The Monday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories - 660 NEWS
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The Monday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories

Last Updated Dec 11, 2017 at 3:20 pm MDT

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau holds a news conference after meeting with his provincial counterparts in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Highlights from the news file for Monday, Dec. 11

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PROVINCES TO GET 75% OF POT TAXES, MORNEAU SAYS: The federal government has agreed to give the provinces and territories a 75 per cent share of the tax revenues from the sale of legalized marijuana. Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the agreement Monday after a day-long meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts. Morneau says Ottawa will retain the remaining 25 per cent share to a maximum of $100 million a year, with any balance over and above that limit going to the provinces and territories. The larger share, he added, will allow the provinces to “fairly deal with their costs and so they can work with municipalities,” which had been asking for at least a one-third portion of the revenue. All 14 jurisdictions at the table agreed to the key principles reached at the meeting, Morneau said, calling it a “very good outcome.” The original model put forward by the federal government proposed an even 50-50 split, a plan that was immediately shot down by the provinces, many of which wondered aloud what sort of costs Ottawa would be incurring to deserve such a share.

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DOCTORS ANGRY OVER MEDICAL POT TAX: More than 50 doctors from across Canada are calling on Ottawa to withdraw its plan to charge tax on medicinal marijuana. The doctors, who describe themselves as physicians who routinely prescribe marijuana to their patients, say applying a sales or excise tax to medicinal pot would discriminate against those who use the drug to manage their symptoms. They say the measure would introduce financial barriers to Canadians looking to access the drug. Finance Minister Bill Morneau has been meeting today with his provincial counterparts to discuss issues including the impact of an excise tax on cannabis. NDP health critic Don Davies says an excise tax on medicinal pot could end up affecting its affordability and availability to those who need it. Patients have also raised concerns since the Finance Department signalled in November it was looking to apply excise tax to both non-medicinal and medicinal pot.

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B.C.’s Site C DAM TO BE BUILT, BUT AT $10-BILLION COST: The Site C hydroelectric dam will be completed with the backing of British Columbia’s NDP government, but it is warning the price tag will be higher than estimated. Site C was projected to cost $8.3 billion to complete, but the government now estimates the project will total $10.7 billion. An estimated $4 billion has been spent so far on the dam and the NDP government was debating whether to continue construction or cancel the work midway through the job. The financial impact of cancelling the project on ratepayers and B.C.’s bottom line were the major factors in the government’s decision to proceed rather than cancel. The government says the province risked a credit downgrade and debt-servicing costs of up to $150 million annually if the project was cancelled and the treasury absorbed the $4 billion loss. The decision on the project’s future is one of the first major decisions that faced the minority NDP government. The massive hydroelectric project has been at the centre of a polarized debate between politicians, environmentalists, First Nations, labour groups and landowners in the Peace River Valley.

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ONTARIO PREMIER SUING OPPOSITION LEADER: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is suing the Opposition leader for defamation. A spokeswoman for Wynne says a statement of claim was filed today in order for the premier to be able to continue with her case against Patrick Brown. Wynne’s lawyer first demanded in a letter in September that Brown withdraw comments he made a day before the premier testified as a witness at a trial in Sudbury, Ont., involving two provincial Liberals facing Election Act bribery charges. Brown had told reporters he hoped Wynne would give answers about the scandal “maybe when she stands trial” and went on to describe her as a “sitting premier, sitting in trial.” Brown refused to apologize for the statements both after the initial lawyer’s letter and following a libel notice in October. Wynne’s spokeswoman says this case can be resolved with an apology from Brown, but if he continues to refuse to apologize the premier will be able to continue the legal action.

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MAN SETS OFF PIPE BOMB IN NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY: A man inspired by the Islamic State group set off a crude pipe bomb strapped to his body Monday in a crowded subway corridor near Times Square, injuring the man, slightly wounding three others and sending New York commuters fleeing in terror through the smoky passageway. Surveillance cameras captured the man walking casually through the crowded passage when the bomb went off at 7:20 a.m. amid a plume of white smoke, which cleared to show the man sprawled on the ground and commuters scattering to get away. Investigators said it was not clear if he set the bomb off intentionally or prematurely. “This was an attempted terrorist attack,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. “Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals.” Law enforcement officials said Ullah was inspired by the Islamic State group but apparently did not have any direct contact with the group and probably acted alone. Gov. Andrew Cuomo later told the NY1 cable channel that the suspect went online to learn how to make a bomb.

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WOMEN ACCUSING TRUMP OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT SEEK CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION: The White House is pushing back on sexual misconduct allegations against President Donald Trump, saying he has already denied them. Three women who previously accused Trump of sexual harassment shared their stories Monday on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today.” They’re calling for a congressional investigation. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump “has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations.” She says the people decided in November to elect him regardless. Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks are among the women who have alleged harassment by Trump. The White House has called the claims false and “totally disputed in most cases.” The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has said the women should be heard.

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LIBERALS NOMINATE NEW ETHICS WATCHDOG: The Liberals are tapping a long-time public servant to be the new ethics watchdog for the House of Commons. Government House leader Bardish Chagger says Mario Dion is being nominated to become the next ethics and conflict of interest commissioner. Dion is currently the chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board, but has previously served as chairman of the National Parole Board and the public sector integrity commissioner. He is also a former legal adviser to a number of government bodies. Monday’s announcement comes after a heated question period during which the Conservatives peppered the government about who would take over from outgoing commissioner Mary Dawson, who is looking into a conflict-of-interest controversy involving Finance Minister Bill Morneau. Justin Trudeau and some of his top aides sat out the selection process because Dawson is investigating whether the prime minister broke ethics rules during a vacation to the Aga Khan’s private island last Christmas.

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DON’T DESTROY GAY-SEX RECORDS, HISTORIANS SAY: Four leading researchers say a federal plan to destroy the criminal records of people convicted of same-sex activity is a “troubling feature” of proposed legislation intended to help make amends to the LGBTQ community. While the academic researchers applaud ensuring the records can never be used against those convicted, they say preservation is integral to the democratic process and the telling of history. The Liberal government recently introduced legislation that would allow people to apply to have their criminal convictions for consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners erased from the public record. The Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act would provide for the destruction and removal of records for the offences of gross indecency, buggery and anal intercourse. Once passed, the legislation will allow applications by the convicted individual in question or family members of deceased people with criminal records. The researchers — all of whom have ties to Ontario universities — say the scope of offences covered by the bill is too limited, and the application process too vague and potentially onerous.

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PRIVACY COMMISSIONER OPENS FORMAL UBER PROBE: The federal privacy commissioner has opened a formal investigation into the large data breach that Uber announced in November. The decision to launch the probe comes weeks after Uber disclosed that hackers stole the personal information from 57 million Uber accounts close to a year earlier. News of the breach prompted authorities in the U.S. and U.K. to launch formal investigations immediately, while the commissioner in Canada initially asked that Uber file a report explaining how the breach happened and its impact on Canadians. In response to the now formal investigation, Uber Canada spokesman Jean-Christophe de le Rue wrote in an email that the privacy of Uber riders and drivers is of paramount importance and the company will continue to work with the commissioner. Uber has yet to say how many Canadians may have been affected, but has told U.K. authorities that about 2.7 million people may have had information stolen. The company said when announcing the hack that it had not seen evidence of fraud or misuse from it, and that it had arranged to have the stolen data destroyed.

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‘THE BREADWINNER’ GETS GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATION: Canadian author Deborah Ellis was ecstatic about Monday’s Golden Globe nomination for “The Breadwinner,” an animated film that’s based on her children’s novel, but said she won’t be attending the awards show next month. While Ellis is hopeful the nomination for best animated film will spark discussions about the story of a young girl and her family under Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in 2001, she doesn’t plan to go to the Jan. 7 gala in Los Angeles due to President Donald Trump’s ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of mostly Muslim nations. “I’m not travelling to the States because of basically the Islamic travel ban,” Ellis said in a phone interview after the Golden Globe nominations were announced. “I write about refugees often in Islamic countries and it would make no sense for me to be able to go to this kind of a celebration when they can’t get in.” The film is a Canadian co-production with a Toronto cast, many of whom are Muslim and have Afghan heritage. Oscar-winning actor-director Angelina Jolie is an executive producer.