NEWS
01/17/2018 12:21 EST | Updated 01/17/2018 13:41 EST

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

Highlights from the news file for Wednesday, Jan. 17

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NO VERDICT ON DAY 7 OF LAC-MEGANTIC TRIAL: Jurors in the Lac-Megantic criminal negligence trial have completed Day 7 of their deliberations without reaching a verdict. Unlike Tuesday, when they emerged with a letter telling the judge they were at an impasse, the jurors did not surface today. The eight men and four women are deciding the fate of Tom Harding, Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre. The three are charged in connection with the July 2013 tragedy in which 47 people were killed when a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded.

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B.C. JUDGE STRIKES DOWN INDEFINITE SOLITARY: A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has struck down a law that permits federal prisons to put inmates into solitary confinement indefinitely. Justice Peter Leask says the practice is unconstitutional, but he has suspended his decision for 12 months to give the government time to deal with its ramifications. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society filed the legal challenge in 2015, calling solitary confinement a cruel and inhumane punishment that can lead to psychological trauma and suicide.

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BANK OF CANADA HIKES RATE AMID NAFTA WORRIES: The economy's impressive run prompted the Bank of Canada to raise its trend-setting interest rate Wednesday for the third time since last summer, but looking ahead the central bank warned of growing uncertainties about NAFTA. The bank pointed to unexpectedly solid economic numbers as key drivers behind its decision to hike the rate to 1.25 per cent, up from one per cent. The increase followed hikes in July and September.

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SCHEER SAYS PARLIAMENT 'UNITED' ON NAFTA: In his first foreign trip as leader of the official Opposition, Andrew Scheer avoided any criticism of the federal Liberal government, telling a Washington audience that Canada speaks with one voice on NAFTA. The Conservative leader was at the Wilson Center on Wednesday explaining that he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have their differences, but not when it comes to preserving the Canada-U.S. relationship. ''On NAFTA, the Canadian Parliament ... is united,'' Scheer told the think tank.

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TRUDEAU, KERRY DISCUSSED TRUMP IN BAHAMAS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talked about the then-incoming Trump administration and the general state of the world when the two of them were on the Aga Khan's private island in late 2016. During an interview this week with The Canadian Press, Trudeau shed a bit more light on his direct interactions with Kerry, who happened to be at the spiritual leader's island in the Bahamas at the same time as the prime minister during his controversial family vacation.

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NEW TRIAL FOR SEX WORKER WHO STABBED CLIENT: Nova Scotia's highest court has ordered a new trial for a sex worker convicted of assault for stabbing a client she said was sexually assaulting her. The woman had been convicted for stabbing Douglas Barrett in the back in his Sydney, N.S., home on Sept. 19, 2015. They had known each other for "quite a while," but she testified at trial that she was afraid of Barrett, who had a reputation for mistreating and abusing some sex workers. But she had agreed to go with him in order to get money she needed for drugs.

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VANCOUVER OVERDOSE DEATHS PEAK IN 2017: The number of overdose deaths in Vancouver increased by 43 per cent last year compared with 2016. The city says there were 335 overdose deaths last year, compared with 234 the year before. There was also a dramatic jump in response to overdose calls by firefighters and ambulance paramedics. Mayor Gregor Robertson says the magnitude of deaths due to the opioid crisis is putting a strain on emergency responders, front line workers and community volunteers.

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N.S. FAMILY SAY FUNERAL HOME MIXED UP REMAINS: Members of a Nova Scotia family say they were stunned when they went to a local funeral home for a service only to be presented with the bodies of two other women — and then told their loved one had accidentally been cremated. Relatives of Sandra Bennett say they arrived at the Serenity Funeral Home in Berwick on Dec. 27 for a visitation following her death a week earlier. They planned to have an open casket service, but when they looked inside they saw the body of another woman dressed in Bennett's clothing.

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WORKERS FOUND SLEEPING IN ALBERTA BURGER KING: Alberta Health Services has issued a health order to a Burger King franchise because inspectors found foreign workers were sleeping in the basement of the Lethbridge restaurant. The order, dated Jan. 10, said the inspection found evidence of "sleeping/living accommodations for foreign workers." It says allowing sleeping or living accommodations in a restaurant is a health code violation.

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CRAFT DISTILLERIES BOOMING IN NOVA SCOTIA: Nova Scotia has kindled an explosion of spirit makers through attractive craft-distillery policies and collaborations with local farmers. There are now 16 spirit makers in Canada's second-smallest province, and the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation says 12 of them have popped up in the last five years. Pierre Guevremont, co-owner of Ironworks Distillery in Lunenburg, N.S., says Nova Scotia is a leader in Canada in terms of its policies for craft distilleries, along with B.C. and Saskatchewan.

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