In the news today, Sept. 11

Six stories in the news for Wednesday, Sept. 11

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FEDERAL ELECTION TO BEGIN TODAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicks off his bid for re-election today, heading to Rideau Hall this morning to ask the Governor General to dissolve Parliament. With that will begin a 40-day campaign that will see Trudeau make the pitch to Canadians that he should be given a second term, while his opponents focus not just on why he shouldn't but why they should govern instead. Polls suggest the Liberals and Conservatives are running neck-and-neck, while the NDP and Greens are fighting for third. Rounding out the slate are the nascent People's Party of Canada and the Bloc Quebecois, which is hoping to recapture its primacy in Quebec.

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FEDERAL LIBERALS, TORIES IN DEAD HEAT: POLL

A new poll suggests the Liberals and Conservatives were running neck-and-neck during warm-up laps for the 40-day federal election campaign. The Leger poll, released today just hours before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to ask the Governor General to fire the starting gun, suggests the NDP and Greens were also in a dead heat — competing for a distant third place. The online poll of 1,546 eligible voters, conducted Sept. 6 to 9, put Conservative support at 35 per cent to the Liberals' 34 per cent. The NDP and Greens were tied at 11 per cent, with the fledgling People's Party bringing up the rear with just three per cent.

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STUDY SHOWS RISE IN VIOLENCE IN ONTARIO SCHOOLS

A study from the University of Ottawa suggests there has been a sharp increase in the level of violence teachers face while working in Ontario's elementary schools. A team of researchers surveyed more than 1,600 educators last year to gauge the number of times they encountered violence from students, parents or administrators during the 2017-18 school year. They then compared those results to a survey by three major unions in 2005, which found seven per cent of teachers at the time reported experiencing bullying. The researchers found that number had surged nearly seven-fold in the intervening years, with 54 per cent of respondents saying they had experienced physical violence. The survey found 72 per cent of participants reported explicit verbal insults or obscene gestures from a student, with 41 per cent saying they'd had similar encounters with a parent.

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FEDERAL LIBERALS APPOINT PAY EQUITY COMMISSIONER

The Liberal government has announced Canada's first federal pay equity commissioner on the eve of the expected election call. Employment Minister Patty Hajdu says Karen Jensen will provide direction for the administration and enforcement of the new Pay Equity Act. A government release Tuesday says Jensen is an experienced litigator who has represented clients in human rights, constitutional, administrative and labour law cases for more than 25 years. Hajdu says because the act is not expected to come into force until 2020, Jensen will be appointed to the Canadian Human Rights Commission effective Oct. 16 to deal with the work required to establish the new pay equity division.

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TORIES WIN MAJORITY IN MANITOBA ELECTION

Brian Pallister and his Progressive Conservatives have won a renewed majority from Manitoba voters to continue a program of cost-cutting and tax reductions. The Tories lost a few seats Tuesday to the New Democrats, including one held by cabinet minister Colleen Mayer. Pallister, who called the election more than a year ahead of schedule, said the result is still a very strong mandate, but added that his party could communicate better on issues such as health reform. Pallister's fiscal restraint has included the downgrading of three hospital emergency rooms into urgent care centres, which do not handle life-threatening issues such as heart attacks. Pallister has promised to balance the budget in his second term, after a string of deficits started under the former NDP government a decade ago.

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INDIGENOUS, TWO-SPIRIT COUPLE WINS AMAZING RACE CANADA

Anthony Johnson and James Makokis hope being the first Indigenous, two-spirit couple to compete on "The Amazing Race Canada" would give them a national platform to highlight issues close to their hearts. Over weeks of intense challenges that saw them criss-cross the country, the pair from Edmonton donned outfits meant to call attention to specific topics. Handmade red skirts and a bandana was for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and blue shirts emblazoned with "Water Is Life" was to show the cultural and ceremonial importance of water. Now that they've been crowned the winners, the married couple — who identify as two-spirit, a term used by some Indigenous peoples to describe their gender, sexual and spiritual identity — said they want to use their fame to continue fundraising for a cultural healing centre in Alberta's Kehewin Cree Nation.

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ALSO IN THE NEWS:

— Stand.earth releases the report "Trans Mountain Pipeline: The truth about construction," which argues the Canadian federal government faces major construction challenges and questions the project's three-year construction timeline.

— Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will speak at a addictions conference today in Calgary.

— Mason Thomas, an eight-year-old Alberta boy who underwent a heart transplant at the age of six, gets a 3D model of his heart today built in the form of a Tie Fighter from Star Wars.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had an incorrect spelling of James Makokis's last name in the item about "The Amazing Race Canada."

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