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

Last Updated Jan 22, 2018 at 6:40 pm EDT

Train engineer Thomas Harding leaves the courtroom after hearing the verdict on Friday, January 19, 2018 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Highlights from the news file for Monday, Jan. 22

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30 PER CENT OF CANADIANS INSECURE ABOUT FUTURE, POLL FINDS: Canada’s reputation as a nation with an open and optimistic world view that flies in the face of rising pessimism and nationalism elsewhere is being challenged by new research suggesting many Canadians hold views acutely in line with some of those darker forces. Fewer than half of Canadians appear on the “open” side of a index devised by EKOS Research and The Canadian Press to gauge populist sentiment here, and the remainder either have a closed-off view of the world or are on the fence — a potentially volatile swing group. The research aggregated polls involving 12,604 people to explore to what extent Canadians’ views are in line with voters who backed two of the most surprising manifestations of 21st century populism in recent years — Donald Trump’s campaign for U.S. president and the exit of Britain from the European Union. The results of the study suggest 46 per cent of Canadians are open-minded toward the world and each other, with the highest numbers found in B.C. and the Atlantic provinces. But 30 per cent report feeling economically and culturally insecure, a sentiment found in the largest numbers in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The remainder — roughly 25 per cent — have a mixed view.

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EX-TRAIN ENGINEER APOLOGIZES FOR ROLE IN LAC-MEGANTIC: The former train engineer recently acquitted of criminal negligence in the Lac-Megantic railway disaster apologized Monday in a rare public statement since the 2013 tragedy that claimed the lives of dozens in the small Quebec town. With visibly quivering lips and flanked on each side by his lawyers, Tom Harding read a short, prepared statement in French and in English before the cameras. “I do not find the words sufficient to express my sympathies,” said Harding, who was found not guilty Friday along with two former railway colleagues of criminal negligence causing death. “I am deeply sorry for my part of responsibility in this tragedy. I assume this responsibility and I will always assume it.” Harding became the public face of the Lac-Megantic disaster after it was revealed the train engineer didn’t apply sufficient handbrakes on the oil-laden convoy before leaving for the night. The train moved on its own in the early hours of July 6, 2013, barrelled into the town, derailed and exploded, killing 47 people and destroying part of the downtown. On the ninth day of deliberations, the 12 jurors found Harding, rail traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre not guilty.

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BOEING SKIPS INFO SESSION FOR JET MAKERS: Boeing says it has not decided whether to submit its Super Hornet fighter jet as a potential replacement for Canada’s aging CF-18s, as it waits to see how the federal government will run the multibillion-dollar competition. The comments come after Boeing skipped an information session Monday at which government officials provided industry with a snapshot of Canada’s plan to purchase 88 new fighter jets in the coming years for an estimated $15 billion to $19 billion. Jet makers were not required to attend the session to participate in the upcoming competition, which will be formally launched next year, but Boeing’s absence was noticed by many of those in attendance. Boeing spokesman Scott Day says the company values Canada as a customer and believes the Super Hornet is the best jet for the Canadian military but wants to see the details before deciding whether to join the competition.

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APPLE CEO TOUTS CODING BENEFITS ON CANADIAN TRIP: Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook visited Canada for the first time as CEO Monday, surprising students at a downtown Toronto Apple store to highlight the importance of learning to code, and dropping in on a group of developers to thank them for their contributions to the tech giant’s app store. The unannounced visit by Cook, who as Apple’s chief executive since 2011 has overseen the rollout of the iPhone 7 and the Apple Watch, was the first time an Apple CEO has visited Canada since Steve Jobs made the trek north in the late 1980s. Cook surprised a class of Grade 7 students in Toronto’s east end as they learned how to program robots to dance on tables using Apple’s Swift programming language, recently introduced by the company as a low-barrier-to-entry way of coding. The Canadian visit follows a similar surprise last week, when Cook visited a school in the United Kingdom, as part of a whistle-stop tour of Europe, where Apple recently launched its “Everyone Can Code” curriculum in several schools.

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UNIVERSITY TO OFFER TORONTO COPS COURSE ON AVOIDING BIAS: A university in Toronto will teach members of the city’s police service about diversity and how to avoid bias, the force announced Monday, saying the initiative was part of its efforts to modernize. Toronto police say Ryerson University has designed a new course specifically for its officers, and members of the force will also be able to enrol in existing courses at the school. Police say the new course on diversity and “bias avoidance” is not mandatory. The work with Ryerson comes after Ontario’s Human Rights Commission announced in late November that it was conducting a wide-ranging inquiry into Toronto police practices to see to what extent the force’s actions involved profiling and discrimination against the black community in a number of areas including stops, questioning and use of force. The commission said the inquiry was prompted by decades of complaints about racial profiling and discrimination by city police officers.

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MURDER CHARGE DISMISSED IN NOVA SCOTIA MR. BIG CASE: The Crown’s case against a young Nova Scotia man accused of killing his mother in 2012 collapsed in court Monday after a judge decided evidence obtained by the RCMP through a so-called Mr. Big sting operation was not admissible. John Buckley had pleaded not guilty to the crime and was supposed to face a jury trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. But a charge of first-degree murder was dismissed Monday in a Bridgewater, N.S., courtroom after the Crown decided not to call any evidence, saying there was no realistic prospect for conviction. The Mr. Big technique typically involves undercover officers posing as criminals. Over time, the officers introduce the suspect to a fictitious criminal underworld, but at some point the suspect must cement their loyalty by sharing information about past misdeeds with a crime boss: Mr. Big. Buckley’s lawyer, Patrick MacEwen, said the RCMP adopted a similar approach with his client in 2015 and early 2016.

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JUDGE REJECTS JORDAN MORION TO END TRAIL OF EX-AMAYA CEO: A Quebec judge has refused to stay insider trading charges against former Amaya CEO David Baazov and other accused. Provincial court Judge Salvatore Mascia rejected defence motions to end the case because of the length of time it has taken to reach the trial stage and late filing of prosecution documents. Defence lawyers have argued that the case won’t be heard in the prescribed time limits as spelled out by a Supreme Court ruling known as the Jordan decision. Prosecutors called the defence request a “fishing expedition” that would ultimately fail and described it as an exercise in gathering information for another stay request down the road. Baazov’s lawyer, Sophie Melchers, has said that 16 million files were released to the defence in mid-September and that the case won’t be able to proceed in a timely fashion. Baazov, 37, has pleaded not guilty to securities-related charges following an investigation by the Autorite des marches financiers, Quebec’s stock market regulator, into the allegations of insider trading. He is charged with five counts, including influencing or attempting to influence the market price of Amaya’s securities.

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SASKATCHEWAN ENDS BAN ON ALBERTA LICENCES: A fight between Saskatchewan and Alberta over licence plates in construction sites is over. The Saskatchewan government issued a letter Monday that said the province is suspending a policy it imposed in December that banned vehicles with Alberta licence plates on government construction projects. Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said Saskatchewan had little choice, because it was facing millions of dollars in fines for contravening free-trade rules under the New West Partnership trade agreement. “Saskatchewan was offside on this,” Bilous said in a conference call from Whitecourt, Alta. “(They knew) they were going to lose when it came to the (free-trade) tribunal, so they’ve done the right thing in the 11th hour.” Monday was the deadline to lift the ban. The move came just hours before a free-trade panel with the power to levy fines up to $5 million was to begin investigating. Saskatchewan Trade Minister Steven Bonk said in the letter that his province was heartened when Bilous said last week that Alberta would abide by a panel decision on a separate trade dispute over funding for Alberta craft brewers. “Thank you for your commitment to honour the upcoming appeal panel’s findings,” wrote Bonk. “In good faith we will suspend the licence plate policy … immediately.”

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MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO LETTING MOTHER DIE: A Winnipeg man has admitted to leaving his 89-year-old mother, covered in her own feces and urine, lying on the floor of the home they shared for several days until she died. Ron Siwicki, 65, pleaded guilty Monday to criminal negligence causing death, which carries a maximum life sentence. The musician is to face a sentencing hearing on June 26. A charge of manslaughter was stayed by the Crown. Siwicki’s mother, Elizabeth, had suffered from dementia since 2012 and had not had a refill of any prescription medications in the nine months before her death, said a brief statement of facts read by Crown attorney Alanna Littman. After falling out of bed in November 2014, Littman said the elderly woman suffered some sort of injury and was unable to get up. Defence lawyer Mike Cook said the mother had told her son she did not want medical treatment and, unable to lift her back into bed, he tried to care for her by giving her nutritional supplement drinks and water. “He was still very attentive to his mom. He provided her with food, hydration. He took care of her basic needs, but there came a point where he was overwhelmed,” Cook said outside court. The defence lawyer said he will ask for Siwicki to be allowed to serve his sentence in the community, but added that the Crown is going to seek time in custody. Neither side specified how long a sentence each will seek.

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TORONTO MAYOR RECOMMENDS BIDDING TO CO-HOST WORLD CUP: The mayor of Canada’s most populous city says he wants Toronto to be among the North American cities to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. John Tory released a statement early Monday supporting a city staff report that recommends Toronto enter into agreements to be a host city in a joint bid for the games by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Canada joined the shared proposal — branded “United 2026” — in December, with news that if the countries are chosen, Canada and Mexico would get 10 games each and the United States would host the other 60. Toronto is among four potential Canadian host cities, along with Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal. If chosen, Toronto would host three to five games, according to the staff report filed Thursday. In order to be officially selected, Toronto has to enter into several irrevocable agreements by Feb. 5, the staff report said. It estimates the cost of co-hosting the games would be between $30 million and $45 million, and recommends the city sign bid agreements on the condition that costs are shared between the city, the province and the federal government. The final host country — or countries — will be announced in 2020, with host cities selected in 2021.

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