NEWS
12/20/2016 12:30 EST | Updated 12/21/2017 00:12 EST

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

Highlights from the news file for Tuesday, Dec. 20

 

FEDS TO BAN OIL, GAS OFFSHORE LICENCES IN ARCTIC: The federal government says it will ban offshore oil and gas licensing in Arctic waters, a measure to be reviewed every five years. The joint announcement with the U.S. also sees President Barack Obama designating the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing. The move on Tuesday helps put some finishing touches on Obama's environmental legacy while also testing President-elect Donald Trump's promise to unleash the nation's untapped energy reserves.

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ISIL CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR ATTACK AT BERLIN CHRISTMAS MARKET: The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a truck rampage in Berlin, but the only suspect has been set free for lack of evidence. A statement purportedly from ISIL said the driver was one of its "soldiers." The truck drove into a popular Christmas market Monday, killing 12 people and injuring nearly 50 others. A person German police say was a passenger was found dead inside the truck. The suspect, who came to Germany from Pakistan as an asylum seeker, was arrested but denied involvement. 

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DION SAYS RUSSIA SHOULD FIGHT 'BLOODY' TERROR: Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has linked this week's series of terror-related violence to the "extremely bloody" ideology of Islamic militants. He also chides Russia for not doing enough to fight it, while instead bombing rebels in Syria. Dion was commenting to The Canadian Press on the death of a Canadian tourist in Jordan, the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey and the multiple killings of peaceful Berliners at a Christmas market Monday. He said all the incidents have ties to the philosophy of ISIL.

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TRUDEAU WON'T COMMIT TO PEACEKEEPING VOTE: Justin Trudeau says MPs will get a chance to debate the Liberal government's plan to send Canadian troops on UN peacekeeping missions, but he won't quite promise a vote on any future deployment. In a year-end roundtable with The Canadian Press, Trudeau said it's important that Canadians understand why the government is undertaking a mission — and what it hopes to accomplish. Part of that will involve members of Parliament discussing and debating whatever mission the government decides is right for Canada. The Liberal government said in August that Canada will make up to 600 troops and 150 police officers available for UN peacekeeping missions, though exactly where has not yet been determined.

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BLACKBERRY POSTS US$117-MILLION LOSS: BlackBerry released its latest quarterly earnings Tuesday, and the company is reporting a third-quarter loss of US$117-million. It is the smallest loss of the current fiscal year. The Waterloo, Ont.-based company said revenue was $289 million, down from $548 million a year earlier. With adjustments, revenue for the quarter was $301 million. BlackBerry said about 55 per cent of its adjusted revenue was from software and services. CEO John Chen said the company is moving away The from making and distributing BlackBerry's signature smartphones.

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JUDGE CRITICIZED IN SEX ASSAULT CASE TAKES EARLY RETIREMENT: An Alberta judge who came under fire for his ruling in a sexual assault case has decided to take early retirement at age 65. The Alberta Court of Appeal criticized Court of Queen's Bench Justice Kirk Sisson in 2014 for acquitting a suspect in a sexual assault case. Sisson wrote in his ruling that because the woman submitted after 20 minutes of struggling and resisting her attacker, the Crown could not prove lack of consent. The appeal court set aside Sisson's ruling and substituted a conviction, saying he "erred in his narrow definition of the charge of sexual assault" and by "inferring consent from submission." 

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YOUNG TEENS MOST SKEPTICAL OF LEGAL POT: A series of focus groups on perceptions of marijuana legalization found that the youngest teenaged participants were the most cautious about the policy shift. The work, commissioned last spring by Health Canada, was targeted at younger Canadians and the parents of teens as a prelude to the Trudeau government's promised 2017 legalization legislation. A total of 24 focus groups conducted last June in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax by Earnscliffe Strategy Group found an overwhelming majority of participants were aware of the promised end to pot prohibition and "most were generally comfortable with the idea." However, focus groups involving 13-to-15-year-olds were noticeably less positive and struggled to identify advantages perceived by older participants — such as an end to black-market activity, standardized marijuana quality and economic benefits.

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STEPMOM APOLOGIZES FOR ALLOWING ABUSE: A boy who was severely abused at the hands of his father, a now-suspended RCMP counterterrorism officer, has told a court he still needs help getting over the torture he endured and expects to live with the physical and emotional scars for the rest of his life. The teen, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, spoke Tuesday in a recorded statement played as his stepmother faced a sentencing hearing for her role in his abuse. Speaking on her own behalf, the stepmother apologized to the boy she had adopted as her own at an early age. A judge last month found the father guilty of torturing and starving the boy by chaining him in the basement of the family home. He faces a sentencing hearing in March. The Crown has asked that she receive a "fit and just" sentence of five years in prison, minus time already served. The woman's lawyer argued for a sentence of one year and nine months, with credit given for time already served, plus 12 month's probation.

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NEUROSURGEON'S MURDER CASE PUT OVER TO JANUARY: The case of a Toronto neurosurgeon charged in the death of his wife has been put over to January. Dr. Mohammed Shamji has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji. The 40-year-old woman's strangled and beaten body was found in a suitcase on the side of a road in the Toronto area earlier this month. Shamji's lawyer says his client's case will next be in court on Jan. 5. Police have said the couple, who were married for 12 years, had problems in their marriage.

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FIREFIGHTER SANTA ASKED TO LEAVE SCHOOL: A Cape Breton fire chief says members of his department — including one dressed as Santa — were just trying to bring some holiday cheer to a local school when they were politely asked to leave because of an ongoing labour dispute. Raymond Eksal of the Scotchtown Volunteer Fire Department says three firefighters were visiting Greenfield Elementary School in New Waterford, N.S., to hand out seasonal treats on Monday morning as classes started. But he says he didn't realize their presence violated work-to-rule conditions being followed by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, which says that during the labour dispute teachers are only focused on teaching and this means no guests in the classroom.

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