly one per cent of the population — a figure that many have cited as necessary for the Canadian economy to remain competitive as it confronts the realities of an aging workforce and declining birth rate.

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RED TAPE BLAMED FOR STALLING MMIW INQUIRY: The commissioners of the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are blaming federal red tape for the delays that have plagued the inquiry so far. In an interim report Wednesday, entitled "Our Women and Girls are Sacred," the inquiry says the federal government's procurement and contracting policies resulted in an eight-month delay setting up offices. The report says those offices initially had to operate without proper phones, internet and office equipment, and that there were long delays in procuring the material necessary for staffers to do their work.

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NDP SAYS LIBS SHOULD WITHDRAW PENSION BILL: The Trudeau government seems intent on proceeding with a pension bill which opposition parties maintain puts Finance Minister Bill Morneau in a blatant conflict of interest. New Democrats gave the government a chance Wednesday to withdraw the bill, but Liberals denied the unanimous consent necessary to shelve the legislation. Morneau introduced Bill C-27 a year ago, while he still held about $21 million worth of shares in his family's pension administration and human resources firm, Morneau Shepell. The bill would allow pension administrators to convert direct benefit pension plans to targeted benefit plans — a change for which Morneau Shepell had lobbied.

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ONTARIO INTRODUCES POT BILL: Ontario has introduced legislation to regulate the sale and distribution of recreational marijuana starting next summer and it includes steep fines for illegal dispensaries. The rules would take effect once the federal government makes the drug legal in July 2018. The bill contains new penalties for people or businesses convicted of illegally selling or distributing cannabis, including fines of up to $250,000 for individuals and/or jail of up to two years less a day. Corporations would face fines of up to $1 million for the same offence. The province plans to sell the drug in up to 150 stores run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

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COMMISSION SAYS DELAYING SITE C DAM MOST COSTLY: The British Columbia Utilities Commission has completed its review of the controversial Site C dam, concluding that delaying the megaproject would be the most risky and costly option. The commission doesn't make a recommendation on whether the province should proceed with or cancel the dam, but it says terminating the project would cost $1.8 billion while completing it could cost more than $10 billion. The government has the final say on the fate of the project. Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said Wednesday she anticipates a decision by the end of the year.

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WATCHDOG LAUNCHES BREAD PRICE-FIXING PROBE: An investigation by the Competition Bureau into allegations of price fixing of packaged bread products comes as demand for the pantry staple faces pressure from health-conscious consumers and heightened competition from discount retailers. John Williams, a partner at retail consulting company J.C. Williams Group, called the probe "shocking" given that Canada's major retailers are governed by very-well defined codes of ethics. Bureau spokeswoman Marie-France Faucher said it was conducting the searches and gathering evidence to determine the facts, but that there has been no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time and no charges have been laid.

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POLICE ALLEGE N.Y. BIKE PATH ATTACK SUSPECT PLOTTED FOR WEEKS: The Uzbek immigrant accused of mowing people down along a bike path went on the deadly rental-truck rampage "in the name of ISIS" and planned it for weeks, closely following the extremist group's online instructions, police said Wednesday. Investigators, meanwhile, questioned Sayfullo Saipov in his hospital bed, working to extract information about the attack that killed eight people Tuesday near the World Trade Center memorial. Saipov, 29, was shot by a police officer after jumping from his Home Depot pickup. He left behind knives and notes, handwritten in Arabic, that said in essence that the Islamic State group, or ISIS, "would endure forever," said John Miller, deputy police commissioner for intelligence.

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STANLEY CUP RING FOUND AFTER B.C. CAR BREAK-IN: A valuable piece of sports memorabilia has been recovered by RCMP in Nanaimo, B.C., after a group of men accused of breaking into vehicles was arrested. Const. Gary O'Brien says a Stanley Cup ring from the 1930s engraved with the name of one of the original teams playing in the National Hockey League was among the items found by police. The RCMP is withholding the team name. O'Brien says the lawful owner of the ring should be able to identify the team when contacting police to retrieve it.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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