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

Last Updated Oct 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm EST

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, Oct. 12

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CANADIAN AND FAMILY HELD BY TALIBAN FREED IN COMMANDO RAID: The High Commissioner for Pakistan to Canada says Pakistani commandos carried out a raid and there was a shootout before they safely rescued a Canadian and his family being held hostage. Tariq Azim Khan said Thursday that Canadian Joshua Boyle and his family were then flown by helicopter to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan where they remain. He says Boyle and his family are fit to travel and it’s undecided whether they will fly to Canada or to the U.S. from there. He says they don’t know how many of the suspects were killed. He says one or two escaped and there is a search for them. He says he exchanged emails with the father of Joshua Boyle to tell them they had been rescued.

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AMANDA LINDHOUT’S MOTHER TESTIFIES AT ABDUCTION TRIAL: Amanda Lindhout’s mother recounted the events that led to her daughter’s release from captivity in Somalia. Lorinda Stewart told an Ontario court Thursday that she spoke with the man on trial for his alleged involvement in her daughter’s kidnapping. She said talks with Ali Omar Ader over ransom demands for her daughter’s release did not go well because Ader suddenly became angry and afraid. Lindhout was a freelance journalist from Alberta when she was kidnapped in Australia along with an Australian companion.

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TRUDEAU VISITS MEXICO: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Mexico City Thursday as he continued efforts to try to save the North America Free Trade Deal. U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed pessimism about the fate of NAFTA and some Mexican leaders appear to be laying the groundwork for the deal’s demise. Trudeau says he remains optimistic about NAFTA but acknowledged there are other paths that could be pursued, and they’ll be followed if necessary.

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U.S. STARTS MAKING NAFTA DEMANDS: The most difficult phase of the renegotiation of the North America has begun with the U.S. making its most hardball demands. Sources say U.S. negotiators presented a so-called termination clause on Wednesday that would kill the pact after five years if the three member countries fail to renew it. The next big drop could occur Friday as negotiators will move on to rules for auto parts.

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UNION ACCUSES GENERAL MOTORS OF STARTING ‘A WAR ON CANADA’: The union representing striking workers at a General Motors plant in Ontario says the company has declared “war on Canada.” Unifor says GM has threatened to move more production of the Equinox sports utility vehicle to Mexico if the 25-day-old strike continues. Union president Jerry Dias said Thursday that GM is taking advantage of the low pay scales for Mexican workers at the expense of higher-paid workers in the U.S. and Canada.

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RCMP YANKS QUESTIONAIRE TARGETING MUSLIM ASYLUM SEEKERS: The federal government says the RCMP is no longer using a questionnaire targeting Muslim asylum seekers in Quebec. A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government found out on Tuesday about the existence of the questionnaire and it is no longer being used by the RCMP. Among other things, the questionnaire asked opinions about religious practice, head coverings associated with Muslim women and terrorist groups with mainly Muslim members.

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CANADIAN MILITARY OFFICER SAYS IT APPEARS ISIL HAS BEEN BROKEN: A Canadian military officer attached to the American led coalition in Iraq says efforts to drive the Islamic State from Iraq have moved a long faster than expected. Brig.-Gen. Craig Aitchison says it’s a sign the group’s back has been broken. Aitchison says the coalition has been surprised by the lack of resistance from ISIL in recent months.

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DRUG OVERDOSES IN BC CONTINUE TO SOAR: British Columbia’s coroner’s service says more people died from illicit drug overdoses in the province in the first eight months of this year than all of last year. The coroner’s service says 1,013 people died from overdoses from January to the end of August, compared to the 2016 total of 982 deaths. Officials say fentanyl was involved in than 80 per cent of the deaths this year.

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US HOUSE PASSES HURRICANE DISASTER AID BILL: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a $36.5 billion measure that would replenish government disaster aid funds and help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico keep functioning in the devastating aftermath of hurricane Maria. The measure will now go to the Senate, which plans to take up the bill next week.

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SELF-DRIVING CAR TAKES TO THE STREETS OF OTTAWA: Organizers are billing the test drive of a self driving car in Ottawa Thursday as the first of its kind in Canada. The BlackBerry QNX-equipped self-driving car had Mayor Jim Watson on board as it went down an Ottawa street. The street was closed for the public demonstration, which attracted scores of people, but the car is expected to be operating on city streets in the test area amidst real traffic and pedestrians.

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