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In the news for today: Heritage Minister to talk online news deal with committee

Members of Parliament and reporters listen as Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge speaks about a deal with Google, Wednesday, November 29, 2023 in the Foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa. 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 ...

Heritage Minister appearing at a committee hearing

Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge is appearing at a committee hearing this morning, fresh from finally ending Canada's standoff with Google over the Online News Act.

St-Onge called the agreement announced Wednesday a "historic development" that gives a win to both the federal government and the local news publishers the law is designed to support.

That's despite the fact Google has only agreed to spend a maximum of $100 million a year compensating Canadian news outlets for the use of their content, a far cry from the $172 million that initial government calculations would've demanded.

The legislation, which is to take effect next month, requires tech giants like Google and Meta to reach compensation deals with news publishers for content that generates revenue on their platforms.

Meta, which operates Facebook and Instagram, has steadfastly refused to negotiate, opting instead to block its Canadian users from accessing news content.

Crown to make case for conspiracy at ongoing Convoy Trial

The Crown is expected to lay out its case for why evidence against one "Freedom Convoy" organizer should apply to the other in the criminal trial of two of the protest's leaders.

Tamara Lich and Chris Barber are co-accused for their role in the 2022 demonstration that blocked streets around Parliament Hill for weeks in protest of COVID-19 public health restrictions.

The Crown alleges that the two worked together so closely that they should be considered co-conspirators in the trial.

The pair's lawyers have opposed the allegation, and say that planning a protest together isn't inherently illegal.

But prosecutors say that just because the protest wasn't violent, that doesn't make the organizers' actions lawful.

Israel and Hamas agree to extend cease-fire

A temporary cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war has been extended another day, according to mediator Qatar.

The announcement Thursday morning came minutes before the cease-fire was set to expire.

Israel had agreed to extend the truce by one day for every 10 militant-held hostages who are freed. The cease-fire, which began Nov. 24 and was originally set to expire on Monday, has paused the deadliest fighting between Israel and Palestinians in decades.

Israel has vowed to resume the war in an effort to end Hamas' 16-year rule of Gaza, but it's facing mounting international pressure to spare Southern Gaza a devastating ground offensive like the one that has demolished much of the north.

Minister to testify on Métis self-government bill

As Indigenous leaders engage in heated debate over a federal bill that would formalize several Métis self-governance agreements, the Liberal minister for Crown-Indigenous relations is expected to face tough questions on Wednesday afternoon.

While the leaders of Métis groups in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario say the legislation would unlock new opportunities and foster a new relationship with Ottawa, prominent First Nations voices are raising concerns about irreparable damage to treaty rights.

They say that with the bill, the federal government is essentially giving Métis organizations a blank sheet of paper to write treaties on, with no oversight.

Now it's Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree's turn to take questions at the House of Commons Indigenous and northern affairs committee, which has been studying Bill C-53 for more than a month.

His appearance comes after weeks of acrimonious testimony.

Lobster charges spark constitutional challenge

An Indigenous fisherman is expected to appear Thursday in a northern New Brunswick courtroom, where he will launch a constitutional challenge that could prove pivotal for First Nations across the Maritimes.

Cody Caplin, a member of the Eel River Bar First Nation, was fishing for lobster in the Bay of Chaleur in September 2018 when he and his brother Kyle were arrested and their boat was seized by federal fisheries officers. A year later, they were charged with 10 fishing offences, including trapping lobster out of season.

Caplin says his brother eventually pleaded guilty to the charges, mainly because of the financial burden of going to trial. But Caplin has pressed on, claiming the Mi'kmaq have constitutionally protected Indigenous and treaty rights to fish and hunt to feed themselves whenever they want.

Wayne MacKay, a professor emeritus of law at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says Caplin's case and others like it are important because they are raising questions about the federal government's commitment to advance reconciliation with Canada's Indigenous population.

StatCan to release GDP numbers today

Statistics Canada is set to release its gross domestic product reading for the third quarter this morning.

The federal agency's preliminary estimate suggested the economy shrank 0.1 per cent.

A decline in real GDP would mark the second consecutive quarterly contraction, meeting the definition of a technical recession.

However, economists tend to have a higher bar for calling a recession as they look for signs of a broader slowdown.

The softening economy comes as high interest rates put a damper on business and consumer spending.

How Canadian companies are using AI

When OpenAI released ChatGPT one year ago, it instantly dazzled the world's tech community and beyond.

The artificial intelligence-based chatbot could turn simple prompts from users into reams of text, including essays and speeches, within moments. Its capabilities already stretched past what experts in the field thought was possible in the near future.

Many, including some of AI's pioneers, were so taken by how fast the technology had evolved that they started warning it could lead to an existential crisis if it continued to advance this quickly and without much regulation.

However, Canadian companies have been keen not to ignore a technology that could disrupt their business or deliver efficiency and cost savings.

Even before ChatGPT, several had worked with large language models (LLMs) — the algorithmic foundation of AI, which takes natural language inputs and predicts the next word based on what it’s already processed. Others saw ChatGPT as a catalyst that convinced them to start dabbling.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2023

The Canadian Press

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