MINISTERS SAY NEAR-DEATH PROVISION IN ASSISTED DYING BILL NON-NEGOTIABLE: Health Minister Jane Philpott and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould say they accept most of the Senate amendments to the assisted dying bill, but they reject one that removed the provision that patients must be near death. The ministers say they are confident the government reached the necessary and appropriate balance between personal autonomy and eligibility for medical assistance. The issue must now be debated and voted on once again in the House of Commons before returning Bill C-14 to the upper chamber. Several senators say without the amendment, the bill is unconstitutional.
BRITISH LABOUR MP DIES AFTER SHOOTING ATTACK: It’s not clear if the killing of a British Labour MP is linked to the debate over Britain staying or leaving the European Union. Jo Cox, 41, was shot to death in a village in her riding, apparently as she got involved in a scuffle between two men. One of those men reportedly shouted “Britain First.” Her death has brought the fierce campaign over whether Britain should leave the European Union to a standstill. Cox campaigned for the country to stay in the European Union. Police have a 52-year-old man in custody and have recovered weapons, including a firearm. Police would not speculate on the attacker’s motive.
ONE DEAD IN CALGARY CLINIC STABBING: Police said one person was dead and several others injured in a stabbing at a medical clinic in Calgary on Thursday. There was no information in the immediate aftermath of the stabbing on a suspect or what the motivation for the attack may have been. EMS spokesman Stuart Brideaux says first responders declared one adult dead at the scene.
IN ORLANDO, OBAMA CALLS FOR HEALING, MEETS WITH FAMILIES: U.S. President Barack Obama brought words of comfort but no easy answers Thursday to grieving families in Orlando, striving to help the community heal even while investigators were still struggling to make sense of the carnage at a gay nightclub. As Orlando prepared to bury its first victims from the mass shooting, Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden spent hours meeting privately with survivors of the attack, victims’ relatives and police officers who responded to the scene on Sunday, when 49 people were killed. The low-key visit reflected the challenge for the president to find something meaningful to say about an attack that has stoked a wide mix of fears about terrorism, guns and violence against gays.
LIBERALS DEFEND PUSH FOR CPP CHANGES: The federal Liberals found themselves on the defensive Thursday over talks to expand the Canada Pension Plan, with the Conservatives questioning the rush to raise benefits and take more off the paycheques of working Canadians. Just how much more Canadians and their employers could end up paying in CPP premiums is a central issue in negotiations between Ottawa and the provinces that will come to a head next week on changes to the national pension plan. In the House of Commons, both the Conservatives and NDP wanted to know what the government imagines the plan will look like should provinces agree to changes in premiums and benefits. In Burnaby, B.C., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wanted to ensure “Canadians are going to be able to afford the things they need in the present while ensuring retirement security for as many people as possible.”
QUEBEC SAYS FEDERAL HEALTH TRANSFER PLAN NEEDED: Quebec’s finance minister says the agenda for next week’s meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers is lacking a pressing item: health-care transfers. The gathering Monday in Vancouver will be dominated by talks on Canada Pension Plan reform — but Carlos Leitao says federal health transfers are perhaps even more important. The last health accord expired in 2014 and, after refusing to renegotiate it, the previous Conservative government unilaterally declared that the annual six-per-cent increase in transfers to the provinces would end in 2017. The new federal Liberal government has promised to negotiate a new health accord with the provinces.
NOVA SCOTIA PREMIER TAKES UP CAUSE OF 94-YEAR-OLD VETERAN: The plight of a decorated 94-year-old veteran seeking a bed in a Halifax veterans’ hospital has turned Liberal against Liberal, with Nova Scotia’s premier unleashing some mildly unparliamentary language to describe Ottawa’s behaviour on the issue. Stephen McNeil resorted to unusually candid terms after a cabinet meeting Thursday while commenting on a ruling by Veterans Affairs against Petter Blindheim’s bid for a bed at the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial hospital. Blindheim was initially barred from entering Camp Hill Veterans Memorial hospital on the grounds he didn’t quality as fighting with allies, since he was with the Norwegian forces fighting from England. Then Veterans Affairs rejected his admission saying he could receive adequate care at existing provincial facilities.
CANADIAN FIRMS LINKED TO CLUSTER BOMBS: Four Canadian financial institutions invested $565 million in the companies that manufacture cluster bombs, a weapon that is banned under a UN treaty that Canada has ratified. The companies are named in a report by the Dutch peace group PAX, part of the international coalition against the indiscriminate weapons that have been widely linked to the deaths of civilians. The companies are among 158 worldwide that invested $28 billion in companies connected to the weapons between June 2012 and April 2016. Paul Hannon, executive director of Mines Action Canada, is calling on the Trudeau government to issue guidelines that would ban such investments by Canadian institutions.
APPEAL TO BE HEARD IN TORI STAFFORD MURDER: The man convicted of killing eight-year-old Victoria Stafford seven years ago is asking for a new trial, arguing there was too much weight given to the testimony of the “unsavoury” main witness. Michael Rafferty was convicted in May 2012 of kidnapping, sexual assault causing bodily harm and first-degree murder in the death of the Woodstock, Ont., girl. Rafferty’s former girlfriend, Terri-Lynne McClintic, pleaded guilty in 2010 to first-degree murder, initially telling police Rafferty killed the girl, but testifying at his trial that she delivered the fatal blows. Rafferty’s lawyer, Paul Calarco, argues in court documents that the judge made several errors, including failing warn the jury against relying on the testimony of McClintic, “a person of unsavoury character, with a serious history of violence and lying.”
NATIONAL ENERGY BOARD STARTS REVIEW OF ENERGY EAST: The National Energy Board says its review of the Energy East pipeline will be one of its most innovative and extensive project reviews ever. The NEB has 21 months to hold hearings along the 4,500-kilometre route from Alberta to New Brunswick and report to the federal government on whether the pipeline is in the national interest. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall met with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard in Montreal on Thursday to defend the project, which is under attack by environmental groups and some First Nations.
VISA RESPONDS TO WALMART THREAT IN OPEN LETTER: Visa is accusing Walmart of using consumers as pawns in its battle over merchant fees by threatening to ban the credit card from its Canadian stores. The company has written an open letter, alleging Walmart is unfairly dragging millions of Canadian consumers into the middle of a business disagreement that can and should be resolved between the two companies. Walmart says it pays more than $100, million in fees a year so customers can use a variety of credit cards, and that Visa’s rates are unacceptably high.