In the news today, Aug. 23

Four stories in the news for Friday, Aug. 23

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GRITS DIG UP VIDEO OF SCHEER SPEAKING AGAINST SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

Liberals went trolling Thursday for young, progressive-minded voters with 14-year-old video footage of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer speaking out against same-sex marriage — a tactic that prompted Jagmeet Singh to vow that New Democrats won't prop up a minority Conservative government. Singh's statement came several hours after Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted a short, edited video of an April 2005 speech Scheer gave in the House of Commons explaining his opposition to the Civil Marriage Act, which legalized same-sex marriage in Canada later that year. Along with the video came a challenge to march in Sunday's Ottawa Pride parade, with Goodale noting that Scheer has never yet participated in any Pride parade.

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SCHEER IS PASSING THE BUCK, LETTS' PARENTS SAY

The parents of Jack Letts, a British-Canadian man imprisoned in northern Syria, are chastising Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer for saying he wouldn't lift a finger to help their son. Scheer might react differently if his own child was locked in a foreign dungeon without access to a lawyer or contact with his family, John Letts and Sally Lane said in a statement distributed Thursday. The couple, who live in Oxford, England, said it is time for Canadian politicians to show leadership and demonstrate that Ottawa is able to protect the rights and freedoms of all citizens. Questions about the fate of Jack Letts, who is being held in a Kurdish jail in Syria, recently resurfaced following word that Britain had revoked his citizenship. Letts' parents said their son, who still holds Canadian citizenship, went to Syria for religious and humanitarian reasons, not to fight for the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

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QUEBEC MAKES BIG CUTS TO ECONOMIC IMMIGRANTS IN 2019

New statistics show Quebec is making good on its promise to reduce its share of immigrants in 2019, but the province has cut deeply in the category of skilled workers, which runs contrary to the government's stated goals. In the first six months of 2019, the number of immigrants to Quebec in the economic category fell by 32 per cent compared with the same period in 2018. Within that category, the province has so far accepted 41 per cent fewer skilled workers than it did in the first six months of last year. The numbers were compiled by Jack Jedwab, president of the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration, using data from the federal Immigration Department.

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ETHNIC MEDIA LOOK TO PROD VOTER TURNOUT

Zuhair Alshaer spends most of his day editing articles and organizing interviews with politicians for his Ottawa-based Arab Canada newspaper, to introduce Arabic-speaking new Canadians to federal politics. The community Alshaer's paper serves is growing — more immigrants are arriving in Canada from Africa, Asia and the Middle East than ever before, surpassing Europe that was once the dominant source. And it is also becoming more politically engaged: The voting rate of immigrant from West Central Asia and the Middle East increased to 73 per cent in the 2015 election from the 57 per cent recorded four years earlier, the largest increase among the 10 immigrant regions studied by Statistics Canada. Research published by Statistics Canada in 2016 highlighted that new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population.

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ALSO IN THE NEWS:

— Statistics Canada will release its retail trade figures for June.

— Transat shareholders convene in a special meeting today to vote on Air Canada's $720-million bid for the company.

— Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi will announce funding today for a geothermal power project in Nisku, Alta.

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