News

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

Highlights from the news file for Thursday, April 21:

SENATOR DUFFY CLEARED: Sen. Mike Duffy has been cleared of all 31 fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges he had been facing in relation to the Senate expense scandal. Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s judgment amounts to a vindication for Duffy and an indictment of the tactics of the Prime Minister’s Office under Stephen Harper. It’s the finale to a political drama that dispatched Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright, staggered the Conservative re-election campaign and embarrassed and diminished the Senate.

__

MUSIC’S PRINCE FOUND DEAD: Pop superstar Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including “Little Red Corvette,” and “When Doves Cry,” was found dead at his home in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. Prince, 57, broke through in the late 1970s with the hits “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” and soared over the following decade. Among the reactions: “Stunned. This can’t be real,” from Justin Timberlake. And, “R.I.P PRINCE, another icon gone to soon,” from Shaquille O’Neal

__

THE ‘ELIZABETHAN ERA’: Fate unexpectedly made her Queen. Duty and endurance have made her an institution and an icon. The Queen turned 90 on Thursday as Britain’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch, drawing crowds of well-wishers and floods of tributes to the stamina and service of a woman who can claim to have given her name to the age. Britain is living, Prime Minister David Cameron said, in the “modern Elizabethan Era.”

___

CANADA’S CLIMATE ACCORD BAGGAGE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be dragging plenty of baggage to the United Nations on Friday when he joins some 150 other countries in signing the Paris climate accord. A new report from the Conference Board of Canada ranks Canada 14th among 16 peer countries when it comes to environmental performance, with only the United States and Australia doing worse. And the parliamentary budget office has crunched the national numbers to find that Canada’s emissions of greenhouses gases currently are on track to increase through 2030.

__

TRUDEAU DEFENDS PIPELINE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fielded a series of questions from students at New York University on Thursday – one about how he could justify backing new oil pipelines after campaigning on climate change. Trudeau replied that the best path to a clean energy future involves being flexible.

__

PLEA FOR CHANGE ON ASSISTED DYING: Parliamentarians are being urged to amend a proposed new law on medically assisted dying by the children of the woman whose suffering was central to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the ban on assisted death. Lee and Price Carter say their late mother, Kay Carter, would not have qualified for medical help to end her life under the restrictive provisions of the bill introduced last week by the Trudeau government in response to the top court’s ruling.

__

RALLY FOR JAILED SAUDI BLOGGER: Canada needs to enhance its reputation as a defender of human rights and do more to free Raif Badawi, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International Canada said Thursday at a rally in support of the jailed Saudi blogger. Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, was among several dozen people who waved bright yellow signs bearing pictures of him and other prisoners of conscience as they chanted slogans calling for their release.

___

SEX TOURISM SENTENCING: A prosecutor has asked for a five-year prison sentence for a British Columbia man notorious for images of himself abusing young boys in Southeast Asia. But even if a B.C. Supreme Court judge agrees with the Crown’s request, Christopher Neil would serve about 10 months after time he has already served awaiting trial. Neil pleaded guilty in December to five charges including counts under Canada’s rarely used child-sex tourism laws.

__

BOSMA TRIAL: The former girlfriend of a man facing murder charges in the death of Tim Bosma says her boyfriend told her that it was his co-accused who shot and killed the Hamilton man. Marlena Meneses told court Thursday that her boyfriend, Mark Smich, said it was Dellen Millard who killed Bosma in May of 2013.

__

BABY CONCEALMENT TRIAL: A neo-natal expert says some, if not all, of the six infants found concealed in a Winnipeg storage locker were born alive.Dr. Michael Narvey is testifying at the trial of Andrea Giesbrecht, who is charged with concealing the babies’ remains. Narvey says the infants were all at or near full term — 34 to 42 weeks.

__

HARDSHIP FOR ECUADOR AFTER QUAKE:President Rafael Correa said Ecuador’s worst earthquake in decades caused billions of dollars of damage and he is raising sales taxes and putting a one-time levy on millionaires to help pay for reconstruction. The damage from 7.8-magnitude quake adds to already heavy economic hardships being felt in this OPEC nation triggered by the collapse in world oil prices. Even before the quake, Ecuador was bracing for a bout of austerity, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting the economy would shrink 4.5 per cent this year.