The Thursday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories - 1310 NEWS
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The Thursday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories

Last Updated Sep 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm EST

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, Thursday September 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, Sept. 21

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TRUDEAU TELLS UNITED NATIONS OF CANADA’S SHAME: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used a speech to the United Nations on Thursday to probe a source of national shame: the historic struggles of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. He spoke of forced migration and forced family separation in residential schools, which he said left a devastating legacy on reserves to this day. He said Canada came to exist without the consent and participation of the Indigenous populations who had lived there for millenniums. “For Indigenous peoples in Canada, the experience was mostly one of humiliation, neglect and abuse,” he said. It was the major theme of his address, which did not gloss over the country’s failures and even referred to the international condemnation they have drawn. But he also looked ahead to at a series of solutions: better infrastructure on reserves, better housing, signing of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples and a dismantling of the old Indian Affairs department. The rest of the speech focused on climate change, international trade rules aimed at helping workers and his controversial tax reform which he cited as an example of his middle-class-friendly policies.

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BIG BUSINESS JOINS CHORUS AGAINST TAX CHANGES: Amid the tumult over the Trudeau government’s controversial tax proposals — a big Canadian player has quietly picked up his chips and is heading for the exit. A business owner has informed John Manley, the head of an organization representing Canada’s largest corporations, that he’s moved billions of dollars outside the country since the Liberals announced their tax changes in mid-July. The government’s proposals to eliminate several tax incentives have awakened a large contingent of vocal opponents from numerous backgrounds — from the small business community, to tax planners, to even backbench Liberal MPs. Manley, a former Liberal finance minister in the Chretien government, says his members’ worries focus on the plan to tighten rules on passive investment portfolios and the transfer of family businesses — as well as the government’s accompanying rhetoric that he believes has vilified higher-income Canadians. He says a successful business owner has told him he’s leaving Canada because of the impacts the reforms could have on his family through changes related to estate planning.

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CONTROVERSIAL SENATOR LOSES COMMITTEE ROLES: Controversial Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak has been removed from all Senate committees following remarks about First Nations which have been widely condemned. Beyak remains a member of the Conservative caucus, but has lost her spots on the Senate’s agriculture, defence and transportation committees. Sen. Larry Smith, the leader of the Conservatives in the Senate, says in a statement the decision is an internal party matter and Beyak has been given guidelines going forward. He did not elaborate on those guidelines and says he considers the matter closed. Beyak issued a letter earlier this month calling for First Nations people to give up their status cards in exchange for a one-time cash payment and said they could then practise their culture “on their own dime.” She was removed from the Senate aboriginal affairs committee by former party leader Rona Ambrose in the spring after she said more good than bad happened at residential schools and that people were focusing too much on the abuse rather than the positive impact the schools had.

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HURRICANE MARIA KNOCKS OUT POWER FOR MILLIONS IN PUERTO RICO: Rescuers fanned out to reach stunned victims Thursday, and millions of Puerto Ricans faced the dispiriting prospect of weeks or even months without electricity after hurricane Maria ravaged the island. Maria’s death toll across the Caribbean climbed to at least 19, nearly all of them on the hard-hit island of Dominica. The storm slammed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday with 249-kilometre-per-hour winds, the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in over 80 years. It knocked out the entire electrical grid, destroyed homes and touched off ruinous flooding, though the full extent of the damage was still a question mark Thursday because communication with some towns was cut off. U.S. President Donald Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for the island, which got sideswiped by hurricane Irma two weeks ago. As of Thursday afternoon, Maria was moving off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic with winds of 195 km/h. The storm was expected to approach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas late Thursday and early Friday. From there, it is expected to veer into the open Atlantic, no threat to the U.S. mainland.

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BORDER AGENT DETENTION OF MEXICANS SURGE: Detentions of Mexican nationals by Canadian border agents have surged dramatically this year to levels not seen in a decade, new figures obtained by The Canadian Press show. According to Canada Border Services Agency, the total number of detentions from Jan. 1 into the first week of September hit 2,391 — roughly six times the 411 in all of last year — and equal to the previous five years combined. The sharp increase has contributed to a rise in the rate of detentions of all foreign nationals this year. Figures show agents detained 1,032 people each month this year, compared to 877 a month last year and 993 in 2015. Experts point to two main factors as the most likely cause of the upswing in Mexicans running afoul of border agents in Canada. Last December, the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lifted a visa requirement for Mexicans coming to this country, making it easier to do so. The result was an immediate jump in detentions. Additionally, the crackdown on undocumented migrants under U.S. President Donald Trump and his threat to remove deportation protections from those foreigners who entered the States illegally as children — the vast majority Mexicans — may also have prompted many of those affected to look north to Canada.

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WOMAN FILES HUMAN RIGHT COMPLAINT OVER COPS’ COMMENT: A 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after two Toronto police officers were recorded mocking her during a traffic stop. Francie Munoz argues the behaviour displayed by Const. Sasa Sljivo and Const. Matthew Saris on Nov. 5, 2016, amounts to discrimination on the grounds of disability. She says in the complaint that she has suffered emotional trauma as a result of the incident, and that it has undermined her trust in law enforcement. Sljivo and Saris are facing a disciplinary hearing on charges under the Police Services Act, with the next hearing scheduled for Oct. 18. Police documents show Sljivo is charged with misconduct related to the use of profane, abusive or insulting language, while Saris is charged with misconduct related to the failure to report Sljivo’s comments. The officers have not said how they will plead, though they have issued a written apology for the incident, calling it a “lapse in judgment.” Munoz’s family has consistently asked for a public apology — a request repeated in the human rights complaint.

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CALGARY FLAMES FIRE BACK AT CITY WITH ARENA NUMBERS: No longer talking to each other behind closed doors about a new NHL arena, the Calgary Flames and their city continue to talk loudly to the public about it. The Flames disclosed what they think they should pay for a new arena early Thursday morning via a press release and newspaper ads in a rebuttal to the city revealing its financials last week. Calgary Sports and Entertainment said they were willing to contribute $275 million of their own money before they ended negotiations with the city. CSEC thinks the city can raise $225 million via a community revitalization levy (CRL), which is tax collected from new development that springs up around a new arena. “In a ‘small market’ city, even one with an NHL team, a privately funded arena is not economically viable,” CSEC said in a statement. CSEC repeated their position stated a week ago they will no longer talk with the city about building a new arena, but will continue to make the 34-year-old Saddledome work for their teams for now. The city proposed a three-way split on the cost of a $555-million arena, with the city and the Flames each paying $185 million and the remaining third raised from a surcharge on tickets sold to events in the new building.

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MONTREAL MARATHON NIXED OVER HEAT CONCERNS: Organizers of the Montreal Marathon are cancelling this weekend’s race due to concerns about hot and humid weather. Race organizers say that 5,000 people were signed up to run the 42.195-kilometre event, but the safety of participants is paramount. Temperatures are expected to hit 28 C on Sunday, which could feel like 38 C with humidity. Louis Malafarina, executive director of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Montreal Marathon, says organizers are disappointed but consulted with health and city officials before making the decision. In a statement late Wednesday, race officials say the half-marathon and 10-kilometre races will take place as planned on Sunday, with the half-marathon starting a half hour earlier. The shorter five-kilometre and one-kilometre races will take place as scheduled on Saturday. Guidelines set by the American College of Sports Medicine say cancellation or voluntary withdrawal of participants is recommended when temperatures are expected to be above 28 C.

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ARCTIC CRUISE TOURISM COMS OF AGE: The voyage of a mammoth cruise ship through the Northwest Passage has left Arctic officials, industry leaders and local people considering new regulations for future transits. The government of Nunavut is already considering rules to reduce the community impact of giant ships such as the Crystal Serenity, which docked in New York on Friday with 17-hundred passengers and crew. Nobody wants the cruise ships to stop coming, but some controls on shore landings would be welcomed by communities visited by the ships. Cambridge Bay organizer Vicki Aitoak says local people burn out from repeated visits and she feels the rules need to ensure they get a break. The head of one Arctic cruise line is calling for limits on the size of passenger ships allowed in the Arctic, like what already exists in the Antarctic. Daniel Skjeldam says if operators don’t ensure Arctic cruise tourism is sustainable, government will do it for them.

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HOTEL REOPENS SUITE USED IN 1969 ‘BED-IN’ WITH LENNON, ONO: The Montreal hotel that hosted John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous bed-in 1969 has reopened the suite where the events took place. Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel redesigned the room as part of a major hotel renovation that took place over the last year. Suite 1742 now includes a virtual reality and interactive exhibits featuring archival footage from Lennon and Ono’s eight-day stay. The hotel also worked with an architecture firm and an art agency to bring in furnishings and artwork inspired by the bed-in and Lennon and Ono’s lives. The ex-Beatle and Ono staged their so-called bed-in for peace between May 26 and June 2, 1969. Guests who book the suite will be charged $1,969 per night until the end of 2017, a nod to the year the bed-in took place.

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