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


Published on May 18, 2017

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, May 18

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U.S. LAUNCHES NAFTA TALKS: The U.S. has given official indication that it wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he is putting Congress and trading partners on notice that "free and fair" trade is the new standard in the U.S. During the presidential campaign, President Donald Trump called NAFTA "a disaster."

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BOEING TARGETS BOMBARDIER IN TRADE COMPLAINT: Aerospace giants Boeing and Bombardier clashed at a Washington hearing Thursday that marked the formal launch of investigations into allegations that Bombardier received subsidies allowing it to sell its CSeries planes at below-market prices. Boeing argued at the hearing that duties should be imposed on Bombardier aircraft, insisting its smaller Montreal-based rival receives government subsidies that give it an illicit toehold in the international market. Bombardier representatives countered that Boeing is a global powerhouse that hasn't lost any sales as a result of Bombardier.

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REPORT RELEASED ON HALIFAX CRASH LANDING: A report on the 2015 crash landing of an Air Canada jet at Halifax's airport says many factors were to blame for the accident.  It says some of the factors included poor visibility, lighting issues and approach procedures. The Transportation Safety Board says the crew aboard the jet set the autopilot at the correct angle of descent during the landing in the middle of a blizzard but did not notice wind had pushed the plane off its flight path. The report says the crew only realized in the last seconds of the flight that the aircraft was too low and too far back.

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MOTHER OF SASK TEEN WHO KILLED FOUR PEOPLE SPEAKS OUT:  The mother of the teen who killed four people in La Loche, Sask. says the shooter's family members are victims too.  The woman told her son's sentencing hearing that no one put him up to the crime. The teen has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder for the 2016 shooting. The sentencing hearing will decide if the teen should be sentenced as a youth or an adult.

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TRUDEAU PROMOTES CANADA'S TECH SECTOR: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued to promote Canada's technology sector in Washington state on Thursday. He met with Gov. Jay Inslee a day after attending the secretive Microsoft CEO Summit. Trudeau and Inslee discussed the development of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, an initiative that aims to strengthen technology industry ties between British Columbia and Washington. Trudeau's office said the pair also spoke about trade and investment opportunities.

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ALBERTA'S RIGHT TAKES NEXT STEP TO UNITE: Alberta's two conservative parties are merging to form the United Conservative Party. Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney announced the details of their unity deal Thursday.  But the merger must be approved by 75 per cent of Wildrose members and just over 50 per cent of PC members. If the deal goes ahead, the new party will set up a leadership committee with an eye to electing a new leader by Oct. 28. Kenney won the PC leadership in March on a platform to merge, and both Kenney and Jean have said they'll run for the leadership of a consolidated party.

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GOVERNMENT GIVES MILITARY PERSONNEL TAX BREAK: Military personnel and police officers sent overseas on major operations will be exempt from federal income tax while they're away. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Thursday that the tax measure will exempt salaries up to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.  Service members based in Kuwait have been complaining that they were being unfairly treated because of changes that saw their tax-exempt status stripped away.

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REFUGEE WHO SUFFERED FROSTBITE GETS TO STAY IN CANADA: A man who lost 10 fingers and thumbs to frostbite when he tried to cross the border from the U.S. last winter is being allowed to stay in Canada. Seidu Mohammed has been granted refugee status on the basis that the bisexual professional soccer player from Ghana would face persecution if returned to his home country. He fled Ghana to the U.S. in 2015 and crossed the border at Emerson, Man., in December, walking seven hours in the dark as the wind chill dipped to -30 C.

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BLUE JAY APOLOGIES FOR ANTI-GAY SLUR: Toronto Blue Jays centre-fielder Kevin Pillar is apologizing for directing an anti-gay slur at an Atlanta Braves pitcher. Pillar was angry at Jason Motte for allegedly quick-pitching him to get a strikeout that ended the seventh inning in Atlanta's 8-4 victory Wednesday night. Pillar issued a statement Thursday saying he used "inappropriate language" that has no place in baseball or anywhere in society today.

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TRUMP BLASTS APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COUNSEL: U.S. President Donald Trump says the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election "hurts our country terribly." He says the move "shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not unified country" and is "a very, very negative thing."

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The Canadian Press