The Monday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories - NEWS 95.7
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The Monday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories

Last Updated Feb 5, 2018 at 7:00 pm AST

Defence attorney Scott Spencer, left, and his client Gerald Stanley enter the Court of Queen's Bench on the fifth day of the trial of Stanley, the farmer accused of killing 22-year-old Indigenous man Colten Boushie, in Battleford, Sask., Monday, February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

Highlights from the news file for Monday, Feb. 5

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FATAL FARM SHOOTING A ‘FREAK ACCIDENT,’ DEFENCE SAYS: An Indigenous man who died in a shooting on a Saskatchewan farm was the victim of “a freak accident that occurred in the course of an unimaginably scary situation,” court was told Monday. Gerald Stanley’s lawyer was making his opening arguments before a jury at the man’s second-degree murder trial. Scott Spencer told jurors that 22-year-old Colten Boushie’s death wasn’t justified, but they must put themselves in Stanley’s shoes. He said the Stanley family faced intruders on their farm near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016, which created a panic situation. Court has heard an S-U-V with a flat tire carrying five people drove onto the Stanley farm. Boushie was sitting in the driver’s seat of a grey Ford Escape when he was shot in the back of the head. Spencer suggested it was reasonable for Stanley to fire some warning shots and says his gun misfired. He told court it was a tragedy during the course of what he likened to a home invasion.

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ONTARIO PUBLIC BROADCASTER TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HOST: Ontario’s public broadcaster says the host of its flagship current affairs program will remain on the air while being investigated for alleged sexual harassment. TVO said Monday that Steve Paikin is alleged to have made inappropriate comments to a woman during a lunch in 2010. The broadcaster said it became aware of the allegation on Saturday, when Paikin notified TVO of an email he received from the woman. TVO’s chief executive officer said in a statement that an independent third party will investigate, during which time Paikin will continue to host “The Agenda with Steve Paikin.” The move comes amid a social justice movement under the #MeToo and Time’s Up banners that have undone the careers of several personalities named in sexual harassment and misconduct allegations. CTV News reporter Paul Bliss was suspended hours after a woman made a sexual misconduct allegation against him, while politician Patrick Brown resigned as leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party after two women accused him of sexual misconduct.

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B.C. RECREATIONAL POT WON’T BE SOLD WITH LIQUOR: Recreational marijuana will be sold online and through both private and government-operated retail stores in British Columbia once it becomes legal later this year. The provincial government has announced retailers will not be able to sell marijuana at stores where liquor or tobacco is sold. The government says it will launch a registration process for those who are interested in applying for a cannabis retail licence, but licences will not be issued without the support of local governments. The province will also allow pot to be smoked in public places where tobacco smoking and vaping are permitted, although it will be banned in vehicles and in areas frequented by children, including beaches, parks and playgrounds. Provincial rules for cultivation will align with the federal government’s proposal, allowing adults to grow up to four pot plants per household, but growing will be banned in daycares, and landlords are allowed to prohibit cultivation.

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PMO TEAM TO HANDLE HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS: The Prime Minister’s Office has set up a small team to handle harassment complaints from political staffers working for cabinet ministers. Eleanore Catenaro, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, says the two senior aides on the team respond to questions and complaints from ministerial staffers — including those in the PMO — regarding sexual harassment and other inappropriate workplace behaviour. The Harassment Resolution and Investigation Office, which was set up last October, can also arrange for an independent investigation into allegations. “We have been working with various experts and counsellors and lawyers on making sure that we have all the right processes in place,” Trudeau said Monday on his way into question period in the House of Commons. News of the office came to light after HuffPost Canada published allegations by Myriam Denis, who alleges she was contacted by Claude-Eric Gagne — then a senior official in the PMO — with a flirtatious message months after he had interviewed her for a job she did not get. Gagne resigned last week after being the subject of a since-concluded third-party investigation into other allegations, which he denies.

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TORIES UPDATE VETTING IN WAKE OF ALLEGATIONS AGAINST DYKSTRA: The Conservatives are now ready to ask potential candidates specifically whether they have ever been accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour. Cory Hann, a spokesman for the party, says the questionnaire that anyone seeking to join a nomination contest must complete was updated Jan. 31. That was the same day Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer promised an independent, third-party investigation into how party brass handled allegations of sexual misconduct against former Conservative MP Rick Dykstra. Last week, a report in Maclean’s magazine said allegations involving Dykstra and a Parliament Hill staffer were brought to the attention of the 2015 Conservative campaign team, but seemingly resulted in no action being taken against the longtime Ontario MP. Two of the most powerful figures in the party at the time — former prime minister Stephen Harper and his then-chief of staff, Ray Novak — have now acknowledged publicly they were aware of the allegations. Both said last Friday they allowed Dykstra to remain on the ballot because no criminal charges were laid.

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NAFTA DEAL POSSIBLE BY END OF MARCH, CANADIAN AMBASSADOR SAYS: Canada’s ambassador to the United States says he believes NAFTA negotiators can reach an agreement in principle by the end of March. David MacNaughton says enough progress has been made on the “wiring and plumbing” of the agreement that all three countries can iron out their differences on the more substantial issues in the next two months. “I would love to see a deal done,” the envoy said Monday in Ottawa after at an event with his U.S. counterpart, Kelly Craft. “We’ve made tremendous progress on some of the less spectacular things.” The time has come to leave political rhetoric behind and find a workable agreement in principle that officials can hammer out later, MacNaughton continued. Two more rounds of negotiations are set to take place before presidential elections in Mexico and the U.S. congressional mid-terms, which observers fear could prove disruptive. MacNaughton said the continued uncertainty is bad for the U.S. economy and business in general.

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RAILWAY, EX-WORKERS SETTLE OVER LAC-MEGANTIC CHARGES: The railway at the centre of the Lac-Megantic train explosion, as well as several of its former employees, settled with federal prosecutors Monday and were ordered to pay fines totalling $1.25 million while one ex-railway worker was given a conditional jail term. Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway, the company that owned the train that derailed in the small town killing 47 people, pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act and was ordered to pay $1 million. Six ex-MMA employees pleaded guilty to violating the Railway Safety Act, namely for failing to ensure the convoy was properly secured the night before it moved on its own and derailed into the small town. Five of them — Michael Horan, Jean Demaitre, Kenneth I. Strout, Lynne Labonte et Robert C. Grindrod — were ordered to pay $50,000 each. Ex-train engineer Thomas Harding, who improperly parked the train on July 5, 2013, before leaving for the night, was given conditional sentence of six months in prison, which will be served in the community. Meanwhile, railway controller Richard Labrie was acquitted. Harding, Demaitre and Labrie were charged separately in Quebec Superior Court with one count each of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people but were acquitted in January.

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WOMAN TELLS TRIAL TORONTO COP RAPED HER: A woman who accused a Toronto police officer of raping her told his sexual assault trial Monday that she was afraid of being hurt if she didn’t comply with his demands. The woman, who cannot be identified, told Const. Vincenzo Bonazza’s trial the alleged incident took place nearly a decade ago during what was supposed to be a casual encounter at her apartment. “He didn’t take my words, didn’t take my body language,” she said. “I was afraid he was going to hurt me.” Bonazza has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault at the judge-alone trial. Court heard that the woman only reported the incident in 2015, after becoming a police officer herself. The woman told her supervisor about the alleged incident and then contacted Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which examines allegations of sexual assault involving police. Bonazza was charged in 2016. The officer came over on Sept. 11, the woman said, and while the pair watched a movie, Bonazza kissed her, then unbuttoned her jeans. The woman said Bonazza went on to have sex with her without her consent and later forced her to perform oral sex.

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XAVIER DOLAN CUTS JESSICA CHASTAIN FROM UPCOMING FILM: Quebec filmmaker Xavier Dolan says he has cut Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain from his upcoming movie “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.” Dolan said in an Instagram post on Sunday evening that he had to rework the first cut of his film — his English-language debut — which was more than four hours long. “We loved every (one) of the assembled scenes, but knew a more profound reflection on the film’s form and focus awaited us,” Dolan wrote. “All sorts of developments unfold during the shooting of a film, as we know. Often, it isn’t before late into a production that it finds its tone…. It was an extremely difficult decision to make. I feel, toward Jessica, a very sincere love, and a great admiration. The decision was editorial and narrative, in that it has nothing to do with a performance, and everything to do with a character, and the compatibility of its storyline.” Dolan, who has been editing the movie since May, said that Chastain’s villainous character simply did not fit with rest of the film’s pared-down story, but added he hoped to work with her again. Chastain also posted a statement on Instagram saying she had heard in advance about her character being cut and the process was “handled with the utmost respect and love.”

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PARTI QUEBECOIS LEADER GETS EARFUL OVER JOKE: The head of Quebec’s official Opposition apologized Monday for making fun of a female politician’s conspicuous — and relatively famous — fuzzy upper lip. Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee told reporters he wasn’t trying to ridicule his gender non-conforming colleague in a radio interview broadcast Sunday night. Rather, Lisee said he was comically affirming that Manon Masse wears her salt-and-pepper lip hair as a political statement. Masse, elected in 2014 with the left-wing political party, Quebec solidaire, worked as a feminist and LGBTQ activist before entering politics. She wears her facial hair proudly and has told interviewers on several occasions she refuses to adhere to society’s heteronormative standards about beauty or how women should dress and look. Quebec solidaire is arguably the most progressive and left-leaning party that holds seats in Quebec legislature. And instead of having leaders, the political formation has one female and one male “spokesperson.”

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