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

Last Updated Oct 23, 2017 at 5:00 pm EST

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Highlights from the news file for Monday, Oct. 23

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FEDS TO SHOW SMALLER DEFICIT IN UPDATED FISCAL OUTLOOK: The Trudeau government will release fresh projections Tuesday that predict smaller-than-anticipated deficits over the next several years – but the Liberals are not expected to provide a timeline to bring the books back to balance. After the economy’s surprisingly strong performance in early 2017, a senior government official says the fall fiscal and economic statement will contain an updated outlook of shrinking annual shortfalls as well as new measures aimed at reinvesting in middle-income earners.

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NEW U.S. ENVOY TAKES OFFICE IN OTTAWA: Kelly Craft may be Donald Trump’s new U.S. ambassador to Canada, but she quoted John F. Kennedy when she formally took office Monday. “If I may echo the sentiments of President Kennedy, I truly feel amongst friends,” she said after joining several new diplomats who submitted their credentials to Gov. Gen. Julie Payette at Rideau Hall. The reference to Kennedy, a Democrat, was an ad-libbed addition to her speaking notes, which were distributed by the U.S. embassy after her swearing in. In those same remarks, Craft also gave a respectful nod to the lingering national grief over the death of Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie.

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EXPERT SAYS QUEBEC LAW WILL LIKELY GO TO SUPREME COURT: A law professor at the University of Ottawa says it’s a virtual certainty that Quebec’s new law banning people wearing face veils from receiving public services will be challenged in court. Natasha Bakht says many civil rights groups are gearing up to help challenge Bill 62 and she believes the case will probably end up before the Supreme Court of Canada. Bill 62 was adopted last week and the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund are all studying the law and considering their next steps.

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RAE NAMED SPECIAL ENVOY TO MYANMAR: Former Ontario premier Bob Rae promised no miracles Monday, but rather a sustained effort towards finding a way Canada can be part of a solution to the humanitarian crisis generated by ongoing violence in Myanmar. Rae was appointed as a special envoy to the country and will head there next week to begin gathering facts from officials on the ground as reports now say nearly a million Rohingya refugees have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. What he learns will be reported back to the prime minister, and eventually Canadians. Myanmar’s security forces began a crackdown earlier this year on what it called Muslim insurgents.

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ADVOCATES SAY MANNING NO THREAT TO CANADA: A U.S. soldier convicted of leaking thousands of classified documents poses no security threat to Canada and ought to be allowed into the country, advocates said Monday. Chelsea Manning tried to enter Canada last month to travel to Montreal and Vancouver, but was turned away at the Canada-U.S. land border when officials determined her crimes were akin to a violation of Canadian treason laws and made her inadmissible. Her case was referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board for a hearing, but advocates want Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to step in.

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ONTARIO PC LEADER IGNORING PREMIER’S LIBEL THREAT: Ontario’s Opposition leader says he plans to ignore a libel notice from Premier Kathleen Wynne. Wynne took another step toward a defamation lawsuit against Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown last week after he refused to retract comments suggesting she was personally on trial. After receiving the original letter from Wynne’s lawyer, Brown said he would “ignore her baseless legal threat,” and now after receiving the follow-up notice of libel, he says his position is unchanged. A letter today from Brown’s lawyer to Wynne’s says his statements weren’t defamatory and he will not be “distracted” from his duty as Opposition leader.

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CANADA LOOKING TO CUT NORTHERN DIESEL USE: The federal government expects to introduce new regulations next year to try and match decade-old American standards for diesel-powered generators. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was presented with a strategy in June to combat short-lived climate pollutants, including black carbon, which is one of the most troublesome, and sometimes deadly, pollutants in the Canadian Arctic. Black carbon is produced by burning diesel fuel, which is the main source of electricity for more than 200 communities in the North. It is a significant contributor to global warming.

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CANADIAN PEACEKEEPING NUMBERS AT LOWEST POINT IN YEARS: New UN figures show that the number of Canadian peacekeepers deployed on missions has sank to its lowest point in recent memory — lower even than when the Harper Conservatives were in power. Canada had 112 soldiers and police officers working on UN missions in August 2016, when the Liberals announced their plan to make up to 600 soldiers and 150 police available for peacekeeping. Since then, however, the number of Canadian blue helmets and blue berets in the field has steadily dropped, to the point where Canada had only 68 peacekeepers in the field last month.

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TRAGICALLY HIPS SALES AND STREAMS SPIKE: Fans of the Tragically Hip flocked to the band’s music as they mourned the death of singer Gord Downie, which drove a huge boost in sales, streams and radio play. Eleven albums by the Kingston, Ont., rockers climbed onto the Billboard Canadian Albums chart for the week that ended Oct. 19. It was the previous day that Downie’s family announced the Hip frontman had died. Overall sales for the band’s catalogue spiked 1,000 per cent, rising to a combined 11,000 equivalent units from 1,000 units the previous week.

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BRITAIN GIVING CANADA FRANKLIN WRECKS: Canada is thanking Great Britain for the gift of two shipwrecks once commanded by John Franklin that lie at the heart of one of this country’s most compelling Arctic myths. Britain announced Monday that ownership of the ships will be transferred to Parks Canada, with Britain retaining a small sample of artifacts. Under international law, warships remain the property of the country they sailed under. Before they disappeared beneath the ice in the waters of the Northwest Passage, Franklin’s Erebus and Terror were both commissioned ships in the Royal Navy.

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