NEWS
10/25/2017 12:54 EDT | Updated 10/26/2017 12:23 EDT

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

Highlights from the news file for Wednesday, Oct. 25

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CENSUS: 'TYPICAL CANADIAN' PROVING ANYTHING BUT: Increasingly, the face of the average Canadian is anything but average. There was plenty of diversity on display in Wednesday's deposit of Statistics Canada census data, including 250 different ethnic origins across the country, and hints of more to come. Visible minorities could comprise fully one-third of Canadians by 2036 as immigration drives population growth not just in cities, but across the country. The data also showed younger Canadians are opting less for home ownership, choosing instead the rental route as housing prices climb ever higher.

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BOC HOLDS INTEREST RATE: The Bank of Canada left its benchmark interest rate unchanged Wednesday following two straight hikes but suggested future increases are still likely, albeit at a more-gradual pace. In its scheduled announcement, the central bank said it held off this time in part because it expects the recent strength of the Canadian dollar to slow the rise in the pace of inflation. To make its case, the bank also pointed to the substantial, persistent unknowns around geopolitical developments as well as U.S.-related fiscal and trade policies, such as the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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FINANCE MINISTER TO MEET ETHICS COMMISSIONER: Finance Minister Bill Morneau will sit down with the federal ethics watchdog to see what more he can to do reassure Canadians he will not let his personal fortune get in the way of his job. "The rules work, but what we will consider in my situation is how the population can be absolutely certain there will be no possibility of a conflict," Morneau said Wednesday. Morneau said ethics commissioner Mary Dawson gave him good advice when she recommended putting up a conflict-of-interest screen to prevent his family business, Morneau Shepell, from coming into conflict with his duties as finance minister after the Liberals won the 2015 election.

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ONTARIO BANS PROTESTS AT ABORTION CLINICS: It will soon be illegal to protest outside and near abortion clinics in Ontario. The legislature passed a bill Wednesday to create zones around the eight clinics in the province of between 50 and 150 metres in which anti-abortion protests, advising a person not to get an abortion, and intimidation or interfering with a woman's ability to access the services will be banned. The ban will also automatically apply to 150 metres around the homes of abortion staff and health professionals who provide the services.

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WITNESS SAYS ACCUSED MURDERER ADMITTED BURNING WOMAN: A witness in the trial of two men accused of murder testified Wednesday that one of the defendants confessed to him about burning a woman's body and tossing it in a lake. Desi Liberatore has told court that Mark Smich performed a rap in 2012 in which he described "torching a body." After the song, Liberatore says Smich told him that he did, in fact, burn a girl and dump her body and a cellphone in a lake. Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., and Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Toronto woman Laura Babcock.

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NEW FUNDS FOR COAST GUARD, FISHERIES: The Trudeau government is promising an infusion of much-needed cash for the Canadian Coast Guard and federal Fisheries Department, both of which have been struggling with major funding shortfalls for years. The promised new money totals more than $1.2 billion over the next six years and is included in the Liberals' fiscal update, which was released to much fanfare on Tuesday. The money will be used to keep the coast guard's aging ships, navigational aids and communications equipment in working order, as well as to train new staff and provide icebreaking services, among other things.

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BOEING SAYS TRADE SANCTIONS CAUSED RIPPLES: Boeing's relationships with Canada and Britain will survive even though the trade complaint launched against the C Series aircraft is having "ripple effects" on those bonds, the U.S. aircraft giant's chairman and CEO said Wednesday. Dennis Muilenburg said the trade action is not targeted at customers or countries, but at fair trade. Boeing has 2,000 direct employees in Canada and hundreds of suppliers that allow it to contribute $4 billion a year to the Canadian economy.

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VETERAN'S MEDALS STOLEN: A British Armed Forces veteran is facing the prospect of his first Remembrance Day without his nine medals for years of service in the Gulf War, Bosnia and Iraq. Jim Watson's medals were stolen during a break-in at his apartment in Kindersley, Sask., over the weekend along with military memorabilia and other household items. The medals, which had just been remounted for the Nov. 11 ceremony, were missing from the sideboard where he left them. The 54-year-old says the theft left him devastated and in disbelief.

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STUDY SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON CONCUSSION: A new Canadian study suggests teenage athletes who sustain concussions may still be experiencing brain changes even after they have been cleared to return to play. Researchers at Western University's Schulich School of Medicine examined 17 bantam hockey players aged 11 to 14 who suffered concussions while playing. They studied MRIs the players received 24 to 72 hours after they were concussed, and then another set of MRIs the players received three months later. Even though the players showed no outward concussion symptoms at the time of the second brain scans, the study found changes were still occurring in the athletes' brains.

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SIX TO BE ADDED TO WALK OF FAME: Six influential Canadians from the circles of sports, entertainment and culture will be added to Canada's Walk of Fame next month. Olympic gold medallist Donovan Bailey, Oscar-winning actress Anna Paquin and civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond, are among the diverse selection of people who will be inducted at the annual awards gala in Toronto on Nov. 15. The others are Canadian folk icon Stompin' Tom Connors, telecommunications leader Ted Rogers and science TV host and environmental activist David Suzuki.

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