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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

Flight 752: Ottawa offers assistance to affected Canadian families, while the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister meets with his Iranian counterpart to discuss consular services and compensation

As we head into the weekend, the shooting down of Flight 752 over a week ago continues to focus our attention, both on the effect on families and friends of the passengers here in Canada, and on broader conversations between Ottawa and Tehran.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will offer $25,000 per victim to families of Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada who lost their lives in the tragedy.

This will be to assist with financial costs, including funeral arrangements and travel, and reflects the unique situation families find themselves in dealing with a country such as Iran which is under international sanctions, the Prime Minister said.

Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met Friday in the Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman to discuss consular services for grieving families, as well as potential compensation.

This rare meeting came on the heels of a combative sermon from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran’s Supreme Leader mixed a brief expression of regret over the Jan. 8 downing of the Ukraine International Airlines passenger plane into a fiery speech urging Iranians to continue “resisting” the United States.

We have an in-depth look into the weapon system believed to have shot down UIA Flight 752. Designed to riddle air targets with shrapnel, the SA-15 is on tracked wheels and was originally meant to be used for defending armoured units from air attack while they are moving, or within enemy territory.

Read our explainer on the Flight 752 disaster.

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Trump adds Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz to impeachment defence team

U.S. President Donald Trump turned to some legal heavyweights to help defend him in his Senate impeachment trial with the addition on Friday of former independent counsel Ken Starr, who paved the way for former president Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment, and prominent lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

The trial formally got under way on Thursday, though it will start in earnest on Tuesday with opening statements.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the State Department will do everything to evaluate if former U.S. envoy to Ukraine was under threat. Pompeo broke nearly 72 hours of silence on Friday over alleged surveillance and threats to the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, saying he believed the allegations would prove to be wrong but that he had an obligation to evaluate and investigate the matter.

Unprecedented’ blizzard prompts state of emergency in St. John’s

Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital shut down on Friday as blizzard conditions descended on the city and residents prepared for an intense storm expected to last until Saturday.

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St. John’s: in photos.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Three U.S. airports to begin screening passengers from central China for new coronavirus

U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention officials say they will begin taking temperatures and asking about symptoms of passengers at three U.S. airports who travelled from the outbreak city of Wuhan.

‘We can’t wait’: Maldives desperate for funds as islands risk going under

The tropical archipelago may lose entire islands unless it can quickly access cheap financing to fight the impact of climate change, its Foreign Minister said. Best known for its white sands and palm-fringed atolls that draw luxury holiday-makers, the Maldives has struggled to find money to build critical infrastructure like sea-walls.

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Ontario government supports OPG proposal to operate Pickering nuclear station past planned 2024 closing

Officials said the proposal, which has not been made public, is to operate four of the station’s six functioning reactors one year beyond their scheduled shutdown dates. That would allow the reactors to be taken offline sequentially rather than simultaneously.

Australia’s big bet on coal is about to go from economic saviour to liability as the country burns

Expanding the coal industry just as coal is becoming a pariah fuel seems reckless, for the planet and for the Australian economy, Eric Reguly writes.

Who’s running for the Conservative Party leadership? The list so far

On June 27, Conservatives will choose Andrew Scheer’s successor and a new direction for the party. Here’s what we know about confirmed and possible candidates, and key dates to watch.

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MARKET WATCH

Key world equity indexes scaled new highs on Friday as a surge in U.S. housing starts to levels last seen in 2006 powered stocks while the greenback rose to a one-week high against the euro on expectations of solid economic growth.

U.S. housing starts jumped 16.9 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.608 million units in December, a 13-year high.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.21 per cent, its fifth straight day of new highs.

Canada’s main stock index hit another all-time high on Friday, tracking gains in global equities. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite Index was up 74.25 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 17,559.02, finishing with its second straight weekly gain.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 49.44 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 29,347.08, the S&P 500 gained 12.6 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 3,329.41 and the Nasdaq Composite added 31.81 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 9,388.94.

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TALKING POINTS

Want to bring the Michaels home? Send Meng Wanzhou back to China

Eddie Goldenberg:Beijing believes Ms. Meng is a hostage that Canada is holding for Mr. Trump. They believe the extradition request is in no way motivated by alleged criminal behaviour, but instead has everything to do with what they see as the U.S. economic cold war against China – and against Huawei in particular.” Eddie Goldenberg is a former chief of staff of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and is now a partner in the law firm of Bennett Jones LLP.

Meghan and Harry’s very millennial struggle, give or take about $40-million

Robyn Urback: “Through their desire for distance, Meghan and Harry have evidently become the black sheep of the Royal Family.”

LIVING BETTER

What’s new on big and small screens this weekend?

Persuse our film reviews and choose from the unforgettable Clemency, unnecessary Bad Boys for Life and unintelligible Dolittle

Meanwhile, there’s a new TV series from a veteran writer of savagely funny material, and the return of a veteran curmudgeon.

Painting found in Italian art gallery’s walls verified as missing Klimt

A gardener at the Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in the northern city of Piacenza who was clearing away ivy noticed a small panel door on a wall outside and opened it. Inside the space, he found a plastic bag containing a painting that appeared to be the missing masterpiece “Portrait of a Lady,” which was stolen from the gallery nearly 23 years ago.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

Biometric opioid dispensing machine first of its kind to address demand for safer drug supply

Instead of using highly toxic and unpredictable drugs bought off the street, registered participants can pick up the pharmaceutical-grade opioids to use as they please.

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