NEWS
11/18/2016 12:01 EST | Updated 11/19/2017 00:12 EST

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

Highlights from the news file for Friday, Nov. 18

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CALLS FOR FEDS TO DECLARE EMERGENCY DUE TO OPIOIDS: Those on the front-line in Canada's opioid crisis are calling on the federal government to declare a national public health emergency. Dr. David Juurlink, head of pharmacology and toxicology at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, says declaring a public health emergency would empower chief medical officers to take the actions necessary to reduce harm. Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins, co-chair of this week's two-day meeting on drug addiction, says it's a crisis that needs all levels of government working together to combat. Health Minister Jane Philpott says the federal government is exploring every way at its disposal to address the issue.

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FEDS SAY CANADIANS DON'T UNDERSTAND CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGE: The federal government has released its long-term climate strategy with a caution that most Canadians — while sympathetic to the cause — don't yet understand the "magnitude of the challenge." The document suggests the country should find a way to cut emissions 80 per cent below 2005 levels by 2050 in order to match the ambition of the international Paris climate accord. That means ratcheting down Canada's entire output of greenhouse gases to 150 million tonnes a year. The most recent Environment Canada inventory assessed the country's carbon dioxide equivalent emissions at 732 million tonnes in 2014 — and slowly rising.

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CMHC HEAD CALLS FOR HIGHER HOUSING DOWN PAYMENTS: The head of Canada's federal housing agency says regulators should explore the possibility of raising the minimum down payment required on a home as a way of easing affordability and reducing risk to the financial system. Evan Siddall, president and CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., says low minimum down payments fuel housing demand and lead to higher housing costs. Siddall says that ultimately ends up hurting the young, first-time homebuyers that such policies were purportedly designed to help.

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PM SAYS TRUMP MAY MODERATE VIEWS WHEN IN POWER: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says U.S. president-elect Donald Trump's tough-talking campaign rhetoric may take a more moderate tone once he takes office and confronts the geopolitical realities of the economic challenges before him. Throughout his trip through Latin America this week, Trudeau has been dogged by a question being posed to — and by — leaders the world over ever since last week's U.S. election: what to do about Trump? Trudeau's response has consistently sought to soothe nerves jangled by the prospect of Trump limiting his country's involvement in trade and global affairs.

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CANADA CALLED ON TO SEND TROOPS TO WAR-TORN MALI: A top United Nations official says Canada's combat troops and helicopters are urgently needed to protect and ferry peacekeepers through the war-torn nation of Mali. Atul Khare, the under secretary general of the UN's Department of Field Support, oversees the logistical needs of blue berets around the globe, and made his comments in an interview at the Halifax International Security Forum. He says he accepts Canada has its own political agenda, but believes it could best assist the UN in the dangerous mission in Mali, along with contributions to a protection force in the South Sudan.

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FOOD PRICES DECLINE IN OCTOBER: Food prices in October posted their first year-over-year decline in nearly 17 years as the annual pace of inflation crept higher. Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said the story on food prices is a reversal from the start of the year. Statistics Canada said Friday the consumer price index in October was up 1.5 per cent compared with a year ago, in line with the expectations of economists. However, food prices posted their first year-over-year drop since January 2000 as they fell 0.7 per cent in October.

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HATEFUL ATTACKS IN OTTAWA DENOUNCED: An Ottawa mosque and a church with a black pastor have been vandalized with swastikas and hateful graffiti following similar attacks on Jewish institutions in the city. The overnight spray-painting incidents at the Ottawa Muslim Association mosque and the Parkdale United Church were condemned in the House of Commons. Two Ottawa synagogues and the home of a Jewish faith leader were vandalized earlier in the week. The National Council of Canadian Muslims denounced the spate of attacks.

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TRUMP UNIVERSITY SUITS SETTLED: New York's attorney general says president-elect Donald Trump has agreed to a $25 million settlement to resolve three lawsuits over Trump University, his former school for real estate investors. The deal announced Friday by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would settle two class-action lawsuits in California and a civil suit filed by Schneiderman. The suits had alleged that Trump University failed to deliver the quality real estate investing education it promised. Schneiderman says the $25 million to be paid by Trump or one of his business entities includes restitution for students and $1 million in penalties to the state.

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LEGISLATOR SAYS TRUMP MIGHT PRIVATIZE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: A House committee chairman says president-elect Donald Trump likes the idea of spinning off air traffic control operations from the government and placing them under the control of a private, non-profit corporation chartered by Congress. Rep. Bill Shuster, head of the House transportation committee, told The Association Press that he spoke to Trump about the idea several times both before and during the presidential election. He said he believes the president-elect would be supportive, although details would have to be worked out.

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OBAMA BLOCKS NEW ARCTIC OCEAN DRILLING: The Obama administration is blocking new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean, handing a victory to environmentalists who say industrial activity in the icy waters will harm whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbate global warming. A five-year offshore drilling plan announced on Friday blocks the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska. The plan allows drilling to go forward in Alaska's Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage. The blueprint for drilling from 2017 to 2022 can be rewritten by president-elect Donald Trump, in a process that could take months or years.

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RESEARCHERS SAY BIRD POOP HELPS COOL ARCTIC: Researchers say the droppings of small, migratory birds could be having a big impact on the Arctic environment. A team at Dalhousie University in Halifax is leading a study on the connections between migratory Arctic seabirds, cloud formation and the Arctic climate. They have found that the ammonia from Arctic seabird droppings is linked to the development of atmospheric aerosol particles, and that those particles spread throughout the Arctic, help cloud formation and create a cooling effect when they reflect more solar energy back into space.

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