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


Published on February 16, 2017

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, Feb. 16

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BUS DRIVER FATALLY STABBED FACED SEX CHARGES:  A Winnipeg bus driver who was stabbed to death on the job this week was facing charges of sexual assault and sexual interference. Court documents show Irvine Jubal Fraser was accused of repeatedly assaulting a girl between 1983 and 1991. A trial was planned for January.  Police say Fraser died after being stabbed by a passenger who had fallen asleep on the bus and didn't want to get off at the end of the route.

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GUILTY VERDICT AGAINST MAN CHARGED IN THE SLAYING OF A CALGARY COUPLE AND THEIR GRANDSON:  A jury handed down a guilty verdict on Thursday against the man charged in the slaying of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and five-year-old Nathan O'Brien in 2014. Douglas Garland faces an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. The bodies of the victims have not been found, but prosecutors argued there was enough evidence to show Garland attacked the three in their home before taking them to his farm where he killed them. The defence countered there was no DNA evidence to show he was ever in the house.

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TRUDEAU TRIES TO CALM TRUMP JITTERS IN EUROPE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to calm anxieties some Europeans have about U.S. President Donald Trump.  He met with European Union leaders Thursday.  The president of the European Parliament says Europe views Canada as a bridge builder in improving relations with the U.S. Antonio Tajani told a news conference that it's easier for the Canadians to speak to Americans. Trudeau's EU trip comes on the heels of his visit to Washington.

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CANADA PLANS TO SPEND MORE ON DEFENCE: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada expects to launch significant new defence spending following a policy review. Sajjan met with NATO leaders in Brussels Thursday.  He said the policy review is looking at Canadian defence needs for the next 20 years, including NATO commitments and missions. He said that will mean more money, but he won't say how much.

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REGULATORS SUGGEST OIL CARRYING TRAINS SHOULD SLOW DOWN:  The Transportation Safety Board says current speed limits for Canada's oil-carrying freight trains may be too high to prevent serious accidents and should be re-evaluated.  The TSB says its review of a 2015 derailment that dumped 1.7 million litres of crude oil into the local ecosystem has raised concerns about the existing Transport Canada rules. No one was injured, but the TSB said the crash damaged 19 cars, causing the massive oil spill and igniting fires that burned for five days.

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CANADA LAGS BEHIND OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES IN HOSPITAL WAIT TIMES: A new report suggests Canada is behind other countries in terms of wait times in emergency departments.  The report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information looked at 11 industrialized countries. The report also says Canadians also indicated the longest delays to see specialists.

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PMO UNDER PRESSURE TO CHANGE THE NAME OF ITS OFFICE BUILDING: There is some pressure on the Trudeau government to change the name of the building that houses the Prime Minister's Office.  The Langevin Block across the street from Parliament Hill is named after Hector-Louis Langevin.  He was a politician and father of Confederation who also expressed strong support for establishing what would become the infamous, government-run residential school program. The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations has raised his concerns in a letter to the government.

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FEDERAL WATCHDOG SAYS PUBLIC HEALTH EXEC VERBALLY ABUSED STAFF: A public sector watchdog says a Public Health Agency of Canada executive verbally abused staff and other government employees. Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Joe Friday says the former employee was prone to tirades and outbursts of violent rage and used unprofessional language that included screaming and profanity. The executive moved to another government department during the commissioner's investigation, which began in 2014.

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BC PREMIER FEELS GOOD ABOUT GETTING A SOFTWOOD TRADE DEAL: British Columbia Premier Christy Clark says she is feeling confident of Canada's chances of reaching a softwood lumber trade agreement with the Trump administration. She made the comments Thursday after a special meeting of the B.C. cabinet. Clark says Barack Obama's administration was focused on reaching the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and barely responded to Canadian attempts to talk about a softwood deal. The latest agreement expired in 2015.

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TRUMP: NEW ORDER ON IMMIGRATION IS COMING: U.S. President Donald Trump says his administration will release a new executive order on immigration next week to "comprehensively protect our country." Trump's original order restricted immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. It led to massive protests and was put on hold by a federal appeals court. Trump says the rollout of that order was "very smooth" and "perfect" but that it ran into "a bad court." He says he wanted to delay the effective date of the order for a month or so, but that he was advised by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly not to do that because it would give people with bad intent time to flow into the country. Trump says the new order is being tailored to satisfy the ruling from the San Francisco appeals court.

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The Canadian Press