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Conservatives are gathering in Halifax today for their every-two-years policy convention, which runs through the weekend. Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, who narrowly lost the leadership last year, continues to make waves, both for what he says and the fact that he’s saying it. The Globe and Mail called two dozen local Conservative organizers before the convention and found that Mr. Bernier seems to have a fair amount of support among the grassroots of the party. Mr. Bernier, who no longer holds any official position within the party, has been advocating for a harder line on immigration and has openly challenged Andrew Scheer, who bested him in last year’s leadership election. Members of the Conservative caucus are set to discuss the issue of Mr. Bernier later today.

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

The United States could announce as soon as today that it’s reached a breakthrough in North American free-trade talks with Mexico. That could open the door for Canada to rejoin the trade negotiations. The U.S.-Mexico sticking points were largely around issues of auto manufacturing.

Federal cabinet ministers say they’re open to changing the government’s Ocean Protection Plan to address concerns from B.C., but the Trudeau government is under no illusion that there’s anything that would convince the province to support the Trans Mountain pipeline project. (Which Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi admitted is delayed.) The Liberal cabinet held a retreat this week in Nanaimo, where B.C. Premier John Horgan made the case for beefing up the $1.5-billion Ocean Protection Plan, though he didn’t offer any details about what he wants to see.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank has announced its first project: giving a loan to a light-rail line in Montreal that had already been given federal funding. The federal funds formerly earmarked for that project will stay in the province and can now be used by Quebec for other plans.

Some Saudi medical students will be allowed to stay in Canada an extra three weeks.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he will not only rewrite the province’s sex-ed curriculum, but he also wants a rethink of everything that is taught in schools.

A report that examines the development of hydroelectricity infrastructure in northern Manitoba between the 1950s and 1980s details allegations that the arrival of the largely male construction force led to the sexual abuse of Indigenous women. Manitoba’s arms-length Clean Environment Commission held hearings earlier this year into the environmental and social effects of energy development, and its final report was released this week.

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A teacher who was shot in the face at a school in the Saskatchewan community of La Loche in 2016 has lost her appeal to the provincial ombudsman, who determined she can’t be compensated for pain and suffering under the workers' compensation program.

As the country prepares for legalized cannabis this fall, Calgary and Toronto are examples of how far apart different areas of the country are when it comes to getting ready. While Calgary has approved more than 100 sites for marijuana shops, Ontario’s recent U-turn to rely on private retailers has left city planners without a clear picture of what legalization will even look like. It’s a sign that Canadians' ability to access legal cannabis will be dramatically different depending on where they live.

CTV News reports that a Conservative riding association in Toronto is using a Liberal MP’s cancer diagnosis as part of a donation drive.

And the National Post untangles the complicated and unusual story of an Australian man who was granted refugee protection in Canada after he says he was outed as a police informant.

Ian Irvine (The Globe and Mail) on Ontario’s plans for cannabis: “Mr. Ford, for the benefit of all Ontarians – particularly “the little guy” – should take a second giant step in producing a vital and successful market: by eliminating the Ontario Cannabis Store monopsony and replacing it with a system of rigorous quality testing.”

Sheema Khan (The Globe and Mail) on Muslim women fighting for their rights: “Muslim women are realizing that piety does not mean submissiveness. They are finding moral clarity within their spiritual tradition to address contemporary challenges.”

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Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on polarizing politics: “Canada is more than a collection of aggrieved minorities, and federal politics must be about more than championing their causes. Historical injustices must be corrected and equality must be secured and protected. But our national project must consist of more than promoting diversity.”

Andrew Coyne (National Post) on immigration debates in politics: “Legitimate questions are one thing. But Conservative rhetoric on what they insist is a “crisis” is so monomaniacal, so out of proportion to its actual significance, that no one should be fooled.”

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on the Cohen, Manafort and Trump: "The problem for Mr. Trump is that the hush-money payout to two women during the election campaign is not a story that is about to go away. It has legs aplenty. So too does the same-day conviction of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. "

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