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Trudeau defends keynote speech

JUSTIN Trudeau is brushing off criticism about his upcoming keynote speech at an Islamic convention, saying he's proud to be participating in the event.

His planned Dec. 22 appearance at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference has been attacked by an anti-Islamism website and those complaints have been picked up by some mainstream media outlets.

But Trudeau makes no apologies for his decision to attend.

When asked about the controversy, Trudeau said he doesn't share the critics' concerns and he accuses them of trafficking in misinformation. He said politicians from all parties have spoken at the annual Toronto event -- including former New Democrat leader Jack Layton a few years ago.

Sticky piston caused CF-18 crash

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- A military investigation has concluded that a sticky piston probably caused the crash of a CF-18 Hornet during an air-show practice in southern Alberta.

The jet, flown by Capt. Brian Bews, lost thrust in its right engine while doing a manoeuvre about 90 metres above the ground at the Lethbridge County Airport in July 2010.

The plane didn't respond and Bews was forced to eject seconds before the CF-18 crashed and exploded in a massive fireball. He suffered three compressed vertebrae.

Chemical attack a concern, Baird says

OTTAWA -- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird expressed "deep and grave" concern Tuesday about the possibility of a chemical weapons attack in Syria, just as the Pentagon chief said the threat of one might be diminishing.

The most recent assessment by U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta clashed with Baird's description of the possible consequences of a chemical attack against innocent Syrian civilians or "neighbours" -- Syria's enemy, Israel.

Moreover, the two specialized Canadian Forces response teams that reportedly could be called to respond to a chemical weapons attack in Syria have yet to receive their warning orders to deploy, The Canadian Press has learned.

Neither the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) nor the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit -- which handles chemical, biological and nuclear incidents -- have been put on notice to move, said multiple senior defence sources.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2012 A7

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