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Dirt cheap and 'Happy' about it; This is In-The-News for Nov. 6

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., speaks to the media in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jose Luis Magana

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 Nov. 6.

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — An influential American lawmaker is in Ottawa today for meetings with the Trudeau Liberals on the push to ratify the new North American free trade deal.

Richard Neal, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives ways and means committee, will play a key role in bringing ratification of the new United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement to the floor of Congress for final legal approval.

Only Mexico has ratified the deal, and Canada will only move forward if the U.S. makes the first move.

The agreement was formally signed by the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico almost one year ago.

The Democrats later won a majority in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress, and control the timing of a ratification vote.

For several months the Democrats have been trying to negotiate changes with Donald Trump’s trade czar, Robert Lighthizer, to it’s provisions on labour, environment, patent protection for drugs and enforcement.

Also this …

OSHAWA, Ont. — A young black man who prosecutors allege was beaten by an off-duty Toronto police officer and the officer’s brother nearly three years ago is expected to testify today at the two men’s trial.

Dafonte Miller is to tell an Oshawa, Ont., court his account of the encounter with Michael and Christian Theriault in the early hours of Dec. 28, 2016.

The brothers are jointly charged with aggravated assault, and separately charged with obstruction of justice over how they portrayed it to investigators.

They have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors allege Michael Theriault, an off-duty officer, and his brother ran after Miller and beat him, including with a long metal pipe.

Court has heard the brothers told investigators Miller was the one who attacked them with a pipe after they caught him breaking into their parents’ truck.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

The parents of a man who died after a stage collapsed at a Radiohead concert in Toronto say they have yet to receive an apology from those responsible for their son’s death.

Scott Johnson, a drum technician for the British rock band, was killed when the stage structure — and tonnes of equipment — crashed down on June 16, 2012. Three other members of the band’s road crew were injured.  

Ken and Sue Johnson say the companies and engineer who designed and built the faulty stage should publicly admit their role in the their son’s death.

Their comments followed a U.K. coroner’s inquest that concluded there were multiple problems with the temporary stage.

Ontario held a coroner’s inquest last spring, but the criteria of such inquests is not to lay blame. A jury laid out a slew of recommendations designed to prevent future deaths.

Charges were laid under the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act against the show’s promoter, Live Nation, contractor Optex Staging and Cugliari. They were later stayed because the matter took too long to get to trial.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Democrats took full control of the Virginia legislature for the first time in more than two decades on Tuesday while the race for governor in deeply Republican Kentucky was too close to call despite a last-minute boost from U.S. President Donald Trump.

In Kentucky, Democratic challenger Andy Beshear held a narrow lead and declared victory in the governor’s race over Republican incumbent Matt Bevin, though Bevin had not yet conceded. And in Virginia, Democrats flipped control of the state Senate and House, gaining outright control of state government in a state that is often a battleground for the White House.

A year before the presidential election, the results offered warning signs for both parties. Voters in suburban swaths of Kentucky and Virginia sided with Democrats, a trend that would complicate Trump’s path to reelection if it holds. And the Democrats who made gains on Tuesday did so by largely avoiding positions such as “Medicare for All” that have animated the party’s left flank in the Democratic presidential primary.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

The eight children, some mere infants, who survived the ambush in northern Mexico not only escaped the drug cartel gunmen who killed their mothers, but managed to hide in the brush, with some walking miles to get help despite grisly bullet wounds.

In a testament to a mother’s devotion, one woman reportedly stashed her baby on the floor of her Suburban and got out of the vehicle, waving her arms to show the gunmen she wasn’t a threat. She may have moved away from the vehicle to distract their attention; her bullet-ridden body was found about 15 metres away from the SUV.

The mother was one of nine U.S. citizens — three women and six children all living in northern Mexico — slaughtered Monday when cartel gunmen ambushed three SUVs along a dirt road in an attack that left one vehicle a burned-out, bullet-riddled hulk. Mexican officials said the gunmen may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for those of a rival gang amid a vicious turf war.

Criminal investigators said late Tuesday that a suspect was arrested and is under investigation for possible connections with the deaths. In a statement posted on Facebook, the Agency for Criminal Investigation for the state of Sonora said that the suspect was found in the town of Agua Prieta, right at the border with the U.S. state of Arizona, holding two hostages who were gagged and tied inside a vehicle.

Weird and wild …

McADAM, N.B. — The mayor of a tiny New Brunswick village says a plan to attract newcomers by selling 16 housing lots for one dollar apiece has been an unqualified success.

“It was a great idea,” says McAdam Mayor Ken Stannix. “But more importantly, it’s the ideas and the energy that these new people are bringing to the community and the province as a whole.”

As of this week, 10 of the lots have been sold and the remaining six have deals pending.

With one lot recently cleared for construction, Stannix figures there will be 16 new homes standing on the community’s east side within the next three years.

In all, more than 600 people applied to buy one of the dirt-cheap lots after they went on the market amid much fanfare in November 2018.

On this day in 1984 …

Colin Thatcher, a former Saskatchewan cabinet minister, was found guilty in Saskatoon of murdering his ex-wife. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Your health …

TORONTO — Family caregivers in Ontario now have a help line if they’re needing respite, a support group or information on issues including tax credits.

The Ontario Caregiver Organization’s CEO Amy Coupal says caregivers are experiencing frustration and even depression as a result of their responsibilities and have responded to a survey saying it’s challenging to find support.

She says a third of caregivers are not coping well emotionally and that number increases to more than half for those caring for someone with a mental-health issue.

The help line connects caregivers to a community resource representative 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and a live chat site is also available between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., during weekdays.

An online survey by The Change Foundation and the caregiver organization included 800 caregivers and was conducted provincewide in the spring, showing 56 per cent of respondents find the process difficult, compared with 39 per cent last year, and more of them are now under financial strain.

The groups say emotional support for both patients and caregivers is the one area where more help is needed, and that hasn’t changed from the first annual survey in 2018.

Celebrity buzz …

TORONTO — Songwriter, producer and fashion designer Pharrell Williams has teamed up with a pair of condominium developers to build two residential towers in Toronto.

Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties say the project will feature 750 units between two joined towers at the intersection of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue.

They say this is Williams’ first foray into residential development and that the “Happy” hitmaker weighed in on a variety of design aspects, including the buildings’ facade, interior and furnishings.

The singer, performer and former judge on “The Voice” has also designed clothing, sneakers, jewelry, sunglasses, furniture and sculpture.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2019.

The Canadian Press