Loading articles...

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

Last Updated Dec 6, 2016 at 5:00 pm MST

Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde looks on as Lakota Sioux Donnie Speidel (left) honours singer Gord Downie with an eagle feather and name at the AFN Special Chiefs assembly in Gatineau, Que., Tuesday December 6, 2016. Downie was given the name "The Man Who Walks Among the Stars," during the ceremony. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Highlights from the news file for Tuesday, Dec. 6

———

DOWNIE SOBS DURING HONOURING CEREMONY AT AFN MEETING: Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie sobbed as he was honoured at the Assembly of First Nations special chiefs meeting for his work to document the story of a First Nations boy who never made it home from residential school. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looked on as Downie was embraced by AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde to loud cheers from the meeting. Downie, who is fighting terminal brain cancer, was also wrapped in a special star blanket.

———

TRUDEAU ANNOUNCES INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES ACT: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought members of the Assembly of First Nations to their feet Tuesday by promising to introduce an Indigenous Languages Act. Trudeau made the announcement during a special assembly in Gatineau, Que. — telling the gathering the new legislation will preserve and revitalize the languages of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. Trudeau says residential schools and other government actions were aimed at eliminating indigenous languages and cultures. Chiefs from across Canada are meeting to discuss issues including resource development, aboriginal suicide and missing and murdered indigenous women.

———

FAMILIES TO SPEND UP TO $420 MORE ON FOOD, STUDY SAYS: The typical Canadian family will spend up to $420 more on groceries and dining out next year, getting little relief from a recent drop in the cost of food, suggests a report. A study by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax estimates food inflation will increase in 2017, driven by a fallingloonie and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s first year in the White House. Food prices overall are expected to rise between three and five per cent, with meat (especially chicken and pork), vegetables, fish and other seafood among those projected to jump by four to six per cent.

———

TEACH SYRIAN REFUGEES ENGLISH, FRENCH, SENATE SAYS: The Senate human rights committee is joining a chorus of voices raising concerns about thousands of Syrian refugees about to be shifted on to provincial assistance rolls. Committee chairman Sen. Jim Munson says the federal government has an ongoing responsibility to ensure that language training is provided so that 30,000 Syrians welcomed to Canada in the last year can successfully join the work force and society. Federally sponsored refugees are given a year’s worth of supplementary benefits, but that assistance is about to expire and many thousands of the new arrivals still require help — which will fall to provincially funded programs. The Senate committee is recommending that additional language training be complemented by day care so that Syrian parents can participate.

———

MILITARY PONDERING FUTURE OF IRAQ MISSION: Canada’s mission in Iraq is set to undergo another transformation after ISIL is driven from the city of Mosul, which is expected to see the extremist group turn into a more traditional insurgency. Senior military commanders have been weighing possible options amid warnings that ISIL will resort to suicide attacks and other terror tactics in Iraq after it loses control of the city. There is also the question of whether Canadian troops will end up in Syria. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said last week the government currently has no plans to deploy forces into Syria, but he left the door open to Canada joining other allies if such a course of action is decided upon. “Our efforts right now are in Iraq,” Sajjan told the House of Commons committee last week. “If the situation in Syria does change, we will always assess a situation based on consultations with our allies. However, right now we do not have, or intend to have, any involvement in Syria.”

———

INDIGENOUS STUDENTS AT A DISADVANTAGE, REPORT SAYS: The federal government has for years failed to address the higher costs of operating schools for indigenous students, leaving some at a disadvantage compared with their peers in the provincial system, the parliamentary budget officer says. The funding divide between educational programming on reserves and in the provincial systems was as wide as $595 million in 2012-13, and could reach $665 million in 2016-17, says a report from the fiscal watchdog released Tuesday. That said, about $3.7 billion in financial commitments made by the Liberal government over the next five years could begin to narrow the gap starting in 2016-17, and eventually eliminate it by 2020-21, the report says. Educational funding in Canada is primarily a provincial responsibility except for on-reserve schooling, which is financed by Ottawa.

———

CHIEF APOLOGIZES, RESIGNS OVER PHOTO: One of British Columbia’s top-ranking First Nations leaders is apologizing after posting a sexualized photo to social media that he acknowledges “offended many people.” Shane Gottfriedson, B.C.’s regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, said Tuesday he was stepping down as the assembly’s point person on the missing and murdered indigenous women portfolio. He told a special meeting of chiefs that the post — a picture of his bare legs with a wide-eyed emoji wearing red lipstick near his groin — was not his finest moment. The picture doesn’t reflect his view of women, nor does it reduce his commitment to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, he added.

———

SOLEMN EVENTS MARK MONTREAL MASSACRE: Solemn events marked Tuesday’s 27th anniversary of the Polytechnique Montreal slayings and were accompanied by a renewed call for Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to respect a promise to tighten gun control laws. Since the mass shooting, in which 14 women were killed, Dec. 6 has become a national day of commemoration and has served as a call for action on violence against women, with various events and vigils held across the country. The 14 deaths that day in 1989 also sparked a national debate on gun control that rages on today.Gun control advocate Heidi Rathjen said it’s not about banning all guns, but controlling them and restricting assault-style weapons that pose a danger to human life.

———

RESIDENTS MARK 99TH ANNIVERSARY OF HALIFAX EXPLOSION: Halifax is marking the 99th anniversary of an explosion that devastated a large swath of the city. Citizens gathered at various sites Tuesday to pay tribute to the thousands of residents who were killed or injured in the Halifax Explosion on Dec. 6, 1917. Parks Canada fired a cannon from the ramparts at the Halifax Citadel national historic site at about 9:05 a.m. local time — when two warships collided in the narrows of Halifax Harbour, causing a massive explosion.

———

NATIONAL CONCUSSION STANDARD NEEDED, FORMER PRO ATHLETES SAY: Former NHL player Eric Lindros is among a group of former professional athletes calling for a national standard to diagnose and treat concussions. The group, which is in Ottawa for a concussion conference, is calling for social changes to help coaches better identify concussions and push athletes to take head injuries more seriously. Lindros says there is no need for a patchwork of protocols across provinces because a concussion in Vancouver is no different than a concussion in Quebec. Lindros said there is a need for a national standard to diagnose and treat concussions that could be taught in schools and help young athletes, coaches and their parents recognize a head injury.