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In the news today: Fed's budget pitch begins, Leafs' Matthews still shy of 70


Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland presents the federal budget in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today...

Liberals to sell budget as boon to fairness

It's now up to the federal Liberal government to sell a spending plan it says will help younger Canadians catch up to their elders.

So far, if unsurprisingly, their critics and political rivals are unimpressed.

The $535-billion budget seeks to restore economic fairness for millennials and gen-Z voters at a time when the minority government is ailing in the polls. 

It includes $8.5 billion over five years to help build millions of homes and another $2.6 billion for student aid and grant programs.

And it commits funding to the first phase of national pharmacare and promises federal standards for long-term care — two commitments the Liberals made to the NDP.

But New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh isn't in a hurry to say if his party will vote to support the budget and keep the minority Liberals in power.

Federal budget announces measures for open banking

The federal budget announced several measures affecting the banking sector, including long-promised details about a framework for open banking. 

Open banking is a system that would allow consumers to easily access their financial data across multiple institutions, apps and services. 

The specifics will come with legislation to be tabled before the end of the year, but the federal budget sets out six core elements for the framework. 

It also names the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to oversee and enforce the system. 

The budget earmarks $4.1 million over three years for the Finance Department to complete the policy work necessary to establish and maintain the oversight entity and framework. 

Trio found guilty in Coutts, Alta., blockade

Three men accused by the Crown of helping lead and co-ordinate the COVID-19 protest blockade at Coutts, Alta., in 2022 have been found guilty of mischief. 

Jurors deliberated for three hours Tuesday night before finding Alex Van Herk, Marco Van Huigenbos, and Gerhard (George) Janzen guilty of one count each of mischief over $5,000. 

Gasps of surprise were heard in a courtroom packed with supporters of the trio when the verdict was announced. 

The trio were on trial in Court of King's Bench for their roles in a blockade that tied up cross-border traffic between Canada and the United States at Coutts for two weeks in early 2022 in protest of COVID-19 rules and restrictions.

Van Herk said he's proud of participating in Coutts and holding politicians accountable.

"If that's what it takes, that we can show politicians what is right, and we'll do whatever sentence that is. I'd do it again tomorrow."

The maximum sentence for public mischief over $5000 is 10 years in prison.

Police to announce arrests in Pearson gold heist

Police are set to announce arrests in a heist of nearly $24 million in gold and cash from Toronto’s Pearson airport last year. 

Peel Regional Police are expected to reveal details this morning of their joint task force investigation – dubbed Project 24K – with the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau.

The news comes on the one-year anniversary of the daring heist.

A lawsuit filed against Air Canada by American security company Brink’s alleged that a thief presented a forged document to collect about $23.8 million in goods from a holding facility at Pearson airport. 

Brink’s statement of claim alleged that Air Canada staff handed over 400 kilograms of gold, worth more than $20 million, plus nearly US$2 million in cash to the thief.

Closing arguments expected today in Zameer trial

Prosecutors and defence lawyers are expected to make their final submissions today in the trial of a man accused of running over a Toronto police officer.

Umar Zameer has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup died on July 2, 2021, after he was hit by a vehicle in an underground parking garage at Toronto City Hall.

Zameer has testified he didn't know Northrup and his partner – who were in plain clothes – were police officers and he got scared when two strangers rushed towards his car in the largely empty parking lot shortly after midnight.

He told the court he was trying to drive away quickly to save his family from what he believed to be robbers and he didn't see anything in front of his car or realize he had hit anyone until after his arrest.

Auston Matthews has one more shot at 70 goals

Auston Matthews has one more chance to reach a milestone not touched in nearly three decades.

The Maple Leafs sniper was unable to score in a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, leaving him stuck on 69 goals for the season.

Matthews and Toronto visit the Tampa Bay Lightning to close out the regular season on Wednesday night. The 26-year-old centre is looking to become the first player to score 70 goals in a campaign since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny both registered 76 back in 1992-93.

Matthews, who had found the back of the net 10 times in his previous eight games before the loss to the Panthers, can become just the ninth player in NHL history to score 70 goals in a season, joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull and Mario Lemieux.

Toronto's loss to Florida, coupled with Ottawa's 3-1 victory over Boston, means the Leafs will play the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. The Panthers and Lightning are set to square off in the other Atlantic Division matchup.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024

The Canadian Press

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