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

Last Updated Aug 22, 2017 at 3:40 pm PST

Greg Fergus speaks during a press conference in Ottawa on Saturday, September 12, 2015. Fergus says the plan to legalize marijuana should take into account the fact that the black community has been disproportionately criminalized for using the drug.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Highlights from the news file for Tuesday, Aug. 22

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BORDER CROSSING TASK FORCE SET TO MEET: The federal-provincial task force charged with managing an unprecedented flow of asylum seekers over the Canada-U.S.. border will meet Wednesday in Montreal to review next steps in handling the surge. While officials said this week that the number of those crossing into Quebec has declined to about 140 a day from 250 a day last week, the federal government continues to ramp up its ability to process their claims for refugee status — and to be ready for a potential new spike in arrivals. More than 6,000 people have crossed illegally into Quebec from New York since July, the vast majority Haitians. They’re believed to be fleeing an announcement by the U.S. government that it is considering lifting temporary protected status for Haitian nationals, meaning thousands could end up deported back to Haiti. But they’re not the only group facing that policy change: temporary protected status for citizens from nine other countries is set to expire in the coming months and there’s no guarantee the U.S. will renew it. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says he’s aware citizens from those countries could very well be seeking to tread the same rocky paths over the Canada-U.S. border as Haitians continue to do.

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POT LEGALIZATION SHOULD RECOGNIZE ‘SYSTEMIC RACISM’ OF BLACK PEOPLE, MP SAYS: Liberal MP Greg Fergus says the plan to legalize marijuana should take into account the fact that the black community has been disproportionately criminalized for using the drug. Fergus, who chairs the Liberal black caucus, says he does not think this is because people in the black community are more likely to consume cannabis, but because “systemic racism” has meant the community has been targeted unfairly. The MP says he and other black Canadian leaders gathered in Ottawa this week want to reach out to both the government and the community to discuss the economic and social justice impacts of the proposed legislation. He says he found it shocking to see the racism and hatred expressed by white supremacists who marched earlier this month in Virginia, but hopes that those voices are in the minority. The leaders also discussed the need for more data on race across all levels of government, the importance of seeking allies outside their communities and efforts to adopt the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent.

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NEW CANADIAN ASTRONAUTS REACH FOR THE MOON: Canada’s two newest astronauts are already looking beyond the International Space Station as they begin two years of intense basic training. Joshua Kutryk points out that Canada is committed to the space station until 2024 along with its international partners. But, in an interview from Houston today, the 35-year-old Albertan said the plan after the space station is already starting to be defined. He says details are being worked out and will involve other destinations, probably the moon and then Mars. Jennifer Sidey, who will be training alongside her space colleague, says travelling to the moon is on her agenda. The 29-year-old Albertan would love to orbit the lunar surface in the next decade or so. Kutryk believes people are living at a time when humans will potentially return to the moon and that he hopes to travel there.

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TRUDEAU MARKS 75 YEARS SINCE DIEPPE RAID: A small crowd of veterans, dignitaries and invited guests marked a final, drenched ceremony in Ottawa on Tuesday in remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the raid on Dieppe in France. The ceremony was held in the pouring rain at the National War Memorial, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took note of the weather as he paid tribute to the soldiers killed, wounded and captured during Canada’s bloodiest Second World War battle. It was the final acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who landed at Dieppe on Aug. 19, 1942. Trudeau joined the Canadian delegation, including Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr, who had just returned from a service held in France on Saturday, where a new monument was unveiled to honour members of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment who fought at Dieppe. Of the nearly 5,000 Canadians who took part in the raid, nearly 2,000 were taken prisoner and only about 2,200 made it back to England. Another 900 were killed. The prime minister called it appropriate that the skies had opened up during the ceremony, giving those in attendance a small feeling of sacrifice in remembrance of those who fought.

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PERSONAL, POLITICAL DIVISION ERUPT OVER BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENCE: Personal and political divisions over ballistic missile defence were on clear display Tuesday, as a group of parliamentarians gathered to discuss the threat posed by North Korea. Members of the House of Commons’ defence committee agreed during a rare summer meeting to a series of emergency briefings in the coming weeks on the government’s plan should North Korea attack. The meeting came amid mounting concerns about a potential conflict between the U.S. and North Korea, which tested a second intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month. But much of the discussion in the hallways before and after the meeting centred on whether Canada should join the U.S. continental missile-defence shield, after famously opting out of the system in 2005. The Trudeau government has sidestepped questions about Canada’s intentions, saying only that ballistic missiles are one threat being discussed as Canada and the U.S. look to upgrade North America’s defences.

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ARCHEOLOGISTS DIG INTO MONTREAL PARLIAMENT SITE: Archeologists at the site of a pre-Confederation parliament in Montreal are about to reach the level they hope will yield a treasure trove of artifacts. Digging began in late July — the third such endeavour since 2010 — in an effort to find out more about the two-storey columned neo-classical building that once stood at Place d’Youville, in Old Montreal. By the end of this week, searchers will reach the layer where the parliament remains have been encased since the building burned to the ground in 1849. Prior to the discovery of the parliament several years ago, the public knew little about the building’s pivotal place in Canadian history or about Montreal’s place as the capital of what was then the United Province of Canada. The first permanent parliament of the United Province of Canada was housed in the former St-Ann’s Market and held its first session Nov. 28, 1844. Key pieces of Canada’s early legislation were adopted in the building, including the act establishing “responsible government” in 1848 — a vital step in the emergence of a sovereign, English-French democratic state.

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LEXUS-ONLY AIRPORT PARKING REVERT TO ACCESSIBLE SPOTS: Calgary International Airport has apologized for moving accessible parking stalls and setting up a Lexus marketing campaign in their place. The pavement in the parking spots was painted to indicate they were reserved for drivers of the luxury car. The airport says the move was clearly out of touch with its commitment to being an accessible facility. It says it will be returning the accessible stalls to their original place and spots that were added in a new location will remain. The Calgary Airport Authority is also apologizing to Lexus Canada, which it says played no role in picking the spots that were used in the campaign. Lexus Canada is also apologizing to anyone who was affected or offended and says it will more carefully scrutinize marketing campaigns in the future. “We were truly embarrassed by this mistake,” said Michael Bouliane, manager of corporate communications for the car company. “It shouldn’t have happened and we are taking steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

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FREE NATIONAL PARKS DRAWING IN MORE PEOPLE: In Canada’s it’s not just about building it so they will come, it appears making it free also plays a role. More than 14 million people streamed through the gates of national parks and historic sites between January 1 and July 31, up 12 per cent over the year before. In absolute numbers, it’s an increase of more than 1.5 million visitors and at least one province is hoping the federal government will extend the free admission program another year. Heath MacDonald, Prince Edward Island’s minister of economic development and tourism, says there is no question the free parks program is driving more tourism in his province and he’d like to see if another year of free passes would continue the effect. Almost 374,000 people visited Prince Edward Island National Park before the end of July this year, up 37 per cent over the year before. The biggest increase in visitors to a national park was seen at Point Pelee in southwestern Ontario, where the number of tourists visiting the park in July almost doubled over the previous year and total visitation since the beginning of the year is up 66 per cent.

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QUEBEC’S BILL 101 LANGUAGE LAW TURNING 40: A group that defends the French language is urging the Quebec government to do more to enforce Bill 101 as the 40th anniversary of the landmark language law approaches. Partenaires pour un Quebec francais says the government is failing in its mission to adequately defend the language. Its members, who include prominent labour leaders as well as the head of the main artists’ union, says not enough is being done to ensure the law is being applied in its entirety. The bill was adopted on Aug. 26, 1977, by Rene Levesque’s Parti Quebecois government, which had swept to power the previous November. It forces immigrants to attend French-language school and places limits on the use of languages other than French on commercial signs. The legislation is widely cited as a major reason so many English-speaking Quebecers left the province in the latter half of the 1970s.

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GREAT WHITE’S TRAVELS CAPTIVATE NOVA SCOTIANS: He was first detected July 30th in the cold, dark waters off Shelburne, near Nova Scotia’s southwest tip. Hilton — a 600-kilogram great white shark — turned up a week later in Mahone Bay, and has hovered around there since, near Peggy’s Cove and some of the province’s most popular beaches and tourist towns. Tagged by the research group Ocearch in March in South Carolina, Hilton reveals his movements on a Twitter feed that is part science, part mischief and followed by thousands of people. Hilton has pinged seven times in August from a tracker on his dorsal fin, which Ocearch founder and expedition leader Chris Fischer says only sends signals when it breaks the surface. Another great white, Savannah, has made just a single appearance this month in Nova Scotia, on August 14th off Sherbrooke on the province’s eastern shore. Another, George, pinged a few days earlier in the Bay of Fundy, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but has been quiet for almost two weeks.