Planes and puppies; Test your fluffy knowledge with In-The-News for Dec. 5

In-The-News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 5.

What we are watching in Canada ...

The 43rd session of Parliament — and a new era of minority government — opens today with a speech from the throne that will emphasize the issues on which Justin Trudeau's Liberals believe they can find common ground with opposition parties.

The throne speech is penned by the Prime Minister's Office but is to be read by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette in the Senate chamber.

Government sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the speech, say it will aim to set a collaborative tone, as befits a government that will need the support of one or more opposition parties to pass legislation and survive confidence votes.

The speech is to give only a rough sketch of the priorities that will drive the government in the days to come.

Some of the details will be filled in when Trudeau issues marching orders to each of his 36 cabinet ministers in mandate letters, expected as soon as Friday.

The speech is expected to highlight Liberal commitments to stronger action to combat climate change, tax breaks for the middle-class, pharmacare and stricter gun control, all of which featured in the platforms of the New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois and Greens.

---

Also this ...

The Supreme Court of Canada is to release a decision today on whether it will hear an appeal from an Alberta man convicted of killing two seniors who disappeared on a camping trip.

Travis Vader was sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann.

The couple, in their 70s, vanished after leaving their home in St. Albert, a bedroom community north of Edmonton, in July 2010.

Their burned-out motorhome and a vehicle they had been towing were discovered days later west of the city, but their bodies have never been found.

A trial judge determined Vader was a desperate drug addict who came across the McCanns and killed them during a robbery.

Justice Denny Thomas convicted Vader in 2016 of second-degree murder, but later substituted the verdict with manslaughter, because he had mistakenly used an outdated section of the Criminal Code.

Lawyers for Vader asked the Alberta Court of Appeal for a new trial or for his manslaughter charges to be stayed because of the judge's mistake.

---

ICYMI (In case you missed it) ...

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A nightmare is nearly over for a Newfoundland family plagued by years of contamination from a nearby sewage lift station after their town approved funding to buy their home.

The sewage station a few metres from Jim Clarke's home in Paradise, N.L., has affected the family for years, but the final straw was last summer when an equipment failure sent sewage spewing onto them.

The family wanted to move, but recurring damage made the home nearly impossible to sell.

After being sprayed in the face from a back surge of sewage during municipal work, Clarke asked town council to take action and relocate his family. This week, the Town of Paradise approved the $430,000 purchase of Clarke's property.

"It's just (an) absolutely fantastic feeling," Clarke says. "After 15 years of literally going through hell, we thought it would never happen."

--- 

What we are watching in the U.S. ...

Three leading legal scholars testified that President Donald Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment, bolstering the Democrats' case as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made sure they're prepared for that momentous next step.

Meeting behind closed doors ahead of an initial Judiciary Committee hearing to consider potential articles of impeachment, Pelosi asked House Democrats a simple question: "Are you ready?"

The answer was a resounding yes.

Though no date has been set, the Democrats are charging toward a Christmastime vote on removing the 45th president. It's a starkly partisan undertaking, a situation Pelosi hoped to avoid but now seems inevitable.

Trump is alleged to have abused the power of his office by putting personal political gain over national security interests, engaging in bribery by withholding $400 in military aid Congress had approved for Ukraine; and then obstructing Congress by stonewalling the investigation.

---

What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

Aiming to play the role of global statesman as the impeachment drama was unfolding in Washington, President Donald Trump instead shattered NATO’s professed message of unity at its 70th anniversary celebration in England and put his personal and policy differences with alliance members on stark display.

Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "two-faced" and French President Emanuel Macron "nasty" during a 52-hour trip that exposed the alliance’s divisions on military budgets and relations with Turkey, as well as the U.S. leader’s own unconventional ways on the world stage.

At the same time, he found it difficult to leave behind events in Washington, lashing out as House Democrats resumed their push for impeachment over Trump's call for Ukraine to investigate a political rival. He said it was "sad" that Democrats were pushing ahead with the inquiry when "there was no crime whatsoever and they know it."

Trump, looking to showcase foreign policy wins as he heads into an election year, offered a more optimistic outlook for NATO's future. He took credit for boosting the share of NATO nations that are meeting the alliance’s goal of spending two per cent of gross domestic on defence and sought to pressure more countries to increase their military budgets. But he also put a spotlight on his administration's lingering to-do list: ending a China trade war he instigated, passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement as well as trade deals with the European Union and Britain.

A day after Trudeau was overheard gossiping about Trump during a reception at Buckingham Palace, Trump called the Canadian leader "two-faced." In an unguarded conversation, Trudeau told leaders, including Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, that "he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top," an apparent reference to Trump's long and unscheduled question-and-answer session with journalists earlier that day. Trudeau also said, seemingly about his meeting with Trump, "You just watched his team's jaws drop to the floor."

---

Weird and wild ...

LONDON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's bad luck with planes continues.

He was forced to use a back-up aircraft Monday to ferry him to London for a NATO summit because the usual prime ministerial jet was damaged in a hangar accident last month.

But after he got to London, the Royal Canadian Air Force discovered a problem with one of the engines on the backup plane during a post-flight inspection, making it temporarily "unserviceable."

So, the RCAF has commandeered another CC-150 Polaris — which was in Italy with Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, who has been on a European tour of her own — to take Trudeau, his entourage and accompanying media back to Ottawa.

Another plane will have to be found to bring Payette home in time to read Thursday's speech from the throne to open the new session of Parliament.

Pain with planes also dogged Trudeau during the election campaign earlier this fall.

On the first day of the campaign, the chartered Liberal plane was knocked out of service when the media bus scraped the underside of a wing.

---

Know your news ...

Pictures of a rescue dog from Missouri with a tail-like growth between its eyes are sweeping the interent. Dubbed unicorn puppy, the dog is named after an marine mammal found in Canadian waters that is sometimes referred to as the unicorn of the sea. What mammal is the unicorn puppy named after?

(Scroll down to find the answer)

---

On this day in 1970 …

The Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe trophy and the Bill Masterton trophy were stolen from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

--- 

Your health ...

While Canada has seen a surge in organ transplants over the last decade, wait times for procedures continue to cost patients their lives, new statistics suggest.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released a report Thursday based on data collected by health centres and organizations across the country on organ donation, transplant and treatment from 2009 to 2018.

The report found that nearly 2,800 organ transplants were performed in Canada in 2018, marking a 33 per cent increase over 10 years.

But more than 4,350 Canadians were still waiting for an organ transplant by the end of last year, according to the data. Another 223 patients died while on a wait list.

The program lead for CIHI's Canadian Organ Replacement Register said the statistics show how even as transplant practices have improved, Canada is struggling to keep pace with patients' needs.

"Though our transplant procedures are going up, there's also new factors that are contributing to more people needing organs," Michael Terner said.

---

Celebrity news ...

TORONTO — He's proven his prowess as a musician, producer and fashion designer, but Pharrell Williams says his first foray in condominium development continues to be a "crash course" in creativity.

When the superstar teamed up with property developers about a year ago, Williams says he was unsure how much input he would have in designing the dual-tower project in midtown Toronto.

But he says his partners encouraged him to take an active role in making the condo complex — dubbed "untitled" — into the kind of place he would want to live.

"That kind of changed things for me, because then we really went under the hood and did a lot of work," Williams says. "I'm really proud to say that we arrived at that point."

The development consists of 751 condo units between two joined towers near the intersection of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue.

Sales are set to begin in early 2020, and prices will start at the low end of the $400,000 range.

---

The games we play ...

MONTREAL — A potential return of Major League Baseball to Montreal is on hold until at least 2028 after the mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., said negotiations to split the Tampa Bay Rays' home dates have ended.

Rick Kriseman said negotiations on a shared season concept between Tampa Bay and Montreal concluded with the parties agreeing to "abide by the existing use agreement." The Rays are contractually obligated to play at Tropicana Field through the 2027 season.

The Rays and a Montreal group headed by Stephen Bronfman have been in discussions about a shared season, with the team playing half of its 81 home games in each location. Rays owner Stu Sternberg said in June an ideal scenario would see new open-air stadiums in both locations ready for use in the 2024 season.

The Rays have played at Tropicana Field since their inception in 1998 and had the second-lowest attendance in Major League Baseball this year, despite making the playoffs.

Montreal has been without a big-league team since the Expos left after the 2004 season for Washington and became the Nationals.

---

Know your news answer ...

Narwhal. This tusked whale is found in the waters of the Canadian Arctic. The puppy's full name is Narwhal the Little Magical Furry Unicorn.

---

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2019.

The Canadian Press