POLITICS

Five stories in the news today, Feb. 3

02/03/2015 05:30 EST | Updated 04/05/2015 05:59 EDT
Five stories in the news today, Feb. 3, from The Canadian Press:

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER JOHN BAIRD SET TO RESIGN

John Baird, one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most trusted and high-profile cabinet ministers, is resigning his foreign affairs post and will not seek re-election later this year. Multiple Conservative sources tell The Canadian Press that Baird announced the news Monday. Baird is scheduled to address Parliament today at 10 a.m. ET to officially resign. It was unclear where Baird is headed, although some Tories are speculating that he is headed to the private sector. International Trade Minister Ed Fast appears poised to take over as acting foreign minister.

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UN AGENCY HOLDS FLIGHT SAFETY MEETING IN MONTREAL

The International Civil Aviation Organization is holding a high-level safety meeting in Montreal looking at the global tracking of commercial aircraft and flights over conflict zones. The organization is the UN agency that governs civil aviation and more than 800 participants are to attend over four days in Montreal. Emerging safety issues are to be discussed today. The backdrop: The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 last March while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board; also, last July, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile while flying over a war-torn section of Ukraine.

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MEN ACCUSED OF PLANNING TERROR ATTACK ON PASSENGER TRAIN

In Toronto, the trial of two men accused of planning a terrorist attack on a passenger train travelling between Canada and the United States enters its second day. Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier both face multiple charges in the alleged Via Rail plot. Not-guilty pleas have been entered for both of them. On the first day of the trial, Crown lawyer Croft Michaelson said the pair made up a terrorist group operating in Canada in 2012. "Mr. Esseghaier and Mr. Jaser, motivated by Islamic extremism, agreed that they would murder persons to instil fear in the community," Michaelson said in his opening remarks. "They did this so that Canadians and Americans would remove their troops from Muslim lands."

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WAITING CONTINUES FOR RELEASE OF EGYPTIAN-CANADIAN JOURNALIST FAHMY

The waiting continued for those hoping for the release of Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told CBC on Monday that Fahmy's release was "imminent," but declined to provide details. Fahmy and two Al Jazeera colleagues — Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — were arrested in December 2013 and later convicted of terror charges. Greste was freed on Sunday. Fahmy's fiancee said Monday that Fahmy has relinquished his Egyptian citizenship as a condition of his freedom. Marwa Omara said it was "a very hard" decision for Mohamed Fahmy. "He is a proud Egyptian that comes from a family of military servicemen," Omara said in an email to The Canadian Press. "They told him: 'Nationality is in the heart, and you can come in as a tourist'." It remained unclear when exactly Fahmy would be released.

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IS THE NEW BIEBER CONTRITION CONTRIVED?

Justin Bieber is on a campaign of contrition. On the heels of posing for a Calvin Klein underwear campaign and consenting to endure "The Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber," the singer made an uncomfortable appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," in which he conceded with humbled posture and tone that he had "done some things that might not have been the greatest." He elaborated via a smartphone soliloquy, explaining that for the past year or so he'd come off "arrogant or conceited." He pledged: "I'm not who I pretended to be." The full-court PR press appears to have been carefully co-ordinated, but is it contrived?