NEWS
06/20/2016 13:39 EDT | Updated 06/21/2017 01:12 EDT

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

Highlights from the news file for Monday, June 20:

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TRUDEAU CONDEMNS KABUL ATTACK ON EMBASSY GUARDS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the bombing that killed 14 Nepalese security guards en route to the Canadian Embassy in Afghanistan "appalling and cowardly." The Canadian Embassy in Kabul confirmed Monday that the guards were on their way there when the bombing happened, but said there had been no attack on its embassy premises. Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion also came forward Monday to condemn the attack. He said Canada "stands with the people of Afghanistan in their struggle against terrorism in all its forms."

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CANADA EASES RESTRICTIONS ON GAY BLOOD DONORS: Health Canada is making it easier for gay men to give blood, so long as they have been celibate for one year. Canadian Blood Services and Hema-Quebec will now be allowed to accept blood from men who have had sex with men as recently as one year ago. The government says the change comes after those agencies provided scientific data that the change would not compromise safety. The move brings Canada in line with a number of other countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland and France. Canada lifted the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in 2013, requiring instead that potential male donors not have had sex with other men for five years.

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UN SAYS 65 MILLION PEOPLE DISPLACED IN 2015: The United Nations refugee agency says one in every 113 people around the world is either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee. The agency says by the end of last year, 65.3 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes, nearly twice the population of Canada. The number easily set a new postwar record, as the UN agency warned that European and other rich nations can expect the tide to continue if root causes aren’t addressed. “If these 65.3 million persons were a nation, they would make up the 21st largest in the world,” the agency said.

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NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS ARE REFUGEES, SENATE SAYS: A Senate committee is calling on the government to do more to help North Korean defectors who are caught in an international legal limbo. The Senate human rights committee says the few defectors who actually mange to escape the country are automatically granted South Korean citizenship if they make it to freedom, but that can prevent them from applying to third countries as refugees. In a report released Monday, they are calling on Immigration Minister John McCallum to exercise his discretion and change the designation, with a focus on helping women and children.

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LIBERALS OUTSPEND TORIES IN 2015 ELECTION: Justin Trudeau's Liberal party spent just over $43 million to win last fall's federal election — $1.2 million more than Stephen Harper's Conservatives. The Liberals spent more than four times as much as the Tories on digital advertising and digital voter contact. They also spent less than one-fifth of what the Conservatives spent on voter contact calling services — a tool the Tories used to great effect in previous campaigns but which Liberal strategists say is now an “archaic” and ineffective way of reaching voters. The spending by the various parties during the marathon 78-day campaign is disclosed in campaign financial reports filed with Elections Canada.

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CANADA'S ANTWAR CRIMES PROGRAM WANING, STUDY FINDS: A stagnant budget, inadequate training and lack of public communication have eroded Canada's efforts to deny safe haven to war criminals, says an internal evaluation. The study also uncovered concerns about a trend toward using immigration law to remove war criminals from Canada rather than pursuing prosecutions or revoking citizenship. Overall, there were fears that Canada's contribution to the global fight against crimes against humanity was "diminishing due to capacity and resource issues."

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CPP REVAMP THE FOCUS OF MINISTERS' MEETING: The federal finance minister says revamping the Canada Pension Plan is critical to ensuring that future generations of Canadians can retire in dignity, no matter the state of their finances. Bill Morneau joined his provincial and territorial counterparts in Vancouver Monday to discuss reforming the national pension program over concerns that some Canadians will struggle financially come retirement. The pressure is on to reach a deal as Ontario's plans to develop its own pension program are well on their way, though the province's finance minister says his preference would be for a national plan.

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QUEBEC PREMIER CONCERNED ABOUT BREXIT: The premier of Quebec, a province that has had two separation votes, is urging the British to vote No on leaving the Europe Union. Philippe Couillard said Monday he has concerns about the ripple effect on the global economy from a Brexit vote this week. While he acknowledged the decision is up to the British people, Couillard said he's concerned about the impact on Europe, the British economy and the world economy. He said he hopes the British "stick with stability and a common model rather than fragmenting what has largely been a success story until now."

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BRITISH MPS URGE END TO ANGRY AND DIVISIVE POLITICS: Britain's normally raucous House of Commons was given over to tears, roses and warm tributes Monday as legislators urged an end to angry and divisive politics in honour of their slain colleague Jo Cox, who was killed last week. The British pound and global stock markets surged as shock at the death of the pro-Europe Cox seemed to sap momentum from campaigners fighting for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The market surge suggested growing investor confidence that the uncertainty associated with a "leave" vote in Thursday's referendum would be avoided. Betting houses also shortened the odds that Britain would remain in the 28-nation bloc.

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TRUMP LOSES TWO HIGH-LEVEL ADVISERS: Donald Trump's troubled campaign lost two high-level staffers Monday. Michael Caputo, who was poised to serve as director of communications for the campaign at the GOP convention, resigned after firing off a celebratory tweet following word of Corey Lewandowski's firing. He tweeted, "Ding dong the witch is dead!" after news of Lewandowski's firing broke. Accompanying the tweet was a photo from the "Wizard of Oz," showing the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East protruding from under a house. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed Caputo is no longer with the campaign. Caputo had served as the campaign's state director for the New York primary and as a senior adviser.

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LAWYER WANTS MORE EVIDENCE IN LAC-MEGANTIC CASE: The lawyer for the train conductor charged in the Lac-Megantic derailment that killed 47 people is asking the Crown to divulge more evidence against his client. Thomas Walsh said Monday he needs more evidence to support his motion for a stay of proceedings in the case against Tom Harding. The Crown replied it has given the defence all necessary information and that the evidence sought by Walsh is not pertinent. Harding, two other man and Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway are all charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death. All four have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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WOMAN GUILTY IN DEATH OF STEPDAUGHTER: A woman accused of killing her 17-year-old stepdaughter more than two decades ago was found guilty of second-degree murder on Monday after a trial which heard graphic evidence of the physical and emotional abuse suffered by the girl. Elaine Biddersingh, who had been charged with first-degree murder, had pleaded not guilty in the death of Melonie Biddersingh, whose charred, malnourished body was found in a burning suitcase in an industrial parking lot north of Toronto in 1994. Melonie's father, Everton Biddersingh, was found guilty in January of first-degree murder in his daughter's death. Elaine Biddersingh's defence lawyers suggested Melonie's father was to blame for her death, while his wife was a victim of domestic abuse.