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In the news today, Oct. 17


Five stories in the news for Wednesday, Oct. 17

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FIRST LEGAL POT SALES MADE IN N.L.

Ian Power made sure he was first in line on a chilly October night to make a midnight purchase that will likely cement his place in Canadian history. Outside one of the cannabis shops in St. John's, N.L., that were set to open at 12 a.m. local time on Oct. 17th, the 46-year-old knew exactly what he planned to do with his first legally purchased gram. "I'm having a plaque made with the date and time and everything. This is never actually going to be smoked. I'm going to keep it forever," said Power. Across the country, recreational cannabis can now be purchased legally, with stores opening to excited customers for the first time on Wednesday.

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EASIER PARDONS FOR POT CONVICTIONS COMING

As Canada embarks today on a new era of legal recreational cannabis, the Trudeau government will close the door on the old prohibition era by announcing a streamlined pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past. A quartet of ministers — Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor — are to make the announcement at a news conference this morning to mark the historic shift from illegal to legal pot. Blair all but confirmed Tuesday that the government would use the occasion to make it easier for Canadians to get pardons for something that, as of 12:01 a.m. ET today, is no longer illegal.

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WORLD NEEDS A STABLE SAUDI ARABIA: ENVOY

Canadian and global foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia can't be driven by revulsion over the treatment of individual human rights cases, Canada's most recent ambassador to the country says. Dennis Horak, who was expelled from Saudi Arabia in August after its rulers were incensed by a tweet from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, essentially branded the desert kingdom too big to fail. Horak told a Tuesday night meeting of the Canadian International Council in Ottawa that "We need a stable Saudi Arabia, as imperfect as it might be."

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BERNARDO TO PLEAD FOR RELEASE

Convicted rapist and killer Paul Bernardo is due to plead for release today. The 54-year-old is expected to argue at a parole hearing that he has improved himself during his 25 years behind bars. The designated dangerous offender has been eligible for parole since February. His defence lawyer has said his client plans to take full responsibility for his crimes and express remorse. A lawyer for the families of his victims says he won't comment until after the hearing in eastern Ontario. Bernardo was convicted in 1995 of the sadistic murders of two teenaged girls and numerous rapes. He was given life without parole eligibility until he had served 25 years since his arrest in early 1993.

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ARREST MADE IN SHARK-TANK SKINNY DIP

Police have arrested a B.C. man who is accused of swimming naked in a shark tank at a popular Toronto aquarium. Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook of Toronto police says the man was arrested Tuesday afternoon by Ontario Provincial Police in the Thunder Bay area during a vehicle stop. She says Toronto police were working with OPP to have him returned to face charges. A man stunned patrons and staff at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada on Friday night when police say he stripped naked, hopped a security barrier and jumped into a large shark tank. Police allege the same man is wanted in connection with an alleged assault at another location earlier Friday that seriously injured a man.

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ALSO IN THE NEWS:

— Abdulahi Sharif is scheduled to be in court for a defence application. Sharif faces 11 charges related to a 2017 attack on an Edmonton police officer outside a football game. Some of the charges also stem from a speeding cube van that hit and injured four pedestrians in downtown Edmonton hours after the police officer was attacked.

— Statistics Canada releases its monthly survey of manufacturing for August.

— Senate subcommittee on veterans' affairs hears from two psychiatrists on cannabis use for medical purposes by Canadian veterans.

— The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation invites the public to attend its Clyde Street store for the legalization date for recreational cannabis.

The Canadian Press

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