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Canada report

Cabinet's Sheila Copps enters race to succeed Chretien

By JIM FOX

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2003


Feisty Sheila Copps, calling herself a champion of the underdog, is the first politician to enter the race to succeed Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Copps, 50, a Cabinet minister from Hamilton, Ontario, has been in politics for 20 years and is up against Paul Martin, 64, a former finance minister and undeclared front-runner.

Martin hasn't said he's running, but he has been campaigning for several years, resulting in a rift with Chretien and his ouster from the Cabinet last year.

Copps is a Chretien loyalist with a brash political style who resigned in 1996 to keep her much-publicized promise to scrap the hated Goods and Services Tax. She was re-elected the same year.

Also expected to run to succeed Chretien, who retires next February, is Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and, possibly, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon.

Martin's big lead led to Industry Minister Allan Rock disbanding his campaign team while former Cabinet minister Brian Tobin left politics last year because he didn't think he had a chance.

The Liberals will choose their new leader, who becomes prime minister, on Nov. 15 in Toronto.

Federal budget won't feature many new income tax cuts

Canadians won't find significant new income tax cuts in Tuesday's federal budget, observers say.

Finance Minister John Manley said Canadians have asked for more money instead for the federally funded health care system and other programs. Continuing is a five-year, $100-billion program in tax cuts announced in October 2000.

There could be cuts in employment insurance premiums, where there is a large surplus, and more money for the military, foreign aid, and research and development.

The budget is expected to include $1.5-billion over three years to cut greenhouse gas emissions in compliance with the Kyoto accords.

In brief

The Halifax family of one of four Canadian soldiers killed in an accidental bombing in Afghanistan last year has filed a wrongful-death claim against the U.S. government. The mother of Pvt. Richard Green filed notice citing the "inexplicable, unjustified and reckless actions" of the two U.S. pilots who dropped a bomb on Canadian troops at their training ground near Kandahar.

Gasoline prices in some Canadian cities could reach $1 a liter ($3.89 a U.S. gallon) this winter. Analysts say this is because of the Iraq situation, an oil workers strike in Venezuela, low inventories and a bitterly cold winter. Gas prices average 80 cents a liter ($3.12 a U.S. gallon), with Moncton and Bathurst, New Brunswick, the highest at 89.9 cents a liter ($3.50 a gallon) for regular gasoline.

Inderjit Singh Reyat, 50, was sentenced in Vancouver to five more years in jail for manslaughter in connection with the Air India bombing of Flight 182 in 1985 that killed 329 people. He has spent 10 years in prison for a second bomb that exploded in luggage being transferred to an Air India flight in Tokyo, killing two baggage handlers. The trial of two other men will begin March 31 in connection with the airplane explosion.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar had its biggest one-day surge in six months because of anxiety over a war with Iraq and increased terrorist threats that weakened the U.S. dollar.

The Canadian dollar rose by a half-cent to 65.89 U.S. cents while a U.S. dollar returns $1.5176 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The key Bank of Canada interest rate remains at 2.75 percent while the prime lending rate is 4.5 percent.

Canadian stock exchanges are lower, with the Toronto index at 6,453 points and the Canadian Venture Exchange at 1,087 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 8, 23, 29, 34, 40 and 47; bonus 4. (Feb. 8) 15, 23, 24, 28, 30 and 41; bonus 5.

Regional briefs

Another blow to British Columbian Premier Gordon Campbell's popularity -- a 3.5-cents-a-liter (14 cents-a-U.S.-gallon) fuel tax increase. Campbell, who was arrested on charges of drunken driving last month in Hawaii, said the increase is needed to pay for $950-million in planned transportation projects. This put the fuel tax in the Vancouver area to 20.5 cents a liter (80 cents a gallon), the highest in Canada.

The death of an 83-year-old woman last year in St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg has been ruled a homicide by Manitoba's medical examiner. Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra ordered an inquest into the death of Ettie June Morris. An autopsy found she had died from a lethal dose of potassium. "I cannot call it an accident," he said. No one has been arrested.

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