POLITICS

Seven stories in the news today, Feb. 5

02/05/2015 04:36 EST | Updated 04/06/2015 05:59 EDT
Seven stories in the news today, Feb. 5, from The Canadian Press:

MAYORS OF CANADA'S LARGEST CITIES TO TALK JOBS AND TRANSIT

The mayors of Canada's largest cities meet in Toronto today with jobs and transit high on their agenda. Among those set to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference will be Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who was recently named the No. 1 mayor in the world by an international urban research institute. He says it's time big city mayors made a serious commitment to fighting gridlock, providing better housing and boosting the economy. One of the recurring themes at recent conferences has been the issue of consistent funding from Ottawa. Toronto Mayor John Tory says cities need "predictable partnerships with the federal and provincial governments," particularly when it comes to building transit.

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FEDERAL WORKERS MAY SOON DON ETHICAL DUDS: DOCUMENT

Mounties, prison guards and park wardens could soon be sporting new duds made in an ethical way, according to a recent memo to a senior Public Works official. The department — which buys about $80 million worth of uniforms and work wear for federal employees each year — is giving serious thought to purchasing some clothing from suppliers who adhere to strict labour laws and have good working conditions, the memo shows. The department has set up a special group to look into the possibility of buying more of its clothes from ethical manufacturers.

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SUNCOR ENERGY FEELS PINCH FROM OIL PRICE PLUNGE

The steep drop in crude prices was evident in the fourth-quarter earnings of Suncor Energy Inc., Canada's biggest oil and gas company. The Calgary-based oilsands giant says its net earnings shrank to $84 million, down 81 per cent from the $443 million it posted a year earlier. The U.S. benchmark price for crude has shrivelled to around US$50 a barrel, down from the US$107 mark it hit in June. Suncor is one of many in the oilpatch to have slashed its 2015 budget amid the crude doldrums. Last month, it slashed $1 billion from its 2015 budget and also announced it would be cutting 1,000 jobs — mainly contractors — from its total workforce of around 14,000.

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COST OF RUNNING WATER FOR MANITOBA RESERVES PUT AT $165 MILLION

Internal federal documents estimate it will cost $165 million to replace government-issued slop pails with modern indoor plumbing on four of Canada's poorest reserves, but only a fraction of that has been budgeted. Regional reports from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and obtained by The Canadian Press say $22 million was budgeted in 2011 to install rudimentary indoor plumbing in hundreds of homes in a cluster of northern Manitoba reserves known as Island Lake. Although the reports, which date back to the fall of 2013, repeatedly say much more money is needed for a community sewage system, no new money has been budgeted in more than three years. "The project costs exceed available funding," states a report dated March 2014.

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MAN ACCUSED OF POSSESSING DANGEROUS CHEMICALS IN HALIFAX IN COURT TODAY

The lawyer for a man accused of possessing dangerous chemicals in Halifax says his client may not be able to apply for bail when he appears in court today. Mike Taylor cites complications in his client's family situation, but couldn't elaborate. Christopher Burton Phillips is charged with uttering threats and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Phillips, 42, was charged after police alleged that dozens of different chemicals were found in various states of degradation inside a cottage and shed in the Halifax community of Grand Desert. Taylor says Phillips believes he had the chemicals for legitimate reasons and they weren't intended for illegal purposes.

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LOOKING FOR BARGAINS? TAKE AIM AT THE LOCAL TARGET STORE

Shoppers can expect their local Target Canada store to begin knocking down prices starting today, after the retailer received court approval to liquidate its stock. Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said discounts will take up to 30 per cent off regular prices. She said many Target stores have already stopped carrying perishables like milk, eggs and frozen foods. The U.S.-based retailer announced last month that it would close all 133 of its Canadian stores and lay off more than 17,000 staff. Target opened its doors in Canada less than two years ago, after it purchased old Zellers locations, but failed to deliver on expectations sales never got off the ground.

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CANUCK SONGWRITER APOLOGIZES FOR "EVERYTHING IS AWESOME" SONG THAT COULD SNAG GRAMMY, OSCAR

Canadian-reared songwriter Joshua Bartholomew and his wife Lisa Rae Harriton co-wrote the earworm "Everything is Awesome" from "The Lego Movie" — and he's very sorry. "I've apologized to so many people," Bartholomew said in a recent telephone interview. "I live in L.A. now but most of my family is back in Canada, and many of them are educators, teachers. "I got so many emails and texts saying: 'What have you done?' All their students were singing it." The jaunty tune by Bartholomew and Harriton, who together go by Jo Li, is in the running at Sunday's 57th Grammy Awards (for best song written for visual media) and at the Oscars on Feb. 22 (for best original song), although Patterson is the only contributor named on the Oscar nod.

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ALSO COMING IN THE NEWS TODAY....

— The Crown continues presenting its case in a Toronto court today in the trial of two men accused of planning to derail a passenger train travelling between Canada and the U.S. Not guilty pleas have been entered for both accused.

— In a Calgary court, final arguments from the Crown in a case in which two men are on trial for an alleged Ponzi scheme that police say bilked thousands of investors out of up to $400 million. The men have pleaded not guilty to two charges each of fraud and theft.

— In Edmonton, Alberta Finance Minister Robin Campbell speaks to reporters on the upcoming budget and the current financial challenges facing the province.

— Voters in Sudbury, Ont., cast ballots in a provincial byelection tonight.