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Chretien says 9/11 comments misconstrued


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2002

Prime Minister Jean Chretien denies suggesting the United States was to blame for last year's terrorist attacks because of a growing divide between rich and poor nations.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien denies suggesting the United States was to blame for last year's terrorist attacks because of a growing divide between rich and poor nations.

In an interview aired Sept. 11 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Chretien said one of the lessons of the terrorist attacks was that Western countries, including the United States, should take care not to misuse their power and wealth.

"We're looked upon as being arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits. And the 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more," he said.

Reaction ranged from outrage to uncharacteristic support for Chretien after some critics accused him of blaming the victims of the terrorist attacks for the tragedy. Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper said Chretien shamed Canada and demanded he apologize.

Deputy Prime Minister John Manley also said he worries that without social justice in the world, there can't be peace.

"We need to work on the causes of despair. You can't have a world of peace unless you deal with the world of need. As long as large parts of the world are living on less than $1 a day, there's going to be unrest, discontent and some people -- just out of sheer frustration -- are going to become suicide bombers," he said.

Liberal Party plans for transition

The Canadian Liberal Party will choose the successor to Prime Minister Chretien at a leadership convention in November or December 2003.

The timing will mean the person named to head the party and therefore become prime-minister-in-waiting will watch over Chretien until he retires as planned in February 2004.

This will provide for "an orderly transition, as opposed to a scurried one of a week or 10 days," party executive Stephen LeDrew said.

The timing was a compromise between Chretien and backers of former finance minister Paul Martin, the frontrunner in the leadership race.

In brief...

-- Health authorities are concerned about the rapid movement of the West Nile virus to humans from animals after two more confirmed cases emerged in Ontario and new suspected cases surfaced in Quebec. There are now about 20 cases. The mosquito-borne virus is spreading eastward. Nova Scotia had its first positive result in a dead blue jay Friday.

-- McDonald's restaurants are named in a class-action lawsuit organized by a Toronto law firm over contests. The suit is on behalf of Canadians who received contest tokens at the company's Canadian restaurants from 1995 through 2001. McDonald's and Simon Marketing Inc. are accused of knowingly withholding the most valuable prize pieces from the restaurants in Canada in favor of U.S. outlets.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar has fallen to 63.21 cents U.S., while the U.S. dollar returns $1.5820 Canadian, before bank exchange fees. There's no change in the Bank of Canada's key interest rate at 2.75 percent while the prime-lending rate remains 4.5 percent.

Over the past week, there has been little change in the stock markets, with the Toronto exchange index at 6,495 points Friday while the Canadian Venture Exchange was 1,009 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 2, 8, 12, 15, 28 and 49; bonus 21. (Sept. 7) 3, 4, 8, 12, 24 and 28; bonus 31.

Regional briefs

-- Critics say the Alberta government has approved what amounts to Canada's first private hospital. Health Minister Gary Mar said that Calgary-based Network Health Inc. will perform surgeries requiring overnight stays at the Health Resource Center, a 37-bed facility. The intent is to "free up operating and recovery times for patients who are within the public system." Opponents say it will drain resources from the public system.

-- Some 20,000 General Motors Canada workers could strike Tuesday if a contract settlement isn't reached. The last strike by Canadian Auto Workers against GM was in 1996 over outsourcing and lasted 22 days. Pay is $27.70 an hour for assembly-line workers and $33.10 hourly for electricians, mechanics and other trades.

-- There will be no appeal of the acquittal of former British Columbia Premier Glen Clark on corruption charges. The Crown Attorney's office said there are no grounds for an appeal. Clark was found not guilty last month of breach of trust and accepting a benefit in connection with a friend's casino license application.

-- George Stanley, an educator and historian who played a prominent role in the design of the Canadian flag, died Friday in Sackville, New Brunswick. He was 95. A Calgary native and lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick in the 1980s, Mr. Stanley proposed the basic design of the flag with a stylized red maple leaf in 1965.

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