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

Last Updated Jan 19, 2018 at 6:00 pm EST

Train driver Thomas Harding leaves the courtroom with his lawyer Charles Shearson, left, after being found not guilty on the ninth day of deliberations Friday, January 19, 2018 in Sherbrooke, Que. One of the most closely watched Canadian trials in recent years ended Friday with the acquittal of three former railway employees who were charged with criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people in the Lac-Megantic tragedy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Highlights from the news file for Friday, Jan. 19

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ALL THREE ACQUITTED IN LAC-MEGANTIC TRIAL: One of the most closely watched Canadian trials in recent years ended Friday with the acquittal of three former railway employees who were charged with criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people in the Lac-Megantic tragedy. The jurors reached the verdict on their ninth day of deliberations. Tom Harding, Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre were charged with criminal negligence in the 2013 tragedy that killed 47 people when a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded.

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EX-PREMIER’S CHIEF OF STAFF CONVICTED IN GAS PLANTS TRIAL: A former top political aide in Ontario has been found guilty of illegally destroying documents related to a controversial government decision to cancel two gas plants before a provincial election. David Livingston, who was chief of staff for ex-Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, was charged with attempted mischief and illegal use of a computer. Livingston’s deputy, Laura Miller, was also charged in the case and was found not guilty.

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TRUDEAU VISITS REMOTE NW ONT. RESERVE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting a remote northwestern Ontario reserve where the chief says a shortage of housing is still a big problem. Dean Owen of Pikangikum First Nation says the backlog of homes needing to be built is almost twice as much as it was when he became chief in 2005. He says there were 1,800 band members at that point and that has since grown to 3,100. Owen said nine and 10 people often share one of the reserve’s existing homes and are forced to sleep in shifts.

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P.M. TO VISIT TO L.A., SAN FRAN, CHICAGO: With the North American Free Trade Agreement hanging in the balance, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit three major American cities next month to stress deeper economic collaboration between the two countries. Trudeau announced the February visit to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago as a new poll emerged suggesting Canadians are increasingly seeing the European Union, not the United States, as the country’s preferred trading partner.

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TAX CHANGES COULD HURT MORE THAN NAFTA DEMISE: Business associations are warning that substantial tax changes in the U.S. could end up inflicting more damage on the Canadian economy than would the possible termination of the North American Free Trade Agreement. While NAFTA’s uncertain future remains a top concern for two of the country’s biggest business lobby groups, they say much of their attention these days is also focused on the negatives of the recent U.S. decision to slash corporate taxes to levels comparable to those in Canada.

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CLARITY NEEDED ON SUMMER JOBS, ADVOCATE SAYS: A reproductive rights advocate who urged the Liberals to deny summer job grants to groups pushing for restricted access to abortion said the government may have gone a step too far in rolling out the changes. Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada said she supports what she believes was the government’s primary goal: targeting organizations that would hire students to undermine reproductive rights. “They are not interested in stopping churches,” Arthur said. “It’s really all about anti-choice groups.”

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FINNISH COMPANY QUESTIONS ICEBREAKER TALKS: A Finnish company is questioning the Trudeau government’s decision to launch negotiations with Quebec shipyard Davie for the lease of four icebreakers without conducting a formal competition. Helsinki-based Arctia Ltd. says it had expected a competition after the federal government asked shipowners in late 2016 to provide information about the icebreakers they had available for lease. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instead surprised many when he announced this week that the government would start talks with Davie.

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TWO-YEAR INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN MAY TAKE FIVE: Internal documents say the first instalment of spending in the Liberal government’s infrastructure program may take three years longer than expected to complete. The Liberals had originally hoped to have cities and provinces complete $5.4 billion in transit and water system work by this March. But a “secret” fall briefing note to Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act, says delays hampered a large number of projects, requiring the deadline to be extended.

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NO VIOLATIONS AT ALBERTA BURGER KING: Alberta Labour says it found no violations at a Lethbridge Burger King where an earlier public health inspection found evidence of foreign workers sleeping in the restaurant. Last week, Alberta Health Services ordered the franchise to remove all mattresses and furnishings and no longer let people stay, live or sleep on the premises. Alberta Health Services says the owner has complied with the order, which also flagged issues around cleanup from a burst pipe and storage of unused equipment.

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SHIPS MOSTLY OBEYED SPEED LIMIT IN GULF: Almost 90 per cent of ships that passed through the Gulf of St. Lawrence over the last five months complied with an emergency speed limit to help protect whales. In August, Transport Canada imposed a limit after a dozen right whales were found dead in the Gulf, many of them having collided with ships. The department’s report shows that between Aug. 11 and Jan. 11, 4,169 of the 4,711 eligible ships that were spotted in the Gulf were travelling below the mandated speed.

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