The Canada Report
Martin hints at late June election
By JIM FOX
Published May 9, 2004
A federal election late next month has been indicated by Prime Minister Paul Martin, who called it the most important in Canadian history.
Martin briefed his Liberal team in private about the election, which insiders say will be held June 28. No official date has been announced.
The third-term Liberals, now headed by Martin since Jean Chretien's retirement in December, suggest the election is the most important to Canada's future and are branding the Conservatives as being out of synch with the country's values.
Voters will also be told the "new" Conservative party is made up of former Canadian Alliance politicians who are too extreme and too right wing.
Martin continues his campaign-style swing across Canada, handing out cash in advance of an election, including $500-million for a highway project in Quebec and hundreds of millions for transit improvements in the Toronto area.
Justice opens inquiry into sponsorship scandal
Quebec Superior Court Justice John Gomery has opened the judicial inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal and government advertising policies.
Witnesses aren't expected to be called until possibly September as Gomery investigates a report by Auditor General Sheila Fraser that said $100-million was improperly given to Liberal-friendly ad agencies in return for little or no documented work.
The sponsorship program that was designed to raise the federal profile in Quebec is also being investigated by a government committee.
Gomery is to make recommendations to the government on how to prevent mismanagement of sponsorship or advertising programs.
News in brief
- There will be improvement to commuter rail service in the greater Toronto area with a $1-billion contribution by three levels of government for the GO Transit system. The funds will go toward improvements to Canada's largest public transit system, which serves 44-million passengers a year.
- Security will be tightened around Canada's ports through a $115-million program announced in Halifax. The money is from a federal fund to improve overall security in the face of heightened international concerns over terrorism. It will include acquiring new surveillance equipment, and improving security fences and communications equipment.
- Canadian Coast Guard and navy ships have been chasing "modern day" fishing pirates off Canada's east coast. Five foreign vessels just outside Canada's 200-mile limit were boarded in an attempt to stop prohibited fishing that is destroying fish stocks off the Grand Banks.
Facts and figures
Canada's jobless rate dropped last month to 7.3 percent of the workforce from 7.5 percent, which should result in the Bank of Canada holding interest rates steady, analysts said.
The Bank of Canada key interest rate is unchanged at 2 percent, while the prime lending rate is 3.75 percent.
Canada's dollar continues lower at 72.28 U.S. cents, while the U.S. dollar returned $1.3835 Canadian before bank exchange fees.
Stock markets were lower Friday, with Toronto's composite index at 8,282 points and the Canadian Venture Exchange at 1,615 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 5, 13, 16, 20, 28 and 31; bonus 4. (May 1) 8, 21, 24, 26, 34 and 38; bonus 14.
- Popular Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray, 46, is resigning to run for the Liberals in the next federal election. A champion of cities on the national stage, Murray will seek to replace Liberal member of Parliament John Harvard, who is expected to be named Manitoba's lieutenant governor.
[Last modified May 9, 2004, 01:41:11]
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