In the news today, July 17

Five stories in the news for Wednesday, July 17

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TRUDEAU TO PUSH TRADE PACT IN EU SUMMIT

Lawmakers in France begin their ratification of the comprehensive trade agreement between the European Union and Canada as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes the leaders of the 28-country bloc to Montreal today. Trudeau has been pushing hard for a win on trade and foreign policy after two difficult years marked by a rough renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the Trump administration and the deterioration of political and trade relations with China. Trudeau will talk up the merits of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a series of events in Montreal over the next two days.

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COMPANIES TO SPEAK AT PUBLIC INQUIRY ON GAS PRICES

Four oil and gas companies are expected to answer questions today about how they use the Trans Mountain pipeline, how refinery closures affect their prices and other factors that could contribute to British Columbia's volatile prices at the pump. A three-member panel, chaired by B.C. Utilities Commission CEO David Morton, will listen to up to four days of oral hearings in Vancouver as part of a public inquiry into the high price of gasoline and diesel in the province. Parkland Fuels, Shell, Imperial Oil and Suncor are scheduled to give opening remarks and answer questions from the panel this afternoon.

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ALBERTA SYPHILIS RATES HIGHEST SINCE 1948: OFFICIALS

Syphilis rates not seen in Alberta since 1948 have prompted the province's chief medical officer to declare an outbreak of the disease and encourage people to get tested for it. A total of 1,536 cases of infectious syphilis were reported in 2018 compared with 161 in 2014 — almost a tenfold increase, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer. "And it's getting worse," Hinshaw said Tuesday. "From 2017 to 2018, the number of cases jumped 187 per cent and we are expecting even higher numbers for 2019." She added that the province has seen similar increases in rates of congenital syphilis, in which the infection is spread from a mother to her unborn child.

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GUN PANEL CHAIR FELT LIKE AN 'AFTERTHOUGHT'

A former chairman of the federal advisory panel on firearms says he found the committee to be a well-meaning but ultimately pointless exercise because members were not allowed to conduct independent research. Jack Major, a retired Supreme Court judge, said Tuesday he wrote twice to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale about the need to hear witnesses and gather facts on gun-related issues, but got no reply to either letter. In an interview, Major said Goodale had "good intentions" when he set up the committee, intended to counsel the public-safety minister on Canada's gun policies, laws and regulations. "But he or his staff didn't really think through what the committee was supposed to do."

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STUDY SHOWS ADULT CATS CONTINUE TO GAIN WEIGHT

A new study involving more than 19 million cats from across Canada and the United States suggests most of the animals continue to put on weight after they reach adulthood, and their heaviest weight is higher now than it was two decades ago. Researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph analyzed 54 million weight measurements taken at vet offices between 1981 and mid-2016 to get a sense of the typical weight gain and loss pattern over the course of a cat's life. They say the study, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association this week, is the first of its kind to use such a large pool of data. Overall, the data showed cats' mean weight reached its peak between six and 10 years of age for the most common purebred breeds — Siamese, Persian, Himalayan and Maine Coon — and at eight for domestic cats.

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ALSO IN THE NEWS:

— NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announces the NDP’s plan to expand healthcare for all Canadians.

— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the Port of Montreal along with president of the European Council Donald Tusk, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström, and Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr.

— Justice Minister David Lametti makes a funding announcement to the Province of Quebec to counter drug-impaired driving.

— The Hotel Association of Canada releases its election campaign that calls on federal parties and candidates to address Canada's outdated tax laws and regulations on short-term rentals.

— More than 20 rallies are planned at CBC studios and offices on Wednesday calling for the public broadcaster to host a leaders' climate debate in advance of the 2019 federal election. Led by Our Time, a youth climate campaign supporting a Green New Deal for Canada, the rallies will take place during the six o'clock news and highlight climate change impacts and the critical nature of climate coverage in the 2019 election.

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