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

Last Updated Oct 19, 2017 at 5:20 pm EST

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau speaks with the media before Question Period on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Thursday, October 19, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, Oct. 19

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FINANCE MINISTER TO PUT ASSETS INTO BLIND TRUST: Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he’ll put to put his personal assets in a blind trust. It’s in response to conflict of interest allegations that the opposition have hurled at Morneau. They’ve focused on the fact Morneau is responsible for regulating an industry that includes a pension management company in which he owns significant shares. Morneau said Thursday that the issue is a distraction from the work he is doing as finance minister.

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TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT TO MAKE FISCAL UPDATE NEXT WEEK: The federal government is going to provide a fall economic update to highlight what it calls the recent strong growth in the Canadian economy. Finance Minister Bill Morneau wouldn’t say if it will include a plan to eliminate the federal deficit, but did indicate it will “affirm” plans to reverse course and cut the small business tax rate to nine per cent by 2019.

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MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS LEVELLED AGAINST FORMER HEAD OF JUST FOR LAUGHS COMEDY FESTIVAL: The former head of the Just For Laughs comedy festival isn’t commenting on sexual assault and sex harassment allegations from nine women. Gilbert Rozon didn’t elaborate on the allegations in a Facebook post on Wednesday in which he announced his departure from all his professional posts. The allegations were published in Le Devoir and ran on a Quebec radio station. He wrote that he is stepping aside out of respect for the employees and families who work for the organizations he is involved with.

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TRUDEAU POURS COLD WATER ON CHALLENGING QUEBEC LAW REGARDING FACE COVERINGS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is suggesting he doesn’t approve of a Quebec law that forbids people from receiving government services with their faces uncovered. Trudeau said on Thursday that it’s not up to the federal government to challenge the law, which is seen by many as targeting Muslim women. Trudeau says provinces have the right to pass their own legislation but noted the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to everyone and that he will defend that principle.

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OFFICIALS PROBE FATAL AMMONIA LEAK IN B.C. TOWN: City officials in Fernie, B.C. are trying to get to the bottom of an ammonia leak at an arena that killed three people. An evacuation order remains in effect for residents living around the Fernie Memorial Arena. The bodies of the three men, two of whom were city employees, were removed on Wednesday night.

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SEARS SETS LIQUIDATION WHEELS IN MOTION: Sears started liquidation sales at its remaining stores on Thursday, but many shoppers found the deals to be underwhelming. Signs at one of Sears’ Toronto stores suggested discounts of 20 to 50 per cent off. But relatively few items at a Toronto store appeared to be offered at half off. Some big ticket items such as snowblowers and treadmills were only 10 per cent off. An Ontario court cleared the way last week for the liquidation to proceed.

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TRUDEAU JOINS EFFORT TO WOO AMAZON HEADQUARTERS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sent a letter to the head of Amazon outlining why Canada would be a good place for the online retailer to set up a new headquarters. A number of Canadian cities have made pitches to Amazon. Trudeau’s letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos does not single out any of the bidding Canadian cities, which include Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Halifax and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The letter mentions commercial, cultural and social reasons why Amazon should call Canada home to the new headquarters and the 50,000 jobs expected to come with it.

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JUDGE CONSIDERS DECISION IN TRIAL OF ALLEGED LINDHOUT CAPTOR: An Ottawa judge has reserved decision in the case of the man accused of being one of those who held Amanda Lindhout hostage. Justice Robert Smith is not expected to rule on the fate of Ali Omar Ader for several months. Lindhout spent 15 months in captivity before being freed.

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TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT EXPECTS SETTLEMENT WITH INDIGENOUS FAMILY: Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says the federal government expects to soon reach a settlement with a First Nations family that has been trying to get federal funding for school bus service for a child with cerebral palsy. Philpott says it’s “unconscionable” that the family has been fighting for more than a decade to get bus access for 15-year-old Noah Buffalo-Jackson, who goes to school in the Alberta city of Wetaskiwin. She says it’s the government’s intention to have a settlement reached in the very near future.

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KELLY DEFENDS TRUMP PHONE CALL TO WIDOW: U.S. President Donald Trump’s chief of staff says he is “stunned” and “broken hearted” by the criticism of Trump’s call to the family of an Army sergeant killed in Niger. John Kelly tells reporters at the White House that the president had expressed his condolences “in the best way that he could.” The aunt of an Army sergeant killed in Niger said Trump showed “disrespect” to the soldier’s loved ones as he telephoned them to extend condolences as they drove to a Miami airport to receive his body. Florida Democrat Rep. Frederica Wilson said Trump had told the widow that “you know that this could happen when you signed up for it … but it still hurts.”

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