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Canada  

Gun threat closes school

Classes have been cancelled in La Loche, Sask., after RCMP say there was a threat of a school shooting one year after a deadly shooting in the community.

Mounties say they received a complaint about a general threat Thursday and an investigation determined it was not legitimate.

No charges have been laid.

"The RCMP takes all threats seriously," said Staff Sgt. Greg Heuer.

"January 22 is on the minds of all La Loche community members, including those at the detachment. It is not lost on all of us the impact potential threats of this nature can have."

Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the shooting that killed two staff and wounded seven others in the high school. Two teenage brothers were also killed in a nearby home in the remote community.

A student, who was 17 at the time, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and attempted murder. He is to be sentenced in the spring.

Mayor Robert St. Pierre said it was in everyone's best interest to close schools Friday in La Loche and nearby Clearwater River Dene Nation.

"This was already a difficult time for La Loche, made even more difficult now with this latest threat," he said.

A private day of remembrance in the community has been planned for Sunday and there are no classes Monday.

The schools are to reopen Tuesday, St. Pierre said.



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Kernel of evidence in bust

Their knowledge of popcorn has helped police officers in southwestern Ontario arrest an alleged drug trafficker.

Guelph, Ont., police say officers saw a man on the street on Thursday holding a popcorn maker box.

They stopped to wish him a "happy national popcorn day," which is celebrated in the U.S. every Jan. 19, and were surprised when the man promptly fled the scene.

Officers suspected that he had stolen the popcorn maker and gave chase.

Police allege that once they caught up to him, they discovered that he was carrying drugs.

A 31-year-old man is charged with two counts of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking.



PM congratulates Trump

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is congratulating Donald Trump on becoming the 45th U.S. president — and reminding him of Canada's historically close ties with its southern superpower neighbour.

"Canada and the United States have built one of the closest relationships between any two countries in the world. This enduring partnership is essential to our shared prosperity and security," Trudeau said in a statement.

Trudeau reminded Trump of the "robust" trade, investment and economies ties that support millions of Canadian and American jobs.

"We both want to build economies where the middle class, and those working hard to join it, have a fair shot at success," he said.

"Canada and the United States have unparalleled co-operation on matters of national security, and have always worked side by side to protect our citizens and ensure our shared border is secure."

Trudeau said he looks forward to working with Trump's administration as well as Congress, state and local governments "to restore prosperity to the middle class on both sides of the border, and to create a safer and more peaceful world."

Earlier today, Trudeau urged the mayors of Canada's biggest cities to keep close ties with their American counterparts to maintain an open border with the United States.

Trudeau said the relationships Canadian mayors have with their counterparts across the U.S. will be vital to ensuring an open dialogue and trade relationship between the two countries.

He is asking the mayors to ensure people on both sides of the border understand the importance of working constructively and productively.

The prime minister made the comments at the start of a meeting with officials from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and mayors, including Toronto's John Tory, Edmonton's Don Iveson, Vancouver's Gregor Robertson, Montreal's Denis Coderre and Ottawa's Jim Watson.

The hour-long meeting also touched on the opioid crisis facing some of the biggest cities and the rollout of the second and more lucrative phase of the federal government's infrastructure program.





PM to mayors: 'do your part'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging the mayors of Canada's biggest cities to keep close ties with their American counterparts to maintain an open border with the United States.

Trudeau says the relationships Canadian mayors have with mayors across the U.S. will be vital to ensuring an open dialogue and trade relationship between the two countries.

He is asking the mayors to ensure people on both sides of the border understand the importance of working constructively and productively.

Trudeau's pitch comes hours before Donald Trump is officially sworn in as president.

The prime minister made the comments at the start of a meeting with officials from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and mayors, including Toronto's John Tory, Edmonton's Don Iveson, Vancouver's Gregor Robertson, Montreal's Denis Coderre and Ottawa's Jim Watson.

The hour-long meeting will also touch on the opiod crisis facing some of the biggest cities and the rollout of the second and more lucrative phase of the federal government's infrastructure program.



Mystery illness at college

A Toronto college is investigating an illness that left more than 70 students complaining of vomiting and abdominal pain on Thursday.

At least 77 students at Humber College were affected, most of whom live at a residence at the institution's North Campus, said spokesman Andrew Leopold.

Of those students, about 30 were taken to hospital for treatment but have since been released, he said.

"This is a unique situation," said Leopold. "We want to make sure our students are feeling good and receiving the care and attention they need."

Leopold said students began reporting symptoms around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, with more cases surfacing through the night.

The hospital that treated the students has indicated the source of the illness is "undetermined," he said.

"We're continuing to investigate the source of the illness," Leopold said.

Humber is working with Toronto Public Health to investigate the illness and will be closely monitoring those affected.

Leopold added that Humber is encouraging all its students to ensure they engage in good hygiene practices, particularly in high-density spaces like a campus residence.

The college's North Campus residence houses about 1,000 students.



Tory hopefuls debate

Many of those running to become the next leader of the federal Conservative Party took part in a debate in Winnipeg, Thursday, but a few candidates were no-shows.

Organizers said Chris Alexander, Kellie Leitch and Erin O’Toole were absent due to scheduling conflicts, while the team of race newcomer Kevin O'Leary did not reach out to them.

Candidates answered questions on topics such as military spending, carbon taxes, and reforming relationships with First Nations communities.

Steven Blaney said the Indian Act should be abolished and reserves should be dismantled because it creates different classes of Canadians.

Michael Chong said the federal government needs to spend more on First Nations education.

Andrew Saxton said more money isn't the answer, and more needs to be done to give indigenous people the opportunity to become homeowners.

Nearly 200 people were in attendance at the event at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre.

Party supporter Fred Westphal said he's surprised O'Leary — who appeared on the New York-based TV show "Good Morning America" on Thursday — wasn't there.

"I would've thought that this would've been the first chance to show his colours," said Westphal. "I am a little surprised he's not here."

Conservatives will choose their new leader on May 27.



Grits pay off election debt

The federal Liberal party says it's debt-free, roughly 14 months after sweeping to power in 2015, thanks largely to new members who signed on as supporters during an aggressive fundraising campaign.

In a letter to the party's national board, party president Anna Gainey says the Liberals paid off the remaining $1.9 million it still owed from the election campaign that put Justin Trudeau in the prime minister's chair.

The letter, sent to board members late today, says the debt was paid off as of last month, and also notes that the party has enlisted an additional 50,000 members since opting in May to waive membership fees.

The Liberals spent a little more than $40 million during the campaign, Liberal national director Jeremy Broadhurst estimated shortly after it was over.

Since then, the party has been emailing supporters and potential donors at every turn, encouraging them to out-donate the Conservatives, who had shown they were adept at garnering grassroots support.

Gainey says the fundraising paid off, with the Liberals surpassing the Tories with individual donations from 35,000 people through six consecutive quarters, averaging $43.26 each.

"Our strong grassroots fundraising efforts, the elimination of our campaign debt in 2016, and the 50,000 Canadians who have joined us as new registered Liberals are all important milestones that ensure we are starting off 2017 as a fast-growing and ever more inclusive political movement," she writes.



Banned from federal lands

Three Canadians will be banned from federal lands for five years after pleading guilty to walking on a sensitive hot spring in Yellowstone National Park and other crimes at parks across the Western U.S., park officials said Thursday.

Charles Gamble, Alexey Lyakh and Justis Price Brown pleaded guilty during a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center, officials said.

The men were from the group High on Life SundayFundayz. An investigation last spring into the group's travels revealed violations of park rules at Yellowstone, Zion, Death Valley and Mesa Verde national parks and Utah's Corona Arch and Bonneville Salt Flats.

The defendants also used drones in closed areas, rode bikes in a wilderness area and took commercial photographs without a permit, according to authorities.

In addition to being banned from public lands, Gamble and Lyakh were ordered to serve a week in jail and pay more than $2,000 in fines, restitution and community service payments. Brown agreed to fines and payments of more than $3,500, officials said.

Two other men — Hamish Cross and Parker Heuser — pleaded guilty in the case in November.

The defendants posted video and selfies of their travels on social media. Several are from Vancouver and have a clothing line they promote.

Gamble's attorney, Alex Rate, said his client and friends had been threatened and shamed on social media for what amounted to making bad decisions on a road trip. Their aim was to inspire people to explore the parks, and any money they made from the videos they posted was minuscule, Rate said.

"These young men have been through the wringer when it comes to public shaming," Rate said. "They understand the impact of their decisions and take responsibility for it."

Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a statement that the penalties handed down Thursday "send a strong and poignant message about thermal feature protection and safety."

An Oregon man died last June when he left a designated boardwalk and fell into a scalding hot spring at Yellowstone.



Moby Dick offensive?

A condo council on Vancouver's waterfront is named in a civil lawsuit over allegations it refused to lease space to a fish and chip restaurant called Moby Dick partly because of an offensive word in its name.

Mengfa International Resources alleges in its notice of claim that the condo council overseeing the commercial property it owns defied its own legal advice while opposing the opening of a Moby Dick franchise.

The lawsuit says when Mengfa attempted to lease the site to the franchisee, the association responded with a list of objections, including claims that the name of the restaurant contains an offensive word.

The statement of claim says the company and franchise operator have worked with the condo council since mid-July but they were unable to satisfy sign or renovation requirements, despite legal advice to the council that its demands violated B.C.'s Strata Property Act.

Mengfa is asking the Supreme Court of British Columbia to either remove the current members of the condo council, appoint an administrator to handle the council's work or allow the lease to Moby Dick to proceed.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and the condo council has not yet filed a statement of defence.

Lawyers for the condo council couldn't be reached for comment.

The statement of claim says the council also refused to allow the lease because Moby Dick's signage and brand name would harm the council's image, allowing the restaurant to operate in the location would depreciate the value of its property and there would be increased litter and a potential for odour and fumes from the restaurant.

The Moby Dick restaurant near the beach in White Rock, B.C., has won numerous people's choice and community awards since it opened in 1975.

Its website makes references to the great white whale named Moby Dick in Herman Melville's classic novel of the same name.



RCMP search for stolen art

Mounties are asking for help in finding art worth almost $750,000 that was stolen from a storage location in a small town in northwestern Alberta.

RCMP say more than 70 pieces, including prints and statues, were being moved to an undisclosed auction house when they were stolen in Fairview on Sept. 22.

The art includes prints by Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman.

Other prints by U.S. wildlife artist Stephen Lyman and sculptures by American artist Frederick Hart are also missing.

Cpl. Gord Hughes of Peace River RCMP says the name of the owner of the art won't be released.

Hughes also won't say where the art was being transported from or where it was going.

"We're asking for anyone with information about the artwork, its location or who took it to call their local RCMP detachment."

The Bateman prints stolen include "Shadows of the Rainforest," "Wolfpack in Moonlight" and "New Territory."

One of the Hart sculptures taken in the heist includes "Divine Milieu" valued at $11,850.



Charged cop still instructing

An instructor at the RCMP's training depot in Regina has been charged with assault for allegedly punching a man through the window of a vehicle.

The alleged attack happened last September outside the city's airport while the officer was off duty.

Cpl. Philippe Marcel Cleroux was arrested in December.

The 37-year-old was released from custody and is to appear in court Jan. 30.

The RCMP says Cleroux continues to work as an instructor in the police defensive tactics unit.

Spokeswoman Caroline Nadeau says the nature of the charge does not interfere with his job.

"A code of conduct investigation has been initiated by the RCMP, possibly leading to disciplinary measures," she said Thursday in an emailed statement.



Eyes on Trump inauguration

Many Canadians plan to watch Donald Trump's inauguration as the next U.S. president Friday on television screens, through online feeds or with friends at a local pub, but some say they will deliberately ignore the spectacle.

For Glen Pye, a Toronto business owner, it's a historic event made even more appealing by Trump's persona.

"You're getting a guy who is pretty colourful and says lots of crazy things," he said. "It certainly upsets the status quo."

Pye, 64, plans to gather with colleagues at The Longest Yard, an eatery in the city's west end that will be broadcasting the inauguration.

While he doesn't call himself a Trump supporter, Pye said he's intrigued by the president-elect.

"You can't have someone like that forever but once every 100 years maybe it's good to have someone come in like that," he said. "Even though I'm not necessarily aligned with all the views he has, I'm glad he's coming in."

Trump enters the White House with the lowest approval rating of any new U.S. president of the modern era.

Over the course of the campaign that eventually resulted in his victory, Trump was accused of sexual assaults that he denied, railed against Muslims and immigrants, promised to build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border and has threatened to scrap NAFTA, among other things.

Protesters have vowed to jeer him on the inauguration day parade route and a larger women's march is planned for Saturday.

The landscape has Pye predicting an inauguration day that will be memorable.

"There's lots of potential for crazy things to happen," he said.

Daniel Erikson, a spokesman for the group Canadians for Donald Trump, said he will be monitoring multiple livestreams of the inauguration. The 38-year-old from Calgary is currently in Abu Dhabi for business but said his travels won't stop him from taking in the event.

"It is a transitional moment. It's something that does echo through history, especially when it's a precedent-setting thing," he said. "To see somebody who is a business magnate taking the reins of the most powerful economy in the world should be interesting to watch."

Some Canadians, however, see Trump's inauguration as a chance to mount a personal protest against a politician they strongly disagree with.

"I just can't stomach it," Linda Bawn, 60, said of Friday's ceremonies. "I'm going to watch Netflix, I'm going to be on Twitter, but I'm just sickened. I just cannot watch it."



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